CZ Talk:Charter/Archive 2

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This is an archived version of CZ Talk:Charter drafting in the version of 8:54, 12 January, 2010, with the header sections removed.

To do list


  1. Agree on Committee chairperson: Joe Quick
  2. Agree on the basic Structure.

Auxiliary pages

The following subpages of this page have been set up to help the drafting process. The same editing restrictions as to this page apply there unless noted otherwise.

Brainstorm Drafting procedures Scope and structure of the charter Things to address but not in charter Definitions Ecology-Economy Archives Feedback Editors, authors, and approval

Open questions

Please discuss these points in the Comments section, and if they have been resolved, strike them out here. You can also add other issues here that you think need to be addressed.

It's worth reviewing the outstanding issues. This is certainly not exhaustive, but we certainly need work in:

  • Clearly defining the #audience, including providing for legitimate advanced subjects, and at least having a framework that allows branches or subpages for pre-college levels.
  • #Objectivity, neutrality, or whatever we call it -- I think we have some good text, but the issue of expertise vs. egalitarianism is still there.
  • Assuming we have "interim guidance" (cf. #locking policy pages and #bylaws), a minimal framework for reliability marking, probably broadening beyond approval.
  • The idea of internal workspaces (cf. #Warmspace) not exposed to the general public, for collaborative improvement of things not ready for prime time
  • Dispute resolution (cf. #Judicial process) is, I think, fairly close to being done in concept but not clear enough

Comments on Charter draft text

Real names section

second sentence is too detailed for charter. third sentence needs to be slightly revised to be more general.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 22:22, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

What about this? --Daniel Mietchen 22:39, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
I slightly changed your amendment.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 00:27, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm not enamored with the exceptions. Russell D. Jones 14:56, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Nor am I. Probably, we need to specify why exceptions can be made, and who/what will decide. I am not sure that the official accounts need to appear in the Charter, though. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 21:04, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
I removed the exceptions. --Daniel Mietchen 21:36, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
OK, but as far as I know there have been a few legitimate exceptions. They need to be allowed for, by some procedure (e.g. special application to the Chief Constable). Martin Baldwin-Edwards 00:47, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
That's why we have the interim guidance section on pseudonyms. See also here. --Daniel Mietchen 01:12, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Resolved: no need for pseudonyms, at least from CZ experiences. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:15, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Ratification of this charter

To me, this is not a subheading under "Electorate", but at the same level. --Daniel Mietchen 22:31, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Judicial process

I made some changes here, trying to be more absolute.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 00:27, 11 November 2009 (UTC)


Some major changes here in the last sentence. I tried to make it simultaneously universal yet with some flexibility. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 00:27, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

See Also "Professionalism" below.


The only statement about workgroups is that the Editorial Council shall have power to establish a workgroup policy. When workgroup policy needs to change, you're going to have to amend the charter which (rightly) should be a lot harder than changing an ed council policy. Russell D. Jones 14:58, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

I disagree, for the pragmatic reason that the workgroup system is floundering and it would take at least three months to get a new EC started on the problem. This is an example of what I consider "interim guidance", which is designated as changeable by the appropriate body, not requiring a Charter amendment, but usable in the meantime. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:38, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm going to interject here again. The workgroup policy does not need to be defined in the Charter. And I don't see the problem you see with the workgroups. The biggest problem here is that some groups have small populations. But this will be solved with time. Workgroup policy should be left for the EC. Russell D. Jones 16:26, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't need to be in the Charter, but there urgently needs to be better interim guidance. We may not have enough lifetime to keep deferring at least guidance to bodies that couldn't form and decide in less than 4 months or so. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:30, 2 December 2009 (UTC)


An author is any account. This current definition posits a whole class of people who have accounts but are denied the rights and privileges of authors. Russell D. Jones 15:02, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes, this seems to be the case. Presumably the idea is to cast inactive authors as non-authors, but this is not a good idea. Is there a need to define an author as someone who has written something on CZ, leaving as Citizens those who have not? Normally, a Citizen in any state system has full legal rights. Therefore, it would make more sense to say that only those who write or edit are citizens, but this also is not a good idea... I suggest deleting this. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 21:32, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
I removed the distinction between Author and Citizen. --Daniel Mietchen 21:46, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Mission statement

If the current version is to be replaced by some variant of what is being discussed on the forum, we should not forget to introduce the term Citizen on its first mention. --Daniel Mietchen 16:33, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Just rephrased the mission statement and added the definitino of Citizens to its first mention, in the Professionalism section. --Daniel Mietchen 22:45, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Current version:"The Citizendium is a collaborative expert-guided effort to collect, structure and update knowledge and to render it conveniently accessible to the public for free.

" --Daniel Mietchen 15:34, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Being Bold

I agree with the statement "A basic Professionalism rule, however, is that large deletions or revisions, or renaming pages other than for clear errors, should not be made without a reasonable attempt to get consensus on the Talk Page." but do not think it should go into (this section of) the charter. --Daniel Mietchen 16:51, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

It might be an example of "interim guidance". Where should it go? Howard C. Berkowitz 17:20, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
I put it into Collaboration now. --Daniel Mietchen 21:05, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

I made some revisions to the last version of Being Bold, trying to make it a little more certain for authors. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 00:41, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

I haven't looked over the current version of the whole document (except to skim it), so don't take this as my last or only word on the document. It's just a quick in-and-out comment. But I did notice this as a gloss on "be bold": "Should Citizens be unsure that their planned contributions are in conformity with the Charter and its subordinate policies, they are advised to seek comments from Editors and the wider community. In the absence of disputes, they may reasonably proceed." How on Earth does that encapsulate "be bold"? Someone who follows that rule is being the opposite of bold. It seems to me that whoever wrote that does not actually agree with the meaning of "be bold," and if you don't agree with it, you should be advocating getting rid of it as a policy instead of trying to rewrite it in a way that basically jettisons it as a policy. The notion--which I came up with for Wikipedia--is that people unfamiliar with the system should not concern themselves too much about breaking often complex or arcane-seeming rules, or doing "wrong" things generally, but just proceed indeed boldly on the assumption that as long as they are acting in good faith, they are probably "within the law." The reason for the policy in the first place was that some people were very worried about doing something wrong and so wouldn't do anything. That has been, I think, even more a problem on CZ than it was in the early days of Wikipedia. The function of saying "be bold" is simply to embolden people who are reticent and strongly desirous not to give offense, and who think they have to master all the rules before they do anything. Asking them to get advice (from editors first and foremost, no less!) before they proceed is precisely to ask them not to be bold, but instead to subordinate themselves to the know-it-all regulars. --Larry Sanger 16:27, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I also had some thoughts along those lines. I didn't write the original text (I merely improved the English)but I suppose that the idea implicitly was that the default way of being should Be Bold, and if you have any doubts, here is a way to remove those doubts. I agree with Larry that the unconscious message reads somehow differently, and we need to rethink this. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:08, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I agree that this is one of CZ's problems. Let's just leave it as -- Be Bold! If there is a problem with something that you have written, somebidy will surely come along and fix it! D. Matt Innis 20:09, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I rephrased it as "Citizens are encouraged to be bold in contributing to the project." --Daniel Mietchen 15:15, 16 November 2009 (UTC)


I oppose the existence of this section and also the use of the word. I recommend the idea of inclusiveness as an alternative to neutrality, which also has been problematic.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 21:28, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Since we are supposed to agree on the draft presented for the discussion period, I have removed the section and paste it in here:
Information presented objectively is based on careful, unbiased and documented observation. When conflicting information exists, enough background must be given that the reader can understand the merits and weaknesses of the major alternatives. The Citizendium is not a place for advocacy, nor for advertisement.
--Daniel Mietchen 23:17, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. Let's try to draft an alternative here. The starting point must be the title. Suggestions? I'll offer "Non-partisan, inclusive knowledge" Martin Baldwin-Edwards 00:45, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Martin, what do you mean by "inclusive knowledge?" D. Matt Innis 01:52, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I mean that it takes an holistic view, encompassing different perspectives, paradigms,premisses etc. Much as the Neutrality Policy also requires (but trying to avoid the word neutrality). Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:17, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
So are we saying that articles should "include" all perspectives, but not require them to be presented "neutrally". Is that the reason to avoid use of the word "Neutrality"? What kind of consequences do you expect that to have? D. Matt Innis 02:24, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
No. But neutral has the same problems as objective, namely that they don't exist. Non-partisan is my version of neutral. We might also include other descriptors, such as "balanced", "fair representation of competing views", etc., Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:42, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I believe, rather intensely, that the Charter has to make clear that "balanced" or whatever word is selected does not mean all views are required to be present, or, if present, to be given equal emphasis. The point about CZ not being a place of advocacy, I hope, is not objectionable; advocacy is inherently partisan. One can always rely on the Nazis for a worst-case example; I don't believe there is a requirement to give equal space to the facts of adjudicated crimes against humanity, and the justification for them. Someday, I hope to take Mein Kampf out of cold storage for a reasonable analysis, but do not expect it to be "sympathetic" to Adolf. Accurate, yes. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:54, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, we need something to guide how competing views should be presented. Maybe, "providing clear guidance on the extent of scientific and popular support". Martin Baldwin-Edwards 03:03, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I think on average, we are all inclusionists when it comes to our author instincts, but as editors we tend to be restrictionist. Some of this is necessary, but at times crosses the line into advocacy by deletion of opposing views. This is complicated... too complicated for us eight to take the responsibility for. The concepts need to be effectively debated and settled, but not in this venue. Here we are just supposed to be creating the Charter that will guide future discussions. We should just state that Citizendium will abide by such and such policy and then determine that such and such policy can be changed by 2/3 vote of some quorum. D. Matt Innis 03:12, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Hmm. Reminds me of the definition of pornography.. I'll recognize it when I see it.. What I think is important is that we don't allow biased, emotionally driven but effectively hidden, descriptions of competing views. The dictionary definition of "objective" does seem to satisfy this for me -- as does neutral, but what is it that these don't satisfy for you? In other words, why should we try to leave out Neutral for something just as vague? I'm willing to consider anything that would seem like an improvement, but I haven't really heard it, yet. D. Matt Innis 03:00, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Well, neutral implies that you don't make any judgements at all. This is far from being non-partisan, in that I might not support a Socialist position versus a Conservative position, but presumably I want at least to hint that a Neo-Nazi position is not something that CZ endorses, even if it does mention its existence. I also want to indicate that support for Neo-Nazi ideas is generally very small, with occasional local exceptions. Neutrality Policy does not permit this, at least in its formulation. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 03:08, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Matt, I disagree. I don't think Citizendium has time to keep putting this off to future forums, which can't realistically be in operation for another three months. I think it's entirely reasonable to have what I've called "interim guidance", which is the best consensus of the Charter drafters, but can be changed by the Editorial Council rather than requiring full Charter amendment. This particular issue is one that, in my opinion, is likeliest to lead to the death of Citizendium unless a stand is taken.
Which issue is going to lead to the death of Citizendium? D. Matt Innis 03:29, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Neutrality policy that overrides expertise, and requires presentation of fringe views. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:36, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Experts are the originators of "fringe" views. Neutrality just requires that we express each "expert" view as accurately as we can. D. Matt Innis 03:58, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
In a word, nonsense, as in the Nazi justifications. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:18, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Martin, yes, I think guidance on competing views is important. Now, I can speak with a certain degree of expertise on different views within the original NDSAP, much less neo-Nazis. For example, in discussing the Holocaust, it is appropriate to explain the economic exploitation view of the WVHA versus the "security" killing mentality of the RSHA. I don't need, however, to describe either sympathetically or suggest that CZ considers them reasonable views. The closest to "sympathy", required under existing Fundamental Principle Neutrality Policy I can get is observing the regret, in the death sentence of Otto Ohlendorf, that the judges had -- that he had not made different decisions with his agreed great abilities. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:22, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I think the distinction is that CZ shouldn't consider anything a "reasonable" view. It just states what the view was. The reader decides if it is a reasonable view. D. Matt Innis 03:55, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. Russell D. Jones 16:48, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

(undent) Maybe the important thing that is missing is that one editor shouldn't be deciding anything on his/her own. D. Matt Innis 04:01, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Why not? An author says that chiropractic manipulation causes gonorrhea. Do you need three editors to reject that statement? Sorry, I will not agree to the idea that an editor, if qualified, can't make decisions. That utterly destroys the idea of respect for expertise, and I won't stay under such a rule.Howard C. Berkowitz 04:04, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Also, expertise, as decided in editor qualification, should assume that some views predominate. I shall not, for example, agree that the WHVA or RSHA views, the proponents of both being hung by the neck until dead by order of the Nuremberg Military Tribunals or International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg), were reasonable. Both held a position that there was "life unworthy of life" (a doctrinal statement), but one believed in getting as much economic value as possible out of those useless lives before they died.
If only for myself, I'd like a firm position taken on these fundamental principles. If experts aren't to give expert judgments, I'd like to know, if only for myself, so I can leave without prolonging the agony. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:08, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict - I'll read your response after I put this back in) Well, as long as the chiropractor uses protection, everyone should be okay -- though they don't use antibiotics! :)
But what about the homeopath that takes out the statement that Howard puts in that says that remedies are 100% water. In this case there were other editors there to revert those actions. Of course, any appeal process would probably include more than one editor anyway, too.
Where are you going?
D. Matt Innis 04:14, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Leave Citizendium, and other online resource that has a Seinfeld sort of view that there are no positions worthy of being considered substantially correct. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:18, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I consider it crucial that the content gives particular weight to existing expert opinions, without the requirement to represent all views on a topic. --Daniel Mietchen 07:35, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't actually have a problem with stating a wide range of views, since an encyclopedia should do that. Nor do I have a problem with trying to state each of those views accurately, since academics are supposed to do that (and often fail). My problems are with the concepts of "objectivity" and "neutrality". The first because it simply does not exist; the second because it implies that we give equal and uncritical presentation of all opinions, even cranky nonsenses supported by 0.0001% of the population. This latter is not encyclopedic and impedes the presentation of serious scientific articles, if taken at face value.
There is a lot of opposition to the existence and wording of Neutrality Policy on CZ. Read the Forums. Note the previous editorial arguments and departures. Therefore, the Charter has to address this issue in principle. Again, I suggest the concept of "inclusiveness" while making clear to the reader which are the accepted mainstream positions. This is normal encyclopedia writing, and almost everyone on CZ wants that to prevail, as far as I know. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 11:00, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I think that "careful, unbiased and documented observation" (as stated in that deleted paragraph) is indeed possible and happens on a daily basis in many labs around the globe, but I agree that this is not necessarily what people (inside or outside CZ) would associate with the term "objectivity". So, in a sense, I understand that you are looking for a new title (what about "No prejudices"?), but I do not understand why the rest of that section would not fit. --Daniel Mietchen 12:17, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

My view, Daniel, is that the wording you selected previously is generally (but not always) appropriate for natural science. Observations in the social world are frequently biased and/or wrong; observations in history require interpretations. So, for a universal understanding of the underlying philosophy of CZ we need some explanation of how to deal with theories, concepts, ideologies, marginal viewpoints, religious beliefs, etc. This is extremely difficult. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 13:35, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

I like Joe's suggestion (per email) that we might take objectivity as a goal and, while being conscious of it not being universally attainable, strive to approach it asymptotically to the best of our means. --Daniel Mietchen 14:51, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I didn't notice the discussion here; sorry for my out-of-context, out-of-the-loop email. In short, I don't think we're going to be able to come up with a word or a policy that actually defines exactly what Citizendium will become. Thus, it is worth aiming for an ideal, even if we must acknowledge that it is merely an ideal. I think Objectivity is a worthy ideal. It should be complemented by a few others: accuracy; fair, unbiased representation; and inclusiveness. --Joe Quick 15:11, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
How about "holistic coverage"? I agree that objectivity is a sort of ideal but I fear it will be heavily criticised as a word or concept. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:23, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, holistic is good. I've suggested that word time and time again and have been repeatedly ignored or criticized for it. I doubt it is much better than objectivity in that way, but it is another important aspect. --Joe Quick 15:28, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
How's this for a formulation that encompasses the ideal and the practical: "All entries at Citizendium should engage their subjects holistically and objectively to the greatest degree possible. In practice, this means that articles should present the big picture, including all relevant perspectives, and should be written carefully and without bias." --Joe Quick 15:36, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Matt makes an interesting point in the Forum: that "neutrality" is one of several known attributes of CZ, so we should retain the word but carefully define it. I suspect that I personally will be happy with no single word, so provided that it is properly defined and unambiguous, I would not oppose retaining the actual word "neutrality" simply for continuity. This would mean that the definition needs to be absolutely spot-on. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:48, 12 November 2009 (UTC) And yes, your definition is not bad at all, Joe. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:49, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

The second entry at seems about right. It gives neutral as: "not aligned with or supporting any side or position in a controversy." I think the second definition of objective as an adjective is closer to what we really want: "not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased." Actually, they're just different enough that we might consider using both, so long as they are clearly defined. I also forgot above to include, "Citizendium is not a place for advocacy, nor for advertisement," which I think is really good. --Joe Quick 16:31, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
So here's my next take: "All entries at Citizendium should engage their subjects holistically, neutrally and objectively to the greatest degree possible. The holistic approach to article writing entails representing each topic as a complex whole rather than a simple conglomeration of its parts; a good Citizendium article will explain all facets of its subject, including all significant points of view, applications, and connections to other topics. It will also be neutral, which means it will not align with any one position if there is controversy surrounding some aspect of the article's topic. Instead, it will remain objective, describing each relevant position without skewing the narrative toward the personal beliefs or positions of the author(s). In short, articles should present the big picture, including all relevant perspectives, and should be written carefully and without bias. Citizendium is not a place for advocacy or for advertisement." --Joe Quick 16:49, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
There's progress here, as long as we have a clear understanding of irrelevant perspectives. Let me try an example of an approach: in the main Holocaust article, there should be only a brief mention that there are some that deny the Holocaust happened, a point where the great mass of opinion and evidence disagrees. See Holocaust denial for a discussion of the social and ideological factors that motivate this argument. Holocaust denial could be a stub, but the point is that it is not argued as a relevant view in the main article. In some cases, a sidebar might even be appropriate, if the topic adds flavor, such as Green cheese in an article on Lunar geology (selenology). (what cheeses are green, anyway? Sap Sago, vaguely...) Howard C. Berkowitz 17:31, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Well, the reason that Holocaust Denial is irrelevant (other than to note its existence and some notorious cases) is that their evidence for it is zero. It is a view that can be briefly mentioned (and it would be erroneous to omit it) but the actual coverage given to it in the article will be minimal according to Joe's definition above. On the other hand, an article on Holocaust Denial would be in order, because it is a political phenomenon and interesting in itself, although I don't think I would wish to explain their beliefs "sympathetically" as current policy advocates. I am happy with the latest definition, I think. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:55, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

(undent) It appears we are in fundamental agreement on the principles, but I'm not convinced we are saying clearly enough that a view with little or no support is irrelevant to the main article, and that it may be worthy of coverage as a social phenomenon. I suppose it would be sympathetic simply to comment that Fred Leuchter's knowledge of science was gained from children's television, but I'd really like to banish the concepts of "writing for the enemy" and "sympathetic". The closest I come is, perhaps, to note the classic tragedy, indeed sometimes noted in a death sentence, of how a bureaucratic mass murderer such as Ohlendorf both believed he was being pure to an ideology, even fighting for purity inside the Third Reich, and all agreed was an immensely talented man who could have, instead, done great good. Even he agreed that he needed to hang. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:38, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Concerning Joe's last configuration: I've thought about it off and on all day.. It is very good, I think.

