Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard

This noticeboard is for announcements and statements made by the Arbitration Committee. Only members of the Arbitration Committee or the Committee's Clerks may post on this page, but all editors are encouraged to comment on the talk page.
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Arbitration motion regarding Portals

The Arbitration Committee has resolved by motion that:

Remedies 1 & 2 of the Portals case are temporarily lifted, only at Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/BrownHairedGirl 2 and related pages, and only until the conclusion of the RfA process.

For the Arbitration Committee, Kevin (aka L235 · t · c) 19:13, 15 October 2020 (UTC)

Archived discussion at: Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard/Archive 47 § Arbitration motion regarding Portals

2020 CheckUser and Oversight appointments: Candidates appointed

The Arbitration Committee is pleased to appoint the following users to the functionary team:

The Committee thanks the community and all of the candidates for helping to bring this process to a successful conclusion.

For the Arbitration Committee,

Katietalk 03:15, 16 October 2020 (UTC)

Archived discussion at: Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard/Archive 47 § 2020 CheckUser and Oversight appointments: Candidates appointed

Anti-harassment RfC closed

In a prior case, the Arbitration Committee mandated that a request for comment be held on how harassment and private complaints should be handled in the future. This request for comment has now been closed with the following summary:

In this RFC the community was asked to weigh in on 8 topics of concern regarding Wikipedia editors ("editors"), the Arbitration Committee (ArbCom), Trust & Safety (T&S), and the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). There were common themes presented across some of the questions, so if a related question contains similar themes that will be indicated in parentheses (e.g. "Q1"). Please note that while there may be proposals listed that arose during this discussion, any significant/policy changes to ArbCom must go through the standard processes as described in the Overview.

One of the overarching themes of responses to the questions was that ArbCom will always be under some form of scrutiny or displeasure from certain areas of the community. However, since they were elected to be trusted members of the community, they should do their best knowing that a majority of users supported their term when they were elected (Q1). However, that does not mean they should be entirely absent from ArbCom proceedings (Q6) or jump too quickly to conclusions when it comes to the presumption of innocence (Q5).

