Consensus in a wiki environment/An introduction to Consensus

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What is consensus?[edit | edit source]

Simplified flowchart demonstrating one possible example of the consensus process. People can join at any time, so if a person disagrees with changes, they could find a reasonable compromise and implement it.

Wikipedia defines consensus as "having two common meanings. One is a general agreement among the members of a given group or community, each of which exercises some discretion in decision making and follow-up action. The other is as a theory and practice of getting such agreements."

Wikipedia defines consensus decision-making as "[a] process that not only seeks the agreement of most participants, but also the resolution or mitigation of minority objections."

A census is a process to count living things and also to gain individual information from them. The prefix con- denotes that the census information is put together. For example, if a census finds 2 red ducks, 5 orange ducks, and 3 gray ducks, then a possible consensus is to say there are 10 ducks. Another possible consensus is to say there are red, orange, and gray ducks. The agenda of a consensus relates what information is put together from a census.

Meta-Wikimedia says that '"consensus can only work among reasonable editors who are making a good faith effort to work together to accurately and appropriately describe the different views on the subject."

Consensus is always flexible within its agenda, and consensus may be amended whenever someone has something new and reasonable to say.

The role of consensus[edit | edit source]

Many well established wikis, such as Wikiversity, use consensus as a guiding tool for many, if not all, project decisions. In the case of Wikimedia projects, consensus is used to decide whether material is suitable for inclusion, whether or not to grant certain 'editing rights' to individual editors, as well as to resolve disagreements between editors. In short, consensus' role in wiki environments is hugely important, and ubiquitous.

How is consensus used to make decisions?[edit | edit source]

Essentially consensus is interpreted following discussion, hence the importance of understanding and experience on the part of the interpreter. We would like to expand this section to detail formal and informal consensus discussions - can you help?

How is consensus used to resolve disagreements?[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]