Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Cold fusion

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Case Opened on 15:19, 14 November 2008 (UTC) Case Closed on 21:39, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Watchlist all case pages: 1, 2, 3, 4

Please do not edit this page directly unless you are either 1) an Arbitrator, 2) an Arbitration Clerk, or 3) adding yourself to this case. Statements on this page are original comments provided at arbitration request and serve as opening statements. As such, they should not be altered. Any evidence you wish to provide to the Arbitrators should go on the /Evidence subpage.

Arbitrators, the parties, and other editors may suggest proposed principles, findings, and remedies at /Workshop. That page may also be used for general comments on the evidence. Arbitrators will then vote on a final decision in the case at /Proposed decision.

Once the case is closed, editors may add to the #Log of blocks and bans as needed, but this page should not be edited otherwise. Please raise any questions at Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration#Requests for clarification, and report violations of remedies at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Arbitration enforcement.

Involved parties[edit]

Requests for comment[edit]

Statement by Jehochman[edit]

I bring you a case about Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not and an alleged Wikipedia:Conflict of interest. User:Pcarbonn has been involved in a long running content dispute at Cold fusion. We know you don't resolve content disputes, but this one seems to have resisted all forms of dispute resolution because of underlying behavioral issues.

The heart of the problem is that Pcarbonn has made statements on and off wiki that suggest he is using Wikipedia for promotion or ideological struggle, and other editors have latched on to these statements and are using them to assert COI. This has resulted in a persistent disruption to the editing environment and consequential deterioration in the quality of the article as good faith contributors are driven away from editing.

Prior attempts at dispute resolution are numerous, yet the problems continue. I had suggested to ScienceApologist that the matter could be resolved at arbitration enforcement, but a prior straw poll suggested that Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Pseudoscience might not be applicable. Therefore User:SheffieldSteel commenced a thread at Administrators' noticeboard requesting a community topic ban. That thread has regrettably deteriorated into the usual bickering that surrounds this topic. A recent thread on ANI was disrupted by User:IwRnHaA a sock puppet of a banned user. I believe the entire situation bears close scrutiny, including the behavior of all editors.

Clerk note: Statement trimmed from original found here

Statement by SheffieldSteel[edit]

There comes a point in any dispute, perhaps somewhere after three months, but surely after a couple of years, beyond which it is no longer reasonable to say "this is a content dispute" and we must instead presume that the reason the dispute hasn't yet been resolved is the conduct of the participants. It is on this basis - and the apparent inability of the community to resolve this issue at any forum up to and including WP:AN - that I urge ArbCom to accept this case and consider the conduct of the users involved.

Statement by Pcarbonn[edit]

We have indeed a conflict of interest, but it's not what some people think. As his user pages says, ScienceApologist is interested in promoting the status quo, while I'm interested in defending progress, and thus changes. As a consequence, he favors evidence that Cold fusion was seen as pathological science in the 1990's, while I favor well-sourced evidence that it is an ongoing scientific controversy to this day. We have both doggedly defended our opinion.

It is common sense that man have interests, and that they take pride in achieveing their goal. If Wikipedia were to exclude such men, who would be left to write it ? How many would be left to pay for it ? If I get banned from Wikipedia, many others would later be. I believe that the ArbComm should avoid that route. What would we gain from it ?

So, how should we go about resolving such conflicts ? Wikipedia offers plenty of dispute resolution mechanisms, and I have accepted them all. Apparently, they are not enough. I therefore support the ArbComm's involvement.

In particular, I would appreciate that the ArbComm address the following issue: How to determine the preponderence of opinion that is the basis of NPOV ? ScienceApologist defends the view that it should be based on the opinion of "most scientists" : it is indeed a good way to maintain the status quo that he wants. I say that it should be based on the preponderence of opinion in the most reliable sources published on the subject. Cold fusion is a case where these 2 principles give a different answer, and give thus a different basis for NPOV. (See here)

I believe that there are many other valid scientific controversies where the opinion of "most scientists" and of the "experts in the field" differ. Some like to discard them as Fringe science, while others, like me, see them as interesting science practiced by a minority of good scientists. So, this case is about the status of good science practiced by a minority of scientists, with a different view from the (silent) majority.