Q1, on the matter of private evidence impacting sanctions
ArbCom, by its very nature, will occasionally have cases that involve private evidence - be it email correspondence or links to off-wiki websites - that cannot be publicly displayed in the public-facing case evidence. This private evidence is of most concern when it is the sole (or majority) reason for a case being opened and/or sanctions being filed; multiple examples were given where the results of a case were given without one being formally opened on-wiki, or where supposedly "private" information was actually present in diffs on-wiki the entire time.
While many agreed that private evidence should stay private, there were a few main suggestions regarding how ArbCom should deal with private information:
  • ArbCom should disclose if/when private information is being used to inform the case
  • ArbCom should "categorise" any private evidence so interested parties would know the provenance of said information
  • ArbCom should open a public case report, even if the evidence is 100% private, so that editors are aware that a discussion is taking place
  • ArbCom should only use private information when absolutely necessary - if sanctions and/or findings of fact can be based on public/on-wiki evidence, then that should be prioritised (Q2)
Q2, on fear of retaliation
To summarize multiple editors' opinions in this section, "there is no easy solution" to the issue of retaliation as a result of harassment and subsequent case filing. That being said, many of the editors agreed that if the information is public then the case should be handled publicly and not behind closed doors (Q1). Additionally, admins should be more willing to do what is necessarily “lower down” in places like ANI, and bump cases to ArbCom after these interventions are shown to be ineffective (Q7). While there was a suggestion for some form of intermediate location for cases to be handled between ANI and ArbCom, there was no significant agreement on what that should look like; among the ideas were bringing back RFC/U, having some form of formal mediation process between the users (Q8), or having the functionaries act as some form of private investigators vetting private information before it reaches ArbCom.
One supported suggestion was to allow third-party filings to ArbCom in an effort to minimize retaliation on the harassed/concerned editor.
Q3, on responding to allegations
This question follows on rather heavily from Q2, but focused more on the accused rather than the complainant. Many editors agreed that evidence should not be kept secret from the accused, except when it comes down to the safety of the complainant; if there are specific threats and/or information that could be used in retaliation, T&S should be contacted first (Q8). If there is private information, the complainant should be asked what information they would be willing to release publicly.
While the idea that "innocent until proven guilty" (Q5) was used a lot, significantly more people indicated that we (Wikipedia or ArbCom) are not a legal system, and so that should not be assumed; principles, not any specific rule or formulae should be used in relation to the accused. However, it was felt that there is an imbalance between accuser and accused, and that mediation (Q2, Q8) may be helpful to level that imbalance.
Q4, on unsubstantiated claims
This question had a fairly straight-forward consensus; all editors should be treated with respect and politeness, but there is nothing either the community or ArbCom can do to interrupt the "unpleasant dynamic" of unsubstantiated complaints and filings. A certain amount of "tough skin" is needed to edit Wikipedia, but ArbCom should not be used as therapy.
Q5, on plausible deniability
As mentioned in Q3, there is no "right" to a presumption of innocence. That being said, there was expressed a concern that there should not be any sanction unless there is a clear violation of policy; off-wiki links with no verification should be treated carefully. As every case is different, it is difficult if not impossible to write "rules" around this issue; ArbCom should use common sense and deal with limited available evidence on a case-by-case basis
Q6, on the arbitration environment
There was a fairly consistent response to this question advocating for more/better patrolling of ArbCom proceedings, in particular by the clerks. This includes word limits, lack of diffs (especially when accusations are made), and civility/arguing concerns; clerks should also be doing a better job of communicating with those who have "broken" the rules to get clarifications and/or indicate that their edits were removed for technical/procedural reasons rather than any sort of "point of view" suppression.
One supported proposal was to have ArbCom cases written in "c2:DocumentMode", where a case is presented more like an article (with clerks summarizing and updating a single document) and less like a half-threaded discussion between members (which can become heated/unproductive)
Q7, on unblockables
Much like Q2, there is no clear definition or easy solution to "unblockables"; everyone is cantankerous at some point, and we should all be treated equally. Opinions were highly variable, including many that felt there are no changes needed or that everything should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but the following were some of the most prevalent suggestions among the participants:
  • Admonishments and/or final warnings should be much more frequent, and actually enforced
  • Blocks should be handed out more frequently, but only as short-term blocks
  • Users with multiple (but un-sanctioned) cases at ANI, and/or those with lengthy block logs, should be looked at by ArbCom
  • More admin cases should be brought before ArbCom
Q8, on the relationship with T&S
Editors strongly feel that en-wiki issues should be handled "in-house", and only matters that affect the real world (Q2, Q3) should be passed to T&S. A better/improved dialogue between ArbCom and the WMF is also desired, with the Foundation and T&S passing along en-wiki-specific information to ArbCom to handle.
There was a desire from some editors, expressed in this section as well in previous sections, for the WMF to hire/find/create resources and training for mediation and dispute resolution, which would hopefully mitigate some of the most prevalent civility/harassment issues present on Wikipedia.

To reiterate, this close summarizes the opinions and feelings of those who participated, and are not binding; any proposals or suggestions that change policy will still need to go through the formal procedures as outlined in the Overview.


Best, Kevin (aka L235 · t · c) 02:23, 19 October 2020 (UTC)

Archived discussion at: Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard/Archive 47 § Anti-harassment RfC closed

Temporary checkuser privileges for scrutineers

The Arbitration Committee has resolved by motion that:

On recommendation of the Electoral Commission, temporary English Wikipedia checkuser privileges are granted to stewards Mardetanha, Martin Urbanec, and Tks4Fish solely for the purpose of their acting as scrutineers in the 2020 Arbitration Committee election.

For the Arbitration Committee, Dreamy Jazz talk to me | my contributions 20:29, 20 October 2020 (UTC)

Archived discussion at: Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard/Archive 47 § Temporary checkuser privileges for scrutineers