Club Penguin Fanon Wiki:Policy/Consensus

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Consensus is part of a range of policies on how editors work with others. Consensus is not what everyone agrees to, nor is it the preference of the majority. Consensus results in the best solution that the group can achieve at the time. Remember, the root of "consensus" is "consent". This means that even if parties disagree, there is still overall consent to move forward in order to settle the issue. This requires co-operation among editors with different interests and opinions.

Objectives

As a decision-making process, consensus decision-making aims to be:

  • Inclusive and participatory: As many editors as possible should be involved in the consensus decision-making process.
  • Cooperative: Editors in an effective consensus process should strive to reach the best possible decision for the wiki and all of wikians, rather than opt to pursue a majority opinion, potentially to the detriment of a minority.
  • Egalitarian: All editors in the consensus decision-making process should be afforded equal input into the process. All users are equals, and have the opportunity to present and amend proposals.
  • Solution-oriented: An effective consensus decision-making process strives to emphasise common agreement over differences and reach effective decisions using compromise and other techniques to avoid or resolve mutually-exclusive positions within the group.
  • Most logical: This happens when a solution appears to be impossible to execute because of the lack of support and co-operation.

Process

Consensus discussions should always be attempts to convince others, using reasons. When a discussion breaks down to a mere polarised shouting match, there is no possibility of consensus, and the wiki will suffer. That said, consensus is not simple agreement; a handful of editors agreeing on something does not constitute a consensus, except in the thinnest sense. Consensus is a broader process where specific points are considered in terms of the wiki as a whole, in the hope that editors will negotiate a reasonable balance between competing views.

In general, the steps involved in the process of decision-making are as follows:

  • Discussion: The issue is discussed with the goal of identifying opinions and information on the topic at hand. The general direction and potential proposals for action are often identified during the discussion.
  • Formation of a proposal: Based on the discussion a formal decision proposal on the issue is presented.
  • Call for consensus: The original proposer calls for consensus. Each editor must actively state their agreement/disagreement with the proposal, to avoid the group interpreting silence or inaction as agreement.
  • Identification and addressing of concerns: If consensus is not achieved, the dissenters present their concerns on the proposal, potentially starting another round of discussion to address or clarify the concern.
  • Modification of the proposal: The proposal is amended, re-phrased or ridered in an attempt to address the concerns. The process then returns to the call for consensus and the cycle is repeated until a satisfactory decision is made.

Dissent

Although the consensus decision-making process should ideally identify and address concerns and reservations early, proposals do not always garner full consensus from the wiki.

When a call for consensus on a motion is made, a dissenting editor will have these options:

  • Neutral/Comment: Editors who are willing to let a motion pass but desire to register their concerns with the group may choose to "comment". If there are significant reservations about a motion, the original proposer may choose to modify or re-word the proposal.
  • Oppose: Editors who are unwilling to let a motion pass without modifications to proposal may choose to "oppose". The proposal will have to be modified or re-worded, or editors may choose to submit an alternative proposal, or a compromise (a middle way between two extremes).

Rough consensus

A healthy consensus decision-making process encourages editors with differing opinions to post their concerns as early as possible, maximising the chance of accommodating the views of all minorities. Since unanimity may be difficult to achieve, especially in large communities, or unanimity may be the result of coercion, fear, undue persuasive power or eloquence, inability to comprehend alternatives, or plain impatience with the process of debate, an alternative benchmark of consensus is used: rough consensus.

Rough consensus is a process with no specific rule for "how much is enough." Rather, the question of consensus is left to the judgement of a non-partisan administrator or bureaucrat who has not voted on the issue.

The means to establish rough consensus was described by the IETF (1998) as follows:

Working groups make decisions through a "rough consensus" process. IETF consensus does not require that all participants agree although this is, of course, preferred. In general, the dominant view of the working group shall prevail. (However, it must be noted that "dominance" is not to be determined on the basis of volume or persistence, but rather a more general sense of agreement). Consensus can be determined by a show of hands, humming, or any other means on which the WG agrees (by rough consensus, of course). Note that 51% of the working group does not qualify as "rough consensus" and 99% is better than rough. It is up to the Chair to determine if rough consensus has been reached.

Note: While there are no magic numbers for "how much is enough", it is generally accepted that rough consensus has been achieved if about 70% agree on the issue.

No consensus

In any discussion on this wiki, there are two possible outcomes: consensus, for some course of action, and no consensus. When there is no consensus on the proposal, the current status quo prevails. In the event where no consensus is achieved, it becomes the responsibility of the dissenting editor(s) to modify the original proposal if they wish to. However, it is also possible for the proponents to come up with an alternative proposal which addresses the concerns raised by the dissenters.

It is important to note that a few vocal dissenters do not create "no consensus".

Silence and consensus

In some cases, consensus can be presumed to exist until voiced disagreement becomes evident. One can find out whether an edit has consensus when it sticks, is built upon by others, and most importantly when it is used or referred to by others. However, in discussions regarding policy change, silence may not necessarily imply consent.

Most of the time, editors will find that it is fine to assume consensus, even if just for now, as it is more important to keep editing and co-operating smoothly in good faith as much as possible.