Here is my take on that issue. "Most scientists" cannot be a reliable source on all topics, because they cannot be expected to be knowledgeable in all subjects. Furthemore, they cannot be a reliable source on cold fusion because they don't publish about it. Statements that start with "most scientists" are WP:Weaseled words that are not truly verifiable. All scientific revolutions have started when a few scientists have scientifically analysed an anomaly. I don't see why Wikipedia would not want to echo what they say, while saying at the same time that the view of "most scientists" is different. I totally disagree with ScienceApologist censorship of their work, on the basis that NPOV tell us to represent the view of "most scientists". He is forced to use censorship because, since "most scientists" don't publish their view, he has no basis for adding verifiable material to preserve the balance. He has thus frequently removed extremely well-source statement, such as statements from peer-reviewed journals in the top third of ISI ranking. These statements would be accepted in any other non-controversial article. I'd argue that it may be a pity that critics of a theory do not publish their opinion, such as the professor who is JzG's friend, but it's not wikipedia's place to right that wrong and to give a non-verifiable say to the silent majority. The parity of source should work both ways: if proponent write in the top third of journals, critics should do it too.

One may say that I choose that view because it favors progress. He would be right. What would be the value of knowledge, and of Wikipedia, if it is not to enable progress ?

Clerk note: Statement trimmed from original found here

Statement by ScienceApologist[edit]

I hate arbitration. I don't trust arbitration. Nevertheless, I am a named party in this case, and so should at least try to explain where I'm coming from.

Perhaps most succinctly, interested parties can look at a new proposal I started: WP:MAINSTREAM. This explains my motivations almost in their entirety.

There exist Wikipedians who vehemently disagree with my aims. I can provide a list, but shall refrain in the interests of deferring to community tradition. I come into conflict with the users on this list on a fairly regular basis. I am often mystified as to what justification there is to keep such users on board. I'm all in favor of having people at Wikipedia who have a difference of opinion. Some of them learn to deal well with the fact that their opinions are only of marginal status and do not protest when other editors work to appropriately frame their opinions in such a way... but such users are coming harder and harder to find.

Instead, at Wikipedia, most minority-opinion holders exploit the fact that Wikipedia has never forcefully endorsed any content standards, even its own. Should we let people with minority opinions actively disrupt the articles to the point of driving away good contributors who are not passionately aligned to a minority opinion? Should we encourage them to create an environment so caustic that getting outside expert help is nearly impossible? Since I first became involved with Wikipedia, the answer has gone from being a de facto "yes" to almost a de jure "yes". More than that, the community has become downright toxic for editors dedicated to the standards of high-quality research -- generally to the point of driving away editors who are passionately devoted to the principles and practices that our content guideline and policy pages say are most in-line with best editorial practices.

Instead of fostering an environment where good research is rewarded and poor scholarship is punished, Wikipedia relies on a set of vague, messageboard-centric "behavioral" guidelines to police. Concepts like civility are upheld as "policy" in the spite of the known fact that the civility-standards are culturally relative. More than this, the monolithic behavioral structure contradicts the pluralism that Wikipedia claims to endorse. Why is that the Wikipedia community lack diversity? In part it is because Wikipedia is tolerant of behaviors that traditional internet users endorse while being intolerant of behavior standards that are different.

This situation is exacerbated by the fact that Wikipedia has become a community not of expert researchers or at least people dedicated to the principle of WP:MAINSTREAM, but rather a community of anti-social internet denizens who alternatively enjoy the mind trip that is "an encyclopedia anyone -- even I -- can edit" or are hoping to play games to achieve fake positions of power like "administrator" or "bureaucrat" or "arbitrator". It's petty, silly, and I hate it.

The ONLY reason I continue is because Wikipedia is the best thing going at the moment which is seen by the fact that students use it. I feel it important that students are not turning to a resource that skews presentation of facts, opinions, etc in a way that defies WP:MAINSTREAM. I don't care if Wikipedia survives or not, and usually hope that it fails a miserable death and gets buried in the sands of time because of the problems I outline above.

I will be on wikibreak for much of this arbitration because these things are such time sinks. I would prefer to talk directly to arbitrators about my position through e-mails, phone calls, etc. and would not mind if we published some of these conversations in the evidence pages. I don't have time to deal with all the potential drama that will accompany this case. There are enough people who take delight in stalking me from place to place that I think it better to not be directly involved in the evidence, workshop, or discussion pages of this arbitration.

Clerk note: Statement trimmed from original found here

Preliminary decisions[edit]

Arbitrators' opinion on hearing this matter (7/0/0/0)[edit]

  • Accept to consider all aspects of the matter. Newyorkbrad (talk) 13:11, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Accept. This needs looking into carefully. Sam Blacketer (talk) 15:18, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Accept for close review of all aspects of the situation. FloNight♥♥♥ 17:44, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Accept. Charles Matthews (talk) 17:46, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Accept to consider all behaviour related to this dispute. --bainer (talk) 23:54, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Accept. --Deskana (talk) 03:39, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Accept to look at all aspects. Dispute of this kind arise fairly often; let's see if we can resolve this in a way that helps other similar disputes. FT2 (Talk | email) 11:10, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Temporary injunction (none)[edit]

Final decision[edit]


Role of the Arbitration Committee[edit]

1) It is not the role of the Arbitration Committee to settle good-faith content disputes among editors.

