Wikipedia talk:Arbitration/Archive 2.1

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See Wikipedia:Arbitration policy

Looks good

Bravo for coming up with a clear and fair policy (not that I had doubts you would). I am sure we could quibble all day long on minor issues, but the core of it is, I believe the policies here are fair and will result in fair arbitration. Whether or not it is "optimal" is not the point (I say this in an attempt to forestall an interminal argument here over the minutiae of the policy) -- it is good, and that's what I want. Thank you. Jwrosenzweig 00:32, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Thanks Jw. If a few more people respond along similar lines, we should be able to get onto a solid basis pretty soon. :) Martin 01:35, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)


Instead of the word "trial", perhaps a better term would be "hearing"? The first word implies that law is being meted out, while the second does not imply that, & is less formal or intimidating. After all, the worst the Arbitration Committee can is ban someone from Wikipedia, not to deprive that person of life, liberty or property. -- llywrch 03:18, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)

That sounds like a good idea, Llywrch. I'll make the change. Martin 21:15, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Thanks. Now to change the words in the body. (I'd do it myself, but I don't want to set a precedent for non-Arbitration folks messing witht he meta page.) -- llywrch 00:25, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Done it (I think, unless I missed some). --Camembert 00:34, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Expression of concern

Generally, I think the policy looks good, but the last provision under "Who takes part" bothers me. I recognize that if arbitrators are to act as a panel, it's better that at least a majority of the panel participate. But if a majority is subject to recusal, it doesn't feel right to ignore that and proceed as if there weren't any issues about the potential fairness of the arbitrators. Especially if most of the potential recusals fall "on one side" of the dispute. A decision by a panel that should have recused itself could be viewed as highly unjust. Rather, since I think such a scenario would be very unusual, the solution could be to consult with Jimbo before proceeding, and perhaps allow substitute arbitrators for the occasion. --Michael Snow 22:57, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Yes, I see what you mean. The thinking behind that part of the policy was that if a user in arbitration had made such a nuisance of himself that virtually every regular Wikipedian (including arbitrators) were affected, it wouldn't be practical or particularly useful for arbitrators to recuse themselves simply because they were in the same position as everyone else. The idea, I think, is that the chances of a majority of arbitrators having conflicts of interest under any other circumstances would be vanishingly small. But the policy could probably be worded to deal with that possibility more directly, and certainly your idea of consulting Jimbo before going on seems a good one (in the short term at the very least). I won't change the policy just now, however, partly to see if anyone else has any ideas, partly out of laziness. --Camembert 23:26, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I'm not sure whether us arbitrator's being basically good people is likely to convince you at all, but I would like to think that we could judge a case fairly even in that (unlikely) set of circumstances.
Incidentally, Jimbo has a general veto on all arbitration decisions anyway, so if he felt that we were being unfair in the manner you describe, then he'd veto us. Martin 23:49, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I sort of suspected that the scenario Camembert describes had influenced this particular provision. I think the real solution is implied in that comment. Namely, that in cases involving particularly obnoxious vandals, who might call for mass recusals, that arbitrators resist the temptation to recuse themselves out of an abundance of caution. I'm not sure if my distinction is clear, but in this situation I would prefer that arbitrators decline to recuse themselves (even though somebody may request it), rather than recusing themselves and then reconstituting the panel with the recused members afterward. As for Martin's comment, my concern here is about the process, and not due to any doubts about the good faith of the arbitrators or the limits on their authority. --Michael Snow 00:10, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Hmm, I think you're proposing an aesthetic change then - the practical effects would be similar (we'd still be able to judge such cases), but I can see that it has a nicer feel. Also, it would mean that if six had some conflict of interest and one had huge, major, life-threatening conflicts of interest, then we'd go forward with one recusal, not none. Do I understand you right? Martin 00:27, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I think you do. Reasonable people will understand that Arbitrator X doesn't have to recuse herself just because she once reverted one of Vandal Y's edits. Whereas going forward with a panel full of huge, major conflicts of interest seems like a very bad idea. (And I certainly hope nobody's conflict of interest ever becomes life-threatening.) --Michael Snow 00:47, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I've removed that point, and replaced it with "Arbitrators will not be required to recuse themselves for trivial reasons - merely reverting an edit of a user in arbitration, for example, will likely not be seen as a serious enough conflict of interest to make recusal necessary." Does that seem OK? We can fiddle with it some more if not. --Camembert

