Guideline policy proposal
|Work in progress, expect frequent changes. Help and feedback is welcome. See discussion page.|
This is a draft policy for the purpose of submitting to the Community Council at 7 Sep, 2009.
|Name of Policy||Style guidelines|
|Purpose||To establish a policy that guides the collaborative development and implementation of style guidelines by the community for WikiEducator content|
|Created and maintained by||Workgroup: Style guidelines|
|Status||Draft under development|
- 1 Policy for the development and implementation of style guidelines
- 2 Suggesting new guideline proposals
- 3 Guideline approval
- 4 Guideline implementation
- 5 Changing the guidelines
Policy for the development and implementation of style guidelines
Because WE desire WikiEducator to be widely respected, professionally, and because WE endeavour to make WikiEducator more accessible to its members, we propose the implementation of a manual of style utilising this policy.
- A guideline differs from strict policy in that it is recommended rather than enforced. They are, of course, in WikiEducator's and contributors' best interests, but it is up to the contributors to adhere to them.
- Manual of Style
- A Manual of Style (MoS) or style guide is the collection of guidelines that determine how the wiki should be designed and written.
- A position outlined in the style guidelines workgroup charter. A facilitator manages and mediates guideline development.
A wiki such as Wikipedia has hundreds of style guidelines. It would be tremendously easy to just copy and paste them over to WikiEducator with due recognition, but that begs the question, "Is Wikipedia's manual of style equally appropriate for WikiEducator?" For most cases, it is likely true, however, we acknowledge that no two communities are alike. We also acknowledge that the best policies and guidelines are those that organically develop from within the community. To that end, we have made a process available to all WikiEducator members to:
- suggest new style guidelines
- discuss, approve and ratify style guidelines
- implement and support members in adopting style guidelines
Suggesting new guideline proposals
The first phase of developing a guideline is based on a community need. As an open community project, any registered WikiEducator members may propose a style guideline. This policy describes the process steps for suggesting new guidelines and the corresponding wiki tools used to support the process.
Recognising a need
The first step in such a process is recognising the need for a guideline. Sometimes, a member will be able to propose the written text for a guideline to address an observed need. In other instances, a member may want to begin with discussion of a style-related topic to determine how to apply an idea to WikiEducator. For instance, a WikiEducator may determine that regional spelling is an important issue and so begins a proposal as a way to discuss whether this is important to WikiEducator and which, if any one, regional spelling to use.
Many of the guidelines on the current proposal list came from experience in other wikis that there exists a universal need also shared by WikiEducator. Others came from the recognition that a problem may exist within the current use of the wiki. We hope to see future suggestions coming from both these methods and through the careful research (often based on the WikiMedia Foundation family of wikis) and thought of WikiEducator's plentiful members.
Creating a proposal
Upon recognising the need for a guideline, the member then enters a page name into the input box found at the top of the proposal list. Using the input box opens a new page with the title the member entered. The new page is already populated with the content of this help template, so the suggester simply follows the directions and creates the new proposal. If a suggester would like to begin with discussion on a style-related topic, without proposing the text of the guideline, a proposal for discussion can be entered in the "Discussion" section of the help template, and the "Guideline", "Add'l info" and "Examples" sections can be left blank. The help template automatically enters the new page into the proposed guidelines category, which is being monitored by a facilitator from the style guide workgroup. Upon noticing the creation of a new proposed guideline, if the suggester has not already done so, the facilitator will add it to the proposal list.
Once a specific guideline has been determined, either upon first proposal or after discussion, the suggester or facilitator will make a public announcement to the main WikiEducator list describing the proposed guideline and inviting participation in the guideline's discussion and approval process.
We recognise there is no better judge of a guideline than the people aiming to adhere to it. Thus the process to approve these guidelines should involve thoughtful discussion and public voting, and must carry on over a minimum length of time.
As indicated above, it is allowable for a topic to be brought up for discussion before a specific guideline is developed. Once a specific guideline is determined, it is to be made available for continued discussion for no less than thirty calendar days calculated from the date of public announcement on the main WikiEducator list. Depending on needs the facilitators of the guidelines group may choose to announce the discussion of individual or batches of proposed guidelines.
During this time, we believe it necessary to abstain from voting in order to minimise the effect of perceived authority on the general public body of members. This length of time is not over long, but still accommodates shorter periods of absence or ignorance among members.
