Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wikipedia's longest arbitration case

After five months and 17 days it's finally over: Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Scientology

Case Opened on 04:16, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

Case Closed on 13:31, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

A few of the remedies deserve discussion:

Review of articles urged

9) The Arbitration Committee urges that knowledgeable and non-conflicted users not previously involved in editing Scientology-related articles, especially Scientology-related biographies of living people, should carefully review them for adherence to Wikipedia policies and address any perceived or discovered deficiencies. This is not a finding that the articles are or are not satisfactory in their present form, but an urging that independent members of the community examine the matter in light of the case.

Passed 11 to 0 at 13:31, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

In the Scientology arbitration case which closed today, two senior administrators were sanctioned even though neither had edited this topic since 2007: one was topic banned and another was restricted.

Two years ago as I responded to a positive checkuser finding and a noticeboard request related to this dispute. That problem could not be resolved at the community level. As a result of that situation and its followup I requested two arbitration cases on this subject. The other was Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/COFS. These two cases consumed 253 days of my life. Two administrators and various other editors were less fortunate; they are now under formal sanction regarding actions they had ceased long before the case began. In several instances, diffs cited in the decision were cherry picked, inconclusive, or very old.

Remedies in Wikipedia are supposed to be preventative rather than punitive. When it comes to arbitration this is no longer true. It is not possible to endorse the Committee's request for "knowledgeable and non-conflicted users not previously involved in editing Scientology-related articles" to involve themselves in this dispute. The dispute does need help, but it's like stepping into quicksand.

4 comments:

PatrĂ­cia said...

It made it to the news: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/29/wikipedia_bans_scientology/ (found it on Slashdot http://news.slashdot.org/story/09/05/29/0114236/Wikipedia-Bans-Church-of-Scientology).

PS: the CAPTCHA word was "fecesses". Wut.

David Gerard said...

The remedies appear predicated on "the other side must be nearly as bad" ... and, er, it isn't. Note the weirdly trumped-up case against Chris Owen, which was *literally* done as remedies, then findings, then principles, then ridiculously scanty evidence. When you're about to topic-ban someone who scored several featured articles on the topic, wrote half the articles and is a reference on the other half ... you might consider if you're doing this "write an encyclopedia" thing right. There's an appeal in the works.

Geo. said...

Durova, you should bill for 253 days of legal consulting fees. It would only seem fair judging from the excessive time this case took.

Joshua said...

David, you mean that the ArbCom would
a) take as premise that every dispute must have bad behavior on both sides
and b) would after it has reached a conclusion then do whatever it can to keep that conclusion despite any evidence to the contrary?

I'm shocked that one could possibly think such an event would ever happen.