Policy or guideline?
I see your rationale that policy should precede the development of guidelines in the sense that guidelines support the implementation of policy.
My concern within an open wiki environment is that directing decision-making behaviour for individual projects seems counter productive to the spirit of collaborative wiki projects. Even under the consensus approach there are different models which can be applied and I feel that we should allow the community the freedom to decide which consensus models or approaches they wish to adopt. See for example WP article on consensus.
Consider for example a New Zealand OER content development aimed at developing a content resource in support of the New Zealand national curriculum. Lets assume there are educators from Kenya, Trinidad, India and Tonga collaboration on the same resource. Lets assume that the majority of collaborators, for the purposes of this example, are based outside New Zealand. A dispute arises over the inclusion of a key concept, which is not part of the national NZ curriculum. In this scenario -- the consensus model would not work. The NZ educators are bound by the constraints of the national curriculum.
Therefore I don't see how WikiEducator can dictate a blanket decision making model for all of its projects. We are not attempting to develop an objective encyclopaedia example. At best we can advise and encourage WikiEducators to use a consensus model, and when content groups cannot achieve consensus we can provide mechanisms to help groups achieve a positive outcome. The development of policy documents themselves is another matter -- here we should strive for the consensus model and the proposed workgroup policy caters for this dimension with rigorous for transparent development and consultation.
I agree with your points that guidelines are dynamic and may change and evolve -- that's the power of the wiki model, an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
WikiEducator does need policies, for example the selection of Admins, establishment of Community Workgroups, Arbitration committees/procedures, Council policy etc -- I'm just not convinced that consensus as one of many decision making processes warrants a policy. We may end up with a bureaucratic quagmire which stifles innovation and progress. While consensus is a good model which we should promote -- it also has significant risks, for example group think, minorities blocking progress at the expense of the majority view etc.
The key question is what the consensus policy is aiming to direct -- if its the development of OER and education material, given that education is culturally and contextually bounded, I don't see how a consensus policy will operate. Anyone who wants to develop an alternate perspective or derivative of the education resource can simply create another page -- thus forking the content development and negating the need for a consensus policy on content. In the case of WP, you can't have two articles on an "Apple" hence the need for consensus on content development.
We need to think this through carefully and encourage wider discussion on this point.
Dear Dr. Wayne,
now let us think about workable guidelines on consensus.