CZ:Approval Process

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A version of a Citizendium article may be nominated as 'citable' by recognised experts within its community. These versions (159 so far) are tentatively declared to be of reasonably high quality and so are placed on subpages of their main articles and locked to prevent further editing. The main articles remain in place for further updates and improvements, and themselves may be approved and replace the subpages. Minor errors in citable articles, such as typos, can be corrected by administrators.


Relevant lists of pages are:

Articles that have been suggested for approval. (Waiting for nomination by an editor — if appropriate.)
Articles that are currently nominated for approval. (Will be approved — unless nomination is cancelled.)
Articles that are already citable.

Here, in broad strokes, is how the approval process goes for Citizendium articles (there is a separate approval process for policy (CZ:) pages, which can be approved by the executive committee or a body with delegated authority - see CZ:Approval for CZ pages‎):

  • An article (including subpages like Bibliography, Definition, External links, Related articles) is so well developed that it gives the Citizendium reader a good introduction and overview to its topic. An editor in the article's workgroup will be needed to nominate the article for approval.
  • If the editor has worked on it herself as an author, he/she asks another editor to approve it; or, if there are several editors all doing significant work as authors on the article, then at least three of them can agree to approve it. (These rules are to prevent a single person from approving his or her own work without involving review by experts who were not authors.)
  • So then (one of) the nominating editor(s) fills in the "ToApprove" section of the article's metadata page. That "ToApprove" metadata section will be marked with a date, usually several days to a week from the date that it is placed - but at least 24 hours. (That rule is to allow copy edits and final development. A longer lead time is appropriate for articles that are complex and may need the intensity of scrutiny that occurs with nomination to be properly completed. For articles that are already complete, a short lead time is appropriate.)
  • This metadata section automatically produces nomination announcements on the article page, its Talk: page, etc. It also automatically inserts the article in the list of articles nominated for approval, which can be found at Category:Articles to Approve.
  • If the information in the metadata section remains there until the specified date, approval will occur on that date.
  • Meanwhile, discussion and edits continue on the article. When an article is nominated for approval, this status often draws new eyes to the article, and it can be expected that revisions will occur. In the culture of Citizendium, edits at this stage by novices to the subject are discouraged. The important role for non-experts is to make recommendations and criticisms on the talk page. (This guideline is based on the disruption that is caused by, say, a person who does not know physics well making edits in an article on physics in this "finishing" stage. That person, however, is vitally important in terms of critiquing which parts of the article are clear, and which cannot be followed by a novice to the subject.)
  • If another editor in the article's workgroup finds that the article is so objectionable that approval, in his considered opinion, should not be granted, then the "ToApprove" metadata is removed by this editor, who puts his reasons for this action on the talk page. (This is a fail safe rule, to prevent the approval of articles that are inaccurate or misleading.)
  • If the nominating editor notes that the discussion on the talk page that has occurred since the nomination for approval was originally placed brings up important objections, then the editor may delay the date for approval in the "ToApprove" metadata, to allow for work to continue before the stable version is generated. The nominating editor(s) may also change the version nominated for approval in the "ToApprove" metadata to an updated draft that is considered superior to the one first nominated. (This rule is designed to allow the best version to be the approved one. It is common that articles change quickly in a short time before approval, and so choosing "which version" is an important part of the process)

Unless the metadata is removed, on the designated date, a sysop (a person with "sysop" administrative rights on the wiki) then freezes the approved version of the article on the main article page in a way that will display it under an {{Approved3}} template. At that freeze, a parallel draft form of the article is generated. This draft is not frozen, but is open to edits as are all unapproved articles on the wiki.

When a user calls up the article, the approved (frozen) version appears. At the top of the article is a notice to users who would prefer to write or edit, redirecting them to the Draft page. Work on the article continues on that "Draft" page. Discussion about the article in progress is made on the Talk:Draft Page, and eventually it may be nominated to replace the approved version. Then the procedure repeats.

