Consensus Policy for WikiEducator - Draft under development
One of the most popular terms that is being frequently used in all WE Workgroups and Project Groups is consensus. We also understand that the cornerstone of success in collaborative authoring is consensus. Therefore we have to develop a Consensus Policy for WikiEducator on priority basis.
|Work in progress, expect frequent changes. Help and feedback is welcome. See discussion page.|
- 1 Consensus Policy for WikiEducator - Draft under development
- 2 Policy development team
- 3 What consensus is
- 4 Consensus-building
- 5 See also following articles on Wikipedia
- 6 Straw dog
Policy development team
All WikiEducator Workgroups
(: Note: Content originally taken from Wikipedia policy on consensus and further editing in progress...
The content is only a starter for discussions therefore loud discussions and brave edits are always welcome)
Consensus is one of a range of policies regarding how editors work with each other. Editors typically reach a consensus as a natural outcome of wiki-editing. Someone makes a change to a page, then everyone who reads the page has an opportunity to leave it as it is, or change it. When two or more editors cannot reach an agreement by editing, consensus is sought on article talk pages.
What consensus is
Content on WikiEducator are created collaboratively by WikiEducators who have different perspectives, access to different sources, and different writing and reasoning styles. To achieve a neutral point of view under such conditions, WikiEducator must be willing to take discussions about content seriously, listening to and evaluating a variety of viewpoints and concerns with due deliberation. On WikiEducator this is the purpose of consensus.
Some content issues – such as copyright violations are not normally subject to debate or consensus, primarily because of the risk of lawsuit inherent in them. Beyond that, however, consensus is the rule on WikiEducator. Even policies and guidelines should be thought of as statements that have broad consensus in the community; it is certainly possible to question them, but any such questioning should be a matter of discussion aimed at amending or changing that consensus.
Consensus discussions should always be attempts to convince others, using reasons. When a discussion breaks down to a mere polarized shouting match, there is no possibility of consensus, and the quality of the article will suffer. That said, consensus is not simple agreement; a handful of WikiEducator agreeing on something does not constitute a consensus, except in the thinnest sense. Consensus is a broader process where specific points of article content are considered in terms of the article as a whole, and in terms of the article's place in the Open Education Resource, in the hope that WikiEducators will negotiate a reasonable balance between competing views, as well as with the practical necessities of building Open Education Resource and legal restrictions.
Level of consensus
Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, cannot override community consensus on a wider scale. In the case of policies and guidelines, WikiEducator expects a higher standard of participation and consensus than on other pages. In either case, silence can imply consent only if there is adequate exposure to the community.
Consensus can change
Consensus is not immutable. Past decisions are open to challenge and are not binding, and one must realize that such changes are often reasonable. Thus, "according to consensus" and "violates consensus" are not valid rationales for making or reverting an edit, or for accepting or rejecting other forms of proposal or action.
WikiEducator remains flexible because new people may bring fresh ideas, growing may evolve new needs, people may change their minds over time when new things come up, and we may find a better way to do things.
A representative group might make a decision on behalf of the community as a whole. More often, people document changes to existing procedures at some arbitrary time after the fact. But in all these cases, nothing is permanently fixed. The world changes, and the wiki must change with it. It is reasonable and indeed often desirable to make further changes to things at a later date, even if the last change was years ago.
Some exceptions supersede consensus decisions on a page.
- Declarations from OER Foundation and WikiEducator Community Council, particularly for copyright, legal issues, or server load, have policy status (see WikiEducator:Policies and guidelines).
- WikiEducator/OER Foundation Office actions are outside the policies of WikiEducator.
- Consensus decisions in specific cases do not automatically override consensus on a wider scale – for instance, a local debate on a WE Project does not override the larger consensus behind a policy or guideline. The WikiEducator cannot decide that for the articles within its scope, some policy does not apply, unless they can convince the broader community that doing so is right.
Consensus develops from agreement of the parties involved. This can happen through discussion, editing, or more often, a combination of the two. Consensus can only work among reasonable WikiEducators who make a good faith effort to work together in a civil manner. Developing consensus requires special attention to neutrality and verifiability in an effort to reach a compromise that everyone can agree on.
