QUOTE(Lar @ Mon 1st March 2010, 9:15pm)
QUOTE(Abd @ Mon 1st March 2010, 4:04pm)
That's because such problems are difficult, and they are volunteers, and don't have the support they'd need to handle it. I suggested how they could get that support...
I'll bite. How?
Okay, thanks for asking. This is long. It just might take some reading to begin to address difficult issues!
Let's start with what's needed, then look at how to get it. ArbComm behaves half like a passive court, depending on plaintiffs to bring cases, typically against defendants. Then the parties savage each other before ArbComm, and anyone else who cares to drop by. While ArbComm pages are better designed for deliberative process than other pages, it's still extremely primitive and a huge waste of time, with little to show for the effort in terms of organized evidence and arguments, too often. Clerking is extremely weak. There was edit warring in RfAr/Abd-William M. Connolley and over the notifications, and practically nothing was done about it. There were pile-ins with hosts of arguments that were about my misbehavior, as if the case was filed over my misbehavior. It wasn't. It was a very simple case: was WMC involved in dispute with me, did he ban and block me, being involved, and was that proper? Whether or not I deserved to be blocked was actually irrelevant, except possibly as to remedy. I.e., if an admin is involved and blocks improperly, but the block was in the end good, at most the remedy might be a troutslap: it looks bad, it encourages the blocked editor to believe that Wikipedia is unfair, etc. But if the block was a bad block, it could be grounds for sanction all the way up to desysopping or maybe even more than that.
(Piotrus was not only desysopped but site-banned for very little actual use-of-tools while involved, and, in fact, I'm not convinced that any of his use of tools was improper. So, WTF?)
So I suggested that ArbComm should narrow the focus of cases, and focus primarily on the issue brought before them, and not allow random editors to widen the scope with laundry lists of charges that then require even more defense in response, etc. Yes, this would mean more cases, perhaps a lot more cases, but they would be much easier to resolve. It's what real courts do. They only amalgamate cases when it truly is more efficient. A basic principle of deliberative process is to decide one narrow issue at a time.
If ArbComm is going to function as a kind of dispute resolution process that actually settles disputes, it must establish a clear basis for its decisions. That's a lot of work! But without it, "dispute resolution" might just be as well accomplished by tossing a coin, or, more to the point, just designating a single arbitrator by some random process to take a case and individually investigate and decide it. This actually happens, already, the assigned arb, but then, in my second RfAr, the rest of the committee proceeded to ignore what that arb found and instead started making proposals that were clearly not based in an understanding of the evidence. It was just what they wanted. Good process that is documented, step by step, would make this plain if it happens. (You could fake such process, but that would be risky. The walls have ears.)
So, then, ArbComm can't depend on the community to provide all the evidence. It's a huge job to collect evidence for an RfAr, and an even bigger job to do so impartially. I did it quite impartially with RfC/GoRight, and that's what got me in trouble with the Cabal, originally. So what is normal is that the evidence presented has been cherry-picked, by someone with an axe to grind. The EEML arbitration was the most outrageous example, because it was largely an arbitrator who did the cherry-picking, and he had a declared agenda: set an example so that others wouldn't set up off-wiki discussion groups....
So how would ArbComm vet evidence? Or collect it? Clerks. I'd suggest that each arbitrator appoint clerks who are responsible to the arbitrator. It would make excellent prep for adminship, actually. It is possible that these clerks could be assigned certain admin privileges, such as the ability to see deleted edits, on the authority of ArbComm. While there might still be open pages for comments, etc., the core ArbComm process pages would not be open to general editing. Rather, all submissions would have to be vetted by an arbitrator or arbitrator's clerk. With the present software, there would be open submissions pages with strict rules: no debate there, just submissions of evidence and arguments intended for the actual Arb pages.
And then as to conduct during cases, if needed, there would be duty clerks (bailiffs). A *schedule* so that the pages are being continuously watched. I do think it might be best for this if there are, again, "court administrators" who have the necessary tools to address and prevent disruption. As is typical of a bailiff, the action of the bailiff is subject to immediate review when needed. A bailiff who acts outside the allowed scope would immediately be relieved of duty while the matter was investigated, but within the scope (maintaining order on ArbComm pages), there would be broad discretion, because any action can be undone. Normally, a bailiff wouldn't have to block but would warn. However, for efficiency, continuing to act up in a court will get you immediately removed. Never permanently removed. Unless you actually harm people or property, even contempt of court is only a short protective confinment, unless there is continued contempt. (A questionable practice used to compel testimony... but that's an argument for another place!)
Basically, ArbComm, to become more efficient and reliable -- and it needs both -- must take control of its own process. That's standard for committees everywhere else!
Arbitrators are elected to the committee based on substantial community trust (for better or worse). The community has no means for real deliberative process, except as is occasionally organized by some editors. It only has ArbComm, at present, with even the possibility, largely unrealized.
I'm seeing now that disruption at ArbComm may go unnoticed for days,. if it is ever noticed, and it often isn't. ArbComm is becoming little better than a noticeboard. Arbitrators may take days to even begin to notice that a case has been filed, meanwhile the request becomes a coatrack, with no clerk supervision.
And much of what is going on is apparently invisible. While certainly there should be some matters discussed privately, the secrecy seems to be way excessive. I can understand why ArbComm would want to consider certain matters off-wiki, precisely because on-wiki, the presumption is that everyone can comment. That presumption is the basic error. A court would never allow more than one person to address the court at a time, and it chooses what testimony to allow, and there is a great deal of control over how it happens. On-line process can allow more than one "speaker" at a time, but it's very easy to go too far with that so that a process becomes an unmanageable mess, unreadable.