As a head's up, though, I do have to mentiion that the word "holistic" is a loaded term for healthcare. In some medical circles it is a "bad word" because it has connotations of alternative medicine from the 1970s... having said that, I think it is a great word and a good concept for writing.

We have included the word "neutrally", but I wonder if we shouldn't keep this closer to "neutrality" for the "brand" effect that we all love and appreciate so much...

As for Howard's point about "irrelevent perspectives", I think each really has to be managed on a case by case basis at the lower levels. How much research is enough to qualify as a scientific endeavor? How many scientists have to agree that it is psedoscience? Is it fringe or is it cutting edge? Is the reed a musical instrument? Is yoga healthcare? Is prayer alternative medicine? Should prayer be used in the treatments for cancer article? I would have no problem with hearing arguments in the history workgroup concerning how much to include holocaust denial in any history article. I would expect that those editors can make the right decision. I don't know enough about it to decide that here. So, if we do anything about "irrelevant perspectives here on the charter, it should be to refer them to their individual workgroups. D. Matt Innis 20:51, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

We may be making progress. Irrelevancy is appropriately determined by people familiar with the topic. Now, that does lead to two potential problems:
  • What if the Workgroup has a low population, especially if there's one active Editor?
  • Editors need to be empowered to make such calls, rather than (it feels) constantly being told to get more Editors involved -- when there aren't any. I would have no problem, in a one (or few) editor workgroup, putting the question to the mailing list or workgroup page, but, to avoid endless edit wars, the relevant Editor or Editors have to be supported when decisions are made. Yes, there may be appeals, but if we do a reasonable job in selecting Editors, the majority of appeals will go against the appellant. For the EC to overturn a ruling, the matter has to be compelling to nonspecialists.
In some respects, saying "let the workgroup decide" is specifically going against what I call the hyper-egalitarian, and insisting on "sympathy" and presentation of all views of whatever relevance.
Neutrality, I believe, is a WP brand; it's just a restatement of the abbreviation NPOV, which we forbid. Going to a new word is classic rebranding strategy, especially when the existing brand is not distinctive. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:26, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I'll float this idea ...suppose we were to structure the workgroups in such a way that a hierarchy exists that grouped similar workgroups together so that no less than three active editors were available from that subset of workgroups at any one time. In fact, we might not allow a new workgroup to form until there are at least three available editors. You get the idea... it would allow for the same rules to apply even as we grew. Of course, we put this under the control of the EC. It satisfies Russell and Larry's earlier concerns that our structure is too big to fill the positions. This way all the positions are filled from day one and allow for growth.. and satisfy your concern and my concern about one editor making a decision. D. Matt Innis 22:08, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Sounds reasonable, but why should this get into the Charter? The EC has the power to organise this. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 22:29, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Exactly. Russell D. Jones 16:48, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I don't think that it should be part of the charter - other than to set the stage for the EC to do this, but we have to have a big picture to get this piece finished. When we're all on the same page, we are invincible. :-) D. Matt Innis 23:04, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
This should probably move under "Workgroups"
If we agree that it's reasonable, it's the sort of thing that I've been calling "interim guidance", which can go either into the Charter or a supporting document that can be changed by the EC without a charter amendment. Putting out such ideas lets us have needed structure in the 3-4 months it would take for the EC to decide.
That being said, some Editors are reluctant to go outside their specialty within an existing group. For example, I've been told, by Politics Editors, that they are uncomfortable doing International Relations/Politics. My own feeling is that experienced researchers can do an interim job, but it depends on the individual. I would be comfortable, for example, doing at least interim coverage, and perhaps later specialist or reorganized Editor, in Health Sciences, Politics and Journalism, all areas in which I have professional experience. I still would like to find someone willing to take on interim Military. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:41, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Building upon Joe's last configuration: "All entries at Citizendium should engage their subjects comprehensively, neutrally and objectively to the greatest degree possible. Writing comprehensively entails representing each topic as a complex whole rather than a simple conglomeration of its parts; a good Citizendium article will explain all facets of its subject that experts judge significant. It will also be neutral, which means it will not align with any one position if there is controversy amongst experts concerning some aspect of the article's topic. Instead, it will remain objective, describing each relevant position without skewing the narrative toward the personal beliefs or positions of the author(s). In short, articles should present the big picture, including all relevant perspectives, and should be written carefully and without bias. Citizendium is not a place for advocacy or for advertisement." --Daniel Mietchen 16:15, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
How should we title that section in the draft? None of the terms "Objectivity", "Neutrality" or "Comprehensiveness" seems to do it alone, so what about some combination of them? Alternatively, we could go for something like "Coherent narrative". --Daniel Mietchen 16:18, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
This is pretty good, except that it now uses a definition of holism to describe comprehensiveness. They're not really the same thing. We can take out the word "holistic" but we should leave its definition, which is probably much more useful than the word itself anyway. And then we should add connect the actual definition for "comprehensive" to the word itself. Here's my suggestion: "All entries at Citizendium should engage their subjects comprehensively, neutrally and objectively to the greatest degree possible. Writing comprehensively entails providing full explanations of all facets of an article's subject that experts judge significant. Furthermore, each topic should be represented as a complex whole rather than a simple conglomeration of its parts: a good Citizendium article will explain how different aspects of a topic fit together as well as applications and connections to other topics. It will also be neutral, which means the article will not align with any one position if there is controversy amongst experts concerning some aspect of the article's topic. Instead, it will remain objective, describing each relevant position without skewing the narrative toward the personal beliefs or positions of the author(s). In short, articles should present the big picture, including all relevant perspectives, and should be written carefully and without bias. Citizendium is not a place for advocacy or for advertisement."--Joe Quick 14:48, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
Very, very close. Holistic always makes me unsure if I'm dealing with religion, or doughnuts and bagels. One or two thoughts, some of which may be guidance, but deal with real issues.
  • The author's obligation is to be objective from the first draft. CZ is not a place to put a version with known bias and expect others to "balance" it.
  • "Experts judge significant" may be adequate to cover extreme fringe in articles that deal with substantives. Does it also judge with articles, the very topic of which is not objective except when viewed as a social phenomenon?

Howard C. Berkowitz 15:22, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

On the first point, it does say that the articles should be written without bias, not that they should be published without bias or once the bias is removed. On the second point, I know you disagree, but I don't think articles about fringe topics should be excluded simply because they are fringe. If anyone believes in a fringe theory, then someone is likely to look it up. Isn't it better to have an article that explains the fringe theory and helps people understand why it is fringe than to send them away with no new information and the belief that it still might be true? --Joe Quick 16:28, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
Our current policy allows us to remove articles that are obviously non-neutral - especially if the original author has left the project, though it seems that editing the article should not be a problem in that case. I'm pretty sure that anyone can find bias in anything anyone else has written on their own, so we shouldn't use that as a reason to delete the article or block/discipline an author (though I can envision the EC using biased writing as a reason to remove an editor's rights). Comprehensive, neutral and objective are lofty goals and we can't expect all articles to start out that way. All we need to do is to assure that the original author does not hamper the collaborative process as it attempts to make adjustments. That includes not allowing articles to be "owned" by any author or editor, and not allowing behavior that intimidates or causes people to shy away from the collaborative process. Then our articles will end up comprehensive, neutral and objective.
By using the word comprehensive, we are choosing to insinuate that we are looking for detail, which I think is a good thing. So, overall, I think Joe's configuration is pretty good.
D. Matt Innis 04:13, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

(undent) It is a problem when a non-neutral article is started and the author leaves the project, when the subject of the article is not terribly of interest to others, or it would take considerable research to document the other views. The assumption that other Citizens are waiting, eagerly, to fix articles is, I'm afraid, an erroneous assumption.

What is to stop an advocate for some position to register, drop in a number of quite biased articles, and leave, hoping that they will be here and retrieved by search engines before being detected? Perhaps an aside, but a warning sign tends to be when the articles could be linked to other articles yet are left orphaned.

I am simply not willing to agree to anything that suggests an author should not do their best to be unbiased from the first draft. Right now, I'm aware of a situation where some biased articles were posted by a new Citizen, who has not responded to talk page comments or email, giving guidance on other views that need to be presented.

Until there is a critical mass for collaboration, we can't afford the luxury of letting in any approach and expecting collaboration to fix it. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:49, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

It's a catch 22. Right now, that "thing" that you call "critical mass" is directly related to Google. Google won't pick up on our articles until we have reached a certain level of activity and we can't reach that certain level of activity if keep creating barriers that halt participation. One of the things that makes people join an online project is because they see some place that they can fit in. When they search Google for a subject and find that the article on Citizendium does not properly present their understanding, they want to join to change it. At that point we have to make sure that joining is easy and that making changes is easy. Our template on top of the page should welcome them and let them know that this is not an approved article - please join and help us reach that status. The author should be able to Be Bold and start writing. Over time, others will join in and, if they expect it to reach Approved status, they will have to contact an editor at some point. If we've set up our author/editor process functionally correct, the rest will work itself out. Making too many rules up front only "clips our wings" and keeps us from reaching "critical mass". A constitution needs to be just as viable now as it will be after we are all dead and gone. D. Matt Innis 13:26, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
It may be a catch-22, although I don't strictly believe it is related to Google, or, alternatively, that Google perpetuates the WP and superegalitarian Web 2.0 model. An alternative way to grow, however, is to show experts that there is a viable place for them. Fairly recently, I think we've seen a glimmering of ways to improve that attractiveness: the University of Edinburgh people on Eduzendium are showing a difference that seems based on having collaborative teams from the beginning. The ideas of having something that could be cited is a help, but I have some specific ideas of appealing to various mailing lists, etc., for expert participation, especially in providing a means of documentation that doesn't now exist. Literally, however, I've had individual experts refuse to join variously due to not wanting to be associated with the fringe, or because they find the signup process too intrusive.
Here's an idea for at least some fringe -- let one of our early attempted partnerships be, and perhaps have minimal fringe content here with links to them. Perhaps, for carefully selected things where we make a conscious discussion to discuss issues, they might link for us. Beyond the scope of the Charter, of course. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:57, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Of course you know that Gareth, our eminent "fringe" author and science editor, is the reason for the University of Edinburgh being here. He is training the exact type people that we want - those that are willing to confront the issues with science and reason... I believe Gareth was the one that wrote "sympathetic" into the neutrality policy. My point in bringing this up is that our goals are the same, Howard, we all want good quality content. We just disagree that experts don't want to associate themselves with what you call fringe. Healthy dialogue has to include all concerned, otherwise your content will be viewed as biased. D. Matt Innis 15:27, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
As soon as there is a critical mass of people, besides Gareth himself, who does not have much time, eager to fixed obviously biased articles, I'll consider that a plausible argument. Meanwhile, I deal with real-world scenarios such as a dropping of articles on Iraq War resisters, written by the defense attorney (a new Citizen) and making no reference to the prosecution arguments. The author has not responded to talk page or email courteous suggestions to balance them. I really don't want to research what is clearly another side. The articles are orphaned and not tied into the minimal legal arguments that are present. It bothers my "conscience of quality" to leave them as they are. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:53, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Well, one thing for sure, removing them won't stimulate anyone to write the other side or a neutral article. We'll just keep deleting biased articles until you get around to writing one and then wonder why no-one wants to participate. D. Matt Innis 18:08, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
No, not for sure. With a reduced number of biased articles, I can think of potential new Citizens who have been reluctant to join in a place where these problematic articles are present, which still claims to be different than Wikipedia. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:14, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Restarting this conversation

As there is yet no wording on an "objectivity clause," I'll make the following proposals: that the last draft of Joe's proposal be accepted and that it be called a "Content Policy." I agree with the arguments made above about branding (although I have no evidence about CZ's reputation). Branding is important. I like that the "Content Policy" places emphasis on expertise and that, probably more than anything else, brands CZ. Articles should strive for comprehensiveness, and present data/facts objectively and neutrally without taking sides, with the caveat that an expert understands that marginal interpretations need to be presented, and weighted, as marginal. Ex: (For alternative views, see NPOV and CZ:Neutrality Policy.) I also see where this conversation led to a look at the workgroup policy. I'm reserving judgment until I'm more familiar with your intentions there.

If I missed something, could someone please point me in the right direction? Thanks. Russell D. Jones 16:59, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Do you mean this draft by Joe? I assume yes and will paste it into the draft. --Daniel Mietchen 22:20, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
Just found this take on objectivity: "A measure of your objectivity is the extent to which you treat confirmatory results with the same scrutiny, skepticism, and search for alternative accounts as you treat unexpected or disconfirmatory results." --Daniel Mietchen 15:56, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
Hmm, well if that's a definition of objectivity, almost all social science fails :-) This is Karl Popper's negative and positive proof as scientific method, which I fully support (although it's not easy to practise, especially when idiots control financing of research and fail to see value in disconfirmatory results). I am not sure that it really is objectivity, but just good science. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 16:15, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

Amending the Charter

Did I miss some discussion on how to do this? The current formulation looks highly problematic and over-prescriptive for the future, to me. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 00:50, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

There probably was no real discussion, just the need to have the section and to phrase it out. Please make it better. --Daniel Mietchen 01:14, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
OK, I'll try another formulation, and see how people feel. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:18, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

I'm not clear on this..

The Citizendium also welcomes collaboration with external partners on any matters relevant to the project's mission, provided that the interaction does not lead participating Citizens to a conflict of interest with respect to this Charter. D. Matt Innis 02:12, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

It's a bit vague, although the Charter should not be too detailed either. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:19, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm fine with "purposely vague", but don't have any idea what it means. I can see "conflict of interest with respect to this charter"? Am I missing something that someone wants to make sure we don't do? D. Matt Innis 02:29, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I agree: I don't know what the drafter had in mind here. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:39, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Okay, I'll wait to see if anyone meant something specific by it. D. Matt Innis 02:47, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I meant that the partnership would have to ensure that Citizens are not required to do anything in conflict with the principles laid out in the charter. This is to avoid partnerships leading us into problems with advocacy, advertisement, or similar. --Daniel Mietchen 07:31, 12 November 2009 (UTC)


I think we should delete the second sentence under the collaboration section as too detailed for a charter:


  • The Citizendium is a collaborative project, open to constructive contributions by any Citizen on any of its content. However, large deletions or revisions, or renaming pages other than for clear errors, should not be made without a reasonable attempt to get other opinions. The Citizendium also welcomes collaboration with external partners on any matters relevant to the project's mission, provided that the interaction does not lead participating Citizens to a conflict of interest with respect to this Charter.

Suggested as an improvement with expectation of further input:

  • The Citizendium is a collaborative project, open to constructive contributions by any Citizen to any of its content. There will be no anonymous editing of publicly viewed content. All unapproved articles are open for editing by any Citizen at any time and immediately becomes property of the Citizendium. The Citizendium also welcomes collaboration with external non-Citizen partners on any matters relevant to the project's mission, provided that the interaction does not lead participating Citizens to a conflict of interest with respect to this Charter.

D. Matt Innis 02:44, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

I added the above changes, but have some minor concerned about the last sentence still. D. Matt Innis 13:45, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I have made some modifications and took out two sentences (pasted here) which I think do not fit into this section:
"There will be no anonymous editing of publicly displayed content. All unapproved articles are open for editing by any Citizen and immediately becomes property of the Citizendium."
The first sentence is already covered by the Real Names sentence, while the second is grammatically incorrected and mingles collaborative aspects (already covered in the initial sentence of that section, which I left in) with license aspects, covered in their own section. --Daniel Mietchen 13:52, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Edit comments

Please do not make any edit comments of substance or opinion, which are then lost to the record unless one goes to logs. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:11, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Do you mean on the Charter page? Because we have all been doing that with our edits on the Charter page... Martin Baldwin-Edwards 11:18, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I think going through the history is actually instructive with these comments, much less so without them. --Daniel Mietchen 16:05, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
I was thinking of this page, and that if a comment is useful, it should be in the text; the date on the signature accomplishes all that the history does but is far more readable. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:33, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Cross references

I added two cross references within the Charter -- to "Author" and "Dispute resolution". Martin Baldwin-Edwards 11:18, 12 November 2009 (UTC)


Let's drop the word "polite" from the section. D. Matt Innis 13:58, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Why? Martin Baldwin-Edwards 14:11, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Being southern American, I'm pretty sure my definition of polite is different than anyone else's. As an editor, sometimes short and curt is necessary, which some might not consider polite. That opens the door for a whole behavior issue of whether some editor was polite. CZ:Professionalism is hard enough to enforce already. D. Matt Innis 17:16, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Fair enough. I was prepared for the spectrum from "The War to Free the Slaves" to the "War of Yankee Imperialism", but was not prepared for the docent in the Museum of the Confederacy (Richmond) who referred to the "Late Unpleasantness Between the States". Something about "without personal attacks"? Howard C. Berkowitz 17:25, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
As a generally polite British, I do not recall any occasion when you were less than polite, Matt. I agree that words have different meanings across cultures, and even between persons, but I don't forsee any disputes over what is polite and what is not. Am I being naive, here? Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:59, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Consider the "polite" condescension of Dr. Cohen, for example, or He Who Shall Not Be Named who would dismiss any dispute with references to "scholars", implying the disputant was not.
I cannot help but share one of the more elegant expressions of distaste from a British admiral, where his American counterparts might be more blunt. A destroyer captain, knowing the admiral's eyes were upon him, decided to dock at high speed, showing mastery of shiphandling. Unfortunately, he misjudged, and embedded 20 feet of his bow in the wooden dock.
From the flagship came a one-word message, "Good." The captain was a bit puzzled.
Ten minutes later, the flagship signaled, "To previous message, please append the word 'God'". Howard C. Berkowitz 18:31, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Ha! Well, not pertaining to the anecdote, an injunction to be polite does not exclude the possibilities of fraudulent politeness and perfunctory politeness -- both of which may be found to excess in my country of origin. Nevertheless, it is understood that such persons are behaving incorrectly, and relying on superficial verbal form to conceal underlying intent. The injunction retains its validity. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:58, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Then should the professionalism policy be "no personal attacks", whether couched in profanity or fraudulent politeness? It would be nice if the Constabulary, however, could retain the truly magnificent response, as in:
  • Earl of Sandwich: "'pon my word, Wilkes, I don't know if you will die on the gallows or of a loathsome disease."
  • John Wilkes: "That depends, m'Lord, if I embrace your principles or your mistresses."
(U.S. equivalent available on request) Howard C. Berkowitz 19:03, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Well, we have civil and the civil template. To me, politeness is slightly more congenial than civil. Some experts, by nature, are quite abrasive - and somtimes perhaps rude. Authors that feel they aren't being heard tend to rage about editor bias. None of these are polite, but if done properly, can remain within professionalism and civility. Trying to regulate politeness seems like something I tried (and likey failed) to do with my children. D. Matt Innis 19:35, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

OK. I propose substituting "civil" for polite. I hadn't imagined trying to regulate politeness, but as we have already used civil for some time let's keep to it. I will change the draft now, and wait for any arguments:-) Martin Baldwin-Edwards 20:17, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Deal, no argument from me.. though could you imagine if we all had to be polite! It would be so nice to come to work! :) D. Matt Innis 20:25, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Civil works. Admittedly, when I was a civil servant, I attempted to be civil, but not servile.
Of course, suh, they were also polite on the Field of Honor. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:33, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

locking policy pages

We should state that policy pages and the policies themselves are locked once they have been confirmed by the responsible bodies, right? Perhaps as part of the interim suggestions, we should make it clear that the governing bodies need to evaluate existing policies, modify those that need adjustments, and the lock them. --Joe Quick 15:24, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Since our "bodies" aren't yet fully active, we should lock them as they are now and instruct which bodies have the power to amend them and under what circumstances. Once we have finished the process of creating the Charter, those bodies can then move to amend the policies that they are responsible for, i.e. neutrality policy, professionalism policy, etc.. D. Matt Innis 16:58, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Am I correct in assuming that what I've called "interim guidance" would go on these pages, with an appropriate section header to explain they come from the Charter process? Howard C. Berkowitz 15:32, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Editorial Council

As pointed out in the Forum, the vagueness of the previous wording allocated no definite seats to Authors. I have now specified numbers -- 8 editors, 5 authors. We need to decide on the ratio, but I think a clear majority of editors is needed on the editorial council because of the nature of its work.

