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Archive:Ombudsman Referrals

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Political messages

John Stephenson has drawn my attention to a forum discussion (see this post regarding the recent protest over SOPA/PIPA, requesting Ombudsman input over whether such campaigns are outside Article 23 and which Council is responsible for future policy. That article states that The Citizendium shall remain free of advocacy, advertisement and sensationalism. The request from John as I understand it is not to reflect on the merits of that particular issue, but generally to advise on under what circumstances, if any, statements might be made on behalf of Citizendium which might be deemed 'political' in the sense of addressing isssues which are the subject of current political controversy.

This seems to me to be a legitimate and important question to raise. By Article 36, of the Charter, the Managing Editor's duties include representing the Citizendium in its relations with external bodies, such as the mass media, and academic or non-academic institutions.

It seems to be inherent in this that the Managing Editor is empowered to speak for the Community, at least in certain fora; he is elected by the Community to do so, and may reasonably assume the trust of the Community in his judgment. It is not clear that either the Management Council or Editorial Council have comparable authority to speak on behalf of the Community, though of course they can be assumed to be free to speak for themselves, individually or collectively, on any issue that they think appropriate.

It seems unreasonable to empower the ME to express opinions on behalf of the Community in some fora, yet not openly express those same opinions on Citizendium. On the other hand, the Charter is clear that Citizendium itself - i.e. the wiki - should not be a forum for advocacy - and engaging in a current political controversy in a prominent and partisan way looks like advocacy by any definition.

However, the first article of the Charter declares clearly the mission of The Citizendium - to collect, structure, and cultivate knowledge and to render it conveniently accessible to the public for free. Promoting that mission is a paramount duty, and advocating steps to further that or opposing proposals that might hinder it, even in areas that might be politically controversial in some quarters, cannot be inconsistent with the Charter.

I invite comments on the Talk page before reflecting on what advice I might offer, if any.

Naming of countries

The Editorial Council is asked to decide on a Citizendium policy on the naming of articles about countries. A policy is needed because there are likely to be multiple cases of dispute, and no consensus has been established from existing precedents on Citizendium. Any decision may require name changes for several existing articles. The options to be considered could include:

1)Consistently following a list of names from an external notable source such as the UN list of county names. This option has the merit of simplicity and objectivity, but (unless exceptions are allowed) it would entail renaming United Kingdom as the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”; other potentially contentious names from this list would include:

  • Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  • Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • United Republic of Tanzania
  • Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of

However, under this rule the Republic of Macedonia would become ‘Macedonia’. I don’t see a consistent logic applied to the UN list of names, and it is subject to change.

2)Consistently using the current English translation of the formal name of the state. Such names would endorse: Republic of Macedonia but require renaming Sri Lanka as ‘Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka’ and China as ‘People's Republic of China’

3) Consistently using the English name by which they are commonly called. This is unfortunately in flux, notably in the case of Burma/Myanmar. For example, the BBC, the Guardian and the CIA still use Burma; the New York Times uses Myanmar. It may be hard to resolve this objectively if there are different patterns of use around the world. Traditional use may be different from current use.

4) Laissez faire, allowing Editors to decide an appropriate name for each article , unless disputes arise. If and when they do, there needs to be some way of resolving these disputes. However; a position may be to allow Editors to decide IF they can agree, but if they can’t to default to an agreed formula (such as 1) or 2) above).

The Council might consider requiring that the official name, recent former names, names in the native language, and common alternative names are all noted in the Introduction.

Comments received on this prior to the election of a new Editorial Council=

Just a small correction: the provisional name under which the country that calls itself Republic of Macedonia was admitted to the UN is regulated by Resolution of the UN General Assembly A/RES/47/225 of 27 April 1993 and confirmed by Security Council Resolution 845(1993) of 18 June 1993. That provisional name is "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and all agencies of the UN (but explicitly not national states) are bound by the UN decision. About 160 130 countries have now recognised the country by its constitutional name (including the USA but excluding all of the EU). There are also other countries not listed in the UN list, which cannot be ignored by an encyclopedia, so the UN list is not definitive in any sense other than international law. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:01, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
You are right as of now [1];(I must have miseard the list)Gareth Leng 17:55, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
Gareth, apropos state vs. country, I've experimented with this for both Iran/State of Iran and Israel/State of Israel, with a fair number of subarticles in mostly military areas. In no way am I wedded to "State of" and would be equally comfortable with "government of", or standardizing on any other prefix. The Israel article unquestionably needs work and I am no expert on the more distant but exceptionally relevant history.
Not suggesting I "own" these articles, but I'm quite open to the idea of exploring pros and cons using them as examples. I do believe, and I am saying this based on specific politicomilitary experience, that the distinction is extremely important.
Martin, may I suggest we have some source guidelines for article naming for countries not in the UN list? While it's by no means definitive, the CIA World Factbook is one useful source. Dave Finn and I were amused recently to find that several official Algerian sites have imported, unchanged, the Factbook text to describe their own country. This takes CIA infiltration to a new level. :-)
A separate issue is the proper naming of articles on separatist, irredentist, and other movements, to which I have no simple answer. --Howard C. Berkowitz 21:58, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
The CIA Factbook is unreliable. I will present a protocol on country naming for the EC to consider when it is elected.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 22:02, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
I wasn't suggesting the CIA Factbook is authoritative. I was, however, suggesting it was a resource. In the boundary conditions of naming, there is no single solution. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:27, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
Some comments on Gareth's first two options:
  1. UN naming can't be consistently applied as they don't recognize the very existence of some de facto states. CZ can't be bound by such decisions.
  2. Here are a few official names with English translations:
    1. República del Ecuador: Republic of the equator
    2. República del Paraguay: Republic of the Paraguay
    3. República Oriental del Uruguay: Eastern Republic of the Uruguay
Peter Jackson 13:55, 22 October 2010 (UTC)