Addendum: after approval, copyediting may be performed by a nominating editor with the help of the approvals editor. This may occur at any time. (The reason for this rule is that sometimes, even when the article has been religiously scanned for mistakes by many eyes, even a seemingly-obvious mistake - like, say "1-1=2" instead of "1+1=2" - is missed. That sort of error does not require a new approval process to correct.)

Approval process

Since 2011, Approval has been determined according EC:R-2011-027. Any Citizen may suggest an article for approval by placing the template

 {{subst:Call for review|~~~~}} 

on an article's talk page. If an Editor or a Approval Manager supports this suggestion, then Editors and main authors may leave their referee's report on the Approval subpage of the article, and an Approval Manager finally decides whether these reports suffice to approve the article.

Process used until 2011

The provisional nature of this process

This process is provisional and probably temporary in this form. The use of templates, in particular, may be regarded as a temporary stopgap measure. Eventually, we will want to integrate certain procedures into the software itself. But it is actually desirable to test out the process first "by hand" before stabilizing it in code.

Who may approve

For any given topic, only editors who may be considered experts on that topic may approve an article on that topic, at a minimum, these experts must be editors in the article's workgroup.

Expert editors may approve articles in either of two configurations: individually or as part of a group.

Individual approval. Editors may approve articles if they have not contributed significantly to the article as an author. In other words, if an editor reviews an article that is fully developed by others, perhaps an author, he or she may suggest changes or even add edits, but strictly in the role of an editor. In this way, there is a kind of peer review. No single editor may approve an article that this individual editor actually authored. In other words, no editor may approve his or her own work singlehandedly.

Group approval. If there are three editors, all of whom are expert in the topic of an article, and all of which have been at work on an article as authors, then any one of them may approve of an article with the concurrence of the other two.

An author may trigger the approval process simply by writing a note to several relevant editors, drawing attention to the page, or by contacting the current approvals manager. The responding editors may then approve according to the same rules above.

If the article has already undergone an approval and is noted to need typographic corrections, correction of spelling, spacing, or punctuation, that is, a 'bug fix' or proof - which commonly occurs with version (1.1), then one-editor approval is acceptable, as long as these copyedits are carried out with one of the original editors who nominated that article for the just approved version (1.0). Copyedits are carried out with the sysop aid of approvals management.

Developed articles that need editors to evaluate them for approval, articles newly nominated for approval, and the most recently approved articles, will be announced, as time and space allow, on the approvals notice board.

When and how to fill in the "ToApprove" metadata

To nominate a version of the article for Approval, an editor should edit the metadata for that article, which is kept on a separate page (in the Template: namespace). To do that, simply go to the article's Talk: page, then either click on the yellow 'M' on the {{subpages}} area, or follow the blue metadata page link above the {{subpages}} checklist; you can then edit the metadata page and fill in the information in the "ToApprove" section, using the following guidelines:

Filling out the "ToApprove" section of the metadata

article url = the specific URL (version number) of the version-to-approve. For instructions on how to find the current version number, see below. For versions other than the current version, go to that revision history page and then copy the URL from the address bar.

subpage url =

cluster =

now = the date and time of the revision that is nominated for approval. Note: this field must be updated every time the Article URL (above) is updated.

ToA editor = the username of the person who did the approval (or who nominated the article on behalf of a group of people). If you are that person, your name goes here. Do NOT use the three tildes (~~~) or four tildes (~~~~) to sign, just enter your user name (e.g. "John Q. Doe" - without the quotation marks), and not a link.

ToA editor2 = second editor (optional but must use before editor3 if only two editors approved)

ToA editor3 = third editor (optional but must use before editor4 if only three editors approved)

date = format Month Day, Year (example: August 15, 2009)

If you have made all the correct replacements, then all the links in the template should appear blue. None should appear red.

If you are using the group editor approval process, each editor should place his/her own name in the appropriate ToA editor space to endorse their approval of the version. Alternatively, make sure the article talk page clearly shows that the each editor approves the version that is placed on the template.