Also, I amended the term of office from 2 years re-electable to re-electable once consecutively. This provision should also probably be adopted in the Management Committee, if people agree with it.

On a separate point, it is evident from past functioning that we need (a) elected senior personnel to make things happen; and (b) some rules of procedure. Is there any reason that we are not continuing the Chair and Secretary roles? What about Council Resolutions? We already have quite a few of those, and the process worked quite well until recently. Comments and suggestions are needed! I am also not sure about the need for this representation of the EC, by a Management Lead. What is this person supposed to do? Martin Baldwin-Edwards 01:48, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

Vice Chair and Chair make more sense than Secretary and Chair, since one of the specific needs is having someone to act in the absence of the primary. Beyond resolutions, both Councils need to be enabled to discuss strategy and objectives.
The Management Lead (and other Management) will need to be able to execute contracts on behalf of CZ, to make official statements not concerned with content, and to chair the MC.
I disagree with term limits in an organization such as this. In other volunteer organizations, when we found someone very good in a job, it tended to be that they would become tired, rather than needing to be forced from office--but they still needed to be reelectd. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:08, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
We shouldn't allow this Management lead to tell some external interest that he cannot comment because it is content related. D. Matt Innis 02:13, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't have a problem with term limits.
I'm okay with either Chair and Secretary or Chair and Vice Chair. D. Matt Innis 02:16, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Are we sure that something called the Editorial Council should not be made of all editors. If it is going to be the only body, then why limit either editors or authors? Just wondering. D. Matt Innis 02:19, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Keep the Council Resolution system and allow the EC to make it a simpler process if necessary. All Citizens need to be able to make proposals and vote on them, too? D. Matt Innis 02:22, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
No, the Management Lead can comment on content, or can designate a content person to do so. It is wise,however, that there is a central point for public relations.
The Editorial Council will not be the only body. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:45, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

[unindent] What about the number of members? I think 13 is too many for the moment, eleven may be better (6 Editors, 5 Authors). For the long term, one could think of a solution with more again. So what about setting it to 11 now and including into the interim guidelines that the number of members in EC & MC can be changed by up to -2 or +10 within the first two years after ratification if both bodies vote for this with ≥2/3? Have put a similar comment into the MC section. --Daniel Mietchen 16:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Let's take a look at the EC: from We've Strayed

  1. I thought too it was composed of authors and editors; CZ:Editor_Policy#Editorial_Council notes that the EC should be composed of only editors.
  2. Powers: The EC is responsible for naming conventions, standards, etc., but the EC never discusses this stuff.
  3. Article deletion is now handled by the constabulary. Citizens tag a page for deletion and a constable cleans the mess up later. Never while I have been on the EC has the EC ever deliberated about deletion of content. I've tagged a few articles for deletion and Hayford took care of it.
  4. Article Approval is now handled by the workgroup editors and the approvals manager. Never while I have been on the EC has the EC ever deliberated about the approval of articles.
  5. Editorial Dispute Resolution, Editor Approval, Workgroups, new workgroups, "Topic Informant Program" (whatever that is), choosing Chief Subject Editors (do we have any?), and something that seems like disciplining editors. None of this has the EC ever taken on during my tenure.
  6. Editor Status Approval has been handled by the EiC (that's how I became an editor, I think....); I don't know who makes these approvals now.
  7. The only activities in which the EC takes any involvement has been proposals.

So it seems that in practice the EC has abrogated its powers. The issue is how should the EC function? How should it regain its dynamism?

Russell D. Jones 01:09, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

Agreed that the EC only acted on proposals; that was the effect of Resolution 001, by which it voted not to do anything else -- thus leaving the "anything else" to the Editor in Chief, and, in future, to whatever a Charter decided. We are that Charter deciding mechanism. A body cannot agree not to do something with which the Charter charges it, unless that function is appropriately transferred. --Howard C. Berkowitz 22:10, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

Term Limits

I do not see a reason for term limits. Annual elections will remove unproductive EC members. Russell D. Jones 14:59, 8 December 2009 (UTC)


Current draft has this distinction about "Active Citizens". Only "active citizens" can vote for the EC. This term either needs to be defined or dropped. I prefer dropping it. Any citizen can vote for up to nine (or current size of board) EC members. The other option is to stagger elections over two years electing half each year. Russell D. Jones 14:59, 8 December 2009 (UTC)


There is a lot of discussion above about Chairs, Vice-Chairs, Secretaries, etc. How about "The EC shall be self-governing according to established parliamentary practice and establish its own by-laws. Russell D. Jones 15:00, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

There is also the problem of EC Precident. Will the EC created by this Charter be bound by the fourteen already passed resolutions? 001 completely circumvents all other policy regarding the EC; it essentially remade the EC. Brings up this issue. Russell D. Jones 15:27, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

Preserving Expertise

Try this:

In deliberations regarding workgroup content, approval of content, or deletion of content, all workgroup editors shall become members of the EC pro tempore of that particular deliberation. Temporary EC members shall have all voting rights equal with elected members of the EC but shall have no other voting rights on any other issue before the EC.

Yes, it more or less turns over control of the EC to the workgroup and this is as it should be. The workgroup editors are the experts on this content and they should know what is valid. The elected EC members then become the swing votes. yes, and this should include disputes involving editors. Russell D. Jones 14:59, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

I like this in principle but think it would require something previously discussed as a General Workgroup for topics concerning more than three workgroups. --Daniel Mietchen 00:23, 9 December 2009 (UTC)


Peter's comment in the forums about audience merits some attention. I have mixed feelings about the "high-school educated" audience level that was established for Citizendium at its outset. On the one hand, we need to be clear about who our target audience should be so that we can produce appropriate material. In general, the typical beginning college student (which is the original formulation, I think) or non-students with a similar level of education are as good a target as any if we want to produce a general reference resource. On the other hand, it actually does limit us somewhat. We should be clear that some topics require more specialized training to fully understand.

Howard suggests that top-level articles should be accessible to the general public while others might have prerequisites listed somewhere. That's a good place to start, but I think we need a more general strategy in the charter. There's no reason that any article would have to be written below the level of the general public, so we can use that as a baseline. We want to be maximally accessible, after all. It almost certainly is not possible to write about all topics in a way that the general public is able to understand; we must acknowledge that somehow and allow articles that are written at a higher level. However, we should not allow loopholes for people who simply don't want to write for the general public to hijack an article. We need a balance.

"Advanced level" subpages might be a solution but this is too specific for the charter. Without being too vague, we need a formulation that allows the project to host advanced material but still encourage all content to be maximally accessible. --Joe Quick 15:38, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

This is a legitimate concern without a simple answer. I do think it's an argument, which indeed might be in the charter, for "structuring" including the idea of knowledge hierarchies, but not specifying how the hierarchy is established.
As far as "hijacking", I have mixed feelings. There's one reasonably prolific author that tends to write initial articles that are somewhat more than an annotated journal bibliography, but lacking context. On the other hand, even though there isn't interactive collaboration, I've been able to fill in a fair bit of context, and perhaps make some of it accessible to an undergraduate. One of the things that differentiate these articles from what I've called a "data dump" is the references are generally pertinent, at least if one understands the topic. Perhaps we need to say something about encouraging collaboration when an author is, for whatever reason, not comfortable with putting the "scaffolding" around the key but complex details. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:02, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
"Accessibility" rephrased as "While the basic content provided at the Citizendium is intended for an audience with completed secondary education, more specialized content is welcome." --Daniel Mietchen 15:24, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
added "if placed in context" --Daniel Mietchen 15:38, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Management Committee

It is currently meant to appoint and oversee Constables, but allows Constables to be a member. Is this reasonable? --Daniel Mietchen 23:22, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Constables, by definition, are people of mature judgment, who also see the most of operational and behavioral problems. Why deny the committee their expertise? Checks and balances, especially when they limit the use of a small pool of people, can go too far. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:29, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
OK, agreed. --Daniel Mietchen 16:49, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

[unindent] What about the number of members? I think 13 is too many for the moment, nine may be better. For the long term, one could think of a solution with more again. So what about setting it to 9 now and including into the interim guidelines that the number of members in EC & MC can be changed by up to -2 or +10 within the first two years after ratification if both bodies vote for this with ≥2/3? Will put a similar comment into the EC section. --Daniel Mietchen 16:49, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

13 would be ideal, but 9 may end up being the most practical. We simply just don't have sufficient active participants, yet. This should be up for review every 12 months, when we can assess how membership numbers are going and if they are needed to make the committee function properly. Meg Ireland 05:33, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
We could also add that changes to the number of members of either the MC or EC can be made by direct popular vote without amendment to this charter. Russell D. Jones 17:36, 2 December 2009 (UTC)


The idea has been floating around for a while to have a friendly and collaborative alternative to CZ:Cold Storage. Do we need to include this point in the Charter? I think not, but it may go into the interim guidelines if we agree on its usefulness (I doubt it). --Daniel Mietchen 23:25, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

The specific need not go into the charter, but the charter should note that there are labels for confidence labels on articles in mainspace, that new articles are not necessarily reviewed, but that problem articles may be withdrawn from public space. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:29, 14 November 2009 (UTC)


  • There could be two types of bylaws — (1) the interim guidance, (2) explanations of the reasoning behind the phrasings, at least for the fundamental principles. --Daniel Mietchen 16:18, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

This idea of byelaws needs to be very carefully spelled out: as things are, they look very rough. Actually, this looks a little like the so-called Schengen Acquis -- the body of secret rules that the Schengen Treaty administration drew up, and then had to put into proper legal form when Schengen was incorporated in the EU Treaties. We started to see what arbitrary decisions people make when they are not visible decisions :-) Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:50, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

Replacement of people in special functions

  • We do not yet have provisions for replacing any one in a Special function. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

honor code

I'm in the middle of applying to Ph.D. programs. I was just now asked to agree to the "honor code" at UT Austin. It states: "The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. Each member of the university is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness and respect toward peers and community." We should consider distilling the spirit of Citizendium in the same way, including it in the charter as a foundation for our fundamental policies and asking new members to agree to it when they join. --Joe Quick 17:00, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

I agree with that. D. Matt Innis 17:39, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
I like that idea a lot, especially if it captured an honor goal of doing one's best to avoid bias and present relevant sides of an issue. That doesn't mean that one author will be perfectly balanced, but it can mean one tries to do so. It means one accepts this is not a place for advocacy.
Dare I ask if the code applies to MBA and JD programs? :-( Howard C. Berkowitz 17:44, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Sounds like an agreeable statement of principles. Russell D. Jones 17:34, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Withdrawal of contributions

should probably not be allowed. See also the forum discussion on this. --Daniel Mietchen 01:00, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

I agree. --Joe Quick 01:28, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
In the case of complete articles being deleted, no withdrawal. I can think of talk page discussions, or even sentences in articles (or sections) that an editor might write that might be a good idea to remove -- especially if found to be in error or potentially libelous. Obviously, anyone can remove sentences in articles that they have written, but not entire articles. In the case of sentences written by someone who has been blocked and they request that we delete it, I think we might occasionally obligue someone who is embarrassed by something that they have written. However, if someone has written good material but they no longer want to be associated with Citizendium, no, contributions should remain. So, I guess that if our charter were to include that, once written, all content is the propery of Citizendium, that would give *us* the option of whether to delete something. As a constable, I would delete something if the request is reasonable. D. Matt Innis 02:02, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
I think authors though should be given the option for applying to have an article deleted provided they are the sole editor. Once someone else contributes, it's no longer possible to delete. The decision to delete an article should be up to the editorial council for consideration. Meg Ireland 05:29, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
We already have CZ:Leaving the project, which covers up all relevant matters rather well. --Daniel Mietchen 10:38, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
CZ:Leaving the project: Too wordy and too political. Citizens who have been banned (have we had any?) should have their pages locked and/or wiped. Explanations are not required. For citizens who wreck rooms (Citizen Kane?) before leaving are just behaving badly and having not been banned for any violation of policy are still bound by policy. So I see that whole writing a parting shot thing just superfluous. Tag this policy for revision or expungency.
Regarding article content: it's a wiki; be bold. Jones 18:37, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
The principles involved here are basically two: the rights of the individual and the rights and protection of CZ as an institution. Any policy notated has to balance these two things carefully, and in particular not commit to actions that impinge on the integrity of CZ. For example, deleting discussions could make final outcomes look opaque and even incomprensible; or, we cannot completely delete editor pages because of the role of editors on CZ, and the need for transparency. Generally, I am not in favour of notating strong rights for people who have been banned! Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:47, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
I'm thinking more in terms of authors who leave the project voluntarily, perhaps more than being banned. I still believe that the deletion of any articles should be up to the discretion of the EC, rather than a straight 'no'. Meg Ireland 07:09, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
At a certain point CZ should exercise its power to protect itself. If people wish to vent about CZ there are plenty of places where and how that can be done. What sort enhancement to our credibility does it give us to have these parting blusters on our site? It just seems convoluted and time-consuming to go through this process of justifying and fairly portraying the last words of a malcontent. And who is really going to want to take the time and energy for that? So, that's where I ended up (below) with regard to Citizens' user pages; if you want a screed against CZ on your user page, fine (provided it's legal and not-offensive). Why does it have to be vetted through CZ? I'm more in agreement with Martin on banned citizens. And yes, I see the importance of maintaining talk pages and the records of administration. Those pages, though, can be archived and protected. Russell D. Jones 19:16, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Interim guidance

I rephrased the section on new editors. --Daniel Mietchen 04:42, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

I am not persuaded that there needs to be interim guidance. The charter states that it becomes active the day after it is ratified. The charter should specify immediate elections for all administrative bodies. One half the members of each body shall sit for one-year terms, renewable for two consecutive terms. The charter should then also state at which times annual elections should be held. Universal holidays seem obvious, but I doubt that people will have time to take out of their holiday schedules for CZ stuff. How about Nov. 11? I'll bet we all have a holiday then.... (Sorry, I wandered off topic) Russell D. Jones 17:32, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Sorry for the confusion and thank you for your patience. As I am beginning to understand this, the "Interim Guidance" policy is to supersede all other policies until such time that the MC and EC have reviewed and locked all charter-related policies. Is that a correct interpretation? Russell D. Jones 18:26, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I think so. There is going to be some delay, and all legal texts of this type end up with transitional measures to smoothe the transition. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:43, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

from professionlism section

I've removed this:

  • A set of persons of mature judgment — hereafter the Constables — shall be specially empowered to enforce rules laid out in this Charter or its accompanying documents. The enforcement of these rules — up to and including the ejection of participants from the project — is to be carried out with reasonable pragmatism and leniency, including in those situations where the applicability of existing rules may be unclear.

and would like to replace it with:

  • A set of persons of mature judgment — hereafter the Constables — shall be specially empowered to enforce rules laid out in this Charter or its accompanying documents. The enforcement of these rules is to be carried out with reasonable pragmatism and leniency, only in those situations where the applicability of existing rules is clear, and may be appealed.