The problem with the removal of this point is that we are now somewhat hamstrung in the case of a troll deliberatly targetting the Arbitrators; if he sucessfully pisses off enough of the Arbitrators that they feel that they should recuse themselves, then there will be no ability to hand down a decision &emdash; the troll would only be 'legally' blocked by decree of the Board.
Yes, I admit, this is a possibly unlikely situation, but still...
James F. (talk) 00:57, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I would say that if a troll targeted an arbitrator by, for example, sending them nasty emails and calling them names and the arbitrator didn't respond, then that is trivial, and said arbitrator should not feel the need to recuse themselves. It's tricky, of course, because what counts as "trivial" is a matter of opinion, but I don't see how we can be more objective without really losing flexibility. If you, James, or Michael, or anybody really, can come up with something better, then by all means change it (if you just want to revert to what we had before, then I won't mind that either - I may have been a little too bold in just making the change as I did). --Camembert
I'm happy to concede that my concerns are probably moot, and that there's probably no better way of phrasing it :-)
James F. (talk) 11:01, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
As currently phrased, it's at least good enough to resolve my concerns. If the arbitrators are alert in how they handle recusals, I'm fairly confident the committee will never have a situation where a majority will feel compelled to recuse themselves. And if that did happen, I think the emergency would warrant bypassing arbitration and taking the problem directly to Jimbo and/or the Board. Trolls can target arbitrators all they want, but I certainly would argue that it's not the conduct of the litigant that determines whether recusal is necessary, it's really the conduct of the arbitrator that matters. Accordingly, this depends on the arbitrators exercising good judgment in all their Wikipedia activities, because everything you do will reflect on your ability to serve as an arbitrator. --Michael Snow 16:54, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Binding referral

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen wrote "let us invest the Mediation Committee with an explicit power of binding referral to the Arbitration Committee".

My guess is that this is motivated by the "emergency session" situation, where a mediator would try and refer something, and Jimbo wouldn't do anything. I'd imagine that once we are official, mediators referring a case would lead to four votes to accept in short order.
However, we could make that official, so referrals from the mediation committee would be automatically accepted. I'm unsure on the issue.
The policy already states "The arbitrators will hear disputes that have been referred to it by the mediation committee", but that's a guideline. Perhaps it should be an absolute rule? Martin 13:28, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Cross-posted to the mailing list: I completely agree with Cimon. If participants in mediation have followed all the steps of the dispute resolution process, mediation has failed, and the mediation committee recommends arbitration, is there any reason the arbitrators still need to vote on whether to accept the case? Can they not trust the mediation committee to make these referrals?

The necessity to go through the additional stage of voting on acceptance of cases seems a waste of time if the mediators have already decided that arbitration is the best route for the person they are referring. I'm not saying they can't veto the referral if they really think that's best, but couldn't the default be acceptance of cases we refer to them rather than the insistence of a vote every time? Angela. 14:07, Mar 14, 2004 (UTC)