Instructions for finding the current version number

Go to the version of the article that you endorse (usually the last version). Locate the 'tool box' in the left hand column of the article page (see first image below for example). Click 'Permanent link' in the 'toolbox'. The version number is the version that is embedded in the URL address bar at the top of the page (see grayed URL in the second image below, viz., "Step 1 Copy the URL you find in address bar"). This is the URL address that needs to be copied and pasted into the Metadata template at the template location labeled 'article url=' (see grayed text in third image image below, viz., "Step 2 Paste that copied URL into the Metadata template").

Updating the "ToApprove" metadata after revision

If the article undergoes revision during the days following the initial filling of the "ToApprove" metadata (and this is common), and the nominating editor is still willing to approve the article in its revised state, he or she should update the Article URL and the Now field in the metadata section to point at the most recent satisfactory version of the article found under the "history" tab. At any given moment it might or might not be the most recent version. To change it to any version other than the most recent, just choose that particular revision and copy the URL from the address bar above the page. Remember to also update the Now field with the timestamp of that version (find this on the "history" tab). To find the Article URL, see the section just above.

If an article is undergoing group approval, it must be the sense of at least two other editors, in addition to the approver, that the newly-revised version is also worthy of approval.

Involving other editors from a workgroup

  • Discuss your impending approval on the forum for the relevant workgroup(s). This isn't required but it's a good idea.

Involving copyeditors (informally)

  • Post a note to the Copyedit Board on the forums. Not required, but an excellent idea.

Sysops make it official with the 'Approval' template

Anyone with "Sysop" permissions on the wiki -- that is, personnel administrators, constables, and technical staff -- may go through the following steps when initially marking an article as approved. An important exception is that no person with "Sysop" permissions on the wiki who has done any significant work on the article, or who is an editor in any workgroup to which the article is assigned may "do the honors." That means that Editors at work on the article who are also Constables must call another Constable to "do the honors." We thus hold a hard line against appearances of conflict of interest. To ask a Constable to "make it official," simply send an e-mail to The following steps may be followed on or after the date (and time, if any) given by someone with "Sysop" permissions:

Before beginning the Approval process, open a second page, either to this particular site with the instruction of how to Approve, or to the Constabulary page, where you should open the "Final 10 minutes" Approval instructions—this is so that text from these instructions can be Copied and Pasted in the final steps of the Approval process.

1.) Make sure that the page to be Approved is the latest version approved by the Editor or Editors.

Examine the talk page. Make sure it's clear that there are three editors who are in agreement about the approvability of the article, or, if it seems there is an individual approval going on, make sure that the person approving the article has not worked much on the article. (For that, examine the article's history.) Also ensure that at least one editor currently supports the approval of the article version mentioned in the approval metadata. If there is any reason to doubt editor support, request clarification before doing the honors. Reasons to doubt editor support include the nominated version not being the latest one and/or the existence of unanswered author critiques.

2.) Next do the Metadata:

Go to the article's Metadata page (always update the metadata first or changes won't show for the categories). Change the status to "0".

Type the names of the approving editors from the TofA section into the Approved section of the template just below. Do not put in User: or the brackets or the pipe | line. (In any case, the User, brackets, and pipe | line should NOT be in the TofA section in the first place! If they are, please delete them before going on to the next step so that only the names of the editors are showing.)

Select (highlight) and Copy all the text and fields beginning with cat1 at the very top left down through the date = such and such at the very bottom left. Do not delete this highlighted section!

Once you have done all of the above, then blank all the ToApprove section fields except "article url =", beginning with the line "subpage url =", removing (deleting) only the information, including the two dates, but leaving the names of each of the listed fields. Be sure to leave the information shown on the top line of this area, "article url =", where the http link to the article is stored.


Go to the article's Approval sub-page (click the "A" link on the metadata page, a little round button near the top right)

Click edit at the very top of the page.

