Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/June 2008 announcements/Skilled content warriors

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Following a June announcement by the Arbitration Committee, a possible approach to a common class of intractable problematic "bad faith" disputes is presented, and communal input sought on the ideas and approaches conceived.


A particular kind of dispute caused by some forms of disruptive user (who may also be editing in covert bad faith, POV pushing, or socking), can prove intractable to all but Arbitration. A number of these have distressed users and swallowed up topics for a year or more, often with some users discouraged and even driven away in tears, before finally the one or two survivors seeks Arbitration. Such cases should be able to be handled much sooner and by administrators, in a manner similar to existing general sanctions.

Better tools are needed for users dealing with borderline, subtle gaming, tendentious or other kinds of pov/edit warrior, where the traditional handling is frustrated by the difficulty of proving to an uninvolved administrator that the user is doing wrong, or where an uninvolved administrator may themselves not feel able to address the case properly..

This kind of dispute is poisonous, and a perennial class of gamesmanship, favored by (subtle and not so subtle) pov warriors and (frequently the same people) sock warriors, that the community and its good-faith content creators have endured too long. We propose an outline approach to a new Arbitration or community dispute resolution tool, for addressing these.

Outline of proposed approach

Brute force here, without direction, is not the real answer. Rather, a better approach all around would be a kind of "reverse sanction", that rather than forbidding disruptive activity, instead centered on a requirement to edit to a high (and above average) standard or vacate editing the article. This would better allow administrators to target many of the specific conducts which are often gamed, such as simple refusal to collaborate to a sufficient quality of dialog, and would focus on "edit and collaborate to a visibly high standard or do not edit this article" rather than "do not edit war or be uncivil". As such, it has a number of significant advantages over present remedies:

  1. Neutral to all parties - any party is affected, and any misconducting party may avoid enforcement simply by editing better.
  2. Hard to game - cannot be requested "to punish another party" as it affects all equally
  3. Resilient to socking - a remedy like this would allow discretion to require that specified accounts edit to a very high standard, or cease "sock-supporting-sock"-like behavior, based upon behavior (whether or not they are formally identified as being "socks").
  4. Educates and encourages higher editing which is something we probably all want anyway.
  5. Can be introduced much easier, and at a much earlier stage than most dispute resolution. For example as it focusses on present conduct, no "case" or "diffs" need producing; rather an admin following the article merely has to distinguish "helpful above average" conduct, from "unhelpful or unconstructive" conduct, and remember that both editing and conduct are expected to be clearly and visibly above average, and if in doubt require better editing or enforce if not achieved.

Subject to discussion and input from the community, whether by email or on the talk page, this will be our proposed approach to be trialled.

As with BLP, it may also be that some editors (POV warriors being one example, but also some good-faith but substandard, or tendentious editors) may simply not be suited to editing some articles to the newer, higher, standard required. To be considered.

Representations are welcomed on the general concept and specific ways it might be implemented, routes of abuse and any necessary anti-abuse safeguards, and other issues or aspects perceived. An extensive consulatation and discussion is anticipated.

Request for feedback to be copied by email

Note - since wiki-discussion can be long and unfocussed, users may wish to submit their analyses, statements and submissions by email as well. As and when a proposal is actually undertaken, the main responses received and any view on them, will be summarized and commented on, for completeness and transparency, and/or for on-wiki discussion.

As with other proposals, we can't promise to agree with all views we read, but we will promise to take them each into account.

Thank you for considering this. We believe it will benefit the community.

FT2 (Talk | email) 14:31, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

For and on behalf of the Arbitration Committee