Wikipedia:Development committee

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The Development Committee (DevCom) is an independent focus group of editors, centered around the development and discussion of policies, guidelines, and processes. DevCom is an advisory/thinking body only, and does not have the power to enact any change to current Wikipedia practices by fiat or decree. Any changes suggested by DevCom must be proposed to, and approved by, the community in the usual way.

Background[edit]

In 2009 the Arbitration Committee formed the Advisory Council on Project Development, a group tasked with "providing considered or imaginative solutions to longstanding problems" as an advisory group to ArbCom. The group was immediately opposed by many users, and a request for comment was opened on the matter. Consensus was generally that 1) the Arbitration Committee did not have the remit to create such a body, 2) that any council should be selected in some form by the community, and not be a Kitchen Cabinet and 3) it represented the community ineffectually and unfairly. However a significant portion of users who aired their views felt that the current mode of governance did not scale well enough, and that some form of body to examine the problems facing Wikipedia and propose solutions would be useful.

The Development Committee is designed with that in mind - to provide a body to discuss, brainstorm and suggest solutions to problems facing the community which avoids the inherent flaws of the Advisory Council by being open, selected by the community and representative of the community.

Scope[edit]

It is important to note that the creation of the Development Committee does not prevent any other users from proposing or discussing policies or changes, nor does it create a preferential "closed group" of users who are listened to more readily by the community. Rather, it aims to provide a focused group of users who can cut through the mass of debating normally found in any policy discussion, create a focused proposal and give it to the community for final approval. Any suggestion can, of course, be tweaked by the community - acceptance is not a yes or no referendum.

DevCom operates by looking at problems facing the community and brainstorming possible solutions, sometimes with organized working groups (see below), which are then taken to the community in a draft form for approval. It is recommended that they will first look at the problems listed at Wikipedia:Areas for Reform. The Committee may also choose any other topic to investigate and discuss, with any member of the community welcome to request the Committee's assistance on a matter relevant to the community. Additionally, the Arbitration and Mediation Committees are welcome to consult DevCom for suggestions in a dispute which, while covering user or content-related issues, have underlying issues relating to policy. All suggestions by the Development Committee are non-binding and cannot be implemented by the Committee itself.

Essentially, the point is to use a small and focused group to get through the initial stages of finding solutions without unnecessary distractions.

DevCom can create working groups to investigate specific problems, analogous to WikiProject taskforces. These working groups are made up of both Committee members and other members of the community, with care being taken to ensure representation from people of all views. DevCom may also invite users from other wikis and outside experts in whatever issue is being addressed.

Membership[edit]

This aspect is currently being discussed and may change.

Members will all be elected to serve terms of one year. Alternate accounts are not permitted to participate in the committee, including but not limited to elections and nominations.

The committee will consist of 21 members, all elected by the community

  • Of these 21 members, one will be elected by the committee to serve as Coordinating Member for a six month term, to end at each election. This user is similar to the Speaker of the British House of Commons - he does not have a direct "vote" in any decision-making except in a tie-break situation.[1] The Coordinating member organises and directs the Committee in a similar way to the ArbCom coordinating member.
  • 20 members at large, of which at least seven must not be users with sysop or possessing other higher userrights such as bureaucrat, checkuser access or oversight access. This is to ensure that the entire Wikipedia userbase is represented. A referendum on this mix will be part of the second election.

Membership in DevCom confers no user rights, authority or power, and it is intended that the community not view DevCom members as having "higher standing" than other community members. Elected members of DevCom are not required to identify themselves to WMF. Users may serve multiple terms on the committee, but may not serve consecutive terms.

Election process[edit]

Any user with an account registered before 1 July 2009 is welcome to stand as a candidate for the 20 seats available, and any user is welcome to submit another's name with their express permission. Exceptions are member of the Mediation and Arbitration committees, who cannot run. This is because the Development Committee expects to liase with the other bodies, and having people in multiple roles gives their views undue weight in the liaison process. Nominations must be vetted by a Checkuser for the sole purpose of ensuring that alternate accounts are not participating, as Checkusers have access to nonpublic data that may indicate that a given nominee has participated in sockpuppetry, particularly abusive socking. Any such nominees will be contacted privately by the Checkuser and required to withdraw their nomination. Given that others may withdraw their nominations at any time, the community is reminded that a withdrawal is not evidence of any wrongdoing, and is required to assume good faith of any withdrawal.

Nominations start at 00:00 15 August 2009 (UTC), and run until 23:59 (UTC) 31 August 2009 (UTC). Voting opens at 00:00 (UTC) on 1 September 2009 (UTC). The current Checkuser and Oversight elections are being used as a template - as such, this election is a straight vote, with comments being reserved for a dedicated "Discussion" section. Users are welcome to pose questions for each candidate at any point during the voting process. Any user with a named account may participate in the voting process, with the exception being alternate accounts. IP users may participate in the discussion and on talkpages only, and are not permitted numbered votes.[2]

The voting period will close at 23:59 (UTC) on 15 September 2009. The seven non-admins with the highest net supports (one oppose cancels one support) will be entered into the pool of final candidates, followed by the 23 other nominees with the highest net supports. Of those 30 users, 20 will be randomly selected (by a mechanism yet to be finalised) to serve on the committee. Of those 20 users, 10 will be randomly chosen to serve a six-month term, to guarantee overlapping membership after subsequent elections. Those users serving a six-month term may stand for re-election at the second election, but are subsequently subject to the 'no consecutive terms' rule. Subsequent elections will take place at six-month intervals, using the same format, with members elected to one-year terms. The next election process will begin on 1 February 2010 at 00:00 (UTC).


Notes[edit]

  1. ^ See Speaker Denison's rule
  2. ^ As at RfA