Policies (main)

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The Editorial and Publication Process

Authors and Topic Editors are experts in their fields as judged by their peers and by their track record of distinguished research, teaching, writing, training, and public outreach in their field or other individuals with demonstrated knowledge of a particular topic area This community of contributors includes scientists and educators at major research universities as well as teaching-oriented colleges and community colleges; some high school educators; scientists/analysts at think tanks, NGOs, government agencies, etc.; professionals from business, trade groups, professional organizations, etc. who are appropriately qualified.

Content for the Encyclopedia is created, maintained, and governed by this community via a specially adapted "wiki" platform that allows EoE authors and topic editors to collectively add and edit web content. Unlike other, well-known wikis, such as Wikipedia, access is restricted to approved contributors and all content is reviewed and approved by Topic Editors prior to being published from the wiki to this public site. Revisions to existing content are also done on the authors' wiki, and when approved they become the current version at the public site. This process produces a constantly evolving, continuously updated reference.

The Commitment to Objectivity

In the interests of encouraging the broadest participation, of assisting people in making up their own minds about controversial issues, and of increasing the likelihood of articulating the whole truth about all subjects, the Encyclopedia of Earth adopts the following policies regarding neutrality and fairness.

  1. Neutrality. Encyclopedia of Earth content shall, when touching upon any issue of controversy, be fair and insofar as possible neutral. Following are some examples of what is meant by neutrality in the Encyclopedia of Earth:
  • Controversy. The Encyclopedia of Earth recognizes two classes of controversy; scientific controversy and values controversy. Scientific controversy describes differences in opinion of scholars on the interpretation of scientific data. For example, the regional changes in weather caused by increases in greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere is a subject of scientific controversy. Values controversy describes differences in opinion on values-based decision-making about the environment. For example, whether taking an action to preserve or protect an endangered species is worth the economic or societal costs of such actions is a values controversy.

When touching upon any issue of controversy, the distinction between scientific and values controversy should be recognized, and every different view on a subject that attracts a significant portion of adherents shall be represented, with each such view and its arguments or evidence being expressed as fairly and sympathetically as possible. This entails, among other things, that:

  • No Advocacy. The Encyclopedia of Earth itself shall not advocate positions on environmental issues; it shall also be both non-partisan and non-sectarian.
  • Language. The Encyclopedia of Earth shall not use phraseology or tone that elevates or deprecates particular perspectives or people holding a particular perspective.
  • Dialectic. The Encyclopedia of Earth shall attempt, iteratively if necessary, to represent fairly and sympathetically the arguments of different disputants against each others' positions.
  • Balance. Where there is a need to apportion limited space, space on areas of disagreement shall be apportioned roughly in proportion to their representation (1) among experts, when a dispute exists mainly among scholars; and (2) among the interested population, when a dispute exists mainly among the general population. When a dispute is equally a scholarly and a popular dispute, separate content will be developed to describe each dispute neutrally.

2. Uncertainties and Assumptions. The Encyclopedia of Earth shall recognize uncertainties in data, interpretation, and understanding, as well as other reasons for different perspectives on a subject, such as assumptions made.

3. Inclusion. As access to the broadest array of knowledge has many salutary effects, the Encyclopedia of Earth shall be strongly disposed to include rather than exclude content.

4. Exclusion.

  • Harm. When some content both has no discernible and unique benefit to the advancement of knowledge, and has significant potential to harm the health or moral character of individuals, of human society at large, or of the environment, it may be excluded.
  • Broad consensus. To be grounds for exclusion, the harmful nature of some content must be affirmed, or likely to be affirmed, by the majority of the world’s population, regardless of political or religious views.
  • Examples. Paradigm examples of excluded content are bomb-making instructions, pornography, and Holocaust denial.

Policy on Sponsored Content and Advertising

The EoE may accept financial contributions and advertising from public and private individuals and organizations to support its administrative, editorial, technical, scholarly, and educational programs. In return for such support, the EoE may acknowledge a sponsor by display of a logo, links to a sponsor’s site, and other means deemed appropriate. Such acknowledgment does not imply any endorsement by the EoE of a particular sponsor’s or advertiser’s product or service or its view on an issue of science or policy. Potential sponsors and advertisers are informed in advance that sponsorship will in no way influence the EoE’s core editorial commitment to accuracy, objectivity, and fairness.

The EoE is a non-profit information resource that exists solely to provide content, programs and services that are of public benefit. It is governed by a collaboration known as the Environmental Information Coalition (EIC). The Secretariat for the EIC is the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), Washington D.C., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All revenue is directly used to support the EoE.

Policy on the Use of Content from Wikipedia

Authors, Topic Editors, the Stewardship Committee of the Environmental Information Coalition, and the International Advisory Board of the EoE have determined that Wikipedia contains some content that may be suitable for the EoE in terms of subject area, level of writing, and accuracy. The copyright associated with Wikipedia allows considerable freedom to re-use its content. There may be, therefore, instances where Wikipedia content—appropriately applied and reviewed—can be used as partial input to an EoE article.

We allow Authors and Topic Editors to use content from Wikipedia when they write or edit an article, subject to the following conditions.

  1. Authors must limit their use of Wikipedia content to articles in their core areas of expertise.
  2. Authors and Topic Editors are expected to review and judge content from Wikipedia with a high level of scrutiny and fact-finding that is consistent with the overall editorial and quality control guidelines for the EoE that were described in the previous two sections. This includes vetting content carefully for accuracy, clarity, objectivity, completeness and balance. Authors are expected to remove any inaccurate or misleading information, and to add additional content that would, in their opinion improve the quality of the article.
  3. Articles with Wikipedia content undergo the same review prior to publication as other EoE content.
  4. When Wikipedia content is used in an EoE article, that article is identified and attributed in accordance with EoE policy. EoE Authors and Topic Editors who make contributions to an article that contains Wikipedia content are also identified in accordance with EoE policy.

The decision to allow use of Wikipedia was made after careful deliberation by the EoE’s Editorial Board, the International Advisory Board, the Stewardship Committee of the Environmental Information Coalition, and, most importantly after an open forum with Authors and Topic Editors.

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