CZ Talk:Approval Standards

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Approval standards Draft for discussion

This needs to be updated and kept consistent with the Policy Outline.

An editor may approve a new CZ article if he or she feels able to declare that the article

a) Is not in contravention of any CZ policy
b) Has significant content, and is appropriately referenced
c) Is written clearly and fluently
d) Contains no errors of fact
e) Is 'balanced' and fair where there the article covers areas of significant dispute

Approval should not be denied on the grounds that the article has omissions, unless these undermine the overall balance and accuracy of the article.

Approval is an ongoing process; even if an editor believes that the article has some significant shortcomings, then the article may still be approved, but the editor should declare any criticisms or reservations at the top of the article Talk page to direct further improvements to the article.

When considering appoval of a new version of an article for which a previously approved version exists, the editor should contact any editors involved previously in the approval process to invite their comments on the new version. Approval should address the question

"Is the new version a significant improvement on the existing approved version?"

If the answer is that the improvements are relatively minor, or essentially a matter of opinion, then approval should normally be deferred until there is clear enhancement of content. An exception is when the only changes to the approved version are minor corrections, approval of these need not be deferred.

Article Standards

The standards of a good Citizendium article are complex:

  • Accurate. Articles should have a high standard of accuracy. Editors should review every substantive claim made, and be of the opinion that the claim is well justified, before approving the article.

This does not imply that every fact needs a reference; indeed over-referencing articles, can make them unwieldy. References should be selected with care; ideally they should be from authoritative sources and should be verifiable online. References should be given to direct the reader to particularly notable sources of fact or opinion, or to facts the truth of which might reasonably be questioned.

  • Encyclopedic. Articles must resemble encyclopedia articles. This means that there are many things that they are not, such as dictionary definitions or personal essays. Some other ancillary, helpful reference material, in the form of tables and lists, are also permissible.

Encyclopedic does not mean exhaustive. Any article is inevitably a selection of facts or views, and omissions are inevitable

  • Neutral. Articles must not take a stand on controversial issues. They should report on controversies rather than engaging in them, reporting every side as sympathetically as possible consistent with the sympathetic representation of competing sides, and doling out limited space, where necessary, according to (in the case of mainly academic controversies) the proportion of opinion among experts or, in some broader controversies, the general public whose native language is the language of the compendium. See the neutrality policy.

The purpose of a CZ article is to allow the reader to make up his or her own mind on any controversial topic, not to 'lead' the reader to a particular conclusion. The reader might be reasonably led by the weight or quality of evidence, but should not be led by rhetorical devices or by selective presentation of evidence. An article that is tranparently seeking to be balanced and fair is more likely to be given credibility than article which appears to be designed to promote a particular position.

  • University-level. Many topics can be treated at a level accessible to the average university student, or approximately the level of Encyclopedia Britannica or The New York Times. Some topics cannot be treated except for specialists, and thus may be more advanced in presentation. In the future, the Citizendium Foundation may start separate projects for a children's encyclopedia, as well as an encyclopedia specifically for specialists.

At all times however, authors should strive to present articles as clearly as possible, preferring simple natural language to technical terms where this involves no loss of meaning.

  • Not original research. Articles should be aimed to be excellent encyclopedia articles, and thus are summations of what is known about a topic. Hence, while articles may sum up their topics in novel ways, they should not do so in ways that imply new theories or analyses that in academic contexts would require peer review for publishing. In other words, they should not contain original research or observations. See the original research policy.
  • Family-friendly. Articles should be appropriate for children. While the Citizendium may, in the future, provide a means whereby "adult" fare can be included, it will be deleting large numbers articles on arguably obscene topics that may be found in Wikipedia. See policy regarding family-friendly content.
  • Legal and responsible. Articles must not contain copyright violations, libellous statements, or grossly obscene information or images. Persons found to have added such material to articles can be permanently banned from the project. In particular, biographies of living persons must be handled a special way. See copyright violation policy, libel policy, as well as biographies of living persons.

For complete article standards, see the documents linked above.


"observations. See the original research policy" is either not yet created or a broken link. James Davis 18:46, 11 October 2007 (CDT)

it might not yet be created; however I am unsure. --Robert W King 18:49, 11 October 2007 (CDT)
I propose to copy it from Wikipedia (eventually an older version) and add "draft", and then simplify it. One obvious suggestion for simplification: see the never-ending discussions and confusions related to the - not really necessary - categorization of sources, and which fills most of the current Talk page -
Harald van lintel 17:14, 25 November 2007 (CST)

biography of living persons policy?

Where is the appropriate place for discussion of the currently absent policy on biographies of living persons?

It seems to me this is one of the policy decisions where we have an oportunity to learn from the mistakes of that other wiki.

It has a sub-policy, proscribing coverage of individuals who are known for "just one event". But, it has seemed to me that what challengers recognize as "one event" is highly subjective. One of the things that attracted me to the citizendium was that there seemed to be recognition that "notability" was subjective, and to look for "maintainability".

This "one event" clause has nothing to do with being legal and responsible.

With regard to legality -- repeating allegations that have been made against an individual is generally going to be legal, I believe -- if those allegations are properly cited and attributed.

Apologies if this is not the proper venue to raise these points.

Cheers! George Swan 17:04, 11 April 2008 (CDT)

George, Citizendium's answer to biographies of living person's is a budding workgroup that we are calling our CZ:Topic Informant Workgroup, see also the policy page. Once again, you are ahead of the curve and are in a position to help us develop this very important concept. Look forward to your help. --D. Matt Innis 10:44, 12 April 2008 (CDT)
Although I suspect most of the people George writes about probably aren't in a position to be TI's... J. Noel Chiappa 12:31, 12 April 2008 (CDT)
Thanks Matt! I put them on my watchlist, and will visit them to read in detail later this weekend.
I have given serious thought to writing to some of the Guantanamo individuals.
Cheers! George Swan 21:42, 12 April 2008 (CDT)


This article and a couple of others indicate that cites and sources for articles should be credible sources. Are these sources limited to peer reviewed journal articles? What other kinds of sources are allowable?

Gene Shackman 05:20, 19 February 2009 (UTC)


"... the proportion of opinion among experts or, in some broader controversies, the general public whose native language is the language of the compendium. See the neutrality policy."?

Comments on the latter part:

  1. doesn't seem to be in the policy page linked
  2. seems to imply that articles/sections about "Religious views of ..." would be about 95% Christian & 75% Protestant

Peter Jackson 09:54, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Consider edit for existing bullet, 'Comprehensive'

Suggest changing 'Comprehensive' to read as follows:

"Substantive. Articles should cover a wide scope of the topic, including the most significant aspects of the topic, directly or through reference to those aspects that are included in articles about related topics and other reliable sources of information. To merit approval an article must, at minimum, provide the reader with a substantive, informative introduction to the topic, and, through the main article citations and the material in the article's subpages, direct the reader to readily available reliable sources of further information sufficient to cover all the most significant aspects of the topic."

Please comment, edit, etc...