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- 1 Arbitration motion regarding Palestine-Israel articles
- 2 Arbitration motion regarding Captain Occam
- 3 Arbitration motion regarding Race and intelligence
- 4 Return of checkuser and oversight permissions to Yunshui
- 5 Response to the Wikimedia Foundation statement on paid editing and outing
Arbitration motion regarding Palestine-Israel articles
The Arbitration Committee has resolved by motion that:
- Archived discussion at: Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard/Archive 33#Arbitration motion regarding Palestine-Israel articles
Arbitration motion regarding Captain Occam
- Archived discussion at: Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard/Archive 33#Arbitration motion regarding Captain Occam
Arbitration motion regarding Race and intelligence
The Arbitration Committee has resolved by motion that:
unbanned in April 2016 under the condition that hewasrefrain from making any edit about, and from editing any page relating to the race and intelligence topic area, broadly construed. This restriction is now rescinded. The interaction bans to which Mathsci is a party remain in force.
- Discuss this at: Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard#Arbitration motion regarding Race and intelligence
Return of checkuser and oversight permissions to Yunshui
retired in November 2015. Their checkuser and oversight permissions were removed without prejudice against requesting reinstatement in the future. They are reappointed as a checkuser and oversighter following a request to the committee for the return of both permissions., voluntarily
- GorillaWarfare, Mkdw, Doug Weller, Kelapstick, Newyorkbrad, Opabinia regalis, Euryalus, Drmies, DGG, Casliber
- Not voting
- Ks0stm, Kirill Lokshin, Keilana, DeltaQuad, Callanecc
- Discuss this at: Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard#Return of checkuser and oversight permissions to Yunshui
Response to the Wikimedia Foundation statement on paid editing and outing
The Arbitration Committee has a number of concerns about the advisory statement about paid editing and private information released by the Wikimedia Foundation Legal team. Although we understand that many within both the WMF and the community want to crack down on undisclosed paid editing in an effective way, several aspects of the statement require awareness and discussion.
Relationship to outing and harassment
The Arbitration Committee, as individuals and as a body, has a great deal of experience with how private information disclosures actually occur in a community setting. The Wikipedia harassment policy, which prohibits the disclosure of other editors' personal information without their consent, reflects over a decade of accumulated experience and institutional knowledge about this precise problem. That knowledge has been hard-won, and in many cases has come at the expense of dedicated and productive volunteers whose personal information was exposed by others. While many of the people who chose to reveal that information strongly believed they were justified in doing so, this does not mitigate the damage they did or the fact that volunteers were hurt as a result of their participation in the project.
This statement suggests an almost unbounded exemption to the outing policy to allow people to post public information on any individual they believe is engaging in undisclosed paid editing. Furthermore, the statement does not define or limit what may be considered "public information". Combined with the addendum that this kind of investigation could be applied to address disruption outside of paid editing, such as sockpuppetry, this advice if broadly interpreted would practically nullify the existing anti-outing policy.
Ambiguity of the "paid editing" problem
We are also concerned that the statement does not clarify the existing definition of paid editing, which is vague and susceptible to multiple readings. We understand that the core concern about paid editing involves large-scale enterprises offering paid Wikipedia editing services as a business model, and if it applied exclusively in that context, the recent WMF statement would be much more understandable, although it would still raise issues worthy of discussion. But it is not at all clear that the statement, or the intent underlying it, are limited to that context. If read broadly, the current definition of "paid editing" may include editing for one's employer or an organization one is affiliated with, even if no money changes hands in return for the editing. Moreover, "editing one's employer's article" could mean anything ranging from correcting a typo on the employer's article, at one extreme, to creating or maintaining a blatantly promotional article as part of a PR department's job responsibilities, on the other. It is not clear where on this continuum, if anywhere, a user becomes a "paid editor" whose activities people feel violate the TOU and are subject to exposure. Further to this, the definition of "company" in the statement is unclear. It could refer to either a paid editing business specifically, or refer to any company which is the subject of a Wikipedia article.
There is a difference between a major paid editing ring that has created or is seeking to create hundreds of promotional articles about non-notable subjects as part of a major business enterprise, and other scenarios that could be called "paid editing" which should be discouraged, but not through draconian means. Consider, for example, a hypothetical college student who makes the ill-advised decision to write an article about a friend's company in return for $25. They would be violating the COI policy and the TOU, but are not a major threat to the wiki. We worry that the statement does not include any advice for proportional responses based on the severity or extent of undisclosed paid editing.
Possibility of misuse
The statement also does not take into account the possibility of intentional misuse or gaming to harass innocent editors. We have seen repeated malicious attempts (so-called false flags or "joe-jobs") to incriminate editors for paid editing, and this would make it trivial for harassers to out their targets under the guise of stopping a paid editor. Malicious outing is not a rare occurrence and numerous editors — including several current WMF staff — have been the victims of outing and the threat of it.
Role of the Foundation in developing community policy
Finally, we are concerned about a statement like this posted locally on the project with the perceived force of authority of Wikimedia Legal, even though it has been tagged as an essay and described as advisory, not as policy. We expect that some editors will interpret this as binding and lean on it as a justification to publish information on-wiki that previously was, and still is by policy, prohibited harassment. Any current policies that do not align with the views expressed in this statement will likely be challenged as contradicting Wikimedia Foundation's Legal team. This seems to be a substantial departure from the historic relationship between the Wikimedia Foundation's Legal team and the communities of the projects for which it is responsible, when it comes to matters that are not under Wikimedia Legal's direct purview. The paid editing and harassment policies are up to the local community to decide, and we hope that they will consider the statement carefully when making any changes. In the future, we feel a more discussion-based format such as an RfC would be a better way to provide input on local policies without the risk of statements being interpreted as binding.
The Arbitration Committee appreciates that the Wikimedia Foundation Legal team sought our feedback on an early version of this document, and accepted a portion of that feedback. The committee hopes this feedback is equally welcome. Furthermore we extend an invitation to the Legal team, and to any other interested community member, to commence a request for comments on this matter if they believe any aspect of local policy needs modification, in accordance with the consensus-building method the English Wikipedia has used for many years to develop local policy.
- Doug Weller
- Opabinia regalis
- Kirill Lokshin
Statements from individual arbitrators may follow.