As you can see there is a big difference, so I though I should run it through the discussion page first. D. Matt Innis 21:28, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

While I will agree that some improvement is needed, I disagree that our process should be so cautious that no action can be taken if the rules are not clear. There are real-world "soft" laws such as "disturbing the peace" that can get an arrest, and let a court adjudicate. I have, however, seen all too many occasions where someone, often intending to be disruptive, engaged in behavior that was not explicitly forbidden, yet clearly interfered with a pleasant experience for many. Need I say Martin Cohen and his many appeals, which still wound up with an attack in the media?
We have said the Constables have mature judgment. Trust it. If a Constable makes too many unreasonable rulings, the Management Council (or other body) needs to review the actions, just as the Editorial Council should track the performance of Editors. In the real world, there will be new people who know neither rule nor custom, and judgment will be needed to keep things from turning into Wikipedian chaos. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:25, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
An unreasonable ruling according to who? We still want this to be a free society - which means we need to abide by laws, not the whims of those in charge. I think it is pretty obvious that Hayford and I feel differently about different people on the project, but because our rules are well defined, our personal beliefs don't mean much so there is not much disagreement about what we can do about it. For those with potential to be blocked, it is equivolent to a death penalty, so shouldn't be taken lightly.
You bring up a good case in point about constable enforcement. Martin Cohen was not a constable issue and still shouldn't be. He was an editor who had a content disagreement. Constables should not interfere with those issues. Had there been an active EC with a dispute resolution system in place there might have been a better outcome. He was eventually blocked for revealing a personal email - which is a behavior issue that is explicitly prohibited in our constable blocking policies. Had he not released that email, he might well still be here. It's a shame that the editorial council never had the opportunity to find a solution to your struggle. But, hopefully, our new charter will help solve that. But, the solution is not to give constables the right to block anyone based on something as picky as "I'm tired of getting complaints about you" or "you're a fringe crank" and "we don't want you here".
Currently we have to give a written statement of why they were warned or blocked and cite the exact rule that was broken. I don't see anything wrong with that remaining the same.
D. Matt Innis 02:18, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
Matt, I was thinking about the issue, which I consider behavior and Constable, of his weird formatting of talk pages. That wasn't content. Further, I seem to remember, at the time, even when I pointed to fairly strong language against what he was doing, got the author of the language to explain that he meant the text to be nondiscretionary, you still pointed at the possibility that there might, somewhere, be a loophole.
Personally, I see much less wrong with releasing a private email than disrupting a talk page. There are times, for example, where the only safeguard against email harassment is publicity. I reserve the right to insult telemarketers or spammers, because they chose to contact me. If I agree to email privacy, that's one thing, but if someone privately flames me, I did not give them immunity.
I don't think we are going to agree; I look at this as something like the "broken windows" theory of urban renewal. It wasn't a matter of "fringe crank", but willful insistence on arguing and making life difficult for other Citizens. My opinion, over time, is that more people have left because a few people were given too much leeway than that too many were ejected. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:32, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
I think you're right about the fact that we probably won't agree here, so we'll have to leave it in the hands of others to decide for us. I saw the whole thing as two editors that had a fundamental disagreement about content and when there was no editorial guidance, they began to make life difficult for each other - breaking windows along the way. While banning one or the other might solve that particular problem, it didn't solve the larger problem of no guidance. In my opinion, since we want expertise to prevail (unlike wikipedia), we need to let editors make the decisions about who is correct and who needs to back down, not let constables squelch a disturbance before it even gets heard based on anything but expertise about the subject.
D. Matt Innis 03:46, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Well, the problem with the existing text is that it doesn't specify who or what institution will eject Citizens, or under what conditions, or exactly how Citizens' rights will be protected. Although the Charter is a basic document, it would be a mistake to set out principles without specifying basic parameters of their operation: that includes the underlying rationale and limits of a policy, the proportionality associated with it, the institutions and mechanisms for implementing it. So, although I agree with Howard that such an option of expulsion should exist, it has to be circumscribed. I'll try to think of some wording/ideas in the next 2 days. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 03:56, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

OK, I've given some thought to this issue. My opinion is the following: (1) we cannot ask the constabulary to do anything other than follow clear rules; (2) there is a need for potential "offences" to be adjudicated and possibly sanctioned; (3) we have not defined the role of EiC, and his/her relations with other institutions. So, I offer a draft set of rules to deal with this, below:

Under the professionalism section

Exceptionally, Citizens in persistent breach of the spirit or letter of CZ rules can be expelled from the project by joint decision of the Editor-in-Chief and the Ombudsman, subject to appeal under the Final Arbitration procedure.

A new section, for the EiC

An Editor-in-Chief shall be appointed, with a term of office of four years renewable once, by simple majority of each of the Editorial Council and Management Committee. The functions of this office shall be:

  1. to ensure day-to-day smooth functioning of the Citizendium,
  2. to facilitate the practical implementation of CZ editorial policy as defined by its governing institutions
  3. to make interim editorial decisions (in consultation with other editors)
  4. to carry out any other tasks as required by this Charter or decisions of the governing bodies.''

We also need to have some provision for the office of Chief Constable. I leave that alone for the time being. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 13:34, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

  • Exceptionally, Citizens in persistent breach of the spirit or letter of CZ rules can be expelled from the project by joint decision of the Editor-in-Chief and the Ombudsman, subject to appeal under the Final Arbitration procedure.
Constables still need to be able to eject people (sometimes even after only one offense), but only under clear rules and the decision should be appealable as well.
We also need to make clear that professionalism standards are enforced by constables for everyone - including the EIC and ombudsman.
D. Matt Innis 14:20, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Consider that there remain the various options of blocking from articles or talk pages, from topics, or full suspension without invoking a "death penalty".
Without challenging the idea, what are the duties of the Chief Constable? Remember we have designated the MC to appoint and supervise Constables. What is the role of the "Chief of Police"? Perhaps to give a second opinion on behavior? If so, there may need to be a deputy should the Chief not be available.
Does special authority reside in the Chair of the Editorial Council (and perhaps vice chair) before the EiC? I really don't want situations where all serious decisionmaking goes to one person. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:42, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
I think Matt should propose the clear rules/sanctions for the Constabulary to control or expel people: he is the expert among us. I agree we need something on the professionalism clause applying to all, including officials. My clause is the ultimate penalty without breaking clear rules, so needs to be constrained. On serious decisionmaking, my formulation is only that the EiC makes interim practical decisions that can be challenged. I do not advise giving out power elsewhere, but it might be a good idea to allow any of the members of the EC or MC or the Ombudsman to challenge the legality of a decision by the EiC. Currently, only the person(s) directly affected can appeal. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:23, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
I do not see why the Chair of the Editorial Council and the EiC should be different persons, as long as we have a Management Council for non-editorial matters. --Daniel Mietchen 19:37, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

(undent) For two very good reasons: (1) we already tried it, and... (2) it concentrates too much power in one set of hands, and contravenes the principle of separation of powers. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 22:43, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

I'd be willing to discuss the idea of having a President or some such person, separate from the heads of the Editorial and Management functions. That role, I suspect, would be more Citizendium's ambassador to the outside. I'm not sure why we need a Decider in Chief, given we are exploring, based on experience, other governance mechanisms. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:05, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Okay, at Martin's request, and from my understanding from the above conversation, here is my attempt to present the constable section of professionalism:

A set of persons of mature judgment — hereafter the Constables — shall be specially empowered to encourage collaboration in accordance with the ideals set forth in Citizendium's Professionalism Policy. Constable authority is restricted to matters of behavior and they shall not be construed to intervene in matters of content, which is under the purview of the Editorial Council and Editor-in-Chief. Constable tools may include: advice and instruction on wiki or through Citizen email, removal of offensive text, and warning and banning of users according to the Constabulary Blocking Procedures. The enforcement of these rules is to be carried out with reasonable pragmatism and leniency without prejudice as to Citizen status or position and only in those situations where the applicability of existing rules is clear. Decisions by constables may be appealed through the the appropriate adjudication process.

Exceptionally, in questions of disputes concerning content, Citizens in persistent breach of the spirit or letter of CZ rules can be expelled from the project by joint decision of the Editor-in-Chief and the Ombudsman, subject to appeal under the Final Arbitration procedure.

I would expect the CZ:Professionalism and CZ:Constabulary Blocking Procedures to be locked and the charter to design a specific protocol for amending those articles, ie. majority vote of some quorum..

D. Matt Innis 01:14, 25 November 2009 (UTC)


Daniel, I'd like to revert to the more specific earlier version, if, for no other reasons, for public relations purposes. CZ has acquired a reputation for being too academically oriented.

Further, I do personally consider it a matter of fundamental principles to establish that expertise can be established by other than academic credentials. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:28, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Missed that one here but had already replied per email. What about "Expertise will be recognized as it is custom in the profession" or some such, perhaps modulated by some EC approval? This would avoid academic connotations and leave everyone in (possibly including fringe advocates, however). --Daniel Mietchen 23:23, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
We need more detailed principles, without relying exclusively on academic achievements. I'll draft something in the next days and put it here. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:26, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps: academic qualifications and/or a proven community or work related experience over a set period of time? Meg Ireland 07:03, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

Fundamental policies

It seems artificial to me to separate these policies into so many circumscribed and separate pieces. They make much more sense if they are placed in the context that each provides for the others. I suggest that, without actually eliminating anything, we reorganize into three sections: article style (including the objective/neutral/comprehensive text we discussed above as well as accessibility and mention of expertise), article development (professionalism, expertise again, collaboration and being bold), membership (registration and real names, professionalism again, expertise again). External partners isn't really core, or at least not yet; it should be within the section describing the role of the Management Council.

These are big changes, so I wanted to bring them up here before I jump in to do it? Any concerns? Suggestions? --Joe Quick 14:37, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Maybe they can be reorganised, but I would prefer to sort out more basic principles before changing their actual location in the text. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:27, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Certainly the basic principles are important but I think many of these are too closely interrelated to effectively engage them separately. "Boldness" is the best example: it is contrary to much of what Citizendium stands for if it is not in the context of professionalism, collaboration and objectivity. I think we'll get farther if we think about the big picture and how they fit together; that's how we got so far with objectivity, neutrality and comprehensiveness. I'll think about how I would express them in context and report back.--Joe Quick 17:54, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
One way to organize them coherently would be to come up with something like the "code of honour" (as discussed previously) for the mission statement that includes the central prinicples. In the Fundamental policies section, we can then detail these principles either one by one, or in groups — hard to tell which one would be better until we haven't agreed on the final phrasing of the mission statement. --Daniel Mietchen 19:40, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Further phrasing suggestions

Howard (by email on Nov 27) had proposed some changes that I paste in here to avoid them getting lost:


Contributors to the project — henceforth Citizens — are required to behave professionally. This means acceptance of guidance from experts and from the wider Citizendium community and the obligation to remain civil and constructive even in cases of dispute. Within the framework of civility and maintaining the knowledge structure, Citizens are encouraged to be bold and creative.

Real names . (See mutual commitment section below.)


Expertise will be respected. It shall be recognized on the basis of guidelines established by the Editorial Council. The use of expertise to contextualize, and do original synthesis in explaining, is encouraged, although the main Citizendium space does not permit original research.


The Citizendium is a collaborative project, open to constructive contributions by any Citizen to any of its content at any time.

Structure and Accessibility

As content is added, it will be linked to other content, following standards developed by the Editorial Council, so the user may discover related material, and to find more or less specialized discussions. While the basic content provided at the Citizendium is intended for an audience with completed secondary education, more specialized content is welcome if placed in context. As far as possible, special needs of visually or otherwise impaired users and of machines will be taken into account.

External partnerships

The Citizendium invites collaboration with non-Citizen partners on any matters relevant to the project's mission, provided that the interaction does not conflict with this Charter.

He also suggested to add a "Mutual commitment" section at the same level as the "Mission statement", and to mention the real name requirement therein:

All those involved in content creations are part of a mutually trusting community of Citizens.

Each commits to ...insert...”oath/law” As part of that trust, all Citizens must register using their real names, which will define their user name

I would prefer a "code of conduct" rather than an "oath", but otherwise, the idea has merit — we just have to come up with the right attributes to mention.

--Daniel Mietchen 00:33, 12 December 2009 (UTC)


Currently, the electorate is described as being relevant to adoption and modifications of the charter. What about referendum-style votes on things that do not require changes to the charter but are normally handled through the EC/MC? --Daniel Mietchen 08:36, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

The idea of representational democracy (as opposed to direct democracy) is that the representatives of the citizenry should take decisions on behalf of the citizens for the following reasons: (a) to avoid the impracticality and bother of weekly referenda; (b) to avoid the dangers of shaping referenda questions and therefore outcomes; (c)to utilise the acquired expertise of the representatives, which is unlikely to be possessed by the citizens. These principles are equally valid in the cases of the MC/EC in CZ, in my view. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 14:12, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
The representational democracies I have experienced so far all lacked in what has come to be called evidence-based decision-making, and referenda can alleviate this problem to a certain degree (and even though referenda may be suggested in some democracies on a weekly or even daily basis, notability thresholds keep their actual frequency at much lower rates). I think, however, that CZ may have other means to the same end (e.g. giving Task Managers the right to be heard in MC/EC on matters concerning their Task), so I won't dwell on this any further. --Daniel Mietchen 12:27, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
I do not disagree that the quality of decision-making in recent decades has been terrible, and as I am sometimes on the margins of political decision-making I am also painfully aware that the concept of evidence-based decisions is unknown to our politicians and bureaucrats. I am more inclined to see it as a failure of quality control of personnel, especially in political parties, than a failure of the system. I hope that on CZ we will have better quality people: thus far, we have. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 16:52, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I guess as long as we try to assign functions based on merit, we shouldn't run into the problems political systems have. And having the Party of Constables stand in elections against the Party of Authors and the Party of Editors is, fortunately, not a realistic scenario. Perhaps we should also try not to overdo the comparison to offline legal systems, which are simply not always applicable to the project we intend to manage here. --Daniel Mietchen 21:45, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
With Hayford involved, it would be a Constable Party rather than a Party of Constables; his idea of a police state has only martinis in common with James Bond. :-) Howard C. Berkowitz 21:58, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

Workgroups again

This is what we have currently:

See also CZ:Workgroups

The Editorial Council may create and reorganize workgroups to arrange areas of content, and to encourage collaboration among Authors and Editors in areas of expertise. Workgroup members will build top-level articles and knowledge structures for the articles in a discipline.

The Editorial Council shall elaborate a strategy and policy on topic-specific collaboration, chiefly based on CZ:Workgroups and some accepted ontology or other knowledge categorization scheme. In addition to subject specific Workgroups, there shall be a General Workgroup with jurisdiction over general issues of style and content, and for articles of very wide scope. There may be, in addition, interdisciplinary or specialized Subgroups. In addition, there may be Area Groups, as for (e.g., Science or Science & Technology) to deal with broad issues affecting many but not all workgroups (e.g., units of measurement).

When there are disputes on content issues, assuming there are multiple Editors in a workgroup, they will attempt to resolve the dispute. Failing agreement, the matter will be taken to the Ombudsman, and then to the Editorial Council.

Our current CZ:Editor_Policy#Editorial_Workgroups_and_Management policy guidelines contradict all of the next three paragraphs. To encourage participation, CZ works to keep editors and workgroups from developing heirarchies that direct anything - especially from the top down. This is a major change in our current fundamentals. I'll try to develop something that would be more in line with what we are. D. Matt Innis 01:21, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

This is our current CZ policy on workgroups that I think we are directly changing with the above section:
Workgroups reactive, not proactive; and other restrictions.
It makes up no part of the purpose of editorial workgroups to direct the work done on the wiki; that is, while workgroups may establish some general policy for an area, its oversight over actual work done is reactive, not proactive. Similarly, it is far beyond the remit of a workgroup to make up new rules, that apply only to the articles in its care, that make it difficult for whole classes of people to work where, when, and as they want. In short, workgroups will not be permitted to make the wiki operate any less as a wiki. Furthermore, a workgroup may not establish policy that, if established at all, should plausibly govern a broader set of articles than the articles in the care of the workgroup.
D. Matt Innis 01:28, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
It may be a good change, if it means that Editors and workgroups emphasize developing things in context, and writing high-level articles. There is a difference between giving orders and stating objectives. Again, this is something to be discussed, because the two of us are generally at the opposite extremes of author freedom. I don't think my view is unreasonable, or even inescapable, if we claim to be expert-guided and quality controlled.
I might feel differently if we had hordes of people writing, and we didn't seem to have so much trouble with orphaned advocacy articles. The existing guidelines don't work. I'm afraid, at times, that your model isn't much different than WP; it feels hostile to Editors. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:30, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I agree that, though both of our hearts are in the same place, we disagree on how to get there, so it is important that we let others see both sides. I am not concerned with orphaned articles at this point as I feel that they will all eventually be absorbed and linked in due time as more editors and authors join the project. This isn't my model and nothing I've written is hostile to editors, only inviting to participation. No, we aren't much different than wikipedia - we build on what works and change what will result in more accurate information. All we need to do is we elevate experts to a position where they can help guide the content of articles and let them teach. WP gave experts fewer rights than even Joe Blow off the street due to conflict of interest. We do value expertise, but that doesn't mean we give them a club. They tend to use it to claim ownership - something that needs to be avoided at all costs.
Here is the other section of that same editor policy that we are contradicting:
Subject workgroups are divided into discipline and subdiscipline workgroups, but do not form a hierarchy.
A discipline workgroup, such as philosophy or physics, may form workgroups for subdisciplines, such as ethics or particle physics, and assign classes of articles to those workgroups. While a discipline workgroup may establish policy and standards for all the articles in the discipline, that policy and those standards are interpreted by the subgroups; there is no chain of command or of appeal from subdiscipline workgroups to discipline workgroups.
As you can see, these are in direct opposition to each other. D. Matt Innis 01:45, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

(undent)Well, I've given it some thought and really the only thing we need in the charter is:

See also CZ:Workgroups

For purposes of determining editorial and approval priveledges on Citizendium articles, editors will be divided into workgroups according to any fashion determined useful by the Editorial Council. Development of any form of heirarchy of workgroups or within a workgroup is strictly prohibited.

