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What is consensus?

In order for an item to migrate from a Manual of Style discussion to a Manual of Style guideline, it needs to have reached consensus with the community. But what is consensus? Wikipedians say it is not unanimity. But what is it? A 60-40 vote? a 70-30 vote? 80-20? What kind of majority does an issue need to show in order to have reached consensus? Possibly, as Jbparker said, we don't have to worry so much about getting a huge majority on an issue because what we're making with the Manual of Style isn't policies, but guidelines. They're like strong recommendations. If someone doesn't want to follow them, they aren't compelled to do so. So community, what is consensus? Ritcheymt 21:23, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

I saw "proposed consensus" used in some documentation on Wikipedia. Perhaps there is a proposed consensus written up and a period of time to allow for approval.. I think the opinion box that was added to the History/Local History discussion was a good way to get to a consensus.Franjensen 21:58, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Fran on the use of the "opinion box" and the use of the terminology "proposed consensus." It seems to me that the person to write up the latter should be the person who sees a need in having consensus on a subject. Then all the contributors and users can weigh in on that subject. Jbparker 16:55, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Procedure needed

There are several things needed in a process to establish consensus. I suggest we establish a procedure/policy for reaching and documenting consensus. It sounds simple, but such a policy or procedure would need to address the following questions/issues:

  1. Where should the discussion, question, or statement of guideline needed be posted? (just manual of style, just discussion page somewhere, both, or ?
  2. Some sort of vote or consensus reaching on whether a guideline is really needed. If not, it never becomes a guideline, but the discussion of the need is preserved in an archive/linked inactive page.
  3. How long the discussion should be open before the guideline is drafted (perhaps this is variable and the length should be part of the raising of the issue, with certain lower and upper limits for time length)
  4. Once a deadline is reached, who will summarize the decision and write the proposed guideline as modified by the discussion comments?
  5. How long the proposed guideline is posted before becoming an accepted guideline.
  6. If someone contests that consensus was actually reached, what is the process for voting or establishing that consensus is indeed reached on the content of the final guideline.
  7. How the discussion leading to establishment of consensus should be preserved & linked.
  8. A policy for proposing changes to or deletion of guidelines.                
Sorry, no solutions proposed, just more problems stated.Alan 22:44, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Governing body needed

The consensus issue seems to me to be critical to the whole Wiki concept. If the Wiki community approach is correct, who is going to "police" what consensus is and when it is reached? It seems to me that this goes back to having to have a governing board to make basic policy decisions. Jbparker 22:56, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

I've thought more about this matter of a governing body, and it has raised some questions which will, no doubt, expose my ignorance. But I'm going to ask them anyway. As the Wiki expands, how many "Sysops" will there be? Who has the ultimate decision-making power for the Wiki right now? How is the responsibility for policies/guidelines/user guide/content/etc. divided up now? It would seem to me that if a "governing body" is needed to answer some of Alan's questions above, the Sysops and Moderators should be involved, in some mix. Is there a page entitled "Wiki Administration" or something of that kind, which identifies the Sysops and other Research Wiki administrators? I know there is a page listing Moderators.Jbparker 16:55, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Related pages

Manual of Style