The charter process is the mechanism used to keep the development of wikibooks on track and to preemptively resolve some issues of editorial dispute.
The Charter Process
The steps of the charter process are as follows:
- A new, unchartered wikibook is created and placed on a chartered bookshelf.
- Unchartered Status Space/Time Limit: After there are five content modules of the wikibook, or a single content module that reaches 32kbytes (i.e. the "this page is getting to big" limit), or after the period of 6-weeks, whichever comes first, an unchartered wikibook must have a charter. A "content module" is any module of the book, excluding title pages, author pages, table of contents and indexes.
- The contributors of the wikibook and all other interested parties participate in the charter creation process by creating a document that satisfies the properties of a charter (as described below). A consensus must be reached, and disputes will be resolved by favoring common sense solutions and precedence. Some disputes may be resolved by creating two or more different charters to describe different projects, so that the differing views can still both be articulated.
- Chartered Status: After a charter is decided upon by all interested parties is it submitted for approval. A charter is approved if the greater Wikibooks community believes satisfies the properties of the charter. Any deficiencies that are pointed out must be resolved and revisions made before approval. The approval process should also be used to provide advice to charter writers.
- Contributors of unchartered books do not have to wait until the unchartered-status-limit passes to begin writing the charter and can submit the charter for approval even before the unchartered-status-limit.
- Any wikibooks that don't have charters and have exceeded the unchartered-status-limit shall be removed from the bookshelf and placed on an abandoned unchartered books list. Other interested parties can take on abandoned charters as their own project and try the charter submission process again.
- All wikibooks and shelves that were extant prior to the passing of this policy will not be subject to the unchartered-status-limit. However, progress should be made to create wikibook charters (or series-charters) for these texts. Shelve and wikibook charters of extant materials can be written concurrently but in the end must be consistent with all other rules.
Properties of a Charter
A charter must
- Explain what bookshelf its wikibook belongs to and explain how that wikibook satisfies that shelf's criteria. (Place)
- Explain the expected audience (Audience)
- Explain how the wikibook is in accordance with Wikibooks policy by stating which inclusion clause it falls under and by describing how the book will avoid any potential dangers of included prohibited or excluded content. In the approval process any voiced concerns of potential dangers must be addressed. For all warranted voiced concerns the explaination must be included in the charter itself. (Appropriate)
- Provide a general goal (Purpose)
- A target for what fits and doesn't (Scope)
- First edition criteria (First Edition)
A charter should not
- Include information that is likely to change; including chapter order, chapter listings, or anything else where book progress would be limited by requiring changes to the charter
Here is an example charter for a programming languages computer science book:
- Place: This book is part of the Computer Science bookshelf. The relevant goal from the Computer Science bookshelf that this book satisfies is the goal of creating a textbook for each course in a computer science ciriculum. This book covers the topic of programming languages, a commonly taught course.
- Appropriate: This book is permitted by Wikibooks policy because it is an instructional resource for a university-level course. This book will not cover any content related into breaking (hacking) into computer systems.
- First Edition:
A series of wikibooks can have a single series-charter, in place of individual book charters, to coordinate tasks between books in a series. For example, a series-charter could be used to allow for a sensible progression from beginner, intermediate, to advanced books on a subject with attention to what content is appropriate for which book.
All bookshelves must themselves be chartered, to dictate the extent of their scope and to explicitly allow or disallow materials. For example, the Biology bookshelf could forbid the shelving of Creation Science.
All wikibooks that correctly follow the What is a Wikibook policy must be allowed to be put on some existing bookshelf. Thus, for example, Creation Science itself cannot be excluded by charters and it would be up to the contributors of the Philosophy, Religion, Biology or other shelves to determine the appropriate place. A Miscellaneous shelf exists for the purposes of allowing books to be shelved that are incompatible with all other shelf charters.
The development of bookshelf charters must be coordinated with each other in order to provide a usable interface and to minimize as much as possible the use of the Miscellaneous shelf.
A charter system would also respect the experts more, because it would prevent just anyone (or a group) coming along and making changes to a book that are counter to the (approved) charter. It's easier for an expert (e.g. an academic) to argue for and against charters than it is for them to fight against pseudo-trolls and other project hijackers. This could also be an enforced policy, which would mean charter deviations can be reverted.
Whatever the case, this sounds more like VFD/book creation policy than it does in defining what is a WikiBook. But the two can be complimentary. We might not be satisfied until we see both.