QUOTE(Guido den Broeder @ Wed 9th September 2009, 12:23pm)
One would also hope that the Arbcom learns from these procedures, that users standing accused should always be heard before a decision is taken.
It's not that simple, Guido. Those accused had an opportunity to be heard. However, about what? Basically, the case goes up and we didn't know what ArbComm was going to consider. I brought the case, but, overlooked by almost all is that I was not asking ArbComm to reverse a ban. There was no ban, only WMC's bluster, in effect at the time. I'm quite sure that, long term, the community will not decide that administrators can create strict bans. However, right or wrong, that wasn't the case brought. The case brought was for ArbComm to decide if WMC could properly ban me, given prior involvement between us.
By not defining the case and by permitting testimony on irrelevant issues, ArbComm, as it has done before, allowed the case to become very, very complicated. It is because of a case like this that so many editors will not even consider taking a case up to ArbComm, it's way too risky. It's very clear to me: the "plaintiff" in a case should never be on trial, except as necessary to impeach plaintiff evidence, and this should be very narrow (and ArbComm sanctions on a plaintiff or other participating editors limited to misbehavior during the case). If the community had a problem with me, down to an individual editor having a problem with me, there is process for that, which was not followed. Had there been a prior RfC/Abd, the issues would have been clear when someone brought a case against me, if it was necessary.
And then I would have known exactly what I had to answer. Leave it vague, with someone like me, I'm off to the races. With a handful of contrary parties, I'd probably have sat on my hands.
Again, a major defect: ArbComm was mostly passive during the case. Thus none of us knew what ArbComm was thinking, what direction their decision might go. Few arbitrators commented on the Workshop page. When bainer, who had clearly studied the whole case, started drafting proposed decisions, it looked amazingly positive. Note that bainer is almost a voice crying in the wilderness at the end. That is diagnostic. Bainer made, in my view, mistakes, but he had the substance more solidly than anyone else. Carcharoth did not completely disappoint.
The only reason that WMC is being desysopped is that he blocked me during the case. It got their attention. But this was only mildly surprising. When I made the edit, I thought it about fifty percent that he'd actually go ahead and block. It was completely consistent with his prior behavior, but what I didn't know was how far he'd go. I'm not going to say it was stupid, because he may not care. If you are burned out but just don't know how to retire, it's not stupid to do something to cause involuntary retirement.
What might have happened without that edit would have been an admonishment for some of his actions, and probably the same result as now for me. The Cold fusion stuff looks like tendentious editing, and in order to see through that, one has to get involved with the content, Cold fusion is a very unusual situation, counter-intuitive, where the bulk of the peer-reviewed literature, overall, and practically all the recent peer-reviewed secondary source (and there is plenty) supports what seems to be the minority view.
While, to those who have been abused, admonishment may seem shockingly mild, it's understandable. Some administrators have put in a huge amount of service, and arbs know this; but arbs don't necessarily see the down side, and it's difficult to present it. When it can be presented, and when genuinely useful editors have been blocked, they will act; many desysoppings take place over the block of an administrator, or wheel-warring. Now, WMC wheel-warred with Jennavecia, I presented evidence of that, and pointed to it in several places, plus here (and some arbs were reading this) but there is no sign that ArbComm even noticed. WMC routinely used his tools while involved with Global warming, for years, including the block of Scibaby. Not mentioned.
If so many of us had not been silenced, WMC could have been stopped a lot sooner. And, you know, he is just one. There are more administrators out there that behave in a similar fashion, and can continue because their victims do not get heard.
It is extremely difficult to address the kind of abuse that WMC was known for. Usually, he was acting against a vulnerable editor with some minority point of view, and Wikipedia hasn't figured out how to functionally handle "POV-pushing." So it tends to block editors who betray a strong minority POV, if they get uppity. Until the Cold fusion situation, I had never attached myself strongly to a minority POV, so I was less vulnerable. One might note that there was little serious claim of my supposed Cold fusion POV-pushing in RfAr/Abd and JzG. (But the same editors, basically, already wanted me banned, from what they supported in RfC/JzG 3).
