This page is the central location for discussing the various requests for arbitration processes. Requesting that a case be taken up here isn't likely to help you, but editors active in the dispute resolution community should be able to assist.
Hi, I've been advised to email a complaint to arbcom-en. Can I mail HTML, e.g. a cut and paste of wikitext? Or should I reformat it into text or a PDF or something? I've been working on it in my sandbox without saving it, so it's all wikitext. Vashti (talk) 07:42, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
@Vashti: The lists accept HTML email. Cut-and-paste of wikitext (ie '''text''' that contains [[markup]] like ''this'') is unlikely to be easy to comprehend, though. Plain text is also fine. A PDF is probably not so useful. GoldenRing (talk) 10:10, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
I would also add that, no matter the forum, complaints that are compact and concise are better-received than complaints that are long. GoldenRing (talk) 10:11, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
Thank you. I'm doing my best to make it concise. Vashti (talk) 10:19, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
Clarification request: Threaded discussion and section headers on Arbitration talk pages (October 2019)
In several recent cases, clerks have taken what seems to me to be a very heavy-handed approach to policing proposed decision talk pages, enforcing absolute conformity of section headers and only allowing themselves or arbs to participate in threaded discussion, absolutely banning it for us "lesser" users. When I questioned this, SilkTork directed me to Wikipedia:Arbitration_Committee/Clerks/Procedures#Statement and evidence management as the policy that supports this practice. The problem there is that it doesn't. There is no mention of any rules for talk pages. This appears to be a policy that doesn't actually exist, yet the clerks are strongly enforcing it at the apparent direction of the committee.
While I completely understand the need for controls in initial statements and evidence pages, talk pages, anywhere in project space, are used by the community to discuss the project. In this case the committee seems to be enforcing standards that were just made up out of thin air and are not documented on-wiki. Given that in this most recent case the enforcement of unknown rules based on invisible criteria was a central problem, I strongly feel this issue needs to be brought out in the open and whatever process that was used to develop it needs to be made transparent.
Failing that, the committee needs to accept that there is no such rule and instruct the clerks to stop enforcing it. Arbitration processes are complicated enough without expecting users to abide by invisible rules that apply only when the committee suddenly decides they apply on a particular page.
(The above is my initial statement, below are replies to arbitrator comments)Beeblebrox (talk) 21:09, 1 October 2019 (UTC)
"it's something that the clerk team and ArbCom has agreed upon.". And that's how new policies are made now? You guys hold a private discussion then begin enforcing a rule by adding a notice to a talk page if and when you decide it applies to that page? A rule that, again, is not in any policy I've seen. I suppose if you do things that way it is easier, you can just make up whatever rule you want and tell the community "we and the clerks agree this is a good idea, so it's now policy whenever we decide it is" but I'm pretty sure even ArbCom isn't supposed to work that way. "the fact that it isn't spelled out there yet doesn't mean it's outside policy" uh ok, is there anything else yu aren't telling us, any other secret policies in your back pocket for when you believe its convenient to spring them on the community and declare that's how it works from now on? Beeblebrox (talk) 17:44, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
C'mon Joe. You're just making up ridiculous excuses now. "The format of a talk page is not policy" is nonsense. If there's not a policy, why is it being enforced? Why are the clerks instructed to do it that way? Arbcom is responsible for establishing its own procedures, I'm not contesting that, but they should be way more transparent than this when doing so. You can't have it both ways, either you are enforcing a new policy that you all have neglected to put in your own procedures, or there is no such rule. Invisible rules that come and go at the whim of the abs is no way to run a committee. Beeblebrox (talk) 19:51, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
I'm curious if any of the arbs have any comment on the fact that the committee also exempts itself and its clerks from this policy, making them free to engage in threaded discussion if they wish while the rest of us are absolutely verboten from doing so. If there was one way to tell the community you think you are better than them, making up a policy and then exempting yourself from it would be a good start. Beeblebrox (talk) 18:27, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
@Mkdw: Thanks for your reply. What seems weird to me is that as far as I am aware PD talk pages are the only place in all of Wikipedia where this goes on. Other arb space pages, like this one, have highly formalized structures that disallow any threaded discussion. I think that makes sense on, for example, the initial requests and statement sat the beginning of a case. If those were threaded discussions it would be near impossible for the committee to get anything done. And it works fairly ok here as well. But for some obscure reason on PD talk pages and only on PD talk pages replies are made by the "special class" of arbs and clerks wherever they please. I honestly don't know if anyone else sees it that way but that's how it felt to me. Beeblebrox (talk) 18:52, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
It has been said that the practise makes it easier to read. That must be for different readers. For me, it's much easier to understand a chronological flow of arguments, than having to go not only to the section where xyz said something, but on top when that happened. It would have been easy for my section because I didn't change my mind ;) --Gerda Arendt (talk) 07:01, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
Joe Roe: it isn't spelled out there yet doesn't mean it's outside policy – Isn't this exactly the definition of unknown rules based on invisible criteria? Committee may ask the clerk team to implementing procedures as they wish, but these needs to be spelled out in policy pages (as the basis for when and why the comments must be sectioned), and the committee needs to provide their rationale clearly (as you have done here, thank you), otherwise to those unfamiliar with arbitration proceedings on Wikipedia, it would simply appear as arbitrary enforcement. Community participations are crucial to these proceedings, and if the committee and the clerk team are starting to micromanage every arbitration page in a heavy handed manner (such as absolute conformity of section headers, like seriously?) without adequate communication, it discourages members of the community from participating further, and reduces the effectiveness of the committee from reaching informed decisions.
