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Only the proposer of the referendum and Anthony.Sebastian may modify this page. Substantive modifications by the proposer after the referendum has been formally proposed at 'June 2016 Referenda' will invalidate the signatures of any current supporters, and require them to sign again. Comments should be placed on the Talk page.

Recreating position of Editor-in-Chief and modification of Citizendium’s governance, June 2016

Proposed by Anthony.Sebastian (talk)

A proposed referendum on recreating the position of Editor-in-Chief follows. If it is voted on, Citizens could support or oppose the question by indicating 'Yes' or 'No'. Under Article 37, a two-thirds majority is required for this referendum to pass because it proposes to modify the Charter.

To support the establishment of a referendum on this issue, sign here.


Citizendium continues to accrue content even though we have only a small number of active content contributors. Yet since Citizendium was launched in 2007 we have only a little under 1,300 developed articles; that amounts to about 140 articles per year since Citizendium launched. This makes Citizendium a rather boutique online encyclopedia, as attested to by its rare appearance among the first 25 listings in a Google or Bing search. Barbara McClintock did make it to number 26 on Google search. I could not find our George Washington.

We must not remain satisfied with the progress we have made so far. For that reason I am proposing a major structural change in Citizendium’s governance. To begin with I believe that Citizendium needs a leader, an Editor-in-Chief with broad executive powers, a passionate and competent advocate of Citizendium. This referendum outlines my conception of a new way for Citizendium to operate. I believe that with the right person in the position of Editor-in-Chief Citizendium can expect to see him/her develop new ideas for expanding Citizendium's mission beyond an online encyclopedia, and more importantly can elicit such new ideas from our highly imaginative Citizens.

We can go on at our present gradual pace, or we can try the proposed saltation.


This Citizen-initiated, Charter-modifying referendum proposes that Citizendium recreate the position of Editor-in-Chief, who would have broad executive powers and specified restrictions. Doing that will necessarily require modification of the governance of Citizendium and its Charter (see below).

The goal of having an Editor-in-Chief is to allow a qualified candidate to essentially develop Citizendium rapidly in directions emerging from the Editor-in-Chief’s agenda as developed in conjunction with suggestions from the membership of Citizendium at large. Citizendium should consider expanding itself beyond the scope of an online encyclopedia to a truly comprehensive compendium of knowledge.

A qualified candidate is one who can devote a substantial portion of his/her time toward meeting those goals.

Citizendium might even want to consider a search for someone not presently (May 2016) a Citizendium member who finds the task exciting and challenging.

Role of the Editor-in-Chief

  • The Editor-in-Chief will be responsible for developing new ideas and programs to enhance Citizendium’s mission of developing a comprehensive compendium of knowledge. He/she will consider suggestions from the Citizenry at large.
  • The Editor-in-Chief will chose an advisory group of at least ten members from among the entire Citizenry to evaluate and give feedback to the Editor-in-Chief regarding his/her proposal for developing rapidly in some specific direction.
  • Included in those evaluations and feedback would be proposals to create new, or to revise, current Citizendium policies.
  • The Editor-in-Chief will be responsible for approving articles, and approaching organizations for sponsorship and/or partnership, again with evaluation and feedback from his/her advisory group.
  • The Editor-in-Chief's ten person advisory group will contain at least two members of the Citizendium Council, at least one content-contributing author-non-editor, the Managing Editor, and a member of the Constabulary.
  • The Editor-in-Chief must be an Editor.

Time commitment of Editor-in-Chief

The Editor-in-Chief will be required to maintain a near-ubiquitous presence on Citizendium, being logged in at least five days per week and actively working each logged in day for at least two hours. He/she may have a yearly vacation allotment of four weeks. He/she may take them consecutively or not.

Tenure of Editor-in-Chief

The tenure of the Editor-in-Chief will be four years, giving him/her time to put his/her stamp on Citizendium. He/she may serve as many four-year terms as he/she receives nominations and is re-elected. The current (2016) Managing Editor composing this referendum will not accept a nomination for the position, except possibly in the case that all other nominees decline.

Specified restrictions on powers of the Editor-in-Chief

One restriction on the Editor-in-Chief will be to not eliminate the verified real names policy, or to modify it to include anonymous or pseudonymous names. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis for individuals requesting accounts who may be at personal risk if they should reveal their real name. The Editor-in-Chief and the Constabulary together will reach a decision as to whether the risk is serious enough to merit the exception.

Mechanisms for removal of Editor-in-Chief from office

  • The Editor-in-Chief can be impeached for malfeasance or inappropriate behavior. The call for impeachment requires support by 25% of active contributors (see below for definition of active contributors). The call for impeachment requires a Forum post describing the reasons for removing the Editor-in-Chief, and list the names of the supporters. Discussions of the reasons for impeachment will proceed on the Forum for three weeks. Within ten days after the three week discussion period a final judgement will be made by the Citizendium Council.
  • the Editor-in-Chief may be removed from office through a vote of no confidence by 50% of active contributors.

Definition of active contributor

An active contributor is any user who has contributed to the wiki in more than a minor way on two separate days in each 4 of 6 months prior to the call for their input. The Managing Editor will be responsible for determining the list of active contributors in each case in which the votes of the active contributors are needed.

Role of the elected Citizendium Council

The elected Citizendium Council will continue to serve as Citizendium's legislative body. The following emendations to its writ will apply:

  • The Council will increase its membership to five members to avoid tie votes on motions proposed.
  • Motions passed by the Council will be subject to review by the Editor-in-Chief who will grant final approval or veto.
  • The Editor-in-Chief's veto of motions may be overridden by two-thirds majority vote of the active contributors to Citizendium.

Role of the Managing Editor

  • The Managing Editor will Chair the elected Citizendium Council as a voting member.
  • The Managing Editor will be responsible for determining the list of active contributors in each case in which the votes of the active contributors are needed.
  • The Managing Editor will report to the Editor-in-Chief. With mutual input they will decide what the Managing Editor needs to do to advance the programs in progress or planned.
  • The Managing Editor shall be elected by a simple majority of the voting citizenry during the same election period as the Citizendium Council. Any Editor in good standing may be nominated for the position, and all valid, accepted nominations must appear on the ballot.
  • The Managing Editor will offer guidance on existing policy and its interpretation to help resolve disputes; to advise the Council; and settle disputes including imposing interim solutions pending relevant policy decisions. Throughout, the Managing Editor's guidance is expected to be in accord with the established principles and policies of Citizendium, and particularly with the Charter, and with the agenda of the Editor-in-Chief in mind.
  • The Managing Editor is available to mediate any dispute. The Managing Editor mediates a dispute when requested by all involved parties or when requested by the Chief Constable or Editor-in-Chief. Agreements worked out through mediation shall be binding but may be appealed.

Revising the current Charter

Because of the extensive changes entailed by incorporation of an Editor-in-Chief, major changes will be needed in the Charter. The Editor-in-Chief, in cooperation with the Citizendium Council, will appoint a Charter-revising Committee to accommodate the changes made by this Referendum.

Election of Editor-in-Chief

If the referendum passes, the Citizendium Council will call for a special election within three months to elect an Editor-in-Chief and to meet the other elective requirements of the referendum.