I completely agree that the mediation committee needs to be able to directly refer cases to the arbitration committee. The mediation and arbitration committees are an important step forward and hve been doing good work, but for them to operate well, it seems that there needs to be more of a feeling among Wikipedians that they are effective. While it's clear that everyone involved has been working hard, having to wait for Jimbo to refer cases seems to have become a structural problem; many have felt that "things are on hold" or "nothing is happening" and problems remain unresolved and/or continue until the committees can come to the end of the process for a given problem.
I also think that this change should acompany a lighter touch in general by sysops and developers on the one hand, and adoption of things like the three-revert rule so that some of the more tedious and tenacious conflicts (like edit wars) can be reined in on the other.
I think these steps will increase the effectiveness of all the energy that's being put into keeping them moving forward and staying active. By developing some clarifications of guidelines to help make the various systems and groups that keep Wikipedia functioning well (sysops, bureaucrats, developers, the two committees, and Jimbo's role), I'm certain that we can all work together better than they are currently doing. BCorr ? Брайен 14:47, Mar 14, 2004 (UTC)
The referral from Jimbo is a temporary feature. When the proposed arbitration policy goes live, we can accept requests by anyone, not just Jimbo, provided that there are four votes to accept. Martin 15:17, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)
The arbitration committe must control its own docket and not have matters forced on them. Ask yourself, what kind of a case would not receive the approval of four arbitrators? Fred Bauder 17:31, Mar 14, 2004 (UTC)
It is less a case of whether the referral would get four votes, but more about the time that it takes for the voting and acceptance of a case to occur. Is this additional step of voting necessary if the case has been referred from the mediation committee?
Also, why does the policy say "The arbitrators will hear disputes that have been referred to it by the mediation committee" if that is not always going to be the case? Either it should be the case, or you should change it to say you will only accept it where the mediation committee refers it to you and it gets four votes. Angela. 20:18, Mar 14, 2004 (UTC)
It expresses our policy that such matters will ordinarily be heard, but we reserve the option to not hear a matter as we have in the case of some matters referred by Jimbo. Remember the parties to the dispute must still frame some issue we think we might be able to decide. Fred Bauder 20:54, Mar 14, 2004 (UTC)

What do you suggest we do when a conflict is not fixed by mediation (or rejected by mediators) and rejected by arbitration ? Do we then refer to Jimbo ? Do we individually fix it ? Do we set another committee to do so ? Are do we just try to forget about it ? FirmLittleFluffyThing

Generally, I'd anticipate rejecting and referring cases: perhaps to the courts, perhaps to Jimbo, perhaps to a community vote, perhaps to community consensus. Martin 00:02, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Good work

I like all of it, a job very well done! My questions are relating to how new arbitrators would be chosen, how they would step down, and when such circumstances would occur. Would the number of arbitrators stay constant? Also, another side issue (and vitally important one I'd say!) is when will ee have an arbitration commitee for article content disputes? There are many situations where reasonable people disagree, and the present arbitration commitee seems geared entirely towards the unreasonable amongst us ;) Anyhow, thank you for your integrity, and keep up the good work! Cheers, Sam Spade 19:59, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Jimbo, when he selected us for the roles, split us into three groups (I term them 'tranches', for want of a better term); he said that future Arbitrators will be selected by election, one tranche per year-end — I, being of tranche alpha, will have my position up for election in some 9 months or so. As to how nominations are to be made, who will be allowed to stand, whether sitting members will be allowed to stand for continued membership, whether former Arbitrators can stand, and if so, after what period of rest, how many Arbitrators we will need in future, whether we use a FPTP or STV or otherwise voting system, and many other things, these are Yet To Be Decided (tm). However, two of our number have unilaterally stepped down since the beginning, now; whether this will trigger a by-election in future, well, perhaps. Feel free to start suggesting things on a new page, such as Wikipedia talk:Arbitrator Committee selection proceedure or whatever.
As for article disputes, we do take them on; we merely forsee that it is unlikely that this will be the bulk of our work.
James F. (talk) 23:04, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I think the details of this will be dealt with by Jimbo-fiat towards Autumn: it'll want to tie in with mediator elections, and perhaps elections to the Wikimedia boards too. Martin 00:02, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Ahh, mediators already have an election process. So it's just us who are lagging. Martin 00:51, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Purge required

I wish to call for a purge of the arbitration committee. All active members have demonstrated partiality, and three in particular have been so derelict that nothing short of their immediate expulsion or resignation would be acceptable.

