A process for seeking deep consensus
A Wikiversity Assembly is a process for seeking deep consensus on topics relevant to Wikiversity. This process is not designed to make actual decisions, other than about itself. Technically, there can be more than one Assembly, if people can't agree on specific Assembly process, and that is a safeguard. However, if the Assembly uses good process, designed to maximize consensus while not enforcing it, there is likely to be only one "top-level" Assembly.
Consists of subpages
The Assembly consists of subpages on topics where finding consensus could be valuable. The general purpose is to advise users, administrators, or other interested parties, as to the results of thorough deliberation. The Assembly will not produce fixed decisions that control others. It will issue reports, which will be signed by users who approve them. Minority reports may be issued as well, also signed.
Determines its own process
The Assembly will determine its own process. Clerks for a subpage may determine initial process within their subpages. It is suggested for subpage process, where local process rules may be subject to polling, that majority rule generally be followed, but clerks have the discretion to decide without polling, and to reject poll results. The overall Assembly goal should always be maximized consensus, but for subpages, coherence of report may be more important. The remedy for overcontrol by a subpage clerk is formation of an independent subpage with a different clerk.
Standard process may be developed, with experience. The Assembly and Assembly members may use off-wiki process, such as mailing lists, where this facilitates the negotiation of consensus and efficiency of communication. "Assembly reports," however, must be subject to deliberation, or at least review, and approval on-wiki. --Abd 16:27, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
The Assembly uses Wikiversity:Delegable proxy as an aid in estimating broader consensus from the participation of a few. Using DP, some sense of the representativeness of a discussion can be developed, that can move beyond the limitations of the ad-hoc discussion process, that can be so unreliable on wikis. Delegable proxy allows, without formal elections, many users to be represented with reasonable accuracy by a few. This is not, as such, proxy voting. It is merely a device for assessing the representativeness of a report, and actual reliance upon it is up to whomever intends to rely upon the report.
No replacement of existing process
The Assembly is not intended to replace existing decision-making processes. Individual users remain free and responsible for their own actions, the Assembly simply makes possible a deeper understanding of consensus. Proxies participating in discussions are not casting "proxy votes." The Assembly, in its own internal process, will decide whether or not to consider proxy expansions, and, if so, how to do this. (There is no one fixed procedure; one may analyze participation in many different ways. For example, one could, for example, consider only privileged users, or one could weight participation by edit count or time since registration. If "simple" works well, it can be simple. If not, it can be more sophisticated. Analysis is ultimately up to the user of the reports.)
Subpages proposed by any Assembly member
An Assembly subpage may be proposed by any user who wants advice to be generated. To avoid useless discussions, a "second" is required. As a process detail, both the proposer and the second must be registered as members of the Assembly. (Any registered user may register as a member.) This may be on any topic relevant to Wikiversity policies, guidelines, or administration, either generally or with regard to a specific case. The proposer of the page may appoint one or more Clerks to handle process issues, but the proposer is the default clerk. The creator of a subpage is the one who has "called the meeting," and that person is traditionally, in standard deliberative process, the "founding chair." If there is disagreement about process, multiple subpages may be created, if needed, and they should be neutrally linked. If clerking is done well, this should not be necessary, but the possibility is a safeguard.
Product is a report
The intended product of an Assembly deliberation (or set of deliberations) is a report or set of reports. The goal is maximized consensus, but because poll counts are not controlling any result other than what amounts to reports on percentage support for position papers, analyzed in various ways, compromises are voluntary. Actual Wikiversity decision-making process may refer to Assembly reports, but is not controlled by them. However, if an Assembly report demonstrates ("proves") genuine consensus on some issue, decision-makers may advisedly be cautious about ignoring it.
Delegable proxy flexible
Delegable proxy allows many flexible ways of participating. For example, suppose that there is a serious controversy, and there are two basic positions. Perhaps most users attached to these two positions have difficulty even discussing the issue, perhaps they are impatient with those with opposing views. With delegable proxy, and for the process of negotiation of consensus to continue in spite of these difficulties, it may be enough for even a majority position to be represented by as little as one user who is able to engage with, say, a dissident faction. If that user is widely trusted, according to what is shown by the Proxy table, it's still possible to estimate overall consensus on a result from a "dissident subpage." Likewise the "dissident faction" may be represented on a "majority subpage" by as little as one user. Or more than one report may be generated, each with some measure of participation and result.
Subpage clerks may exclude users
Any subpage clerk may exclude any specific user from participation in that subpage. Ideally, this should only relate to how the user has actually participated there, not any outside issue or expectation, and the right of exclusion is only to protect subpage process. The decisions of clerks should be respected, however.
Clerks should not exclude indirect participation through an appointed proxy, and should avoid rejecting any participant based on whom the participant supposedly represents. Clerks are advised to respect subpage consensus. If a clerk excessively controls participation, disaffected users may decide to create a competing subpage, which will somewhat complicate things, but not seriously.
Clerks accomplish exclusion by announcement of "excluded users" on the subpage, and polite notice to the user on the User Talk page. It is not necessary to prove "disruption," and it could be disruptive, itself, to make assertions of misbehavior. Exclusion from any subpage by a clerk should never be a black mark against a user. The notice should state only that participation of the user on the subpage has been found to be counterproductive, in the judgment of the clerk, and that the user is expected to refrain.
Custodians are requested to enforce clerk decisions on participation, which only affect subpages. An excluded user may nondisruptively protest the exclusion with the clerk, on the clerk's user talk page, but is advised to keep it simple and to respect the clerk's decision. Such a user may wish to consider if representation by proxy is enough (one may always present evidence and argument to a consenting proxy, who may then, on his or her own responsibility, pass this on), and, if not, then may wish to consider starting his or her own subpage, through the proposal process, or encouraging another to do so.
An Assembly clerk may decide to require a "second" to start any subpage on a topic. If no second appears within 10 days, the clerk may archive a proposed issue discussion. (An Assembly clerk is advised to request a second where any registered member of the Assembly "objects to the consideration of the question," and such an objection, if seconded, should be put to vote, itself, as soon as possible. A majority vote in a poll left open for a week is required to sustain an objection. In the presence of an unresolved objection, discussion of the original question itself should be frozen. In ordinary standard deliberative process, an "objection to consideration" is undebatable, for clear reason. Clerks should not second their own proposals, but a clerk may second the proposal of another "without objection.")
Any registered user becomes a "member" of this Assembly by adding the username to the Proxy table.
- Adding a proxy is optional, but highly recommended, and will do no harm (and may be changed at any time). Don't name a proxy whom you don't trust, at least generally! Signing up as a member consents to being informed about Assembly process, when the Assembly members participating decide to issue such messages (through on-wiki notices on your Talk page, and/or through email). However, when you sign up, or later, you may request "no messages" in the user comment field. If you don't name a proxy and also decline Assembly messages, your being a member may not mean much! But you may do this and may still participate personally.
- If you name a proxy, you are consenting to contact by that proxy, on any matter concerning the Assembly.