Wikibooks:Decision making

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Previous versions of this guideline, and discussion thereof can be found at Wikibooks:General voting rules/Proposal.

Decisions on Wikibooks are decided by the community in a variety of ways. The most important tools that Wikibookians have to make decisions are compromise and consensus.

Issues at Wikibooks can be divided into two different categories, depending on the extent to which they affect the Wikibooks community over time. The decisions that have a large, long-term effect on Wikibooks are called high impact decisions. Otherwise they are low impact decisions.

Be Bold

Not all actions need to go through the decision making process. As indicated by the Wikibooks:Be bold guideline, in situation that objections are not expected, Wikibookians are encouraged to be bold in making changes that will benefit the project and the community.

Low impact decisions

Low impact decisions involve proposals that express the community's preferences and feelings about issues that fall well below the level of policies and guidelines, and do not affect the long term culture or structure of Wikibooks. For these sorts of decisions, Wikibookians are welcome to employ multiple means for decision-making, including consensus, majority votes or 3rd party arbitration. The manner in which a dispute will be settled should be agreed upon before any particular method is employed.

Examples of low impact decisions are:

  1. Determining Featured books
  2. Creating or altering the content, structure or scope of a particular book

Some low impact situations, such as nominating featured books already have their own rules that should be followed.

Should a decision need to be made that affects a single module, book or project it will usually use the rules for high impact decisions except where all parties agree to use another basis.

High impact decisions

High impact decisions involve the adoption, major adaptation or repeal of policies and guidelines that have a long term effect on the culture and structure of Wikibooks. These decisions should always be made through the process of building a community consensus. Such decisions include:

  1. Making a Wikibookian an administrator
  2. Making a Wikibookian a bureaucrat
  3. Giving a Wikibookian checkuser rights
  4. Creating or modifying Wikibooks Policies and operational guidelines
  5. Establishing the voting rules for low impact decisions
  6. Determining whether a page containing substantive content that is not unambiguously outside our inclusion criteria should be deleted

Terminology

We will use the term proposal here to mean the change that is being discussed by the community. We will use the term discussion to mean the process of Wikibookians voicing their opinions and working towards compromise. Wikibookians do not "Vote" on anything, but we discuss points, compromise, and try to reach consensus.

Who is eligible to discuss

Any Wikibookian may discuss any issue, and voice their opinions. Each person is allowed one voice, not one voice per username. Wikibookians with multiple accounts should not post opinions from more than one account. Remember: comments are judged on their quality, not on their quantity. Comments that are suspected of being cast in bad faith can be discarded. Comments made anonymously may also be disregarded or discarded.

How is a discussion run

The proposal and each comment in a discussion is signed (using four tildes: ~~~~), to identify the writer. Discussions continue long enough to give interested Wikibookians a reasonable chance to participate. High-impact proposal discussions continue as long as there is progress towards a consensus and they must be publicized in Wikibooks:Reading room/General or other high-traffic areas, even announced on the bulletin board.

Community consensus

Community consensus is a general agreement by most interested participants that attempts to resolve or mitigate minority objections, the process for arriving at an agreement, and both the preceding and concluding state before and after the process. All consensus decision making processes rely upon users acting in good faith to come to an acceptable decision through negotiation and compromise. Ultimately the state of "community consensus" may involve the vast majority of users agreeing on some decision. However Wikibooks is not a democracy, and a simple voter majority is not the default, nor the recommended method of deciding the outcome of any discussion.

Example process

This is a step-by-step process for outlining a community discussion, and working towards consensus. It serves to illustration how people can work together towards a common goal through negotiation and compromise, and resolve or mitigate minority objections. Other guidelines and policies may define specific requirements for specific types of decisions.

  1. A proposal is made in the most relevant or previously selected location for that decision. If not a high traffic location, an announcement is made in a high traffic location to assure interested Wikibookians are made aware of it.
  2. Any concerns are discussed and proposed compromises addressed. The proposal may be modified during this time.
  3. A call for consensus is made. A straw poll may be used to determine the degree of consensus.
  4. If there are no unresolved objections, "community consensus" is reached and the proposal is accepted.
  5. If there are unresolved objections:
    • The proposal may be dropped with "no community consensus" reached.
    • The proposal may be modified to address objections and resubmitted for discussion.
    • The proposal may have all objected to parts removed, and "community consensus" is reached.
    • A call to determine any consensus may be made. However this should not be done lightly, and should only occur after substantial good faith discussion of both the proposal and objections. The community may at this point:
      • Not accept the proposal as "community consensus" has not been reached. The proposal may be modified and the process repeated, if necessary.
      • Accept a modified proposal with some or all objected to parts removed, and "community consensus" is reached.
      • Accept the proposal in spite of objections, and "community consensus" is reached.

User responses

Users who disagree with a community decision, have the option to:

  1. Propose alternatives. Previous discussion(s) should be presented and considered. A good reason to readdress the issue must also be explained. However this should never be done soon after a decision is made, if a different outcome is unlikely.
  2. Accept the community's decision.
  3. Ultimately, users unable to abide by the decision may need to reconsider their future participation in the project.

Following this Guideline

Wikibookians are encouraged to be bold when making changes, and they are encouraged to compromise and work as a community to solve problems. There is no single "right way" to achieve community consensus, and the steps outlined above only give a rough example of one version of that process.