Status of the case:
No request to close yet. Passing, my summary:
The usual boilerplate principles, two are notable:4.1) A Wikipedia ban is a formal revocation of editing privileges on all or part of Wikipedia. A ban may be temporary and of fixed duration, or indefinite and potentially permanent. When enacting an editing restriction that includes a ban on an editor, administrators should take reasonable steps to ensure that the editor is notified of the particulars of the ban and its duration. Editors that are page or topic banned from a section of Wikipedia are expected to cease contributing to that area. User account blocks may be used to enforce violation of page or topic bans. Any user can bring an administrator action up for review in the relevant noticeboard. The community can, among other things, lift the block/ban, endorse it or extend it in time and/or scope.
There was a controversy in this case over the propriety of an administrator being the originator and continued enforcer, unilaterally, of a ban. Lost in the discussion was the distinction between a general ban and a strict ban. Can an administrator, having warned, block an editor for a nondisruptive edit, independently, without a community discussion? If an administrator may strictly ban, yes. But if a "ban" is merely a strong warning that an editor's general behavior with a page is problematic, and may result in a block without further warning, then we can distinguish between an administrative ban and a community ban. The latter is generally enforced, by admins who may not know the details of disruptive activity, and, for this, it is essential that it may be strictly enforced, but it is normally enforced by uninvolved administrators. It is dangerous to allow a single administrator to create a strict ban to be enforced by others without question, it corrupts our system of administrative responsibility, and it practically guarantees charges of involvement because it sets up a possible personal conflict.
In spite of the extensive discussion of this, ArbComm managed to squarely ignore it, affirming nothing that was not already obvious, leaving in place what had been quite a controversy, with initial expressed arbitrator opinion that administrators may not unilaterally ban.
(added later: actually they did not completely ignore it, they punted, suggesting a community discussion, but without clarifying the problem -- i.e., the particular reason why there is a problem with sole-administrator strict bans -- it all gets confused with other kinds of bans and other problems. This is like a committee bouncing a contentious issue back to the main floor, it's the opposite of what works. ArbComm could hold "hearings," but unless it guides them, it can expect nothing but disruption. Deeper solutions are possible, but unlikely until the community itself organizes for efficient development of consensus.)6) All editors, and especially administrators, should strive to avoid conduct that might appear at first sight to violate policy. Examples include an administrator repeatedly making administrator actions that might reasonably be construed as reinforcing the administrator's position in a content dispute, even where the administrator actually has no such intention; or an editor repeatedly editing in apparent coordination with other editors in circumstances which might give rise to reasonable but inaccurate suspicions of sockpuppetry or meatpuppetry.
Support for this was unanimous. Cab opposition was, at least initially, monolithic. In general, the Cab has opposed any restrictions on administrative action, or at least their administrator's actions, and where they have disagreed with other admins, they have simply reversed them, an example was provided in this case (WMC v. Jennavecia). Cab administrators have routinely used tools while blatantly involved, and this case may be bringing the first example I know of one getting dinged for it. For that to happen took my being blocked during the case by WMC, proving that WMC would actually do what he'd been threatening to do,
block me for a harmless edit, to prove that I was banned. What he proved, in fact, was that I wasn't banned. But for facilitating this proof, I will be also be banned. Cool, eh? Calling attention to the obvious is prohibited.7) Inappropriate behavior driven by good intentions is still inappropriate. Users acting in good faith may still be sanctioned when their actions are disruptive.
I supported this, though there is a semantic problem. "Sanction" implies response to reprehensible behavior, the word is almost equivalent to "punishment." Rather, actions may be taken to protect the project against good-faith but harmful behavior. Rather, this should have been "Remedies may be applied to users acting in good faith...."Findings
are a bit of a mess.9) Abd and Mathsci have engaged in personal attacks upon each other during public discussion of this case in an off-wiki venue.
This was roundly rejected, 6 to 1. However, I put it here because there are remedies based on it, with inconsistent conclusions. Goose and gander have different sauces. I don't examine those findings and remedies, though, they are not ultimately important.11) Abd (talk · contribs) has tendentiously edited the cold fusion article. 1; 2; 3; 4; 5
This is a doozy. Link to finding.
I responded in detail to this proposed decision here
. All the links are to sections of evidence provided by, a party to the arbitration Enric Naval, with some evidence and conclusion that he'd been disruptive in taking my ban to AN/I. There are no findings regarding Enric Naval, however, though his behavior during the case was aligned with WMC's, and similarly outrageous; when WMC blocked me, WMC reverted the subject edit. The unblocking admin reverted it back. Enric edit warred to keep it out as being the edit of a banned editor, thus making the same kind of in-case disruptive action as WMC's, just without using admin tools. (The community has since rejected the idea that edits of allegedly banned editors must be removed -- and I wasn't banned at the time, as proven by the response to the block, by Rlevse's "suggestion" that I refrain from editing -- which I accepted -- and his subsequent strengthening of this to a ban pending decision.) The most diagnostic of the evidences is link 4.