IF AN EARLIER VERSION HAS ALREADY BEEN APPROVED, AND THIS IS A reAPPROVAL, Paste the new template information below the existing information. You will need to add {{Approval and }} around the new information exactly as below. You do not have to add {{subpages}} for a second time. An example of how this should be done can be found at Gasoline/Approval.

In the blank screen that now appears, Paste the highlighted and Copied text from cat1 down through the date = such and such.

You MAY ALSO have to add {{subpages}}, and YOU WILL HAVE TO ADD {{Approval at the very top left of the page and }} at the very bottom. This is absolutely ESSENTIAL!

When finished, it should look something like this:

|           cat1 = Engineering
|           cat2 = Chemistry
|           cat3 = 
|           sub1 = Chemical Engineering
|           sub2 = Environmental Engineering
|           sub3 = 
|           tab1 = 
|           tab2 = 
|           tab3 = 
<!-- Required for ToApprove template: -->
|    article url =
|    subpage url = 
|        cluster =
|            now = April 26, 2009
|     ToA editor = David E. Volk
|    ToA editor2 = 
|    ToA editor3 = 
|           date = May 10, 2009


3.) FOR NEW APPROVALS: Create the Approved Article and the Draft pages:

Go back to the "Main Article" by clicking on the link to it at the top left of the page.

Check to see if the article includes the WP content disclaimer at the bottom of the page. If it does, then you need to remember to check the WP content box on the page you are about to create.

Find the approved version of the article named in the /Approval page by clicking on the "History" tab of the article. Click the date and time entry.

Click "Edit" and copy the entire contents of the page.

Go back to the main article and type "/Citable Version" at the end of the article's URL in your browser and go to that page. Make sure to use capital C and V. If the article name is "XYZ", the full url that you need to reach is Version.

Paste what you have copied (i.e. the approved version of the article) into the new page and SAVE. You should now see that there is a 'Citable Version' tab in the banner of the page.

Click "Protect" and lock the /Citable Version page to prevent further edits or moves.

An interim measure, necessary to reveal the Talk page, is to move it from Talk:XYZ to Talk:XYZ/Draft. This is necessary until most approved articles have been switched over to citable versions.

3A.) FOR reAPPROVALS: Create the Approved Article:

Go to the article's Approval sub-page (click the "A" link on the metadata page, a little round button near the top right)

Click the link that begins with the words "the version dated" and includes a date. This will take you to the version of the article that is to be approved.

Click on the edit tab. You may see a warning stating "WARNING: You are editing an out-of-date revision of this page. If you save it, any changes made since this revision will be lost." Or you may see a warning stating "WARNING: This page is xxx kilobytes long etc." Ignore either warning. Select and copy the entire contents.

Paste the contents of the previous page into the XYZ page by following the steps below:

  • A.) Go back one page, using the Esc. button (or the return arrow)
  • B.) Click on the <XYZ link near the top left of the page in small fonts
  • C.) Click on Edit
  • D.) Delete the entire text (which is the old approved version),
  • E.) Then Paste the contents of the new version to be approved into this page.
  • F.) If you noted earlier that the article contains WP content, ensure that the "Content is from Wikipedia?" box below the edit box is checked.


4.) Insert the Talk page divider:

Go to the Main Article, XYZ. Click on Talk.

Then insert this template at the bottom of the Talk page in order to separate the "before-approval" article discussion from the "after-approval" discussion.

Click on Edit

Then create the header by Copying and Pasting from either the instructions on this page or from the instructions on the Constabulary page:

==APPROVED Version 1.0==

onto the very bottom of the Talk page

Beneath this new header, then Copy and Paste the text below:

<div class="usermessage plainlinks">Discussion for Version 1.0 stopped here. Please continue further discussion under this break. </div>

AND make sure that you remove the <nowiki and </nowiki from the above after you have copied and pasted it and before you SAVE it if you are copying the text from the edit mode of the instructions. If you are copying from the page itself, and not the edit mode, these words will not be shown.

