[WikiEN-l] Proposal: Task forces
chris at starglade.org
Thu Feb 16 22:19:30 UTC 2006
Here is an overview of some brainstorming I and a few others have done
on the concept of task forces for improving policy (a task force being a
temporary organisation formed to work on a single defined task or
activity). Task forces would be broadly responsible for an area of
policy (for example, deletion, adminship, etc.), and would be tasked
with coming up with improvements to an existing policy and creation of
new policies. Please take "policy" to include both guidelines and policies.
Members of a task force would be appointed in some way (for example via
elections), and would discuss amongst themselves the problems with the
existing policy, how to improve it so it better serves building the
encyclopaedia, and the removal of policies which do not help the
development of Wikipedia. The various task forces would work the
community to get feedback on all aspects of their work, including
problems with existing policies, discussion of what works and what
doesn't, and comments on their suggested proposals.
After a task force as a group were happy with their suggested
modification of a policy, they would require consent from the community
to implement it. This would probably be done via a simple straw poll,
and due to the task force already having a mandate from the community to
develop changes, would be typically lower than the usual "consensus"
pass mark (e.g. a simple majority would be sufficient to implement the
I would suggest a task force for each area of Wikipedia policy, such as
moving pages, each administrative tool (deletion, blocking, protection,
rollback), manual of style, adminship, bureaucratship, recent changes,
copyright, stubs, etc. Obviously, some task forces would have larger
roles than others - some task forces, such as one for bureaucrat-related
policy, simply may not be necessary due to the low numbers.
Use to Wikipedia
This would be useful for Wikipedia because of the increasing size of the
community. Due to its size, people are excluded from topics they may be
interested in discussing and debating but may not know are under
discussion purely due to the amount of things which are under
discussion. Unfortunately this means it is likely that good ideas are
excluded. Forming a body tasked specifically with reform of an area,
which actively solicits feedback from the community gives people a
single place to discuss topics they are interested in. In a large group,
decision making becomes difficult.
The general idea of this was inspired in part by select committees in
legislative bodies. In the House of Commons, select committees are
groups of MPs, from all political parties, each one dedicated to a
different government department. Their role is to hold the government to
account, solicit feedback from the general public, and to report to
Parliament. While of course a direct comparison between Wikipedia and a
legislative body is naturally flawed, the concept of a small body of
people, interested and dedicated to a specific field, to help improve
the system to improve its functioning is a good one and works well in
Things to consider
* How would task forces be created?
* How would members of a task force be appointed?
* Is a single "policy committee" a better idea than having multiple task
* How do we ensure that a task force is representative of opinion across
Wikipedia/has community support?
* How do we ensure that time spent dealing with policy does not affect
contributors' time spent on encyclopaedic articles?
Thoughts welcomed! I've also put this on Wikipedia, at:
chris at starglade.org
"Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful."
-- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
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