And these "rules" that are "documented prominently" are randomly put in pages where the committee decides to put with no explanations given initially, and they are not spelled out explicitly in any policy pages at the moment, which I believe is what Beeblebrox is saying; so you may want to withdraw your "disingenuous" accusation, as that is not the example of good faith as required by WP:ARBCOND, and comes off as rather ironic as we have only recently concluded another case centered around civility. Alex Shih (talk) 08:52, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
It's a rule designed to stop people from talking to each other, or at least significantly interfere with their ability to do so. I don't know why you'd want to do that on a collaborative project. – Levivich 15:54, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
As I am demonstrating here, it is now difficult for any reader who is reading this page to know whether the "I agree with Levivich" responses of other editors apply to my entire section, or just the first point above. You have to compare the damn timestamps to figure that out. This inhibits communication and understanding, not just for editors, but also for arbs.
Another problem is that we cannot create section headers for topics, to discuss different issues separately. So anyone wanting to now reply to just this second comment of mine, has to say something foolish like, "Regarding Levivich's second point", and in a few more comments, we'll have, "In response to Joe's third reply to WBG's second response to Levivich's fourth bullet point...".
If we want to get all bureaucratic about this, we can start an RfC to amend ARBPOL with "thou shalt not section talk pages", but gee it'd be better to just have a conversation with the arbs and clerks about it to find the best way forward.
Towards that end, I would ask the arbitrators: since the talk page sectioning policyprocedure was implemented, how has it affected the quality and speed of decisions, compared with before the change? – Levivich 20:26, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
No, Levivich, there is nothing preventing me from talking to you, nor interfering with my ability to do so, from down here. Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:06, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
Levivich, I just made a section, in contravention to the argument that one can't make a section. And if you really care, I am replying to your second comment but that hardly even matters, what matters is whatever substance there is to a comment or not. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:55, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
Brad: Sure, the committee can decide they like long interminable back and forth, but it's difficult to see an advantage, including in surfacing what's important. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:55, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
I agree with BeebleBrox, Gerda, and Levivich. The intent certainly seems to be to squash discussion. The effect is to make it almost impossible to determine what anyone is talking about. I certainly don't find the segmented approach an improvement, indeed quite the contrary. If EditorA says "Bluebells are bad:reason" I ought to be able to counter below, rather than start my own section with "Regarding EditorA's contention that bluebells are bad, above, ...." which requires anyone trying to read the page to scroll and search for text snippets endlessly. It takes easily twice as long per reply, and the effort increases exponentially with each reply. It's absurd. Regarding Joe's assertion that ArbCom and the Clerks have decided this - really? Because while I support their right to organize cases as they see fit, I do not recognize their right to abritrarily decide that talk pages in their demense should suddenly not work as all other talk pages throughout the project. Unless someone is violating Talk page guidelines, what is the issue? I fail to see any rationale here which makes any kind of sense. And as per others' statements, above - this isn't in policy, or guidelines, or anywhere the community can see. One puppy's opinion. KillerChihuahua 20:16, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
I'd like to add, regarding Levivich's third point fourth point, "In response to Joe's third reply to WBG's second response to Levivich's fourth bullet point...". Yeah. That. Exactly what I was talking about regarding the exponential effort required to make sense of any reply based on how early in the discussion the original comment, and the reply in question, appeared. KillerChihuahua 20:32, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
I believe the "sectioned discussion" rule originated awhile ago in the context of a few cases in which the parties were having difficulty in interacting civilly. The rule was created and enforced in a good-faith attempt to keep the arbitration pages useful, not to impair discussion on these pages. Nonetheless, in my opinion and experience it has sometimes had the opposite effect. In particular, in cases with substantial community interest, a page can grow to a large size. It then becomes difficult to make a new comment in a section near the top of the page noticeable, and important points can be missed, including potentially by the arbitrators. For this reason, without endorsing any of the comments (here or elsewhere) imputing intent to anyone, I would urge a reevaluation of this procedure, or at least perhaps using it only in specific instances where it proves necessary. (It may, however, also make sense to table this issue until January and let next year's Committee address it, especially since the impending Israel-Palestine review case may be one in which sectioning the discussion does make sense.) Newyorkbrad (talk) 20:49, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
The intended point of PD talk pages is only for individual editors (principally parties) to bring matters relating to the PD to the attention of the Committee. It isn't intended to be a space for community discussion about the case, or the background to it, or anything else. IIRC sectioned talk pages were first introduced (or at least an early use was) for a case during my tenure on the Committee (2015), where parties to the case (possibly Gamergate or Lightbreather, but I haven't checked) were seemingly incapable of sticking to the point and not carrying on the dispute that was being arbitrated. Making it hard to have conversations was part of the point and generally it worked at reducing the disruption.
