InterSci's Statement of Fundamental Policies Version 1.0, June 19, 2007
The InterSci project is launching with some fundamental commitments, articulated in this document. Those who support these commitments areinvited to contribute to the initial shaping of the project. Those who reject any of these commitments are hereby asked to abstain from participating. This document is modeled on Citizendium.
I. The nature of the project.
1. The ultimate goal of the InterSci community, a global group of collaborators, is to create a site for interdisciplinary learning that will facilitate new research.
2. The InterSci will be a wiki. Edits will not be required to be approved by editors before appearing on the wiki.
3. The InterSci is owned and controlled by the sponsoring a non-profit faculty research group.
4. The InterSci will not sell advertisements. There may be unobtrusive non-profit sponsorship statements, but sponsors will have no editorial influence over the project, and enforceable, adequate oversight of this rule will be in place. Similarly, no grants that make specific editorial demands will be accepted.
5. The InterSci will be devoted to simplicity, both in presentation of content and in the organization of the community. Many features as implemented by Wikipedia, such as subject categories and so-called user boxes, may be eliminated from (or never included in) the InterSci. Special roles will not be created without excellent reason, and bureaucracy will be kept to the absolute minimum necessary.
II. Fundamental policies concerning content.
1. The content of the InterSci will always be open content.
2. It will be the project's aim to make the content of the InterSci: • educationally useful • based on common experience, published, credible research, and expert opinion • unbiased • legal and responsible • reader-friendly
III. Fundamental policies concerning community governance.
1. All contributors to the InterSci must do so using their own real names, unless special and unusual permission is granted by project management.
2. The InterSci will be open to contribution by anyone (tentatively, "authors") who is able to make a positive difference and who is willing to work collaboratively under the policies and management of the project.
3. The InterSci will invite subject area experts to serve as editors. The term "editor" is, however, used in a restricted sense. Editors will be expected to work "shoulder-to-shoulder" with authors in the wiki. Among the things that editors will be empowered, singly or collectively, to do are (1) to make decisions about specific questions, or disputes, about appropriateness of content of particular pages in an editor's area of expertise, and (2) to approve high-quality pages as especially useful. Editors will not have the right, except in very unusual cases, to "lock" articles and thereby prevent the collaborative process from continuing. Finally, editors will be expected to share authority with other editors who are expert on the same subjects.
4. The InterSci will have a set of persons of mature judgment specially empowered to enforce rules, called (at least tentatively) "constables." The enforcement of project rules--up to and including the ejection of participants from the project--is to be carried out using common sense and leniency while following "the rule of law."
5. After an initial period of development, there will be a separation of powers: enforcement officials ("constables") will not be able to make editorial decisions, and editors will not have the ability to enforce their own decisions, though they will be able to make recommendations.
IV. Statement of rights.
1. Contributors in good standing have a right to build the InterSci without constantly having to do battle with people who are constantly breaking project rules or trying to undermine the project. So there will be a process for rapidly removing rulebreakers from the project. While most people will enjoy the privilege of contributing to InterSci if they are able to make a positive difference, there is a blanket right neither to contribute nor to participate in the project's governance.
2. There will be a right of appeal, and analogues to other traditional "legal" rights will be observed, such as the right to view and respond to the evidence cited against one. We will make extensive creative efforts toward effective design of oversight processes, to ensure that the appeals process is not abused, e.g., in a self-serving way or to advance ideological views.
3. The general public has the right to expect the quickest possible removal of copyright-protected and libellous material. Processes and tools will be created that make it difficult for libel to appear on articles concerning living persons and their activities, and for such to be removed as quickly as it is found.
V. The adoption of an InterSci Charter.
1. An Advisory Board for the InterSci site will be appointed by the Editor-in-Chief, in consultation with persons of his choosing.
2. Within six months to a year after the launch of the InterSci, its Advisory Board will adopt a binding community charter that states, in a clear but general way, the fundamental goals and policies of the InterSci project. The judgment of the Advisory Board, on the matter of the Charter, will be regarded as final.
3. The Charter will supersede the present Statement of Fundamental Policies, and it will include information about how it may be amended.
4. The Charter will be regarded both as the supreme policy of the InterSci community and as the legal basis of operation of the project as part of any non-profit organization.
5. Consequently, all positions of authority designated prior to the adoption of the Charter, including that of Editor-in-Chief, will immediately fall within the purview of the Charter, and of the mechanisms it specifies, upon its adoption.