Read it! With it, the committee accepted and ratified as evidence against me what was nothing more than Enric's evidence presented in RfAr/Fringe science, which was itself so badly distorted as to amount to a lie. The lie was a justification for ignoring peer-reviewed papers on an alleged fringe topic, and the way Enric presented the evidence made it appear that only maybe one-third of peer-reviewed papers were positive on cold fusion. In fact, most PR papers on the topic are, as classified by the database ultimately referenced, positive or "undecided," with "negative" being the lowest number, by far. It's a good example of How to Lie with Statistics, one of my favorite books when I was a kid. Enric Naval was arguing against what ArbComm decided in that case, and he continued to act in violation of the ruling. One of the errors I've identified in my own behavior is that I didn't go to arbitration enforcement over this.
Enric's evidence on that point wasn't about me, he was pointing to rejected claims he'd made before I was ever involved. Yet there it is, with ArbComm's stamp of approval. Diagnostic. It's not like it hasn't been pointed out, it has, in several places where at least a few arbitrators likely read it.
That's why I'm leaving. ArbComm is responsible, but isn't taking responsibility and fulfilling it.
There are only two ways to remedy this. The same is true for another finding as well.12) There is no evidence of collusion or other improper collaboration among the various users Abd has alleged to be part of a cabal, nor did Abd attempt to provide any such evidence.
This has the support of all but one voting admin. I agree with the first part, partly. Tag team edit warring is "improper collaboration," and the Cab is famous for it, especially at Global warming, and plenty of evidence covers that (RfC/GoRight was incorporated by reference in my evidence). However, I didn't allege "collusion or improper collaboration,"
even though I presented evidence that showed it for some. Rather, I alleged that the Cab was a group of editors who were "involved by association," and that this should be considered in matters like community bans (WP:BAN specifically considers "uninvolved editors") or how we approach evidence; evidence from a neutral party is naturally given more credence than that from an involved one.
In theory, we should only look at the evidence itself, but involved parties can cherry-pick evidence and frame it in highly biased ways, and unless an arbitrator does independent investigation, and most clearly don't bother, the issue of involvement becomes very big. I strongly suspect that with finding 11, the arbs didn't actually read down to the sources, I suspect, in fact, that they read Enric as alleging that I had dismissed reliable sources, that's how it might look in context. The reverse is true.
This finding, were it true in its implications, made it necessary
to ban me, because if the editors who piled in to the Arbitration, to present masses of evidence and arguments, were actually neutral and uninvolved, this would be prima facie proof of disruptive behavior on my part, whether intended or not. Hence, following this finding, I'm a danger to the project and must be, for the protection of the project, banned. Unless, of course, I somehow realize my error and mended my ways, and we see below how ArbComm responded to evidence that I wasn't doing that.
When I presented the cabal evidence, I wrote, "the emperor has no clothes." I have demonstrated what happens when an adult says that. Children can get away with it, until they start to get older. ADHD is a developmental disorder. We never grow up in certain ways.
The "cabal allegation" was central. Some of my friends have argued that I shouldn't have said it. In fact, this may be the most important thing I wrote in the whole case, and the door has now been opened a crack, others will notice it if the Cab continues to function as it did in the past. The problem of cabals, and especially ones which push a "majority POV," suppressing minority opinion, creates continual disruption, and not with a tiny fraction of editors; most editors, in fact, hold some "minority view" on something or other. Jimbo's concept of how we'd approach the problem was sound, and cabals have corrupted it, as could have been expected.
In another event that was diagnostic: my proposed principle that consensus was essential to gauging neutrality was rejected by the Cab (which makes it look like it was rejected by the community), and ignored by ArbComm in the proposed principles (even though it had some support from Newyorkbrad in the Workshop). This principle is fundamental to the work I was doing, which was always to increase consensus in the end.
Sometimes to increase consensus, it is necessary to initially disagree with the majority, and common-law democratic process recognizes this, and rules of procedure in deliberative bodies are designed to protect that kind of minority, giving it fair opportunity to expand consensus without being disruptive. A minority motion will typically be sent to a committee, a small group, for study instead of being debated on the floor. We have yet to learn from this.
