[WikiEN-l] Proposal: Task forces

Chris Jenkinson chris at starglade.org
Thu Feb 16 22:19:30 UTC 2006

Hi all,

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.

General idea

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:
  --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Talrias/Task_forces_proposal


Chris Jenkinson
chris at starglade.org

"Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful."
  -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

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