Several processes can attract WikiEducators to resolve differences:
- Third Opinions involve a neutral third party in a dispute between two WikiEducators
- Mediation involves a neutral third party in a dispute among multiple WikiEducators
- Requests for Comment invites greater participation
- Resolving disputes offers other options
- Try not to attract too many WikiEducators at once.
To ensure transparency, consensus cannot be formed except on WikiEducator discussion pages. "Off-wiki" discussions, such as those taking place on other websites, on web forums or on IRC, are not taken into account when determining consensus.
Consensus as a result of the editing process
When an edit is made, other WikiEducators have these options: accept the edit, change the edit, or revert the edit. These options may be discussed if necessary.
This is the simplest form of consensus, and it is used in everyday editing on the vast majority of WikiEducator's articles. It begins with an editor boldly changing an article or other page. In response, the viewers of the page have three options:
- accepting the change,
- trying to improve the change, or
- reverting the change.
If your changes have been edited or removed, you may wish to try to improve on them. If other WikiEducators do not immediately accept your ideas, think of a reasonable change that might integrate your ideas with other WikiEducators' ideas, and make an edit. You can also discuss the changes at the talk page, in an edit summary, or as a note to others at a user talk page or other widely read pages or a relevant WikiEducator Project.
Content normally go through many iterations of this form of consensus editing to achieve a neutral and readable product.
If other WikiEducators accept your changes, then this silent acceptance is, itself, sufficient proof that your changes have consensus at this time. Consensus does not require either that you get prior "permission" to make changes or that the acceptance of your changes afterwards be formally documented. Edits that are neither changed nor removed are always presumed to have consensus until someone actually challenges them. Consequently, you should not remove a change solely on the grounds that there is no formal record indicating consensus for it: instead, you should give a policy-based or common-sense reason for challenging it.
Edit summaries are useful, and should contain a summary of the change made to the article by the edit, or an explanation of why the WikiEducator made the change. A short summary is better than no summary. If the reason for an edit is not clear, WikiEducators are more likely to revert it, especially when someone inserts or deletes material. To give longer explanations, use the talk page and put in the edit summary "see Talk".
Edit wars, such as repeatedly inserting the same text when other editors are rejecting it, lead to page protection and suspension of your ability to edit rather than improvements to the article.
Consensus building in talk pages
Be bold in editing; you can also use the talk page to discuss improvements to the article, and to form a consensus concerning the editing of the page. This bold, revert, discuss cycle is a common theme in WikiEducator. WikiEducator expects changes to policies and guidelines to achieve more participation and consensus than other pages. In cases where consensus is difficult, independent or more experienced WikiEducators may need to join the discussion. If edit wars or disruptive editing impede the editing of a page, or if consensus is impossible, formal dispute resolution is available.
Community discussion takes place on various pages: noticeboards such as at Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents; or pages such as Requests for comment and Requests for arbitration. These require collaborative effort and considered input from their participants to form a consensus and act appropriately upon the consensus.
In determining consensus, consider the strength and quality of the arguments, including the evolution of final positions, the objections of those who disagree, and existing documentation in the project namespace if available. Minority opinions typically reflect genuine concerns, and their (strict) logic may outweigh the "logic" (point of view) of the majority. New users who are not yet familiar with consensus should realize that polls (if held) are often more likely to be the start of a discussion rather than the end of one. WikiEducators decide outcomes during discussion.
Polls are structured discussions, not votes. Opinion has more weight when you provide a rationale during a poll, not just a vote. Convince others of your views, and give them a chance to convince you. Pure argumentativeness rarely convinces others.
Consensus is not in numbers
WikiEducators can easily create the appearance of a changing consensus by "forum shopping": asking again and hoping that a different and more sympathetic group of people discusses the issue. This is a poor example of changing consensus, and is antithetical to the way that WikiEducator works. WikiEducator does not base its decisions on the number of people who show up and vote; we work on a system of good reasons.
At the same time it is normal to invite more people into the discussion, in order to obtain new insights and arguments. However the invitations must be phrased in a neutral way and addressed to a reasonably neutral group of people, e.g., sent to all active editors of the subject or posted at the message boards of the relevant wikiprojects.
See also following articles on Wikipedia
- What is consensus?
- How to contribute to Wikipedia guidance
- Don't revert due to "no consensus", essay opposing use of consensus to violate the editing policy
- No consensus (essay)
- Staying cool when the editing gets hot
- Truth by consensus