Variation on an old saw: when everyone can comment, nobody can comment. That is, nobody can punch through the noise, unless they do something dramatic, as I did by defying WMC's illicit ban of me from Cold fusion. I didn't know for sure that he'd block me, but I certainly knew it was possible and he was threatening it, so .... why not find out?
Yes. It was not disrupting Wikipedia to make a point, but it was a violation of the general principle that one does not barge ahead without consensus. Except that everyone was disregarding that principle but me! So I said, enough, and gave notice that I wasn't going to respect the ban any more, and waited a decent time, then made an innocuous edit....
I was, of course, blocked immediately by WMC. But I was sleeping. Let me say, it was painless. I woke up and found that I'd been unblocked, and my edit, which he'd reverted out, had been reverted back in by the admin unblocking me.
And then another party to the case revert warred it out. A Talk page post, simply pointing to a section in history in response to a query. Party to case revert warring during the case over the article of conflict. It was really just as serious an offense, in a way, as WMC's action. Ignored, and ArbComm relied on that editor's evidence in deciding I'd been "tendentious."
My point is that ArbComm cannot actually settle disputes unless it does one of two things: facilitate the parties coming to an agreement, perhaps by appointing binding arbitrators. (real arbitrators!) or by carefully investigating, both vetting evidence presented by the community and independently gathering it, asking all parties questions, etc.
Some arbitrators and others were nonplussed because I didn't seem to accept that I'd done something wrong. Actually, I did make lots of mistakes. Try to do anything difficult, you will make mistakes. But they were just not the ones that ArbComm imagined it had found by relying upon evidence that it obviously didn't bother to confirm in detail.
The evidence they relied on was provided by Enric Naval, and it actually contained something, specifically cited by the arbitrator who wrote the finding, that was only Enric Naval quoting himself in RfAr/Fringe science, where he presented an argument that was not only misleading as to factual basis, easily seen by reading the sources, and which was using this evidence to make an argument that ArbComm explicitly rejected in that case.
I pointed this out on the Talk page. Ignored. I assume that the arbitrators are overwhelmed, not that they are vicious or really stupid. But if they did see all this, I'd have to conclude, "Vicious, Stupid, or both."
I vote for overwhelm, which is why I suggest possible remedies.
Currently, I"m at RfAr/Clarification trying to make sense out of the MYOB remedy that seems to have been invented in that case. Like a lot of new inventions, it has a few bugs. Originally, it had a fail-safe: a mentorship clause. But the majority could not agree on establishing mentorship. It might have put them off their feed that I was eager for it! Fritzpoll had volunteered (it was before he ran for ArbComm; in fact, he told me that he ran because of what he saw happen in my case.)
So when mentorship and possible mentorship was brought up in the first AE request over this ban, ArbComm's solution? Strike the clause. Thus guaranteeing that any unclarity in interpretation would lead to more disruption. They are continually shooting themselves in the foot!
They have the idea that a mentor is kind of like a probation officer. This model requires accepting guilt, and editors may not believe that they were actually guilty of anything. They might even be right, but a mentor establishes a gateway between the community and an editor, and it's best if this is (1) someone the editor trusts! and (2) someone who knows how to function harmoniously in the community. Fritzpoll again, as an arbitrator, offered to mentor me, but the Committee apparently turned it down. Even though he was automatically recusing anyway over anything involving me. (Like Cool Hand Luke, for possibly the same reason.)
I'm noticing that the relatively sane editors who used to be relatively common seem largely missing. I don't think it's just me. I think the project is bleeding its best talent, and fairly rapidly.
If something is not done to address the structural problems, and ArbComm is just a part of it, I expect that a point of no return will be reached and the project will collapse with surprising speed. At a certain point the burden of maintenance on those left behind will start to increase exponentially, so they will burn out even more rapidly, etc. Wikipedia has been a kind of Ponzi scheme, depending on "fresh investment." At a certain point the pool of willing investors dries up. What's happening, when decay becomes exponential, is not directly visible until it's too late, it's the classic lily pond problem. (Pond is being covered by lily pads; if they cover the whole pond, the fish will die. If the pads double surface every day, what does the pond look like a day before the covering date? Definitely, in danger. But a day before? Well, it's only one-fourth covered, plenty of time....)
It's ironic, actually, I'm in agreement with WMC's POV on global warming, more or less. I just also believe in neutrality and scientific method and trust that with full deliberation, consideration as complete as possible, we'll come up with the best answer. And I was no different with Cold fusion, got topic-banned for my trouble.
I haven't written all the ideas, by far. For example, subcourts, panels that deal with specific areas of conflict, regularly. ArbComm could establish these. It does something by setting up discretionary sanctions, but it did that for Cold fusion, then banned the only editor who'd actually have used it. Me. Instead, an editor supposedly violated something that could have fallen under discretionary sanctions, Pcarbonn. But it wasn't taken there. JzG, who was *highly involved*, file an AN topic ban request, presented a pile of utterly misleading evidence, and then Future Perfect commented approving the ban, then later decided to close it an notify Pcarbonn. Who left in total disgust. He'd done nothing wrong. He's a COI editor and had acted in accordance with COI policy.... Ahem. It's one of the things currently bugging me. Seriously disruptive editor, former admin, who still gets away with blantant POV pushing, supported by the same editors who egged him on when he was an admin....