Before I take the trouble to spell out the charges, however, I would like to be told where such complaints should be filed. Shorne 19:54, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)


It seems that the ArbComm is moving towards a general practice of imposing temporary injunctions (which expire once the ArbComm comes to a final decision on the arbitration matter) against *both* the complainant and the respondent banning both of them from editing certain articles. Such a policy, to my mind, a) will have the effect of discouraging complainants from coming forward in the first place - why make a complaint if you will effectively be punished for doing so b) is at odds with judicial and quasi-judicial practice at least in the Anglo-Saxon and American derived legal systems which most editors on the English language wikipedia are accustomed to c) may have the effect of "blaming the victim" or at least punishing him or her. I would propose that either a) such deliberation related injunctions against the complainant not be permitted under ArbComm policy or b) at the very least they be as narrow as possible ie only relating to article(s) in which the parties involved in the complaint have actually been in conflict or which are *very* closely related. I brought an ArbComm complaint against another editor for personal attacks. Without any finding of fact I am now facing a temporary injunction from editing any and all articles related to a) flags b) facsism and c) Canada (there are hundreds - maybe thousands of "Canada"-related articles) despite the fact that the only sites of dispute (indeed the only articles that the complainant edits) are those related to flags. This strikes me as unjust and I am considering withdrawing my request for arbitration as a result. (see Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/ArmchairVexillologistDon/Proposed decision AndyL 13:51, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

IMO this is a less a problem with policy than a problem a couple of arbiters have w you. Its pretty clear they disapprove of you generally, and that this case has taken on a life of its own:
"...AndyL's edit-warring and POV-pushing need to be considered as well. ➥the Epopt of the Cabal 17:28, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
... Agreed. James F. (talk) 22:26, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)"
[[User:Sam Spade|Sam Spade Wants you to vote!]] 14:41, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

A suggestion for a summary page of Arbitration Committee decisions

The current Arbitration archives looks like it is mostly organized for the benefit and convenience of the Arbitrators. Having dug through those archives so that I could get a better idea of how the Arbitration Committee makes their decisions, and what those decisions might be, I know that it is a tough slog through the archives. It would be great to have some sort of more organized summary of the Arbitration decisions. Creating this summary would be a great way for a couple of the Members Advocates (such as User:Imaglang) to become more familiar with the Arbitration Committee's decisions. It would be nice if the decisions were grouped by the type of decision, and then some sort of template created so that each dispute could be easy understood, with links to the Dispute, Talk, Evidence, and Proposed decision pages, rather than the much condensed format that the Arbitration archives uses. I am also going to put a copy of this suggestion on the talk page for the Assoc. of Members' Advocates. gK ¿? 10:24, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Suggested Change

Considering the degree to which the arbcom still has problems with semi-active members and members who never vote on a case, and considering that the committee is slowing to the glacial pace so unfondly remembered by people from five months ago, I'd like to suggest two possible fixes.

First, that the default position of all arbitrators be assumed as "recuse." That is, until an arbitrator explicitly accepts a case, they are assumed to be recused from that case. If an arbitrator does not vote on a finding or proposal, whether in favor, opposed, or "Neutral - still thinking about it" for, say, a week, assume they're recusing from that specific finding (Which I think should be allowed). This should help keep the necessary majorities to a level consistent with the number of actual arbitrators we have.

Second, that the committee be expanded by 4-8 members. Ideally, this expansion would take place either in parallel with the first idea, or with an explicit note that a vote of 7 arbitrators will always be enough to pass something. The point of these members would be to keep the committee with a functional number of people on every case - not to just increase the number of people who go AWOL.

Otherwise, I have to say, I'm extremely worried about the fact that the committee is so narrowly functional, particularly as the infusion of new blood didn't seem to lead to any sort of lasting solution. Snowspinner 16:30, Apr 21, 2005 (UTC)

Recusal policy

I've been involved in two recent cases where the issue of Arbcom member recusal has been a problem. Currently the Arbitration policy indicates recusals should occur for members who have conflicts of interest, but this policy is vague and essentially unenforceable and leaves it to the member with the conflict of interest to do so voluntarily. This policy is in severe need of stronger definition and clarification, or else it will remain essentially meaningless. Specifically:

