Sat 14th February 2009, 3:33pm
is one of those vague and slippery terms that is easy to invoke abusively. In “the sum of all knowledge” the advent of new scientific ideas, insights, and theoretical models disrupts and eventually overthrows older myths and misconceptions that eventually land on the rubbish heap of anachronistic points of view. At all times in the history of science, there are prevailing misconceptions that are in turmoil as scientific research undermines them. Probably the most famous historical example is the conflict between Pope Urban and Galileo over the advent of the Copernican Model. More recently, the brouhaha over Darwin’s disruptive theories are still reverberating both in the public eye and in Wikipedia. It is convenient and tempting to label the proponents of nascent scientific research as “tendentious and disruptive PoV pushers” and block or ban them from Wikipedia and sister projects.
The Wikipedia Arbitration Committee does not handle content disputes. Rather it handles cases where individual conduct is at issue. A year and a half ago, I asked a group of Wikipedians to answer a question about Due Process in WikiCulture. The astonishing response (which came from three well-respected officials) was that Wikipedia doesn’t do Due Process
, full stop. A sufficiently powerful Admin can unilaterally block or ban an adversarial editor without just cause, for a specious, vacuous, and unprovable reason, and the community will thereafter go along with an unjustified block or ban without giving the case a second thought.
As a result, arbitrary and capricious blocks and bans, executed without judicially responsible oversight, have become increasingly commonplace in WikiCulture.
This disturbing observation may not yet be widely appreciated, but it was the subject of a P2P blog discussion
a few months ago.
That discussion has not yet been addressed by responsible officials at Wikipedia.