Once the mandated discussion period is over, voting sections are opened on the proposal page. A member may select from one of three votes:
- An approval vote signifies the member thinks the guideline is appropriate and useful for the WikiEducator community in the form that it exists at the time the vote is made.
- A conditional vote signifies the member thinks the guideline is appropriate and useful for the WikiEducator community, but desires specified changes be made before officially approving of the guideline. All conditional votes must be addressed by a facilitator, and once a consensus has been reached by discussion, the facilitator must respond to the conditional vote stating if the guideline has been changed.
- A disapproval vote signifies the member does not think the guideline is appropriate or useful for the WikiEducator community.
The voting process must last no less than fifteen calendar days. The process may go on longer for one of three reasons. If the guideline is changed, most likely because of a conditional vote, the voting period resets as starting from the day the change is made. If there is still an ongoing discussion concerning the guideline, the guideline may not be ratified until a consensus has been reached as to change it or leave it as is. The process continues indefinitely until the ratification or denial criteria are met.
The facilitators will make all judgement calls concerning the status of a proposal, consensus on decisions to change a proposal, and which dates a proposal moves from one stage to the next.
Once the approval period is over, a proposal must have met each of three criteria to be ratified. Each of the conditional votes must have been replied to with final decisions at the date of the ratification. The proposal must have a minimum of ten individual approval votes. Finally, the approval votes must have a two-thirds proportion to the total vote count. Conditional votes are considered approvals if the condition was met, or disapprovals if it was not.
A proposal may be denied if the identical criteria are met for the case of disapproval votes.
In order to effectively implement guidelines, it is necessary to ensure that members are aware of their existence and how to use them. WikiEducator has many instructional materials available with which to teach and learn how to use the wiki. Upon the approval of a new guideline, a facilitator or any volunteer will research and enact the best method with which to instruct members on the appropriate use of the guideline.
Updating & guidance
As a part of implementation, WikiEducator content and meta documentation will need to be updated to conform to the new guidelines. Out of the style guide workgroup, a team will be developed for this purpose and others. It will be the team's responsibility to identify areas where contributors may make changes, assist members in understanding the guidelines or choosing to opt out, and to update all of WikiEducator's meta documentation.
After the original batch of guidelines are implemented, the team will monitor new guidelines for the above purposes, and monitor WikiEducator content creation and development in order to assist contributors in their understanding of WikiEducator policies and guidelines.
As stated in the above definition, a guideline is not an enforced thing. Contributors are welcome to opt out of the guidelines, though it is not recommended. It is the responsibility of the style guide workgroup and the aforementioned team to help contributors become aware of their options, and to provide tools with which contributors may announce their "opt-out" status.
We believe that awards are the best incentive for producing quality content. We also believe that the highest quality content is that which adheres to style guidelines. Thus, we think it is best for all involved that internal awards, be they quality or practicality based, should require adherence to the style guide.
Changing the guidelines
We consider all guidelines and policy to be fluid rather than finished. Just as no two communities are alike, a single community will constantly evolve. In the execution of that ideal, we wish to make an amendment option available to all WikiEducator members.
If, at any time, a member of WikiEducator believes a change must be made to a guideline, the member has only to announce the amendment suggestion by moving the link on the proposed guidelines list from the approved/archival section to an amendment section at the top of the list. The suggester must copy the content of the guideline proposal help template, inserting it at the top of the page under a new heading with the date of the proposal and the type of amendment (amendment or removal) and placing the original proposal under a new heading called "Original proposal" if it does not already exist. The suggester fills in the appropriate information, and a discussion and approval process begins according to the above policy for the suggestion of new guidelines.
In order to ensure the complete conviction of the amendment suggester, it is not the responsibility of a facilitator to announce or monitor the amendment suggestion. The suggester may seek out a facilitator for guidance in the process, but it is the suggester's responsibility to monitor the suggestion, and eventually make a facilitator aware of the results of an amendment suggestion so the facilitator may make the appropriate adjustments to WikiEducator documents and instructional materials.
If, after sixty calendar days from the inception of the amendment suggestion, the suggestion appears to have stagnated, a facilitator may choose to dismiss the suggestion, marking the amendment as so, and placing the link in the approved guidelines section of the proposed guidelines list.