  • Arbcom members who have advocated the position of a party to a case in an earlier stage of dispute resolution (e.g. the original talk page disptue on the article itself, user RfC's, and mediation) should recuse themselves.
  • Arbcom members who are named parties to a Request for Arbitration, who file a Request for Arbitration themselves, or are named participants in the dispute over which Arbitration is being sought should recuse themselves.
  • Arbcom members who have significant adversarial editing relationships outside of Arbitration with a named party outside of Arbitration should recuse themselves.
  • Arbcom members who have significant collegial editing relationships outside of Arbitration with a named party outside of Arbitration should recuse themselves.
  • Arbcom members who have significant personal relationships, be they collegial or adversarial, outside of Wikipedia with a named party outside of Arbitration should recuse themselves.

The policy should also specifically address motions for recusal, indicating that persons requesting recusal need to specifically identify which of these grounds is being used and cite diffs, as well as an enforcement mechanism if the member does not voluntarily recuse himself despite evidence. Rangerdude 23:25, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

What on earth is a significant collegial relationship, besides what we want to foster between all our editors? Phil Sandifer 00:14, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
For example: somebody who frequently team edits with an Arbcom member. Also, this has absolutely nothing to do with encouraging or discouraging editors from communicating with each other. It's about whether or not an Arbcom member will be biased in hearing a case because it involves one of his friends. If an Arbcom member and another editor want to work together on lots of articles that's great for regular article development. It doesn't work so well though where fairness is concerned when a friend of an Arbcom member has a case before the Arbcom. Rangerdude 00:49, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
What you are asking encourages arbitrators not to edit, though, if they want to be able to do their work as an arbitrator well. This is tremendously counterproductive. Phil Sandifer 00:57, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Not at all. An arbitrator can still edit all he wants. I simply make the reasonable expectation that he'll recuse himself when a friend is a party in the case. That doesn't mean he has to stop being friends with that person or stop editing other articles with him. It simply means in that particular case there's reason to believe that he might be biased in the way he reviews it due to personal interests. This request is no less reasonable than dismissing a juror who is also the defendant's golfing buddy. Surely you would agree that it would be wrong for an Arbcom member to propose a minor "slap on the wrist" to an editor who did wrong but was his friend when the penalty would be heavier if it were anybody else. Rangerdude 01:13, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
While I understand your motives, what you have posted above is way too complicated. IMHO what is needed is a policy that says arbitrators must recuse if there is a conflict of interest, and then guidelines on what such a conflict of interest might be with the caveat that if there is any doubt they should err on the side of recusal. The guidelines should be simple, eg: they should recuse if:
  • They are a party to the dispute, or another significant* current or recent dispute with the same user(s) or about the same topic. *one that involves/ed a lengthy RfC, Mediation, or Arbitration is a significant dispute.
  • They have played a significant part in enforcing a previous decision regarding the topic/user(s).
  • Other arbitrators ask them to
  • There is a consensus amoung the parties that they should recuse
  • They do not feel able to be neutral.
Above all they should really be common sense. Thryduulf 01:37, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Thryduulf - Thanks for your suggestions. Something along the lines of what you propose would be a great improvement on the present state of things, and I'd happily support them. I'd add one more bullet point:

  • They have a strong personal relationship in real life to one or more users in the dispute. This includes all immediate family, and close personal or professional relationships.

That would give us a recusal policy something along the lines of the following. Rangerdude 05:03, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Proposed Policy Arbcom members should recuse themselves from a case in the event of a conflict of interest involving one or more of the parties to the case. Some conflicts of interest in which an Arbcom member should recuse include if:

  • They are a party to the dispute, or another significant current or recent dispute with the same user(s) or about the same topic. A significant dispute is defined as any that involves or involved a lengthy RfC, Mediation, or prior Arbitration case.
  • They have played a significant part in enforcing a previous decision regarding the topic or user(s) involved in the Arbitration.
  • Other arbitrators ask them to recuse themselves.
  • There is a consensus among the parties that they should recuse themselves.
  • They have a strong personal relationship in real life to one or more users in the dispute. This includes all immediate family, and close personal or professional relationships.
  • They do not feel the would be able to maintain neutrality while reviewing the case.