Everything else should be determined by the Editorial Council as needed. D. Matt Innis 02:22, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

I cannot agree with banning hierarchy. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:16, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
The Editorial Council oversees the workgroups; that's your hierarchy. The EC will settle any disputes that can't be settled by equally empowered editors within the workgroups. If we allow any form of hierarchy within a workgroup, then it is just a matter of time before one person develops enough power to overule anyone else and the exodus will begin. We have to legislate it out. It is our only way of leveling the playing field among editors.
That is not to say that certain editors won't develop the respect that earns them a certain amount of leeway from other editors, but that does not have to be legislated, it happens naturally. They just cannot declare that what they say goes. They will have to convince others with their reasoning - which, like mine, is good some days, and not so good on others. But, ultimately with a level playing field, the "best idea" wins rather than the "biggest editor". D. Matt Innis 04:07, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
We've been talking about two different things. I've been talking about hierarchy among workgroups, not workgroup editors. Think area group such as "social science", psychology, cognitive psychology and interdisciplinary psychological warfare.
I'm not opposed to having hierarchy among editors if it seems like a good idea in a specific group for a specific reason, but this is a quite different issue than content-based workgroup hierarchy. Matt, I'm not demanding of great organization and rules, but I often sense you want the Charter to make it very difficult to have rules. I was a libertarian when I was 25, but later saw more of the world. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:28, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm talking about hierarchies *within* workgroups and *among* workgroups and for the same reason - keeping the playing field level for all individual editors and keeping the content decisions in the EC. I'm all about having and making rules that encourage participation and creativity for people of all backgrounds. D. Matt Innis 05:14, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

I am very strongly opposed to these proposals on workgroups. There are not even active editors in half the existing WGs, and the varibale geometry that could be created in the future might well be a nightmare -- discouraging contributions and making unnecessary bureaucracy. The latter the Charter is committed to avoiding, so let's avoid it. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 12:18, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

I think what we definitely need is to structure content in a hierarchical fashion. Whether and how Workgroups can help to achieve this should be left to the Editorial Council. Certainly, developing a set of CZ:Core Articles within each field, and to harmonize these sets across fields should not be forbidden but, on the contrary, encouraged. But this already is at a level of detail not suitable for the charter proper and should rather go into the interim guidance. One thing I would like to add to the interim guidance on workgroups is a General Workgroup that comes in if a subject can plausibly be assigned to more than three existing Workgroups. Editorship in this General Workgroup would then be restricted to people who have approved a certain number of articles (one or two may be a good start) in other workgroups, and articles falling under this regime would require at least one approving Editor from that General Workgroup. --Daniel Mietchen 12:47, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
While I'm not clear on what the purpose is for your General Workgroup, I would entertain ideas concerning workgroups that have functions that help develop articles, ie. copyediting, neutrality checking, formatting, etc.. I think these are things that a well functioning EC can do - though there is nothing that says individuals can't do it on their own anyway. D. Matt Innis 15:06, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
Good point, Daniel. "Structuring content in a hierarchial fashion" is fine. It's "structuring editors in a hierarchial fashion" that is counterproductive. For example, no-one should be able to direct what others do first. That doesn't mean that a group can't get together and decide that they want to work on the core articles first. And we don't need this in the charter. D. Matt Innis 15:11, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
I agree that additional structures to check for spelling, consistent narratives, neutrality, formatting etc. but would leave this to a later point in time and to the EC to decide. However, we already regularly have the problem that three workgroups do not cover the whole scope of an article, and no guidelines are in place (or indeed even practically implementable) to choose between the different alternatives. I gave some examples in this forum post, another more recent one would be scientific method, for which Editors from the Earth Sciences or Astronomy Workgroups would certainly qualify. The purpose of bringing in the General Workgroup in such cases would be to make sure that expert perspectives from all all relevant fields are adequately taken into account upon approval. A second useful cross-workgroup activity is the harmonization of Core Articles across fields, and such a General Workgroup may be in a good position to oversee the process. --Daniel Mietchen 15:28, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
Okay, I understand what you're saying. Basically, there's nothing that stops people from adding appropriate workgroups when there is less than three (other than being afraid to add something because you aren't sure you can - not being bold). But, when there are more than three workgroups already assigned, have you seen an instance where there was a unsolved dispute about which ones should be on the list? In other words, did the article specific collaboration not work to pick the best ones? D. Matt Innis 16:07, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
I've seen many such problems; indeed, in the last few days, I've been frustrated in assigning workgroups to some articles I've written, since I honesty believed that more than three of the existing ones were relevant. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:00, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
Have you considered just adding the one that you are in and approaching other editors to add their own workgroup. You might find it a better way to get them to participate early on? If you add the three that you think should be there, that doesn't leave any room for a chemistry editor to come in later and add his workgroup when discussing rocket fuel ;)
When working on the Intelligent Design article, there was much vitriol over including the Biology workgroup as some didn't want to be associated with the article. Unfortunately, when they removed the workgroup, they removed their editor status as well. Just because a workgroup may belong on an article, doesn't mean that those workgroup editors will endorse the article. We had a history editor that put the History workgroup on all articles because everything has a history. If there was a spot left, no big deal = let the history editor endorse the history section of the article. But, if they were already taken, then it is time to evaluate the workgroups that are on the list. If there is a dispute, then the EC should be able to easily handle it. D. Matt Innis 01:40, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
I gave some more examples in a forum post. Others would include scientific method, peer review, color, emotion or collaboration. --Daniel Mietchen 21:38, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
Again, we can't make a workgroup take on a subject, just as we can't make an editor make a ruling on an article in his/her workgroup. All we can do is identify which workgroups are overseeing the article *at the time*. If someone new comes along and wants to take some responsibility for the article, then the idea would have to be that the editors that are currently involved in the article would debate which workgroups result in the most reliable and credible article. Disputes would go to the EC. I think we should allow a way for specialist editors to carry some weight on sections of an article that are within their field without having to have their workgroup take full responsibility for the article; ie, a Biology editor should be able to correct anything written about evolution in the Intelligent Design article without claiming knowledge about ID or lending credibility to the concept. The important thing is that the Approval tag shows what articles are overseeing the article. Obviously the more respected the workgroups, the more respected the credibility. D. Matt Innis 02:39, 4 December 2009 (UTC)


I have added some of Matt's text to "Professionalism", inserted a new section on the Constabulary with amended text from Matt; inserted a new section on the EiC with my text above; transferred Ombudsman from the Admin section, added more on Assistant Ombudsmen; changed the section heading from "Governance" to "Personnel and governance". Martin Baldwin-Edwards 14:02, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

That looks good to me, Martin, good choices. I've removed the "acceptance of guidance" and added "behavior" to the role of Constable from the professionalism section and organized it slightly diferently. D. Matt Innis 14:25, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes. Those are clear improvements, thanks. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 16:46, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

Citizen's Rights

We have brought this up in other places, but there should be a statement of the rights of citizens. There is one such statement in the section on the "electorate" which should properly be in a section dealing with the rights of citizens, "all citizens shall have the right to vote in elections as specified in this charter." "All citizens shall have the right to appeal decisions of editors, constables, Ombudsman, and EiC to higher authorities." There is another statement somewhere about citizens having the right to write without interference (I forget the exact wording); All citizens shall have power to control content in the user space provided it is not offensive, in violation of the laws of the Territoriality in which CZ servers reside, or in violation of this charter. All citizens shall have the right to present evidence in any dispute resolution. All citizens shall have the right to join and participate in any group organized on CZ. All policies, whether established by this charter, the EC, MC, EiC, Constabulary, and/or Ombudsman shall apply equally to all citizens. No citizen shall be denied any of these rights except by the due process of judicial administration as outlined in this charter. Russell D. Jones 18:16, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree, and your list is a very good start. D. Matt Innis 18:26, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
This might well be part of a preamble that includes the "code of honor" or whatever we call it; I like the idea of combining those two, which reflect both rights and responsibilities. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:48, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
"Citizen" has never been defined, and this should be done in the charter. I wonder if we should delete "Authors", replace with Citizens and define rights and obligations in that section. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:38, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
Citizen is indeed more general. I can think of roles where someone might choose to contribute as neither an author nor an editor, such as software development. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:08, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
A 'Citizen' is someone who has been formerly registered with the project and approved for editing by the Constabulary. Meg Ireland 06:54, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Meg's definition and am still wondering whether any of the situations considered in the Charter would treat Citizens in this sense and Authors (however defined) differently. Given that all Citizens should have the same basic rights (as stated rightfully somewhere else), such situations are unlikely to come up, and so we may indeed consider dropping the title of Author (which could also help people understand that they don't "own" CZ articles, even if they authored them). --Daniel Mietchen 22:01, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
Excellent point about "ownership", which, to me, justifies the substitution of Citizen for Author. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:35, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

Agreed.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 16:08, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

Interim Guidance

This is explicitly not part of the Charter, but is intended as a way of temporarily capturing the experience of the Charter Committee on things that are now dysfunctional. The idea is that it will go onto existing policy pages, which will be locked, but any such guidance can be changed or deleted once the appropriate Committee is operational. I see them as having a lifetime of 3-6 months.

Why the interim period? Consider this timeline. Let's assume the Charter is final in 2 weeks, and it is immediately ratified, a 2-week process (actually slightly more, due to international time zones). From past experience, it will take at least 2 weeks to get a list of eligible (i.e., active candidates), have them post positions, and then have 2 weeks more for election. If you consider our experience on the Charter committee, with, in a way, a smaller scope of work, it took us at least 2 weeks to get organized. In this timetable, something, somewhere is bound to go wrong and have more time taken.

So, it's going to be 3 months or so before the Editorial Council and Management Committee (or whatever they are finally named) begin operation. How long will it take them to discuss complex issues, such as approval levels, workgroups, appeal procedures, etc.? How long will it take to get Task Managers into place?

My hope is to bring together things already informally discussed, with the communal knowledge of some experienced citizens captured to deal with some of the most blatant problems. The reason that this isn't in the Charter is that the Councils/Committees have the authority to change it, without ratification or referendum, as soon as needed. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:39, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree that we need some way to bridge the time until these bodies can make their first decisions on the issues the Charter delegated to them. Calling it "interim guidance" is fine with me, but perhaps we should add some lifetime determinant into the section. For instance, we could advice that a given body implement a replacement for "their" share of the guidance within three months after its constitution or so, or we could constitutionally tag all interim sections for deletion within, say, six months. The problems with this is: What if this body does not manage to make that decision within three months, or if no replacement for an interim guidance is available within six months? We should have some default paragraph covering those situations, preferably a simple combination of the fundamental principles. --Daniel Mietchen 22:08, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

Who enforces the charter?

  • If someone has a complaint that someone or some Body is violating the charter, who will be responsible for interpreting the validity of the claim? D. Matt Innis 18:01, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
If I may be permitted an analogy in U.S. jurisprudence, the vast number of violations are of U.S. statutes or administrative law, not the Constitution itself. Give a reasonable set of rules/policies/interim guidance, which presumably will be vetted against the Charter when written, it should be rather rare that someone can speak, in a vacuum, of a violation of the Charter. The question will be more if a policy violates it. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:43, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
  • Who will decide if a particular action falls under the purview of the EC or the MC? In other words, who decides if the problem is content (EC) or behavior (MC)? D. Matt Innis 02:05, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
The best I can say is "Reasonable people; sufficiently reasonable that they were elected." You have made a point about too many rules. This is exactly why judges have some discretion. There are no rules that tell the Supreme Court of the United States whether to grant certiorari or not; it's decided in a judicial conference. Howard C. Berkowitz 05:15, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
I will draft something here over the next days, to put in place constitutional checks without creating any more personnel or institutions. You can see if you like it, when it's done :-) Martin Baldwin-Edwards 08:19, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
I'm a bit concerned about this becoming a theoretical blind alley, if it's much more than a general principle that policies should be consistent with the Charter, and any person concerned with policy drafting has the right and obligation to bring up particular points. Again, I emphasize that in my knowledge of constitutional law, primarily but not dealing with the U.S., the preponderance of challenges to constitutionality deal not directly with a violation of the constitution, but whether a law written under it is consistent with the constitution should have been adopted and applied.
Matt, I'd like to see a specific example of what concerns you, and how it would not be addressed by a judgment of the constitutionality of a law, or, perhaps, of the way in which an official exercises power. Further, I'd like to see an example of how the relevant Council could not simply be petitioned to decide. As an example of the complexity of the latter, see unitary executive theory, and consider that the structure we have described so far doesn't have any unitary executives. Martin, I'd ask you to rethink drafting language here, because I'm getting a sense that part of our delay is dealing with non-problems and things unlikely to become problems as stated. I'm especially concerned when the issue is one that delves into things best known from the law of nations, as opposed to the practices of voluntary membership organizations. Merely because something a matter of concern of actions of nations does not mean that it is applicable to the actions of individuals; consider, the reasons there is a separate International Court of Justice and an International Criminal Court.
There's a saying among attorneys, "bad cases make bad law." Unless something is a common practice, I tend to rely on institutions to deal with it. Yes, the Supreme Court of the United States did have to stop laughing before they decided Dick Cheney's claim that the Office of the Vice President was essentially a fourth branch of government, not under the checks and balances of anything. No one suggested that the Constitution needed to be amended to deal with such lunacy. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:05, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Martin, I am looking forward to see what you have to write. Please continue. Howard, sorry if I confound your way of working, but it conflicts with mine. Bear with me as I bear with you. D. Matt Innis 19:06, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Beware, I support the right to arm bears.
I will continue to object when I see something that I consider inconsistent with the general body of knowledge of governance, and the reality that we keep asking for extensions.
If you are going to bear with me, then answer my question and give me an example, rather than simply asking to get more words about your fear. It's a two-way street. So far, I don't see a practical example of what you want to make rules about, given also that I have given some substantive examples of why your formulation tends to be a non-problem in governance. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:42, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
My apologies, I was trying to save time in case there was an obvious answer that I was not seeing but okay, I'll bite. Let's try this: When Editor Howard Berkowitz, who is involved in a content dispute with Editor Martin Cohen and emails the constabulary whining about Editor Martin Cohen not indenting his comments properly on the talk page and posting comments on the top of the talk page, is this something that the EC would handle or the MC and who decides that? And then when Editor Howard is not happy with the outcome and complains that it was a MC decision not a EC decision, then who decides when it's over? Currently, we just ban one of the users. Will this charter change that?
I've got more and I'm pretty sure Hayford does, too, but I didn't want to waste more time with details.
I'm thinking that there has to be a judiciary somewhere as Martin was thinking. D. Matt Innis 20:21, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
There is a judicial function, but we are creating too many offices, for rare situations, to create a separate judiciary. To take your specific example, the indentation problem would ultimately be decided by a panel consisting, at present, of three MC and three EC members, with the Ombudsman breaking a tie if there is one.
Perhaps, at some future time, the Citizenry will be large enough, and there will be sufficient work, to amend the Charter to have a separate and sustainable Judiciary. At the present time, I believe there is a rational compromise, with due regard for separation of powers, in the 3EC/3MC/Om formula.
The whining Howard will either respect the 3EC/3MC/Om decision, or leave, as it should be. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:03, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
I also think that these situations are appropriately covered by the 3EC/3MC/Om model and the trust we can assume for the elected people. --Daniel Mietchen 23:49, 4 December 2009 (UTC)


There is also this problem that this charter creates: This charter asks the MC and EC to draft policy. Those bodies may include some of us, but not all of us. It is possible that those Councils could draft policies that contravene the intent of the citizenry who ratified this charter. How does CZ enforce the charter upon the EC and MC? How do we make sure that the policies adopted by the MC and EC are consistent with the Charter. Right now, we're relying on the good will of the EC & MC participants, that may be enough. Russell D. Jones 20:55, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Thanks, Russell, you said it better than I could. D. Matt Innis 21:27, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
Why do I hear an echo of the issues before U.S. courts of trying to read the minds of the Framers? (see unitary executive theory for discussions of what was really meant in some of the Federalist Papers, as opposed to what is actually in the Constitution?) Citizendium is not a nation struggling for compromise. This discussion seems to be oscillating between believing that trust is a fundamental assumption, and what comes across as extreme suspicion.
From my perspective, this is getting into areas of constitutional law that ultimately need to be decided by courts. Yes, the bodies may not include all of us; isn't that the definition of representative rather than direct democracy? Howard C. Berkowitz 21:58, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
The outcome of trying to keep to a minimum the number of institutions and personnel required in CZ is that there is an element of trust placed in the integrity and probity of future actors. If we wanted to follow a country's approach, we would create a constitutional court whose sole task would be to protect the constitution. This would be absurd in CZ's case, so the duty to be guided by, and to interpret, the Charter is laid on the future members of the EC+MC. Our task is to allocate that duty carefully and reasonably. Nothing more. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 23:28, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, Martin. --Daniel Mietchen 23:45, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Howard brought up this point elsewhere that the EC in its resolution 001 remade itself. So we already have precedent that CZ bodies will go against their founding principles. But this underscores my point and, I guess, Martin's agreement, that we really need to rely on the trustworthiness of the people running things. So maybe the charter needs to be specific: "in no instance shall the EC make a resolution or resolve a case that expands or dilutes the powers granted it in this charter"? Russell D. Jones 15:32, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

We've strayed

I've said it in emails behind the scenes and I will say it here. We've complicated the process with adding the MC and Ombudsman. They do not appear to be fixing anything and are adding a level of bureaucracy that seems too complicated for me to understand. I can't even get a question answered about it, so how are we going to manage when it has to put into practice.