That ArbComm allowed this principle to be rejected means that ArbComm allowed the rejection of the only practical way of approaching true neutrality, thus guaranteeing that Wikipedia will continue to violate NPOV. The current opinion is apparently based on wishful thinking: that there will somehow arise a class of editors who thoroughly understand NPOV and who are perfect in recognizing their own bias, such that the protests of minority POV editors are unnecessary. (When you have a POV, you become, naturally, a detector of opposing POV, you are sensitive to it.) While there are some editors who are good at doing this, they are in the minority and probably always will be.
There are only two ways to move beyond this situation, of wrong-headed ArbComm decision, that I can see.The remedies.1) The cold fusion article, and parts of any other articles that are substantially about cold fusion, are subject to discretionary sanctions.Applause.
Had this been in place before, there would have been little to no problem. What had happened at RfAr/Cold fusion is that the Cab had successfully convinced ArbComm that Pcarbonn was the problem, and that if Pcarbonn was topic banned, all would be well. The problem is much bigger than Pcarbonn, and, in fact, Pcarbonn was not the problem, Pcarbonn was part
of the solution. Had Pcarbonn not been topic banned, creating a vacuum, I would probably never have become involved with Cold fusion, and now, with my topic ban, others will eventually take my place. With discretionary sanctions, neutral administrators will -- hopefully -- resolve disputes rapidly, by ensuring that the disputes are run through the dispute resolution wringer and hung out to dry, instead of being swept, wet, under the carpet. How's that for a metaphor, eh?3.2) Abd is prohibited from participating in discussion of any dispute in which he is not one of the originating parties, unless approved by his mentor(s). This includes, but is not limited to, article talk and user talk pages, the administrator noticeboards, and any formal or informal dispute resolution. He would be allowed to vote or comment at polls.
This one is fascinating. There were few charges in the case of disruptive involvement in "other disputes," unless such involvement is understood very broadly. I've been successful, in fact, in mediating disputes. Essentially, what this says is that I can discuss (or what I did in RfC/GoRight, present evidence) if I'm involved, but not if I am neutral. Hello?
But I understand it. Underneath this is something that I've long encountered. Two years ago, when I began to get seriously involved with Wikipedia, and I brought with me over twenty years of experience in projects that were in various ways analogous to Wikipedia, plus I had done serious (recognized outside) work on theoretical solutions to the problems that organizations face, I read the guidelines and policies and considered them to be, for the most part, brilliant. But then I encountered actual practice, which often corrupted the obvious intent of those policies and guidelines. And when I started to point this out, I was rejected and threatened as an outsider. This xenophobia is endemic among the core, it's one of the big problems. Like many problems, it has some legitimate basis, but is overall damaging. Wikipedia should welcome outside opinions; among them will be solutions that the existing core will not immediately recognize.3.3) Abd is banned from the cold fusion article, any content related to cold fusion, and any talk page discussion related to cold fusion for one year.
This is far stronger than what the community approved earlier, and what WMC imposed. It's stronger than what was imposed on ScienceApologist, who had blatantly violated many policies and guidelines. It's the same as was imposed on Pcarbonn, an SPA, "civil POV pusher." Alternative remedies were proposed that would have addressed all the possibly legitimate problems.
What I conclude is that ArbComm is, in fact, taking a content position, based on what is an easy general view that Cold fusion is pathological science, a reputation that was created in 1989-1990 by a very successful PR campaign on the part of the nuclear physicists, who had much at stake. I have seen, here, many of the false allegations that became embedded in the minds of many, accepted as fact contrary to evidence, such as lack of replication; as measurement accuracy increases, the effect disappears; no ash has been shown; fraud; and on and on.
Were we following RS and NPOV guidelines, our article would be adequate to change this impression, not necessarily showing that cold fusion is "real," but that there is a real and open scientific controversy, with no broad scientific consensus,
(any more, certainly not since 2004) that we should neutrally cover. Instead, we are violating those guidelines and RfAr/Fringe, and ArbComm has now, once again, ratified that, and those who disagree, and who know or have come to know the field and Wikipedia process and have attempted to properly use it, are not to be allowed to discuss it, anywhere on the project, no talk page discussion, no WikiProject Cold fusion (there should be one, to foster consensus), and probably no participation in the mediation.
Those who agree with the "pathological science" conclusion, if they don't go too far, or even if they do but they get away with it, may continue. This kind of decision, repeated, warps our content in ways very difficult to fix. Or should I say, "your content"?
After a series of lesser remedies failed to find a majority, with only a little objection that they were too strong, a stronger sanction against me found rapid majority.3.5) Abd is banned from Wikipedia for four weeks. During the ban, the mentors (if remedy 2 passed) will be selected and editing guidelines will be developed by the mentors and Abd. The Arbitration Committee reserves the option to shorten or lengthen the time of the ban depending on completion of the mentoring agreement.