Above all Arbcom members should use common sense and decide whether their involvement affects the ability of all parties to receive a fair and unbiased hearing. When there is doubt, Arbcom members should err on the side of recusal.

Any thoughts, suggestions, or changes?Rangerdude 05:03, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Yes. Arbitrators should not err on the side of recusal - it is important not to empower users to start fights with arbitrators they do not want to hear their cases. Phil Sandifer 05:05, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
How would asking the Arbcom members themselves to err on the side of recusal empower users to start fights? The "common sense" clause at the end of the policy should curtail that. If a user makes a frivolous recusal request that common sense dictates they should disregard, then the arbcom member simply disregards it. If there is a genuine issue of doubt though, requesting them to err on the side of recusal is perfectly legitimate. Might I also ask why you seem so hostile to a more detailed recusal policy when the current one is so inadequate? I don't deny that frivolous recusal requests are undesirable, but right now they are not much of a problem. Arbcom members who should recuse but don't/won't are though in many recent cases. Rangerdude 05:25, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
We still haven't established that the current policy is "so inadequate". Taking past cases, can anyone cite specific instances of incorrect recusals? -Willmcw 17:52, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

And more specifically, instances of incorrect results in cases you were not involved in? After all, you're hardly unbiased in your own cases. Phil Sandifer 18:01, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Fred Bauder participated in Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Wilkes, Wyss and Onefortyone despite having been involved in a visible personal dispute in another arbitration request by User:Wilkes the same week this case was accepted. Kelly Martin also recently participated in the Silverback case despite having been in an extensive dispute with Silverback on an RfC, ANI, and at her bureaucrat nomination request. I was not involved in either of those cases, yet both reveal Arbcom members who were unwilling to recuse themselves in cases where their past disputes with the same editors provided sufficient reason to question their impartiality toward those particular editors. In my own experience, Jayjg was a vocal participant in the earlier RfCs and talk page disputes that led to the current Cberlet case. He vocally espoused Cberlet's side in that dispute throughout, making it a classic case for recusal. When asked to do so he also refused. Regardless of where you stand on any of these cases, the aforementioned arbcom members were sufficiently involved to a degree that makes their impartiality questionable. Yet none recused, and all refused specific requests for recusal since the current recusal policy is unspecific and virtually unenforceable. Rangerdude 20:29, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
"Jayjg was a vocal participant in the earlier RfCs and talk page disputes that led to the current Cberlet case"? Hardly - I believe you managed to find a couple of brief comments made half a year ago. You've also tried to force recusal on entirely different (and even more spurious) grounds. Jayjg (talk) 16:33, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
Note: Jayjg voted in favor of User:Cberlet twice in the user RfC that led to the Arbcom case he refused to recuse himself from [1][2]. It was half a year old, but so were the other diffs in the same case that Jayjg had no trouble voting in favor of to assess penalties (though strangely none against Cberlet, who he supported from the beginning). Rangerdude 04:55, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

