What is the approval process we should use?
This is the process I'm imagining:
- 30 days of active discussion
- This doesn't mean 30 days from the point of the first rationale, instead, a facilitator would have to make a judgement call about when the active discussion began
- It should be noted on the proposal's page, and on the proposed guidelines list, when the active discussion began and when it will open up for approval
- Perhaps the time bit could be replaced with, or supplemented with a minimum number of discussion participants.
- Users voice their approval or disapproval
- The range of votes would be:
- Approve - The user approves of the guideline the way it is
- Conditional - The user approves of the guideline on a condition that must be met. These should be addressed by facilitators, and a good attempt must be made to meet the conditions within reason. When the conditions are met, the user should replace their conditional vote with an approval vote
- Disapprove - The user doesn't think this guideline is at all necessary.
- A collection of templates would be used that I can quickly whip up that put headers on the proposal page explaining what each vote means, and the individual vote templates would include a signature and possible explanation.
- It needs to be determined how many approvals there must be, and what percentage of the total votes must be approvals before going on to the next step.
- The range of votes would be:
- Here would be a place to put in a Community Council step, if we feel that is necessary.
- The guideline gets added to the official document.
These proposals seem fair and reasonable, and I think that they would work rather well in the WikiEducator community.
I've been thinking about the Community Council step --- I don't think that its necessary for Council to approve the individual guidelines. Style guidelines are operational -- not governance. I would suggest that we consider developing a generic policy proposal which outlines the process you have described for developing "official guidelines".
In other words Council considers the process for the development of guidelines -- not the approval of individual guidelines. I think the approval of guidelines is a community decision. Consequently -- assuming Council approve the process -- "official" guidelines can be approved by the community.
I would also recommend that we think about a process for appeal or refinement of guidelines. Any thoughts.
Great work Jesse -- this is really coming together rather nicely :-)
Okay, so as a refinement:
- 30 days of active discussion and a minimum of 5 discussion participants
- minimum of 10 approvals accounting for 2/3 the vote
- the guideline is officially ratified
What do you think of my minimum numbers and approval percentage?
My thoughts on appeals and refinements are that they ought to go through the exact same process. The desired outcome should be stated and given a rationale and description, then the above process is observed. This would be done through this same workgroup.
- I think the minimum numbers for approval are fine.
- How are conditional votes counted? What do we do in the case of refinements after votes have been cast or conditions have been met resolved? Do we want a procedure to follow up with the holder of a conditional vote -- to recast their vote within a reasonable time in cases where the condition has been met in subsequent refinements? etc. This is always a challenge with voting in a open wiki environment -- because the draft guideline can be amended, which technically would require a new round of voting. This is where professional judgement of the convenor of the guideline is required. I don't think that a guidelines process should become overly mechanistic -- we just need to be clear up front how the process will work.
- The inclusion of an appeal/refinement process will reduce the "red tape" and problems associated with valid votes in the case of minor refinements to the guideline after a vote is cast. The aim is the "spirit of consensus" with a guideline rather than absolute mechanics of legitimate voting. Stating this upfront in the policy for developing guidelines will help resolve any future disputes.
- My experience of wikis in general and WE in particular is that specifying a minimum number of discussion participants becomes an arbitrary number. Reasonable opportunity and transparency to participate is more important than the actual numbers of participation. My experience of WE is that we typically have very low levels of discussion on things which people generally agree with -- however, a controversial issue will encourage passionate discourse :-). In this regard - I'd recommend removing the minimum number of discussion participants -- but keep the minimum period of discussion. Its perhaps better to have a policy requirement that once every month, or six weeks or whatever time frame, there will be a post to the main WE discussion forum listing the style guideline proposals to be discussed and that members should provide their feedback by a specified date -- eg 30 days (are those working or calendar days?).
- The fact that there is an open voting mechanism will ensure that folk can have their say -- I think the question is, do we encourage and or accept voting within the 30 day discussion period?
Good thinking Jesse -- shall we try and have a draft policy proposal for style guidelines ready for the next Council meeting scheduled to start on 7 September :-)?
Last edit: 16:17, 28 July 2009
Conditional votes: I think if the condition has been met, but the user hasn't moved their vote to the approval section, it should be considered an approval. If it has not been met, the conditional vote is equivalent to a disapproval. A facilitator should always reply to the vote to say whether the condition has been met or not.
- Good suggestion -- I agree with this. --Wayne Mackintosh 03:17, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
Minimum discussion participants: Yeah, the number is usually arbitrary, but the point is to attempt to show the potential opinions of the majority of the users on the wiki. I would prefer to stress that during the discussion period, even if there's a general agreement, that everyone attempts to say what he or she thinks of the guideline. If you're in agreement, why not say why or what about it you especially like?
- I agree with the intent -- and we should always promote and encourage discussion! Take an example of a pretty straight forward style guideline that doesn't attract the minimum discussion levels. Does that suggest that the guideline doesn't go ahead? What happens if there are not 5 discussion participants? Just thinking practically here --- as long as we have a mechanism for a reasonable period of time to discuss, we should move forward. --Wayne Mackintosh 03:17, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
WE discussion group reminders: Atm, yes, there's enough going on that we'll probably be using the discussion group more often than every 30 days, but in the future, the creation of guidelines will likely slow to a dead crawl, and the likelihood of new happenings every 30 days is rather low. I was intending to notify the discussion group whenever major changes occurred with the planning and organisation, approximately five days before a proposal goes to vote, when it goes to vote, and when the proposal is formally approved. I was intending 30 calendar days from the start of discussion, and I think I'm going to create a template for the proposal list that includes title, status, and date voting opens, to make it easier to keep track.
- I was thinking more of a mimumum period for open discussion once a batch of guidelines have been announced on the main list -- as a means to overcome a situation where noone comments ;-) --Wayne Mackintosh 03:17, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
Voting during discussion period: I would rather not see voting until after the discussion period. I feel this way because I think it's in everyone's benefit to observe the discussion before making a decision, or influencing others with their decisions. I would not like to see early votes deter anyone from speaking his or her mind. I do see a potential for a vote, such as a council member's, being influential in that way.
- Makes sense to me -- we ,ust just communicate this clearly in the policy guidelines --Wayne Mackintosh 03:17, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
I think the timing for drafting this proposal is great. How should it be presented?
- As a policy proposal for developing guidelines -- see the emerging drafts on the Workgroup on Workgroups. We have a charter, if we develop a draft policy proposal for the process this could be tabled at the next council meeting :-) --Wayne Mackintosh 03:17, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
It is perhaps my own perfectionism as a writer that leads me to insist on hearing as many thoughts as possible. ;) In writing, it is often more important to hear what is most effective rather than what does not work. A writer will often agonise over the placement and use of each individual word before settling on a sentence. It is in my nature to be incredibly wary of how words will be interpreted, and this is what leads me to hope for a wider range of feedback.
I am aware, though, that others may see this as slightly obsessive. ;) I'm sure that any issues with wording or a guideline in general will be brought to the workgroup's attention so long as it is made clear that such criticisms are welcome and that there is an open and simple process with which to make amendments.
On the policy proposal, I feel somewhat confused, still. What you're suggesting is a separate page that outlines the method in which a guideline is suggested, approved or disapproved, and amended. That page is what the council must approve of for it to become official policy?
I've created this page as a draft of the policy proposal. Is this what you're looking for? Am I doing it right?