Didn't find a majority. At this point, until a few days ago, it looked like I would not be banned at all, and that I might even not be topic banned. Until, suddenly,3.6) Abd is banned from Wikipedia for 3 months. Should remedies requiring him to identify a mentor (or develop a mentorship plan) pass, the mentorship will become effective at the end of the ban.
This got immediate support from what became a majority within a few hours. It was a reaction to my response to Carcharoth as to what I'd learned, and what I'd learned would doubtless make me more effective. I think that struck terror into the heart of Risker, even though I'd been very careful to qualify all of it by an intention to strictly respect a mentor's advice. In other words, I'd have been effective without being disruptive. Carcharoth, the arbitrator I've been saying all along I most respect, opposed, the only one so far.
There are problems with some other "admonishments," but they are minor and not worth discussing now. This takes us to two remedies which currently have a majority, the conflict between them yet to be resolved, my emphasis:6) William M. Connolley's (talk · contribs · blocks · protections · deletions · moves · rights) administrative privileges are revoked. William M. Connolley may apply to have them reinstated at any time, either through the usual means (i.e., via request for adminship) or by appeal to the Committee.6.1) William M. Connolley's (talk · contribs · blocks · protections · deletions · moves · rights) is admonished for his edit warring and misuse of administrative tools. William M. Connolley is desysopped for three months as a consequence of poor user conduct and misuse of administrative tools. After three months, his administrator access will be automatically restored. Additionally, William M. Connolley is warned to not use his administrative tools when he is involved.
Upon regaining his administrator access, William M. Connolley will not be allowed to use administrative tools in topical areas relating to Cold fusion or in relation to Abd. Should William M. Connolley violate this restriction, the Arbitration Committee may remove his administrator access (either temporarily or permanently), or alter the restriction.
I did not request desysopping. What I've suggested numerous times, in more than one case, is that the Committee routinely (and rapidly and easily and without a finding of fault) suspend
administrative privileges when there is reason to believe that they may be abused, or that there is even an appearance of such, until it is satisfied that the risk is tolerable; if an admin has violated recusal policy, a basic requirement would be that the administrator show an understanding of the violation, such that it is not likely to repeat. ArbComm has sometimes desysopped when the admin was adamant that they had done nothing wrong, but has generally overlooked the problem if the admin stonewalled, not admitting error but not strongly asserting correctness. This is a fundamental mistake. WMC has yet to acknowledge that there was any problem at all with blocking me during the case, not to mention at any other time!
If there is a case over admin recusal failure accepted, that is prima facie evidence that there is risk. Suspension should be routine, unless there is an immediate finding or motion that there is no risk.
Given the massive harm that has been done by WMC's actions while involved -- in spite of ArbComm's persistent head-in-the-sand over this, it includes, quite possibly, the whole Scibaby affair, which began with an obviously involved block by WMC, -- this outcome justifies, makes worthwhile, the loss of me as an editor.
Whatever work remains for me of importance can be done off-wiki if needed. I had preferred to be more open and more accessible, but, in fact, it may be better this way.
Now, the two remaining options; one has been hinted at: appeal to the community, off-wiki. I know how to do it with no violation of policies, Wikipedia Review may be a piece of it, I don't know how it will play out. FA/DP organizational technology was designed to be usable under very difficult conditions, such as in China, Wikipedia is, comparatively, a piece of cake. (But it's difficult still, don't mistake me, the problem, however, isn't what opposition can do, the problem is apathy and cynicism.)
The other is appeal to Jimbo or the Foundation Board. I'm certainly not going to do this quickly or without due consideration and preparation and, indeed, support. I understand very well why Jimbo is mostly hands-off. But his vision is being corrupted by forces that could have been expected to be a problem, they always
are, and it is not necessary that this happen, there are possible solutions.
It's still possible that there could be some shift in the votes, on any of these. Some arbitrator might read this and decide, "He thinks he won! We'll show him!" and if I wanted to make sure there were no changes, I'd not be posting this. But that's not how I operate. People are responsible for what they decide, personally. My responsibility, besides my sovereignty over my own actions, is to speak what I see, so that it cannot be said, in the end, "Nobody told me!"
Not everyone will read what I write, that's part of the situation. But some do, and if you read this, and understand it, you are responsible for passing the understanding on when you have the opportunity. That's how it works, and how it has worked from time immemorial. How much personal risk you take when speaking truth to power is a decision you will have to make for yourself. Good luck, decide well, and live well.