Passed 8 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Neutral Point Of View[edit]

2) All Wikipedia articles must be written from a neutral point of view; that is, they must fairly portray all significant points of view on a subject in accordance with their prevalence. Wikipedia is a mirror for human knowledge: it seeks to reflect, and not distort, the current state of thought on a subject.

Passed 8 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Neutral point of view and sourcing[edit]

3) The requirement of the neutral point of view that points of view be represented fairly and accurately, and Wikipedia's nature as an encyclopaedia, demand that articles should always use the best and most reputable sources. A neutral point of view cannot be synthesised merely by presenting a plurality of opposing viewpoints, each derived from a polarised source.

Passed 8 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Undue weight[edit]

4) In describing points of view on a subject, articles should fairly represent the weight of authority for each such view, and should not accord them undue weight. Thus, views held by a relatively small proportion of commentators or scholars should not be overstated, but similarly views held by a relatively large proportion thereof should not be understated.

Passed 8 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

No original research[edit]

5) Wikipedia does not publish original research or original thought. This includes unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.

Passed 8 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Weasel words[edit]

6) Weasel words (words or phrases that seemingly support statements without attributing opinions to verifiable sources) should be avoided.

Passed 8 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Editorial process[edit]

7) Wikipedia works by building consensus. This is done through the use of polite discussion—involving the wider community, if necessary—and dispute resolution, rather than through disruptive editing. Editors are each responsible for noticing when a debate is escalating into an edit war, and for helping the debate move to better approaches by discussing their differences rationally. Edit-warring, whether by reversion or otherwise, is prohibited; this is so even when the disputed content is clearly problematic, with only a few exceptions. Revert rules should not be construed as an entitlement or inalienable right to revert, nor do they endorse reverts as an editing technique.

Passed 8 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)


8) Wikipedia users are expected to behave reasonably, calmly, and courteously in their interactions with other users; to approach even difficult situations in a dignified fashion and with a constructive and collaborative outlook; and to avoid acting in a manner that brings the project into disrepute. Unseemly conduct, such as personal attacks, incivility, assumptions of bad faith, trolling, harassment, disruptive point-making, and gaming the system, is prohibited.

Passed 8 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Privileged nature of mediation[edit]

9) All communications during mediation are privileged. In the interests of facilitating open communication between parties, communications made during mediation may not be used as evidence in other dispute resolution or similar discussions, including (but not limited to) Arbitration and user conduct requests for comment.

Passed 8 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Encyclopedic coverage of science[edit]

10) Encyclopedias are generally expected to provide overviews of scientific topics that are in line with current mainstream scientific thought.

Passed 7 to 1, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Findings of fact[edit]

Locus of dispute[edit]

1) The locus of this dispute is the Cold fusion (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) article and disputes as to its contents. This Arbitration originated following an administrators' noticeboard discussion proposing a topic ban for Pcarbonn (talk · contribs), which failed to reach a resolution, amidst suggestions that the successful resolution of the discussion had been disrupted by several uncivil interjections by ScienceApologist (talk · contribs).

Passed 8 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Editing of cold fusion[edit]

2) Some evidence has been presented of problematic editing by users including Pcarbonn (talk · contribs) and ScienceApologist (talk · contribs) on the Cold fusion (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) article and related pages, including some edit warring and minor instances of incivility. However, the vast majority of the evidence presented related to questions (and disputes as to those questions) about the reliability of particular sources and the relative weight to be associated with various points of view, content questions which cannot be resolved by the Committee.

Passed 8 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)


3) Pcarbonn edits articles with a stated agenda against Wikipedia policy. [1] [2], [3] Additionally, Pcarbonn has treated Wikipedia as a battleground; his actions to that effect include assumptions of bad faith [4], and edit warring. [5] [6]. For more complete evidence see [7], [8], [9].

Passed 7 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)


Note: All remedies that refer to a period of time, for example to a ban of X months or a revert parole of Y months, are to run concurrently unless otherwise stated.

Pcarbonn topic-banned[edit]

3) Pcarbonn (talk · contribs) is banned from editing Cold fusion and related articles and pages for one year.

Passed 7 to 1, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)


Enforcement by block[edit]

1) Should any user subject to an editing restriction in this case violate that restriction, that user may be briefly blocked, up to a week in the event of repeated violations. After 5 blocks, the maximum block shall increase to one month. All blocks are to be logged at Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Cold fusion#Log of blocks and bans.

Passed 7 to 0, 21:38, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Log of blocks and bans[edit]

Please refer to Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Pseudoscience#Notification logs and Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Pseudoscience#Log of blocks and bans where all such notifications are now being logged.