If necessary, change "Version 1.0" to "Version 1.1" or "Version 1.2", etc. in both the header and the text.


5.) Create a link to the new article in the Talk page divider

Go back to the Main Article page. Find the approved version again in the History list and click the time and date link again. Copy the URL, then return to the Talk page divider. Paste this information into the header and in the text section just ahead of the Version Number, leaving a space between them and adding brackets, so that they reads something like: "Discussion for BRACKEThttp://en.citizendium rest of information lineSPACEVersion 1.0BRACKET stopped here. Etc."


6.) Congratulate the Authors and/or Editors or both:

Go the talk page of the main Author and/or Editor or both and write a brief Congratulations!, along with a link to the newly Approved article.

You're finished!

Approval and protection process for templates used in approved pages

Editors and sysops need to be aware that a protected approved page draws on templates which contain text. Consideration should be given to subjecting key subject-specific templates for banners, boxes and footers to protection and editorial approval in step with major pages.

Copyediting Approved articles

If you find a copyedit type error in an article, make the change on the draft page of the article and then paste a link to your copyedit on this forum. You can also request a change at CZ:Request Approved Article Copyedit. A SYSOP will look over the request and make the change. Copyedit corrections to approved articles can be made outside the approval process provided the change does not change the meaning of the sentence. If the sysop rules that a copyedit constitutes a content edit, the article will need to be re-approved.

Revoking approval

Once an article is approved, the act of revoking approval should only be considered under the rarest of circumstances. It is much preferred to make corrections on the Draft version and work toward re-approval rather than revoke an approval. Any user who has a particular concern that an approved article's content is factually inaccurate is welcome to make the necessary changes on the Draft version and continue to use the editorial process to address their concern. This includes using that article's talk page, as well as workgroups and forums.

If there is an issue concerning the mechanics of how an approval was performed, contact a constable or the Approvals Manager and they will help work toward making the appropriate corrections, with revoking approval as a last resort. For example, if the editor or editors did not endorse (or mistakenly endorsed) the version approved, either through misunderstanding or miscommunication, then the constable may revoke the approval. Otherwise, approval decisions are content issues that are exclusively in the purview of Editors, and any issues relating to an article's content must begin at the workgroup editor level.

Re-approving revisions to approved articles

Re-approval is the process of approving the replacement to an approved article. These replacements are called versions (XYZ version 1.1, 1.2 and so on) for clarity here.

The editorial procedures remain the same as for the original approval. Either one uninvolved editor or three involved editors can call for an article to be approved. They do this by returning to the XYZ/metadata page and fill out the To-Approve section of the template again. Make sure to leave the Approved sections the same and leave the article status at 0 so that the template remains 'green' to show that the current article is still approved.

Once the date of approval arrives, the sysop will replace the previously approved version with the re-approved version. Don't forget to put the orange version divider at the end of the Draft talk page.

Article re-approval and version record area

Reserved for a log of event re-approval of XYZ article and template records

See here for help.

Version 1.1 approval events

(Earlier details of V 1.1 commented out for clarity)

(Approval V 1.1) confusing text commented out but log details retained.

Version 1.2 approval events

Approval V1.2

It will be necessary for a sysop to transfer markup text to the protected main page to create a new approved version ( i.e. V1.1) by code copy, paste and save, and at such time annotate such re-approval save events with the approval version (e.g. V1.2 ) and source of code ("permanent links to source code are at the top of XYZ/draft talk, commented out") descriptions to clarify the source of the text.

Again, as with initial approval, an important exception is that no person with "Sysop" permissions on the wiki who has done any significant work on the article, or who is an editor in any workgroup to which the article is assigned, must "do the honors." That means that Editors at work on the article, who are also Constables, must call another Constable to "do the honors." We thus hold a hard line against appearances of conflict of interest. To ask a Constable to "make it official," simply send an e-mail to

Related pages

  • Category:Articles to Approve - automatically generated list of articles nominated for approval
  • {{Approval}} - template to mark an approved article, used on the article's /Approval page

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