Here is one of the serious problems: if an article is imbalanced toward "majority POV," an attempt to balance it can easily be seen as POV-pushing toward the minority POV. Until the community and ArbComm recognize the problem, stability will prove elusive, and editor after editor will burn out or be banned, one or the other.
ArbComm can and should make decisions by majority rule, but standard deliberative process provides that any member who is part of the majority on a decision may move reconsideration, and if any other member of a deliberative body seconds that, the question is up again as if never decided. Deliberative bodies make mistakes, they make decisions based on inadequate evidence, they make decisions based on necessity, i.e., to make some decision where postponing decision is itself harmful. What is known is that sometimes a motion to reconsider may be seconded only with difficulty, but, later, there is unanimity in support of the change. ArbComm is not succeeding in fostering consensus in the community because it is not leading by example, seeking true consensus. Notice that some of the arbitrators signed on to findings where they did not agree with parts of it, just to avoid prolonging the case. That's false consensus, in fact. It's not that endless dispute should continue, no, but findings, in particular, are subsidiary to actual decisions.
Further, if ArbComm is advisory (which it is, no matter how routinely the advice is followed by those with buttons), advice by majority is not the same as advice by unanimity. To treat it the same is dangerous. Decisions by mere majority should not be long-standing, and Principles or FoFs by majority are very questionable.
Consider this: the principles and findings more or less existed, for the most part, stable, at a point when it was not clear that I would be subject to any sanction other than mentorship and some kind of admonishment. A proposal to site ban me for a month was not gaining a majority, though it might have. Suddenly, with no difference in findings, I was to be site banned for three months. This is, in fact, proof that remedies don't depend on findings of fact and principles. Rather, it depended on a quick judgment, only vaguely specified by several arbitrators, of my statement of "what I had learned," in response to Carcharoth's question. And what I'd stated violated no policies or guidelines, nor did it indicate any intention to violate them.
Except for one: Rule 0. (See User:Abd/Rule 0 (T-H-L-K-D)
while it lasts, sometimes user essays by banned editors vanish, with or without MfDs). Since there was general agreement that the big problem with me was prolixity, that I might, even if only in my own user space, still be prolix, meant that I wasn't "getting it." There is no rule against prolixity, and attempts to create one haven't been popular. But it violates one of the unwritten rules, thou shalt not irritate editors by writing too much. I've seen this rule as long as I've been on-line, which goes back to the WELL (T-H-L-K-D)
. It's a rule that the equivalent made sense with face-to-face meetings, where lengthy speeches are indeed disruptive.
But it doesn't make sense with mailing lists and conferencing and discussion, where (mailing list) one can simply not read the mails from a boring editor, one does not even have to see them (mail filter) or (WP discussion) where many options are available, from simply not reading, to collapsing or otherwise refactoring Talk, and I never objected to refactoring Talk, I always cooperated with it, and, indeed, I offered to self-revert *everything*, which surely would have solved any possible legitimate "Talk page domination" issue.
No, prolixity isn't the real issue. Prolixity explains why some don't read me, not why some are so strongly
opposed. And I've seen this many times before. I do well in groups that are tolerant of diversity, usually, and not so well in groups that demand uniformity or strong compliance with social norms. One would think that Wikipedia would be the former, but, in fact, in certain critical ways, it is not. It has become extremely conservative, repressively so, as I would have expected from the structure.
I'll be doing a debriefing on this affair, I'm not sure where I will put it except that it won't be on Wikipedia. Most arbitrators seemed to think that I'd have had trouble respecting a mentor, which was one of the most stupid of opinions expressed. On the other hand, it may well have been true that simple mentorship wouldn't have stopped "the disruption," because some of the disruption, at least, was necessary, and it will happen with or without my name attached.
I am not the only person with more than one eye.