When real people are affected by a decision, such as blocking users, positive confirmation is preferred. Even in these cases, however, dissent might show up later, and it is then no longer appropriate to assume consensus.

Closure

Consensus may or may not be reached, but either way, the discussion needs to be closed in the end. The discussion may only be closed if one or more of the following has occurred:

  • The topic has unanimous or near unanimous support or opposition, and discussion has ran for at least a week or two.
  • The topic's arguments have been refuted and there is general consensus on which is the better and more accepted option.
  • The topic has been open for a long period of time and the discussion has reached a standstill with no sign of consensus forming. The topic should be closed, on a basis of no consensus.
  • The topic is meant to be in another area of the wiki, such as the forums or project:Article Deletion.

Only administrators may close discussions, although all users are welcome to request closure, if they believe one or more of the above has or will occur. Other users may support, oppose or comment on the closure, and an administrator will eventually decide on what action to take, using the above guidelines.

Corollary

If you disagree or feel uncomfortable with a proposal or its alleged repercussions, the burden is on you to say so.

Rationale

It is impractical to wait forever for affirmation: in the meantime, it is best to assume that silence implies consensus. Users can continue to hold that assumption (hopefully safely) until someone comes along and voices their concerns. The more visible the statement, and the longer it stands unchallenged, the stronger the implication of consensus is.

Silence is the weakest form of consensus

The wiki is huge and our editors' time is limited. At any given time, there are many open discussions on many different topics across the wiki. It is always encouraged that editors be bold. It is highly likely that editors will eventually find themselves affected by the outcome of some decision that they did not know about, or did not have the chance to join. Where a decision is based mostly on silence, it is especially important to remember that consensus can change. (See Consensus is not permanent.)

Unclean canvassing

"Canvassing" is notifying and summoning a fellow man to a consensus. It is expected to be administered with dignity and respect, in a neutral tone without motive other than a summons. Unclean canvassing is a means of cheating/rigging consensus through assorted dishonest methods. The topics discussed here are illegal and should never be implemented.

Campaigning

Campaigning a consensus is an unclean canvassing tactic that is illegal under current CPFW governance. In campaigining, one politically charges the consensus summons with bias and/or an urge to vote against it, in the message.

A canvassing summons is always to be written in a neutral and impartial tone. It is not a means of biasing or mudslinging, but a plain summons, and nothing else.

The punishment for campaigning is anything from a warning to a block no higher than nine days.


Vote stacking

Vote stacking a consensus is an unclean voting tactic practiced by sending a canvassing summons to certain users likely to vote in one way, and excluding all others.

For example, in the hypothetical situation that a G-mandate repeal comes to vote (it can't; repealing the holiness mandate is illegal, see Not permanent), one who would want to prserve the mandate would only contact those shown to have favor or leanings towards moral censorship, like TurtleShroom, Dan, Speeddasher, or Happyface. One who would want to have it repealed would only contact more liberal users.

In each case and each camp, one would be committing vote stacking by inviting users of one camp and declining to notify all others. The result is that the bloc summoned will reject the proposition without much difficulty, defeating the purpose of conesnsus' opposing sides coming to a compromise.

A canvassing summons, in addition to being neutral, must also go to all politically active users, and any users that would be interested or related to the topic, so as to prevent rigging the system.

The punishment for intentional vote stacking is anything from a warning to a block no higher than one month.


Forum shopping

Named after the real world courtroom practice, forum shopping is an unclean method of canvassing attempting to circumvent, reverse, or pre-empt a previous decision by appealing the same argument to another administrator that favors the canvasser.

For example, if a user that proposed legalizing parodies of, say, alcohol was unblocked or deemed innocent of ban, and the canvasser opposed this, he might go to TurtleShroom- since he favors blocking -for an override or for an attempt to open another consensus to contest the block.

Generally, once an administrator or group makes a ruling, that ruling is final, and it should not be repeated until a favorable rule is met. Asking multiple administrators to perform an administrative action after a different administrator already did an action could be forum shopping if the canvasser has an axe to grind.

The punishment for forum shopping is anything from a warning to a block no higher than three days.

Stealth canvassing

Stealh canvassing a consensus is an excessively unclean and deceptive practice that utilizes means of conduct not subject to the government's oversight. Instead of issuing a canvassing summons on a moderated area, such as a talk page, the Site Notice, a forum post and link, or other viewable/public announcement, a stealth canvasser would contact others and issue summons by private connections, such as e-mail, instant messaging, telephone, face-to-face conduct, and private messages, among others, or in short, anything that isn't the wiki or the IRC.

Since stealth canvassing can not be monitored by site governance for violations listed here and elsewhere, and since it is exeptionally dishonest and unclean, and because it is so hard to catch, there is no limit to the punishment for intentional stealth canvassing.

What consensus is not...

A simple majority vote

Consensus is not a majority vote. Where 51% triumph 49%, true consensus is not present.

A [pure] democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.
 
— Thomas Jefferson

A community discussion shifts with the community members. When a community view changes, its approach should merge seamlessly into the new line of thinking. This is because a community view is intangible. Votes, on the other hand, are nailed to the wall – and, worse still, the best way to really be rid of a vote is to have another vote against it.

