CZ:Policy on Topic Informants

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The subjects of biographies, persons who have had unique and important experience of historical events, CEOs, politicians, judges, inventors, and others who are (or were) close to the subjects written about shall enjoy a special status in the Citizendium community as topic informants. While being a topic informant will not by itself confer the editorial privileges of decisionmaking and article approval, topic informants will enjoy several special rights.

See also Category:Topic Informant Workgroup and CZ:Topic Informant Workgroup.

The Topic Informant Workgroup

The Citizendium shall set up a workgroup, with specific, designated members with specific terms, who will have oversight over biographies of living persons, and other articles that make representations about living persons and other entities with interests. In particular, this workgroup will be empowered to enforce the policies on this page.

Members will be selected by sortition among volunteers, who must be Citizendium editors or authors in good standing, and who must be competent writers or interviewers. Both the editor-in-chief and members of outgoing workgroups may "veto" incoming volunteers, specifically on grounds of lack of competence as a writer or interviewer. Such "vetos" are not to be made public, however, except at the request of the person "vetoed."

Composition of the workgroup will include at least 1/2 editor members. The workgroup cannot be considered active unless there are at least three members, and should not have more than twelve members. The workgroup itself shall select its own group leader(s). Workgroup members will serve yearlong terms.

Topic informants, their rights and role

Right of privacy. We officially recognize that the fact that we have started an encyclopedia project does not give us the right to subject private individuals to unwelcome public exposure. We recognize the right to privacy of persons whose lives are, in fact, mostly private.

Right of deletion. Therefore, unless a person is a well-known politician, celebrity, or other luminary, the subjects of biographies may, at the discretion of the Topic Informant Workgroup, request that any biographies we have of them--for example, those sourced from Wikipedia--be deleted. These requests may be made privately, by e-mail, directly to the workgroup, or else on the talk page of the person's article. This decision is to be made at the sole discretion of the Topic Informant Workgroup, not of any (other) editors or editorial workgroups, although the workgroup may consult anyone they wish in making the decision.

Right to become a topic informant. All subjects of biographies, and major informants about important topics in the Citizendium, may either (1) request an interview, which will be transcribed (and subject to approval by the subject of the interview), or (2) submit remarks relevant to the articles that concern them personally. The Citizendium will then:

  • post these remarks on a special (protected) part of the wiki
  • link to these remarks from the relevant article pages
  • take these remarks very seriously, and, as appropriate, cite them
  • update these remarks as necessary at the request of, or with the assistance of, the topic informant

Definition of "topic informant." Persons who give interviews or remarks in this fashion are called topic informants. A person is considered a topic informant only if the Citizendium has published his or her remarks, with his or her permission.

Scope. The scope of interviews and remarks is specifically restricted to comments on the article or articles in the Citizendium that directly concern them, or that concern events of which they have some special experience (e.g., sole eyewitnesses).

Rejection of "vanity" interviews and remarks. The Topic Informant Workgroup reserves the right to reject requests from persons to become topic informants on biographies about themselves that do not yet exist, or on account of remarks that they inserted into articles themselves. Such requests may be rejected on grounds of unseemly self-promotion.

Relevance, legality, and consistency of format. The Topic Informant Workgroup also reserves the right to edit these remarks both for relevance to the content of specific Citizendium articles, for their tendency to violate copyright and libel law, and for consistency of format with other topic informant remarks.

The Citizendium reserves its right of independent judgment on the disposition of articles. It is not the responsibility of the Topic Informant Workgroup to update the Citizendium article in accordance with the document. The workgroup does, however, have the authority, equal to that of any editorial workgroup, to set certain rules or make certain decisions with regard to matters in articles that are touched upon by the testimony of topic informants. For example, if it comes out in an interview quite clearly that certain claims made are untrue, the workgroup can issue the decision to change those claims. They are not obligated to make such rules and decisions, however; that is, they cannot be expected to require that Citizendium articles repeat back uncritically whatever a topic informant says.

Procedure for interviews and remarks

A person may request an interview, or to submit remarks, by sending an e-mail to that effect to The Topic Informant Workgroup then decides, in a private deliberation, whether to grant the interview or to accept the remarks.

The official role of the workgroup itself in the procedure is solely to decide whether to grant the interview or accept the remarks, and actually to publish the resulting document on the wiki. The workgroup should feel free to--and, in time, probably should--employ editors, professional writers, and other competent persons to do the interview and/or to edit remarks, and to work with the topic informant on the results.

If a prospective topic informant sends a document to the workgroup unsolicited, the workgroup can use the document to decide whether to make the person a topic informant. The workgroup does not have to do this, however, and unsolicited documents will probably be frowned upon as a rule.

Interview procedure. The workgroup assigns an interview to a particular person, either a member of the workgroup, or an editor, professional writer, and other competent person. The ideal interviewer is someone well-informed about the topic informant's life, field, etc., but who does not know the topic informant personally. The topic informant may suggest questions, which may then be edited by the interviewer, but in any case the interviewer should consult the article(s) that concern the topic informant. The interviewer may also (with the consent of the topic informer) ask for questions from the Citizendium community at large.

[To be completed]

See also

Citizendium Content Policy
Approval Standards | Article Mechanics | Subpages | Importing material from other sources | Citable articles
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