Some say we need it to keep the constabulary in check, but that isn't even a problem. The constabulary works exactly as we have it written. The problem, to me is in the complicated Editorial Council. If we are going to fix anything, fix that and leave the rest alone. Keep it simple silly. D. Matt Innis 20:23, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

What question did we not answer? The reason for having an Ombudsman is, as usual, to protect Citizens' rights. There are plenty of historical problems that need fixing, which the complaints procedure is supposed to do.
The point about the Constabulary is not so much to keep it in check, although the principle is not invalid, but to make it accountable in policy direction. I am not aware of any complaints about the behaviour of the Constabulary, so this is not the issue, at least for me. But direction and accountability are important, and it is true that there really is none, and one case where there is some grumbling over that.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 20:42, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for responding, Martin. Forgive me if I'm being obtuse, but I have been watching this process for weeks now, trying to stay "objective" and giving it a chance to develop. The MC and Ombudsman positions at first seemed like they might be able to solve some of the editorial issues that we had: editors disagreeing with each other, authors not having a recourse against what they perceived as biased editors, biased editors ignoring authors, editors disagreeing with the EiC decision, etc., etc.. All of these led to the loss of valuable editors such as yourself and countless authors such as User:Stephen Ewen.
All of these issues are Editorial Council issues concerning content. The MC and Ombudsman could help balance power if the EC were all editors, but in our new charter, they aren't. Look at the situation with a clear eye and tell me that we can't do the same thing by empowering the EC to vote on these issues through whatever mechanism *they* decide - especially if we are going to allow authors on the EC. The problem before was that the fundamental policy did not give anyone the power to make any decision. All we need to do is give the bodies that already exist the power to make their decisions. We can still check and balance any way you want, but we don't need more bodies to check and balance... ad infinitum.
Then we need an adjudication process guaranteed through the charter to check the EC. D. Matt Innis 21:01, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
You're asking for someone to check the EC? The idea is that this body is representative and deals only with editorial issues. It makes policy and is accountable to Citizens directly, but is obliged to follow the Charter. We cannot put in place more institutions to check the EC and its power is confined to editorial matters anyway: the MC deals with practical issues. There are limits to checks and balances, and with the current composition of CZ those limits are very real. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 21:25, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
(EC, this is in response to Martin above, I will read Howard's comment later) No, I'm asking why we need an MC? And if it is to check the EC, then create an adjudication process instead. It doesn't have to be a BODY. It can be within the EC, within the Constabulary, or the give the EiC the final word, but WHY create an MC? The EC is going to be representative so it will be accountable as you say. The ONLY reason I would think to create another body such as the MC would be to counter an EC that was entirely editors. D. Matt Innis 22:40, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
Matt and I have some fundamental disagreements over what is editorial and what is behavioral. There were several incidents where I regarded an author, or indeed an editor trying to be in both roles, as variously refusing to accept guidance in accuracy or bias, or, bluntly, vandalizing a talk page discussion. In the latter case, there was preexisting written guidance, but Matt questioned if it was a "rule". The author of the guidance happened to be available and clarified he had meant it to be nondiscretionary. Other Citizens were complaining that they could not follow the discussion due to the bizarre way this individual, no longer with us, was interspersing and indenting his comments.
The position was taken by the Constabulary that since the behavior was not explicitly forbidden, it had to be permitted. My position, and that of others, was that minimal courtesy was not being followed and several people were finding the discussion unreadable. No Editor was available for the workgroup of the article, other than for an additional workgroup added by the disruptive editor, so the result was no decision -- the disruptive one was subsequently banned, which just might be a suggestion that he was, indeed, not necessarily working for the common good.
This was a behavioral, not editorial matter, and the only possible appeal was to Larry. Larry did, in fact, intervene with other problems from the same individual in other articles, in part telling him that he could not add his workgroup to any article, claim Editorial authority, and then argue and change text. Larry simply did not work with the article in question. As I remember, at least three Editors saw the situation as disruptive behavior, but, because none were in the workgroup of the article, their input was not acceptable to the Constabulary.
At the present time, only the EiC has any practical authority over behavioral matters. The Executive Committee has some similarities to the proposed Management Council, but the ExecC is purely advisory to the EiC while the MC would have an operational role, taking on many non-editorial roles now held solely by the EiC, including behavioral/constabulary oversight but also things such as budget, public relations, etc. The Ombudsman is intended primarily as a mediator, not as a Decider except in one very narrowly defined circumstance of ultimate tie-breaking.
Apropos editorial matters, I am not alone in having felt unsupported after making rulings well within my expertise. Other Editors have left, explicitly saying it was for just such reasons. Bluntly, without Editor/Experts, we are not differentiated from the over-egalitarian Wikipedia, which in principle "empowers the masses."
The structure incorporating separate Editorial and Management Councils for editorial and non-editorial matters, with a final appeal mechanism involving both, has checks and balances that do not exist today. This structure makes no one individual the Decider in Chief, even if the suggestion of having a reviewable quick-ruling person is implemented. Contrary to some suggestions, the Ombudsman has essentially no power to decide, only to mediate. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:17, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

(undent) Let me make it clear: I see the MC primarily doing that which is done now by Larry, advised by the Executive Committee, such as contracts, external relations, budget & fundraising, recruiting policy, technical resource management, etc. It has different responsibilities than the EC. Someone has to be responsible for these other tasks, and I believe there is a consensus not to vest all power for anything in a single person. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:45, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

{Edit Conflict} Anything written on the Wiki falls under the purview of the EC since it is all content. At one point I did suggest a unicameral form of government. An EC that is responsible for all of the content on CZ would also be responsible for issues such as the case that Howard describes above (above above). That sort of behavior/content creation seemed to fall between the cracks of policy; as Howard described it, it seemed as if someone was gaming the system. But an empowered EC could resolve what to do in that case and it would have been more democratic than having one leader-in-chief acting.
The functions that I do not see the EC being responsible for is anything NOT on the wiki, e.g. server relations, public relations, government relations, fund-raising. Dividing bureaucracy according to criminology (e.g., is this a behavioral issue or a content issue?) leads to a lot of gray areas (I was adding content about honeybees. How is that a behavioral issue?). This is similar to what Howard just described, but making behavioral issues deferrable to the MC muddies their duties.
Such a division also undermines the rationale for the Real Names policy which exists as a behavioral check. Anonymity breeds anonymous behavior; we know who you are and so does everyone else. You behave like a jerk and twenty years from now your children can see what a jerk you were. So, I'll propose that if we go with a strong judicial system, we drop the real names policy. It will bring more authors in and we'll have a strong judiciary to deal with anonymous users. We don't need both a strong judiciary and a RNP.
A community in which everyone knows everyone else is (or should be) self-policing. Generally, hasn't CZ been that? If it ain't broke don't fix it. What I see as broke is the editorial/authorial functions as mentioned above (generally authorial and editorial expertise not being respected). An Editorial Council that would be actually guiding the project (through policy creation, new proposals for functionality and/or operations, resolution of content conflicts, resolution of personnel conflicts) would be a great improvement (mea culpa, I'm on the current EC).

Russell D. Jones 01:09, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

I can live with the on-wiki vs. off-wiki distinction, but, if the EC takes that responsibility, it's going to have to be the body that oversees the Constables. Up to this time, there's been a sharp Editor-Constable distinction, which I'm not convinced is necessary.
Absolutely, positively, the Editorial Council is broke, but to some extent, that's a function both of personnel and of restrictive guidance on what it can do -- it cannot be something that only operates on resolutions.
A formal judiciary doesn't seem practical with the present membership. Ideally, the need for judicial action will be rare. If the judges must remain separate, are they going to stay involved? Will they be ready when needed?
I'd oppose dropping the RNP, but I do think, with some technical safeguards against vandalism, we could go to a much, much simpler Author registration mechanism. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:48, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

We've made a very significant change that goes a long way to solve one of the deterents to registration that we currently have; we've made the EC consist of editors and authors - giving everyone a voice. This is a big deal. And Howard is right that this is getting close to giving the masses the reigns to the project. So what we need to do (if we do add authors to the EC) is to make sure that experise still has an edge over popular opinion or minority opinion. If we don't add authors to the EC, then I'd understand creating a body like the MC that allows them to participate in things other than content related processes. But, we don't need to do both.
The constabulary is not set up to be the strong arm of the EC currently and I would not want it to be. The EC needs to be able to stand on its ability to reason through disputes, not force them. The nature of individual humans is that they need someone looking over their shoudlers; that is what the constables are for - individual behavior - editor or author or EiC, or constable. The constabulary works as it is.
D. Matt Innis 02:26, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
Matt, who would you have do what Russell calls the off-wiki things? Some of these areas need different skills than editors have. Sure, some editors do have media relations experience and some might be financial or contract managers, but that's not a given. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:24, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
The executive and EIC. D. Matt Innis 03:54, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

Well, now people are challenging the current working model of CZ which I thought we had all agreed is functioning moderately well and needs revision rather than abandonment. That model is that the EC is confined to editorial issues, and the MC is tasked with all other management issues -- both in terms of ultimate accountability and longer term policy. Therefore, both should be elected.

If you now change your minds and want only one body, we have to rethink the whole structure and start again, The draft Charter cannot be completed if people withdraw their support for things that were previously agreed (as I understood, anyway). The above suggestion by Matt leaves what is now a malfunctioning EC with responsibility for everything, meaning that the EiC in practice will control CZ. How is that solving any problems? The whole idea of the Charter is to put in place a structure that we think will help to avoid problems that occurred in the past -- to learn from past errors. I thought we were doing that reasonably well -- with the caveat that the current size of CZ is a real constraint for the moment on available personnel.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 04:31, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

Martin, this is the way it looks to me:
The current EC model is made only of editors. If you add authors (authors want to create credible content, too) the whole function and public perception will change. We have EiC that can make quick decisions, but with the new caveat that the EC can overrule him/her (this was your idea and a very good one that changes EVERYTHING!). We also have a constabulary that does not interfere with content creation - no matter how much pressure an editor or author tries to apply - and requires NO room for interpretation. We must make people feel safe to make an argument without fear that they will be swooped down upon by a constable or humiliated by an editor. In this scenerio, we then need a way to make sure that expertise prevails over the popular culture and create a dispute resolution process with creating quality content as its goal. Yes, the proposal system is too cumbersome and the workgroups need re-organizing to facilitate approvals, but these are EC issues. If we fix these things, we can grow and create good quality content.
The other option is to leave the EC with editors only (concentrating expertise here so we don't need to worry about that), but having to balance it with somethng like the MC and Ombudsman as suggested - letting them do something special (by the way - authors come to write, too, not do administration work) and then giving them some say in the dispute resolution process. My concern here is that it polarizes the community and pits authors against editors.
What we have written now, does a little of both (EC has authors and editors plus we have MC and OMB) which seems to me to change everything - abandoning the past system rather than revising it and at the same time just adding a new level without any benefit.
Again, I have voiced some concern through this process about why we were doing this, but was willing to wait until the full idea was out there before deciding and I think I made it clear that we shouldn't consider anything as having consensus until we've heard from everyone. D. Matt Innis 05:21, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
Well, everything you have written just above, is fine by me. But one factual point: the current EC has non-editor members and has had ever since the first council. The role of authors there is to inform editors of concerns of ordinary Citizens when policy is being formulated. i think that is a good thing, has worked well, and should be continued (as it is in our current proposal). The proposed MC is an extension of the existing arrangement who currently advise the EiC. Therefore, the only big changes are the redefinition of the office of EiC (to be something closer to Managing Editor) and the creation of an Ombudsman to mediate in complaints procedures. It would be a major change to put all power in the hands of the EC, and it is one that I do not support. As they are mainly editors, they should do editorial things. This is a basic requirement of good management: task people with things they are good at and like to do. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 07:04, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
As Secretary of the current EC and one who was preparing for a new election, the current EC is 2/3 editors and 1/3 non-editors. Early in the charter drafting, I proposed to make it half and half, and also require all stay active.
The existing Executive Committee is non-elected, its deliberations are closed in all cases (not just sensitive matters), and it is purely advisory to a single individual not accountable to anyone. Martin is correct, but let me review the main proposed changes:
  • Change EC to half editors and half non-editors; expect active participation; do not restrict it to voting on resolutions but to have an active role in discussion and guidance
  • EiC no longer is final authority. A (tentatively) Managing Editor can make immediate decisions but can be overruled by the appropriate Council. Note that this is analogous to the model of many professional organizations: there's an Executive Director (another possible name) responsible to the Board, or, in local government, a City Manager (not Mayor) responsible to the Council.
  • Executive Committee replaced with a Management Committee, to which non-immediate, "not-on-the-wiki" issues can be assigned to prevent overloading the Managing Editor/Executive Director and to improve accountability
  • Ombudsman is first and foremost a mediator. In many respects, it's a Gareth clone.
  • No formal judiciary, but final appeal structure with 3 members each from MC and EC, with Ombudsman presiding and voting only in the event of ties -- again modeled after real-world governance structures. "Lower courts" are appeal to:
    • Multiple editors in the relevant workgroup
    • Possibly 3 editors of different workgroups
    • Full Editorial Council
MC votes are more difficult unless the action was by a Task Manager, and then it can be appealed to the MC. Otherwise, we could have a procedure to ask the MC to reconsider, with the complainant participating in the discussion, and perhaps someone uninvolved, from the EC, presiding over the discussion
I also do not support a unicameral EC. There is an enormous amount of pure editorial work for a revitalized EC to address. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:38, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
[Edit conflict: I'll read Howard's post after I save my own comments below] Most of what I write below has already been discussed, but I want to make a comprehensive statement of my thoughts on community structure at this point:
I am in favor of having a Management Council as well as an Editorial Council. I believe the former should deal with community management while the latter should deal with editorial style only. They should both be very nimble and should be allowed to act of their own volition or to adopt proposals from community members. They should start very small and be scalable as the project grows.
I like the idea of an ombudsman but I don't know why that role can't be filled by an EiC who is in charge of making day to day decisions and mediating conflicts. This person should be maximally free to make decisions as they need to be made, though I think it's a good idea to allow either of the two councils/committees to override these decisions. Thus, the appeals process would go through the EiC/Ombudsman if the appealed decision is first made by a constable but would go to the appropriate council upon appeal of the EiC/Ombudsman decision. A final appeal would be made to a judicial body.
The judicial body could eventually become separate, but as a working model I think it should be made up of the EiC/Ombudsman and the chairs of the MC and EC. This will mean that final appeals will be made to a body of three that includes two people who have already heard the case, but I think this is okay. It should be clear that if the EiC/Ombudsman and the chair of the committee to which the decision was originally appealed already agree, this will be the final decision. If they disagree, then the chair of the other committee will break the tie. So, it sounds a little unfair on the surface, but I think it is actually elegantly fair when it comes down to the core: final approval is only meaningful if there is actually disagreement about something. This judicial body should be allowed to reject an appeal if the chair of the relevant committee and the EiC/Ombudsman agree that they already agree.
So far, my scheme leaves out decisions about external affairs. These are a different realm, I believe. They are not really community decisions; they're really organizational (in the NGO sense) decisions and should probably not be made by volunteers. The Citizendium Foundation is, after all, a legal entity (or it will be when it is officially created). Thus, it needs employees who will be accountable. Fund-raising, expenditures, external partnerships, and so forth should include the community of volunteers but such decisions should not be made exclusively by volunteers because someone has to be accountable. Citizendium needs at least one employee, and I don't think we should weigh that person down with other responsibilities as described above, so we need to describe an business administrative role too. Once established, the administration needs to be completely free to make decisions and modify itself as needed yet still be ultimately responsible to the volunteer community as a whole. --Joe Quick 14:57, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, Joe, I agree with this structure. But we get to the mechanics of things. EC and MC elected by the Citizenry; I think we are all in agreement about that. Who appoints Constabulary? Electing them has opposition. Appointing them from the EC has opposition. I guess that leaves appointing them from the MC. EiC appointed from EC.
There is also the unresolved matter that Matt brings up which is how do we reconcile expertise with republican government (Holy Smokes, we're back dealing with the Progressives...)? I think eventually we're going to have to come down on one side or the other. WP has placed it's eggs in democracy. We've put a lot of emphasis on expertise. Russell D. Jones 15:11, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
I think the "guidance" role (even if it's gentle) points toward republican government (but a gentle one). Of course, putting forth collaboration as a core organizing principle suggests a purer form of democracy, but never mind. Splitting governance into MC and EC gives us the opportunity to have both republican government and expertise. A Management Council that oversees community building and conduct should be very democratic while an Editorial Board should be founded on expertise and function in a much more top-down fashion. All members have an equal right to participate in the community but not everyone has (or should have) an equal say about editorial decisions. --Joe Quick 16:20, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
So that would imply an EC solely of editors elected by editors? Russell D. Jones 16:48, 8 December 2009 (UTC) --It's not necessary to get into this; I don't really want that. Jones.
Thank you. Maybe I talk too much. D. Matt Innis 17:02, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
I suppose it does at least imply that it is made up of editors only. I'm not sure it also requires that they are also elected by editors. Far more important than how they are elected, in my opinion, is that they represent a broad spectrum of expertise (hopefully) in all the fields we have content for. I would say that each workgroup or each super-group (Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Humanities, etc.) should elect its own representative(s) except that anyone can join any workgroup so there's a lot of space for gaming the system. So maybe they should be elected by other editors in the same group. So long as the editorial council is not making community governance decisions, it need not include authors. --Joe Quick 17:05, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
Then in that case, I can see creating another BODY such as the MC that is democratic in its makeup and function - but I'm wary about just making them only responsible for management and behavior, we have to at least give them something concerning content worth being here for - style maybe, bot production, anything not related to expertise?
But, that is not what this new charter is saying, the EC is going to be 50/50 editor/author, so it's not democracy we've lost, it's the expertise factor. In this case, why do we need bicameral if we already have everyone represented? We'll need to strengthen the ability for expertise to prevail. D. Matt Innis 18:31, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

(undent) An author member of the EC may well be expert in some topics, but, for whatever reason, chooses not to be an Editor. Remember that we hope to have some of the most specialized discussion in workgroups. Consider, though, the EC creating general style guides -- the Author presence allows a reality check to see if there might be problems working with such rules.

I may be wrong, Matt, but I have a sense of your seeing the relationship between authors and editors being much more adversarial than I do. Certainly, there will be exceptions where either an author or editor is defiant, but most of the time, people will work together. I'm thinking of a very good and productive Computers contributor who simply wants to write and not Edit, but who is indeed someone I go to for specialized expertise.

If the MC has oversight over technical functions, not all of which are directly related to content, bot functioning might well be something that falls under a software requirements & testing task manager.

There is a huge amount to be done in purely content matters. Remember the MC, as opposed to the EC, will largely be open, so things such as registration policies, alliances, etc., will be handled in a way different than today's forum back-and-forth with either nothing getting decided, or the Decider ruling arbitrarily. I can see the policies of relaxed Author registration (even self-registration), if and only if combined with a karma/reputation system, being a topic decided there, and then the MC prioritizing it for software development. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:45, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

I disagree: what bots do, what functionality we have, subpages, templates, all of this is content-oriented and should be part of the EC. Russell D. Jones 19:23, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
Didn't say functionality, but testing and certification of software, and the especially important aspect of prioritizing requests for software changes. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:34, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
So if I read this right (correct me if I'm worng), and understand what's written on the Charter page, the Management Committee is the old Executive Committee, but is now going to be an elected committee and will now be performing the duties previously the responsibility of the EiC while also appointing, managing and overseeing constables and therefore behavior and some testing and certifying software to prioritize software changes so the EC can decide what it wants to do. If so I'm not particularly happy with this, mostly because it changes things that are good about CZ, but doesn't seem to have any effect on the real problems of the editorial council.
D. Matt Innis 02:47, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
(re-emphasizing as the deadline approache). Yes and no, Matt. Yes, the MC will take the non-content responsibilities that were those of the old EiC advised, in a non-executive sense, by the Executive Committee; Executive presumably referred to its deliberating in executive session.
The proposed EC is an EC without the restriction of Resolution 001. Resolution 001 was the core of the problems of the old EC. Many of the personnel originally appointed to it never participated in any CZ activities, hardly setting a precedent. When I made an attempt to get it involved in anything else, I was chastised. A new, elected EC, without the 001 restriction, is a very different animal. Arguably, the old EC was closer to a plant. --Howard C. Berkowitz 22:17, 9 January 2010 (UTC)


As Peter pointed out, registration is a fundamental element of the interaction between the project and its contributors, so it may merit its own section. I would put it under Governance, though. Essential points would be that registration implies that the user accepts the terms of this charter, and that s/he receives all (or, with karma, some) rights of a Citizen. --Daniel Mietchen 01:43, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Expert workflows

I would like to add the notion of CZ striving for integration with expert workflows. For academics this would be mainly teaching (via Eduzendium) and research (Labzendium??), though I am not sure what requirements non-scholarly experts may have. --Daniel Mietchen 02:37, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Current phrasing is

Expertise will be respected. It shall be recognized on the basis of guidelines established by the Editorial Council.

I think the second sentence can go, since the EC is later defined as overseeing content matters, which includes expertise. In order to include the workflows, a phrase like this may be appropriate:

Expertise will be respected, and integration of Citizendium with expert workflows is encouraged.