Votes are especially unfair to those who come after. Someone walking in on a situation in which the dice have already been cast do not even get the chance to vote.

Every opinion should count every time. Consensus accounts for dissent and addresses it, although it does not always accommodate it. An option preferred by 51% of people is generally not enough for consensus. An option that is narrowly preferred is almost never consensus.

A vote may help to organise discussion around specific proposals, but this can sometimes breed conflict and division. One problem with a yes-or-no vote on a proposal is that there may be a consensus for a middle option. Even a "middle ground" option can be insufficient, as forcing people to choose between options may prevent new ideas from coming forward that would gain more support. Another problem with voting is that it might prevent a real discussion, as voters do not have to justify their position. This prevents people from evaluating the underlying reasons for a vote, and criticising weak or inaccurate reasoning for a vote. It also prevents people from coming up with alternative ways to satisfy the voter's concern, with a less divisive course of action.

The best way to determine consensus is to actually read and understand each person's arguments, even if they are divided on the surface. A consensus can be found by looking for common ground and synthesising the best solution that the group can achieve at that time.

Unanimity

Consensus is not the same as unanimity. Every discussion should involve a good faith effort to hear and understand each other. But after editors have had a chance to state their viewpoint, it may become necessary to ignore someone or afford them less weight in order to move forward with what the group feels is best. Sometimes a rough consensus is enough to move forward (see Rough consensus.)

Insisting on unanimity can allow a minority opinion to filibuster the process. If someone knows that the group cannot move forward without their consent, they may harden their position in order to get their way. This is considered unacceptable on this wiki as a form of gaming the system. There is even a three revert rule to limit efforts to stone wall the editing process.

Editors should make a good faith effort to reach a consensus. That means that the dissenting party has to state how the current proposal fails to meet the interests of the wider group, rather than merely stating they will not accept it. But after a good faith discussion, sometimes the dissenting party must consent to move forward even if they disagree with the specific course of action.

All or nothing

If the group can identify areas of agreement, they should move forward where the group shares the same view. A complicated dispute might involve several issues, and some issues may be more controversial than others. But a disagreement on one issue should not prevent consensus on another issue. It is not helpful to expect complete and total agreement on every aspect of the dispute. Work with the issues where there is common ground, and revisit the lingering issues later if necessary.

Permanent

With the sole exceptions of attempts to repeal the G-rated mandates/the holiness clause and all it pertains (e.g. consensus to permit stabbing, murder, sex), consensus is never immutable.

Past decisions are open to challenge and are not binding, and one must realise that such changes are often reasonable. Thus, "according to consensus" and "violates consensus" are not valid rationales for making or reverting an edit, or for accepting or rejecting other forms of proposal or action.

The wiki remains flexible because new editors may bring fresh ideas, growing may evolve new needs, editors may change their minds over time when new things come up, and we may find a better way to do things.

A representative group (i.e. administrators and bureaucrats) might make a decision on behalf of the community as a whole. More often, editors document changes to existing procedures at some arbitrary time after the fact. But in all these cases, nothing is permanently fixed. The world changes, and the wiki must change with it. It is reasonable and indeed often desirable to make further changes to things at a later date, even if the last change was years ago.

A walled garden

Even where there is a consensus among a group of editors, their preferred outcome is not always acceptable on the wiki. For example, a decision made on an article's talk page by a small group of editors won't always override community discussions and consensus in the forums.

In numbers

Editors can easily create the appearance of a changing consensus by "forum shopping" (see Forum shopping): asking again and hoping that a different and more sympathetic group of editors discusses the issue. This is an unclean example of rigging consensus, and is dishonest, anti-thetical, and in violation to the way this wiki works.

At the same time it is normal to invite more people into the discussion, in order to obtain new insights and arguments. However the invitations must be phrased in a neutral way and addressed to a reasonably neutral group of people (e.g. sent to all active editors or posted at the SiteNotice).

Hypothetical

While everyone on the wiki has the right to be heard, this does not mean that discussions remain open indefinitely until we hear from them. Nor does it mean that a consensus should be overridden by an appeal to "wikians out there" who silently disagree. In essence, silence implies consent. If the current discussion does not represent real opinion, either prove it by referring to an existing discussion, or suggest starting a new discussion with a wider audience.

The exact same on IRC

See project:Consensus/IRC

The means of governing on the IRC was a compromise between TurtleShroom and Agent Johnson. While the general principles of consensus apply on the IRC, including mass participation, general equality, and debate, the IRC is additionally structured and moved along by Robert's Rules of Order, or "RRO". RRO is the debate method used by 95% of all known businesses and organizations.

On IRC, one is expected, when consensusing, to behave by the RRO rulebook and observe the order therein. They are not, however, expected to remain silent (see above) or feel intimidated. One can't and won't be expelled for mistakingly saying "yes" instead of "aye", or making a simple slip of the keyboard. The IRC consensus system is not intended to exclude, as much as it is to provide a place for TurtleShroom (who seems to be mentally incapable of raw consensus) to fit into the new governance.