The User:Ted Wilkes instance was not obviously a "personal dispute". The only discussions I see between them relate to arbitration matters. Please provide diffs if you see something else. Regarding Sliverback, it appears as if he picked a fight with Kelly Martin. In neither instance did other members of the ArbCom call for their recusal, nor did all the parties. So all we have are claims by one side of these conflicts. That leaves only the first cause in your list of reasons to recuse. That reason seems so broad that it would restrict the ability of ArbCom members to particiapte in the enforcement of ArbCom decisions. In practice, their involvement has been helpful, particularly when it comes to clarifying the decision or its parameters. Also, it is not clear that in these cases the ultimate disposition would have been any different. In the Silverback case, Martin did not frame the decisions, and her votes mirror those of the rest of the ArbCom. So it is not clear that her participation had any effect on the outcome. The purpose of the ArbCom is not to provide a legal courtroom, it is to deal with editors who disrupt the project. -Willmcw 20:55, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Ted Wilkes filed a RfAr against Fred Bauder. Fred then voted for an arbitration case against Wilkes less than a week later. That's about as personal as it gets. Regarding Silverback, it takes two to fight and Kelly Martin indisputably did her share of it. As to effecting the outcome of the Arbcom, that is a red herring. The issue is impartiality and fairness by a particular member. Rangerdude 21:01, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
So filing an RfAr against an ArbCom member would be a way of forcing them to recuse themselves? That sounds like a bad policy. -Willmcw 02:22, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
Not necessarily. It would depend entirely on how the arbcom member responded to that RfAr. Keep in mind that the proposal says significant disputes, with significant meaning a lengthy and involved mediation, RfC, or arbitration. If the case was truly frivolous, the Arbcom member would simply abstain from voting on it and let the other members of the committee reject it. He could still vote in another case with the same editor who filed it, as he would not have been involved in a substantial dispute. If on the other hand he responded to the RfAr against himself by voting in it (which would be wrong in any circumstance - an Arbcom member should not be able to vote on cases about himself) and by participating in disputes over it, then yes he would need to recuse himself. In Fred's case, his error was voting not to accept Wilkes' RfAr against him. Doing so created a conflict of interest, where there would've been none if he simply let the other Arbcom members decide to reject it. Rangerdude 04:03, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

It is bad policy to have situations such have recently occured, where most of the arbiters should have recused, and yet they did not. It is no "wikilawyering" to ask to be reviewed by a neutral party. Have things gone that far wrong? Sam Spade 03:55, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

I agree, and lately "wikilawyering" has been tossed around as a pejorative of convenience by Arbcom members as an excuse to dismiss posts by editors who point out that they aren't following their own rules. If we're going to have a recusal policy it needs to be enforced and enforceable. Otherwise they might as well remove the thing. I'd rather be tried before a committee that admitted it was a Star Chamber up front than one that pretends to operate with fairness, impartiality, and freedom from conflict of interest yet disregards those principles whenever they become inconvenient. Power corrupts, and right now there's nothing keeping a check on the power of the Arbcom. Rangerdude 04:03, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Both the Silverback and the Wilkes cases seem to me clear cases of trolling for recusals. Should an editor go out of their way to piss off members of the arbcom, they ought not be shielded from the consequences of that. Otherwise, it would be far too easy to select the more hardline arbitrators and serially piss them off to obtain a more favorable committee. Phil Sandifer 04:21, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

That assessment is mistaken. The key variable here is not an editor supposedly "trolling for recusals" but rather how the Arbcom member responds. If the Arbcom member responds by staying above the fray and not taking the bait, then no. A recusal would not be necessary at all. But if the Arbcom member jumps in and starts quarreling with the other editor then he has only himself to blame for recusal. Rangerdude 04:30, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
I think your view is very much misguided, and leaves arbitrators crippled in responding to criticism of them. Phil Sandifer 04:32, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
How can it leave an Arbcom member "crippled" if they and they alone are responsible for the way that they address problem users? You seem to want the Arbcom members to have their cake and eat it too - to be able to engage in fights with other editors all over wikipedia and then turn around and impose penalties on the people they fought with for fighting. I'm saying that is inapproprate for self evident reasons, and all this proposal is saying is if you quarrel extensively with a user you shouldn't be able to be the prosecution, judge, and jury against him in a case. That's not an excessive or burdensome restriction on an Arbcom member's freedom - that's responsibility and common sense. Quite frankly, that you would see this simple request as anything other than fair is a very disturbing indicator about the way wikipedia is headed. Rangerdude 04:38, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
No - I want arbitrators to be able to answer users when they are criticized without being accused of bias in later arbcom cases. The moral of this should be simple - don't pick fights with arbitrators. Don't pick fights with anyone, at that, but especially not arbitrators - its dumb. Phil Sandifer 04:44, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
FYI, have the proponents of this policy change read Wikipedia:Arbitration policy/Procedure for changing this policy? -Willmcw 04:49, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
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