--Daniel Mietchen 16:12, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
It's now phrased "Expertise will be respected, and integration of the Citizendium with expert workflows is encouraged, as long as this does not diminish the user experience of non-experts." --Daniel Mietchen 16:34, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
While it's outside the scope of the Charter, simply for information, you've probably noted that I've done a lot of work on social networks, not in the Web 2.0 sense but in the political, using, to some extent, techniques from intelligence. Also in the practical political, there are such things as discovering interconnections. The latter may most usefully come from dumping membership lists and the like into relational databases, with semantic interconnection as a longer goal. Semantic networks are also a leading edge for medical information. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:11, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Too many controversial changes, too much detail, too little structure

There is too much changed here. It has to be either accepted by email or on the Talk page or removed. There is also far too much detail, it is all too wordy, and the drafters are claiming too much authority. We do not have the right to tell the EC what it should do, only to tell it what its powers and limitations are. Far from doing the latter, the wording of the authority of the EC is ambiguous and open-ended, which will only create problems in the future. The definitions need to be delineated and logical.

I also do not like the structure now, it is very messy and not at all like a charter.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 20:49, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Some of this may be methodological. The IETF experience is that online markup by individuals doesn't work as well as circulating complete drafts.
Next, let me ask if some of the more detailed material might move to "interim guidance" pages, perhaps of an interim interim nature.
My personal observation is that we would do better to start at the beginning, with fundamental principles and a possible code of conduct, and finish it before going on to the details of the bodies. How can we define the bodies if we don't have the overall structure, which will include audience? Continuing that sort of top-down approach, next, move to the function of groups before defining the functions of individuals. We could also try to freeze the mechanics of adoption. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:01, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, we should start with the mission statement and the fundamentals. The rest is basically just scaffold. --Daniel Mietchen 23:25, 14 December 2009 (UTC)


We are at:

  • The Citizendium allows contributions by any Citizen to any of its content at any time. To establish trust, contributors register under their real name and are required to participate in a civil manner.

but through email we've gotten it to:

  • The Citizendium allows contributions by any Citizen to developing articles at any time. To establish trust, contributors register under their real name and are required to participate in a civil manner.

D. Matt Innis 15:09, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Editing "any content any time" is not true for Approved content (this has been pointed out weeks ago), but contributing to any content any time is (if there is a typo on an approved article, I can mention this on its talk page and thus contribute to its correction, even if I can't make the edit myself), except for CZ:Cold Storage — but should this be regarded as CZ content?. Also, "allow" is too top-down; "encourages" may be better. Furthermore, "developing articles" has the CZ-specific meaning of "status 2 articles" (more developed than a stub, less than a developed article), so I would not use the phrase as such in the Charter. So my suggestion goes somewhat like this:
  1. The Citizendium allows contributions by any Citizen to article drafts at any time. To establish trust, contributors register under their real name and are required to participate in a civil manner.
  2. The Citizendium encourages contributions by any Citizen to article drafts at any time, especially if they have subject matter expertise. To establish trust, contributors register under their real name and are required to participate in a civil manner.
Not sure, though, whether "Trust" is the right heading for the first phrase, and exact phrasing of course depends on how we sculp the mission statement. --Daniel Mietchen 23:43, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Drafting period over?

According to the headers on top of the charter drafting page and this page, the charter drafting period ended on December 10, 2009 (four days ago or more). I'm assuming this page is now open for general discussion and comments? Thomas H. Larsen 03:34, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

It was extended to Dec 14, and should soon be open for comments (I hope). Martin Baldwin-Edwards 10:15, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
We asked for another brief extension but did not hear back from Larry. There's been a lot of progress in the last few days, and I think we are very, very close to having a decent draft. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:52, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
That sounds good. By the way, I think that the Charter looks quite good, although I would recommend reducing the number of sections. (The table of contents looks quite intimidating to a new reader, even though the document is fairly short.) Thomas H. Larsen 20:09, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
Glad to hear that, as Joe and Daniel recently had some great ideas on simplifying and condensing. They are so good it will take a little while to figure them out and rewrite. :-) Howard C. Berkowitz 20:28, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
I've been very bold and created a user sub-page draft which implements a number of changes. You may, or may not, find it useful. :-) Thomas H. Larsen 20:46, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
It is very hard to say now whether it will be useful, but we certainly appreciate the effort you put in these suggestions (also layout-wise). --Daniel Mietchen 22:37, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
Thank you, and good luck!—Thomas H. Larsen 22:44, 15 December 2009 (UTC)


I've been a fairly strong proponent of adding "trust" to the Charter, and I'm glad to see it's under the list of fundamental policies. The actual "trust" clause, though, isn't what I envisioned.

Something like the following, in my opinion, would be better:

The Citizendium invites all citizens to contribute at any time; citizens are encouraged to "be bold" in contributing.* Our community functions on a basis of trust; contributors register under their own real names, and are trusted to participate in a professional manner.
* Clarify what "be bold" means.

That still isn't perfect, either, but more in line with what I've tended to advocate for. --Thomas H. Larsen 22:00, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

Where are the Citizens?

Still, the Charter does not define "citizen". This has to go either under Mission Statement, or Fundamental Policies. I suggest within the Mission Statement. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:33, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Editor-in-Chief article/title

By all means, give Larry the respected title of "Founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus." That being said, he should be the last person to carry the Editor in Chief title.

Rather like the Holy Roman Empire, the EiC title currently described is neither Editor nor Chief nor, I suppose, "in". I regard it as a completely unnecessary role. The rationale for having it seems to be based on the assumption that the past Editorial Council was inactive, for historical reasons that do not apply to the new structure; in like manner, there was no Citizen organization that corresponded to the Management Committee being proposed. The Executive Committee was not an executive, but an advisory board.

With a strengthening of Workgroups and adding the mediator-only Ombudsman function, we provide intermediate means of decisionmaking. Since the assumption is that there can be deputies to the Ombudsman, I see no reason not to have either deputies to the Chair/President/Whatever of the Editorial and Management Councils. Alternatively, there could be, as is the standard for many organizations such as appellate courts, there could be a time-based rotation among Council members, giving interim decision authority.

Given the negative publicity associated with a Benevolent Decider in Charge at Wikipedia, CZ should differentiate itself by not suggesting, in any way, that anyone but a structured community is "in charge". If there must be, and I don't think there should be, an "interim decider" separate from any other function, call it a "managing editor" or something more accurate.

I can speak from quite a number of years of experience with the Internet Engineering Task Force, which has a well-organized structure of Workgroups, an intermediate tier of Areas, an "approval" Internet Engineering Steering Group, a rarely used appeals mechanism, and even an "approval manager" equivalent. True, it uses mailing lists and document versions rather than a wiki model, but the fact that its mechanisms have been the fundamental means of developing the actual specifications of the Internet suggest it might be doing something right. It has no Decider, no Editor in Chief; indeed, one of the Tribal Elders once said "we don't believe in kings, presidents, or voting; we believe in rough consensus and running code." Running code, of course, doesn't apply here -- we can't have experimental validation. --Howard C. Berkowitz 23:22, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

The real power and decision making should be in the hands of an elected representative entity. Meg Ireland 07:26, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Well it is, in this current arrangement. Howard is objecting to the EiC title for handling problems immediately, as a sort of managing editor. Unless we are going to pay the Managing Editor, I think the least that can be done is simply award the continued status of EiC with the clear mandate as written in this draft charter. The EC is ultimately responsible for all editorial policy, but cannot be expected to react within one or two hours to an urgent matter. Nor should the unelected Chairs of committees be given such duties: their task is to chair committees, not to manage CZ. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 12:30, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Martin, are you saying the specific problem to be solved is [to] "react within one or two hours to an urgent matter"? If so, let's analyze the requirements for meeting that objective.
If that is not a critical requirement, then let's also look at the potential liabilities of the proposed EiC position, which is not a replacement of Larry's role. In the Charter, the individual with the EiC title is indeed elected — for a four-year term, where the members of the EC and MC aretwo years. This immediately seems imbalanced. Further note that the current proposal does not address the role of specialist Workgroups as an intermediate layer between the single Editor and the EC, for content matters.
Next, I see absolutely no reason to believe the title of EiC, without associated power, will be a comparable motivation to being "Unless we are going to pay the Managing Editor, I think the least that can be done is simply award the continued status of EiC with the clear mandate as written in this draft charter.
I have never assumed that the chairs of Councils (note the difference in terminology; I don't regard an elected Council as equivalent to an appointed Committee) are unelected, but I also do not assume that all authority comes from direct democracy. Let me give the examples, in both a parliamentary and nonparliamentary system, of the Speakers of the U.K. Parliament and U.S. House of Representatives. They are indirectly elected by the people, but elected by members of the majority party or coalition. In like manner, professional organizations such as the IETF seem to manage quite well with the basic escalation ladder being based on committee chairs.
It was not my experience, over years, that the EiC consistently "react[ed] within one to two hours to an urgent matter." Fatigue and other commitments, for a non-paid individual, set in. I think I respond as quickly as anyone to questions, but I'm certainly not paid.
Where the selection of Council chairs is not explicit at the present time, it can be made so. We do not have the concept of a majority party, but we can certainly call for a vote, perhaps even a public vote, of the Councils' membership. Another option would be to have a second general election of Chairs from the list of elected Council members, or perhaps some variant such as proportional voting for X general members, designating one vote for chair as well.
If ensuring rapid response is the goal, a single individual, even if paid, won't achieve that, given we operate in 24 time zones. If rapid response is the goal, a well-accepted concept in many kinds of organizations is to have both a rotation and an escalation/backup system. For example, in my work with hospital workflow systems, we first electronically page a primary nurse. If there is no response in a defined time (e.g., 10 minutes for non-emergency), the unit supervisor is paged OR the senior nurse for that shift. If that individual does not respond, we continue going through a preprogrammed organization chart, until someone at an executive level is paged. Of course, for a life-critical emergency such as a cardiac arrest, we have much shorter times to page the backup person.
Such a backup could well go through a rotation of the EC or MC members. If someone consistently does not respond when it is their turn, they jeopardize their status, just as Inactive Editors no longer can exercise editorial authority. Rotations/rotas can be published, and, of course, the members can negotiate to cover holidays and the like.
Were you assuming, Martin, that a single EiC without deputies would respond in short hours to a situation that arose either in Australia, Europe, East Coast US, West Coast US? Those happen to be the four locations that Cisco Systems places support centers to guarantee short, prime-shift response. The normal planning assumption to cover a position 365 days per year is 5.2, usually rounded to 5, full-time equivalents, assuming a 40 hour workweek.
I suggest that simply continuing a presumably status-bestowing title, without the authority, is not going to achieve the objective. Further, for those who do not know the limitation of powers, it suggests a Benevolent Dictator, something from which we differentiate.--Howard C. Berkowitz 15:59, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, we're not going to agree on this, probably because of different life experiences. My opinion is that it is essential for an individual to be charged with responsibility, without the possibility of buck-passing. At the same time, that individual has to be accountable to others -- in this case, to the Citizenry via the EC and/or MC. In terms of reaction time, I think it is correct to say that Larry used to react within hours; more recently, he was absent and this role model does not apply. I leave it to others to choose between Howard's and my approaches; between us, we can politely agree to disagree. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 21:51, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Let us agree to disagree. Nevertheless, how do we handle this in terms of choice? Your language is now in the draft. I would like to see it removed. We need input from others on the Committee, since we do not have a mechanism for denoting disputed sections. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:06, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
I share Howard's concerns about the practicality of one person being on "within hours" duty, and I think a simple but efficiently structured rotation/ escalation model as he described it would be way more feasible. I also agree that the replacement of a benevolent dictator (with which many non-profits, and even companies, start out) by something community-structured is an important sign of the project reaching maturity.
I have my doubts, though, whether our community is currently (or in the near future) strong enough to go down this road, while I think our chances are good to find some Citizen willing and able to act for some reasonable period as the "accountable benevolent dictator" that the current draft foresees. I could thus also imagine to start out with the individual decider model (for which I agree that Managing Editor or Executive Editor would be more appropriate as a title) until some milestone is reached (be this the second anniversary of the Charter coming into force, or 1000 Approved Articles reached), and then switch to the community model.
As for whether and how to keep or remove the current section, I think it should stay for the discussion period, and we can decide its fate as a function of the broader feedback we will hopefully receive. --Daniel Mietchen 22:59, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't see that we had any problem previously other than the fact that the EiC decision appeared to be final. We fixed that by directing that the EC can take another look. I don't expect the EiC to make a decision in two hours unless that is all that is reuqired. I would hope that the EiC would read the debate, ask questions and make an educated decision, no matter how long that took. D. Matt Innis 23:52, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
THe timeframe of 2 hours is indicative rather than literal. It is in comparison with about 2 months for the EC to decide anything. Therefore it could be 2 days as opposed to 2 hours, but it is still a great difference with a committee's timeframe. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 00:00, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I agree.
As Daniel suggests, whether the EiC can keep up is a good point. As with other positions, the EiC position should be allowed the discretion to develop his/her own process to evaluate disputes. I would consider creating templates that ask proponents to make their best presentation of the facts as they see it, then decide based on that. Other EiC's may do something totally different - maybe even recruit managing editors :) D. Matt Innis 00:13, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

(undent) I don't think it's an issue of establishing if an EiC can keep up. The reality is that when Larry had other priorities, he was not highly visible. There was general agreement the Editorial Council was dysfunctional, and the reasons and proposed solution have been discussed. Why are we now trying to justify staying with a less powerful version of what has not worked, certainly for some months?

Now, Matt, you are speaking of giving an EiC "discretion". I am quite alarmed about the trend, in this discussion, to moan and groan about failures of community governance, when the community institutions were not allowed to develop discretion -- Resolution 001 cut it off from the Editorial Council, the Executive Committee was never operational, and there are no checks and balances on the Constabulary. Sorry, I don't want to get emotional about this, but this is increasingly sounding fearful of any broad-based governance and a desire to simplify by giving power to a Leader. Crippled institutions are not likely to exert good oversight, and, when there is discussion of giving "discretion" to an EiC, we seem to be taking a giant leap backwards.

As Kipling said,

It is always a temptation
To an armed and agile nation
To call upon its neighbor and to say
We invaded you last night
We are quite prepared to fight
Unless you pay us cash to go away
And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

I'm not seriously suggesting that the EiC will become a dictator, but the direction of this discussion seems to be strangling community institutions in the cradle.

If we don't start moving toward community institutions, when are we going to be mature enough? Sorry, maybe it's a U.S. thing, but Dick Cheney was also willing to be the Decider, and somehow kept insisting no one should review the Administration's actions. --Howard C. Berkowitz 00:41, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Dick Cheney didn't have an EC. Larry didn't have a functioning EC. We've fixed the EC. Resolution 001 will be a thing of the past, so is a moot point. We have community institutions. All you've done is taken away the EiC's executive committee advisory and made it a community institution. Are you saying the EiC shouldn't have a staff? D. Matt Innis 00:49, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
No, I'm saying there should not be an EiC, so the issue of staff is irrelevant. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:52, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Then you are asking content disputes to be decided by committee, and I assume you're expecting that to be quickly. I don't think that is a reasonable expectation. As a constable, I yearned for someone to come and just make a quick decsion so I didn't have to block someone who finally got so upset that they slipped into unprofessional behavior. D. Matt Innis 01:03, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
No. I expect initial decisions to be made by individuals belonging to the governance body, through some type of rotation system. A rotation might be through all members, or through a chair and deputies, or other detail to be determined, but the key aspect is that the temporary decider for issues such as behavioral issues is part of the governance institution. If you will, it's a parliamentary rather than a semi-unitary executive model with a separate Decider pathway.
There will be considerably more peer pressure on an individual of the EC (or, where appropriate, of a workgroup) than of an individual who is "overseen" by the body. Martin spoke of life experience; I can think of quite a range of organizations, with which I work, volunteer and paid, where a rotating "duty officer" works quite nicely. Indeed, the concept of a rotational mechanism even has been used in online communities such as the Well, where "karma" points (positive and negative) for articles/posts are assigned by members of the community, serving in rotation. As opposed to a free-floating Decider, people tend to be more responsible when they know that they are subject to the same sort of authority. Incidentally, may the Editor in Chief also be an author? If there is a dispute with that article, who handles it? In the system I propose, if the person in the rotation is a party to the dispute -- not that I see that as a frequent occurrence -- there is a simple mechanism of going to the next available person.
The immediate decisions would be reviewed, assuming dispute, by a committee with legitimacy, not made by the committee. As a result of the review, the decision may be changed. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:17, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
You are describing exactly what the constabulary does. We have constables that work together and separately, but we are all under the direction of the Chief Constable. Give the EiC as many "managing editors" as he feels he needs and make him/her answerable to the EC just as the CC is answerable to the MC. D. Matt Innis 01:55, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
By the way, the EiC *will* be an author on most of the pages, otherwise I would be complaining of a conflict of interest. The only thing the EIC is effectively doing is deciding what gets to stay on the article page while the EC works through the decision. This, of course, assumes that the article workhroup editors can't come to an agreement. Remember that authors may also be the ones complaining to the EiC against several editors in a workgroup that are all agreeing (maybe a neutrality issue). The EiC's decision may be that there needs to be a other workgroups involved... if those editors have a problem with that, then they can take it to the EC. The EiC doesn't actually have to make the content decision; only plays a role in deciding how the decision will be made.D. Matt Innis 02:16, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

The problem with this scenario, I expect Howard to tell you, is that he opposes the idea that the EiC should be able to assert any power over editors in a workgroup. I have some reservations on that point, unless the EiC is prepared to negotiate directly with the EC on editorial issues that need resolving fairly quickly. Whatever the desirability or not of this, one thing is certain: other arrangements (such as rotating chairs and long bureaucratic processes) will be even worse than an EiC who is accountable to the EC and MC. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 10:34, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Interesting points. Matt, are you suggesting the Chief Constable might be equivalent to what Martin describes as the EiC? I want to think about it, but that has a certain appeal. My intuitive reaction is that there is less built-in conflict between a Constabulary title and the EC than there is between an EiC who is not(?) a member of the EC yet reports (?) to it.
Why shouldn't the EiC be prepared to negotiate directly with the EC? I'm not sure "negotiate" is the right word, as it suggests to me a bargaining between the two, rather than EC oversight. A closer scenario is that the EiC might make an interim ruling pending EC action. Remember, we are proposing:
  • A smaller and presumably more agile EC
  • No Resolution 0001 restrictions
  • Provisions to remove inactive EC members
  • To be eligible for the EC, both Author and Editor members must be active contributors
There is, however, a glaring weakness in EiC rather than Chief Constable: who acts in the absence of the EiC? At least there are other constables who might be named Acting Chief for quite limited periods. No one has ever suggested a sole Constable. Perhaps the compromise is to elect the Chief Constable, who still will need oversight by the EC and MC. Now, we've said Constables can't serve on the EC or MC, but it's worked for Constables to be Editors, but not on the same article. I'm slightly hesitant to make a Constable, who doesn't often write (or edit), to make decisions about writing; I'm much more comfortable about one who does. --Howard C. Berkowitz 10:45, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
I would be against the CC having anything to do with content. I am open to giving the EiC the authority to choose helpers so that he/she may organize his/her work anyway he/she wants. You can call the Managing editors if you want. But, the EiC is responsible for the quick decisions - though not binding. This person can certainly explain their rationale for their decisions during appeal time, but as long as we make it clear that the decision is temporary, then there should not be any ego problems when the decision is overturned by the EC or MC. Remember, the EiC is not an expert in the field that he/she is making a "content call" so everyone should understand that the EC has final say (should that avenue be chosen). D. Matt Innis 14:37, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
First, I remain vehemently opposed to the EiC, so helpers are moot in my view.
Further, as far as content, the logical first place for resolution, whether it is explicitly defined or not, is in the relevant workgroup. I see no difference, other than neither making good sense to me, in saying workgroup definition is the role of the EC and should not be addressed here, but allow an EiC, with a longer term of office than EC members, to make quick content decisions. Right now, that is the structure. Effective subject matter workgroups are one of the hallmarks of collaboration in content as in the IETF, yet, Matt, you are concerned about inordinate power in them. I am concerned about inordinate power and uninformed calls on the part of the EiC, whom now may have assistants who presumably report to the EiC.
Again, the IETF has Areas that incorporate workgroups, which, more than anything else, are a venue in which non-obvious workgroup assignments are made. Areas, however, do establish cross-workgroup technical conventions (e.g., there are four major and many specialized routing protocols; the Routing Area makes sure that common definitions are used).
No, if the matter is too complex for the CC, it belongs in a Council-based structure, and I come back to rota, I come back to a smaller and more agile EC with requirements for participation, I come back to the experience of both content development organizations and organizations that have operational responsibilities. In the latter, I have worked with life-critical medical and death-critical military response; they might, perhaps, be a bit more results-oriented than the EU or the U.S. Senate. --Howard C. Berkowitz 16:46, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

It's not that it is too complex for the CC, it's that it's out of the scope of the constabulary to consider content when concerned about behavior. Keep them separate. This council based structure that you want becomes too cumbersome. We need someone who can make a quicker decision so we don't have to have long drawn out discussion like these every time a decision has to be made. Let the EiC make a decision, and then the review of that decision can go on somewhere else where the apprporiate editors can be contacted and asked their opinions and debate the pros and cons while the authors of the article move forward with something else. How hard is that? D. Matt Innis 17:25, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

(undent) It is hard because our experience, with an EiC admittedly under no review, variously led to proactive and intrusive action (e.g., Crash of 2008), but also of agonizingly long times to make a decision when actively involved (e.g., how long did it take to move Extreme Abuse Survey into Cold Storage?).

My life experience with council based structures in organizations committed to subject matter expertise is that they can and do work, as in the IETF, with military staffs, with technical support escalation, with medical consultation. You can't say it won't work here simply because a Resolution 001-emasculated EC full of inactive participants didn't work — as opposed to a smaller EC with participation requirements.

"Let the EiC make a decision, and then the review of that decision can go on somewhere else where the apprporiate editors can be contacted " is totally unacceptable to me; it flouts the concept of expertise. Let's assume that I were the EiC, a hypothetical about which I take the Sherman statement ("I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected"). Again as a hypothetical, assume Meg, as a recognized music expert, gets into disagreement over a matter of popular music content. I know so little about popular music that I don't know to what alternative music is an alternative. Without going off and researching the issues, how can I make a responsible decision on anything except behavior and process?

Ironically, I've responded, on the Citizendium Blog, to an interesting post of Larry's about the "hive mind". I find it fascinating that while non-contextualized Google is considered a problem there, with which I agree completely, there have been a number of cases where an expert, not myself alone, got an argument about the title of an article based on number of Google hits, not (and I'm not referring to Wonderland, History of) expert usage of the definitive name &mdash with abundant redirects for whatever Google brings. We have evidence that a non-specialist EiC (and Constables) argued exactly for Google hit count. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:40, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Howard, CZ has always operated with the clear dual distinction between editorial content (managed by the EiC and the EC) and behaviour (managed by the Constabulary). If you start mixing them up, you create new problems. The dual distinction worked quite well, with the excpetion of Larry as founder who tended to try to solve all problems. Our task, as consitution drafters, is to provide institutional bases for the future -- and part of that is obviously to build upon what worked well, and to replace what didn't. Larry's departure as EiC will automatically solve many of the problems associated with that office; at the same time, new problems will be created.
It seems to me that you are dwelling on hypothetical future problems predicated on specific issues related to the current EiC. This is not the way to go. We have to assume goodwill on the part of individuals and institutions, yet place checks on their power in case of occasional lapses. At least, this is what I have tried to do when setting up some of these draft institutional frames. We cannot make an unlimited set of hypotheses on human behaviour: we have to make reasonable assumptions. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:57, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
It seems to me you are dwelling on hypothetical future problems predicated on specific issues related to the currrent Editorial Council, specifically dealing with content. My content recommendations are based on experience with a number of different organizations that must deal with subject matter issues. The concern you and Matt express with workgroups and Editors strike me as disincentives for subject matter experts to become involved, especially because what they can see, if they look at the Forum, is a history of actions related to the discretion (not trying to be critical here) of a founding EiC without checks and balances.
To me, honorably retiring the EiC title is a salute to Larry's unique contributions, a signal to new recruits that we are providing an institutional structure that is community based, and a differentiation from WP and Jimbo Wales. You say we have to assume goodwill on the the part of individuals and institutions, yet I don't see goodwill assumed for Editors, Workgroups or a very much redesigned Editorial Council. I see goodwill assumed for what has been a visibly dysfunctional mechanism.
As you say, we have to make reasonable assumptions. Assumptions, or axioms, are unprovable in mathematics, but, in other areas, reflect experience. Especially in software engineering, and for that matter in medicine and military (i.e., life and death), assumptions are clearly stated. The problem here is that we have different Charter Committee members whose experience leads them to make different assumptions, and we haven't heard the assumptions of all the members.
I have, I believe, offered several compromises, such as making a clearer role for the Chief Constable in matters of behavior, but I cannot support the idea of an EiC who would run afoul of concern with mixing behavior and content. The proposals I have made for an EC rota, preferably first having interim guidance for workgroups, is intended both to get interim decisions and to ensure that expert collaboration is involved in the definitive decision, with a clear avenue for appeal should the matter not be resolved at the subject matter expert level. The more that I think about it, the more I believe that it is necessary not to leave all Workgroup policy up to the EC; the Workgroup concept, and possibly the Area or General Workgroup concept, are inherent to good content development (or technical decisionmaking) in non-political organizations. A nuance of the workgroup-to-EC mechanism is that the EC has both Editor and Author members, and I would see the rota including Authors who have been elected, presumably, because they show good sense in the CZ process even though they might not be credentialed in some field. --Howard C. Berkowitz 18:44, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, we're at an impasse. I have no idea why you think "EiC who would run afoul of concern with mixing behavior and content". He is not to make any decisions based on behavior. I'd suggest that Howard be allowed to write up his alternative approach. What happens next. D. Matt Innis 21:13, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

(undent)Oh, so, we're back on the talk pages, are we?

This is the third time we've had this discussion about the EIC. Back in early December, we reached agreement to keep the EIC. I have seen nothing added to the charter or our discussions that merit a second re-opening of this issue.

I am now in another semester and again full up with work. I do not see the point in going around this merry-go-around again. I distributed my views previously on this point. And they remain unchanged except for one addition.

To wit:

  • EIC to act as chief content overseer as explained by Martin and Matt above.
  • EIC appointed by and answerable to EC. (I'm okay with an elected EIC too)
  • I am opposed to the EIC having a term of office longer than those to whom he/she is answerable. i.e. four years is ridiculously long; two is probably too long too for my taste.
  • Behavior and Content need to have mirroring overseers, as Matt suggests.

Here's the addition to my views that I have not seen argued yet: The EIC should serve as an outside voice for authors regarding content. I've heard the lament that "no one sticks up for the authors." We have constables to protect us against unprofessional behavior, but what about situations where an expert author can not get heard because of the arrogance and prejudice of expert editors expressed in a professional manner? In those situations, an outside voice of calm can mediate a way to resolution. This does not mean that the EIC (and assistants, if any) need always side with authors, but the EIC is there to rule and issue preliminary decisions regarding content disputes. The issue reaches abeyance and can be taken to the EC, and authors can get back to writing. Experts dispute all the time.

Regarding repeated requests to issue "minority reports," I am again opposed. Our charge is not to come up with eight different charters (or even two), but one. Why don't we just let every citizen live by their own charter?

Regarding the repeated discussion about 001: Are we not in agreement about the interim guidance mandate to the EC to re-approve every previous resolution and about the clause that the EC may not pass any resolution in violation of this charter (i.e., a resolution that circumscribes its delegated powers is unconstitutional)? This is yet another issue that we had resolved that keeps getting back on the merry-go-round.

Russell D. Jones 00:45, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Well, I certainly don't remember ever agreeing to an EiC. I'm seriously thinking of refusing to sign a charter that does not have the option of identifying where there is no clear consensus. To the best of my recollection, the EiC was something brought in after the first drafts, and I disagreed with it from the first time I saw it.
"In those situations, an outside voice of calm can mediate a way to resolution." Let me repeat, mediation. Exactly what the Ombudsman is supposed to do; the EiC arbitrates. I agreed to an Ombudsman.
Expertise is undercut by having an EiC that can overrule multiple editors without it going to the EC. Going direct to the EC is another matter. Frankly, if we are talking of an initial EC with 5-7 members, but we also are suggesting that the EiC have assistants, forgive me if I am failing to see a difference.
The only reason 001 keeps coming up is that claims keep being made that the EC is inherently dysfunctional and cannot act quickly. 001 was the primary reason it could not act before, even more than the initial appointments of nonparticipants. I was chastised when I tried to get the EC to consider a single email suggesting it do more, because, as I was told, such would be in violation of 001. If people stop bringing up the assumption that the EC is inherently dysfunctional but an EiC is not, I'll stop bringing up 001. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:04, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Howard: I don't understand why you think that an EiC will be able to over-rule multiple editors. The EiC will be asked to deal with problems: if 3 editors agree on something, he would not be asked and they would refuse his intervention. Most certainly, any attempt to enforce an unwanted decision by the EiC could be appealed, and the reaction of the EC would set the future conduct of the EiC. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 12:38, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Martin, it has not been explicit that three editors could refuse that person's intervention. As I have read the text, there is nothing to preclude the situation where a single Author and Editor disagree and the EiC steps in. Indeed, there were situations where Larry as founding EiC would rule when no one asked for a ruling, which is not precluded by the EiC description.
If the EiC is in a position where the position is more of a mediator with the ultimate authority being with the EC, I fail to see how the position is compatible with the idea of an Ombudsman. --Howard C. Berkowitz 13:27, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
I think it should be that the EiC can step in wherever necessary by design (as we have it). I still don't see what's wrong with any of those scenerios as long as the EC is there to buffer the EiC's decision-making. I think the community longs for someone to make quick content decisions so they can move on. It's just that simple. The ombudsman, as far as I can tell, just handles disputes and has nothing to do with actually making a decision. I can see this person as being separate from the EiC as in several cases, the EiC will likely be tied up in the dispute, at least as the one that made an interim decision. Keep in mind that none of this predicates behavior, just content. D. Matt Innis 14:01, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree that quick considered and expert decisions are longed-for. I don't believe an EiC is going to be able to make them better than can an agile EC. I don't think the Community wants someone who will "make quick decisions and move on." I certainly don't and won't work under such conditions. My archetype for Ombudsman is Gareth, who frequently helped multiple parties see the point. In some cases, such as ritual abuse and homeopathy, there's never going to be a consensus among the strong partisans, and the Editorial Council is the proper body to make informed group decisions on, for example, the weight to be given to mainstream vs. alternative opinion. I didn't see the EiC really helping in Homeopathy, other than imposing not-unreasonable ground rules, some of which really should have been made policy (e.g., you don't get to refer to those with whom you disagree by a code word, such as "skeptic" or "fundie", which they find offensive). --Howard C. Berkowitz 14:16, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
The EC is not intended to be quick or agile. The EC is intended to be deliberative, which takes time. Russell D. Jones 14:27, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Thoughtful deliberation does not need to be slow, when focused. I don't know if you've read the literature on the idea of the "Strategic Corporal", but the idea that every level needs to be thoughtful is a fight against the hive mind. The Senate of the United States is supposed to be the world's greatest deliberative body (pause for laughter and tears); it is neither quick nor thoughtful. Engineering professional organizations,when successful, either can make reasonably quick decisions, or isolate the unsolved aspects of a problem and get consensus on what is possible now and what needs unscheduled decisions -- remember, we are dealing here with the process of creating article content, not original research. Both the processes of academic journals and the processes of software engineering and strategic decisionmaking are relevant. Sometimes, decisionmaking, as in surgery or firefighting, have to be made within time constraints, and CZ is not without time constraints — certainly not in minutes or hours — but still has them if it is to grow and not be a debating society without the decorum. --Howard C. Berkowitz 14:41, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

At the risk of repeating myself: the EiC is not a mediator or arbiter. The EiC role is intended to provide a rapid solution to editorial problems, as an interim measure that will ultimately be validated or rejected by the EC. No committee is capable of acting quickly, and I fail to understand why Howard thinks otherwise. Equally, no appointed EiC is going to make decisions that do not have the tacit support of members of the EC, because that will go against his/her self interest. The fact that the creator, founder and current EiC has had a different relation with the EC is irrelevant and for obvious reasons. Why do we have to go around in circles about this? Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:28, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Because we don't have an EiC to tell us to stop going around in circles :) Where's Joe? If he doesn't show up quickly, Hayford is going to block someone :D I hope it's not me! D. Matt Innis 18:33, 11 January 2010 (UTC)


Hasn't January 10th now concluded all over the world? If so, hasn't the period for drafting the charter officially closed? Or has the period been officially extended? If so, to when? Inquiring minds, etc.... Hayford Peirce 19:25, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

The time has run out and we are not asking for an extension. We are currently waiting to hear from our chair. D. Matt Innis 19:30, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Chairs can *talk*? I know that some of them can *squeak*.... Hayford Peirce 20:02, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Ours hasn't squeaked for some time... Martin Baldwin-Edwards 20:05, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Oil Joe.
Seriously, I do want his input. Here's the situation as I see it, and it's a point where input is needed from the Citizenry, for a point that I don't think was addressed in the charge to the Committee. A good deal of what is on the drafting page is, I believe, acceptable to everyone on the Committee, and represents, to me, a solid accomplishment.
It also should be obvious, to anyone looking at this page, that there are a few areas where there is vehement disagreement. I do not agree with the language of certain sections and don't want to speak for others, but I may not be the only dissenter. My proposal would be to put out essentially three parts:
  1. That on which we all, I think, agree.
  2. The position that includes an Editor in Chief and certain policies about the Editorial Council and Workgroups, and — I'm not sure at this point — about the Ombudsman.
  3. The position that has no Editor in Chief but proposes other mechanisms, which, I believe, will meet the same needs but in a more representative way. (unpaid political announcement)
Since I'm most associated with position 3, I also have some interim compromise ideas. At least one other member might have ideas, and we haven't heard recently from a couple of others.
There are lots of smart people in CZ. I know that some have been "shadowing" the discussion. Maybe someone can look at #2 and #3 and have a brilliant insight where the Committee seems at an impasse. More arguing among the committee members isn't too likely to resolve the differences, so let's get some fresh ideas. --Howard C. Berkowitz 20:14, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

(unindent) We have gone beyond our sell-by date. The charter needs to be given out for public discussion. You can all put your dissents somewhere, it is more important to arrange a dissenting views page than to reform the draft now. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 21:18, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Howard's #1 is what I had in mind with setting up CZ:Charter drafting/Feedback (which met strong opposition), but I intend to update it with the current version, and to re-open it beyond the Drafting Committee. If everyone signs the passages they agree with, and the points of concern are brought to the forums, then chances are that we will find a way to conclude the drafting soon with a Charter robust and flexible enough to guide CZ through the next year or two at least, and to serve as a solid scaffold for the longer run. --Daniel Mietchen 21:34, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I think, like all collaborations, we can't expect it to totally satisfy any of us, but if we are all equally upset, we have likely done a good job. There are parts that I do not agree with, but I think we've debated and compromised all we can. If we change one part, we'd have to change every part, so let's leave this as it is. It is time to find out what the citizenry wants us to do next, if anything. D. Matt Innis 22:21, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Let me confirm: we have a part about which we all pretty much agree. I see two major dissent areas around the EiC, Ombudsman, etc. Are there other areas where we should post alternative views?
I don't regard it as a failure to have a generally accepted section, and a reasonable number of worked-out proposals for alternatives. Conceivably, even the alternatives might have contingencies/compromises (as an example only, a Managing Editor for the transition, with the decision by the EC to continue it or not)--Howard C. Berkowitz 22:28, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, since the time has passed, there is certainly nothing wrong with you, acting as a citizen, putting together anything you want on some other page. But, if you start changing the Charter page, then that's a whole different ball of wax, because I've got several things that I want to change, but the time is up so Im standing down. D. Matt Innis 22:43, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Can I take it, therefore, that the draft page is now locked in stone and if anyone at all fools around with it I can holler, "Shazam!" and whack 'em with a thunderbolt? Hayford Peirce 22:59, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
No, Hayford — the draft page can still be edited by the drafters for the full period of public discussion, so as to incorporate the feedback received this way. It is just that such edits now need more justification and/ or consensus (we have almost agreed internally on the mechanism for this). --Daniel Mietchen 23:06, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Okay, so where is the public discussion gonna be? There's already the Forum discussion thread that now runs, I believe, 33 pages.... Hayford Peirce 23:18, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
I see no reason (contentwise, or from a technical perspective) to open a new thread now, since the topic has not changed. So let's just continue with the "old" one. --Daniel Mietchen 23:28, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

ON the contrary: it needs an announcement and a new thread in the Forum. This is an open discussion period on the specific content of the draft charter, and it has to be sepaeare from previous discussions. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 00:46, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

OK, I started a new thread dedicated to the public discussion phase. --Daniel Mietchen 00:55, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, Daniel. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 07:54, 12 January 2010 (UTC)