If committee members were to float ideas and put early drafts of the PD in the workshop stage then most of the commentary currently on PD talk pages could go there, where the structure better allows for it. Sectioned comment on the PD talk page would therefore not be anywhere nearly as often desirable.
All that said a space for general constructive community comment on the case, that is strongly policed for on-topicness, civility, personal attacks (and attacks against the committee), and other disruption, is probably a good thing to have. The PD talk page is the wrong venue for it though - it should be a space that the committee are encouraged to read but not required to read - anything essential to the proposed decision should be concisely addressed to the committee on the PD talk page. Thryduulf (talk) 22:08, 29 September 2019 (UTC)
I have no strong opinions as to whether in your part of the wiki you have a different way of organising talkpages or not. But If you are going to have a non standard setup please use edit notices to inform people rather than hiding comments at the top of the page. Once a page runs to the sort of size your pages do, it is a reasonable expectation that a lot of people reading and commenting in one section won't remember some formatting comment at the top of the screen, they likely haven't even seen it. But they will see an edit notice, even if they are editing the fiftieth section on your page. ϢereSpielChequers 20:45, 1 October 2019 (UTC)
Other editors are free to make relevant comments on this request as necessary. Comments here should opine whether and how the Committee should clarify or amend the decision or provide additional information.
Threaded discussion and section headers on Arbitration talk pages: Clerk notes
This area is used for notes by the clerks (including clerk recusals).
Threaded discussion and section headers on Arbitration talk pages: Arbitrator views and discussion
This isn't a unilateral action by the clerks, it's something that the clerk team and ArbCom has agreed upon. The reason we like sectioned discussion is that arbitration talk pages are supposed to be there for editors to offer input that helps arbs reach a discussion. They're not for general running commentary on the case. It doesn't stop people replying to each other (we have pings now), but it discourages long back-and-forths that have a tendency to stray off-topic and in any case are a chore to read for those of us that actually have to read them.
This is no different how, elsewhere on wiki, someone requesting an RfC can set the structure for that discussion, or how all sorts of other processes have their own special formats. The policy basis for clerks enforcing that structure is WP:ARBPOL, The clerks' functions include the administration of arbitration cases and management of all the Committee's pages and subpages; enforcing Committee decisions; implementing procedures; and enforcing good standards of conduct and decorum on the Committee's pages. We could easily add something about sectioned discussion to the clerk procedure page if that's helpful, but the fact that it isn't spelled out there yet doesn't mean it's outside policy. Frankly I think it's disingenuous of Beeblebrox to describe these as unknown rules based on invisible criteria: the rules are documented prominently at the top of every page we decide to apply sectioned discussion to, which I'm sure he knows. – Joe (talk) 05:48, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
@Beeblebrox: The format of a talk page is not policy. It doesn't have any effect outside of arbitration proceedings. ArbCom is responsible for formulating its own processes and procedures under the arbitration policy. – Joe (talk) 19:45, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
Our policies really only go as far as saying "clerks are responsible for maintaining order at arbitration talk pages" but don't really delve into how they can or cannot go about doing this. While I do think it's within both reason and policy for arbitrators to ask how discussions in arbspace be organized (and for clerks to re-organize as needed), it sounds like it's worth discussing whether this practice ought to be used (and when). If people are finding it hard to navigate, then we should weigh its benefits as far as preventing disruption against that. GorillaWarfare(talk) 18:00, 28 September 2019 (UTC)
I can only speak for myself, but I sometimes struggle to keep up with absolutely everything said on the case talk pages. I have no problem with people discussing the issue between themselves. In fact, it is probably helpful for the community to do so. I just cannot promise I will be able to read and follow the full exchange between two editors who are going back and forth. In that way, I found the section discussion helpful at the PD in particular in the same way case request statements are segregated. If the community does not feel it is the best way for them to be engaging on cases, then I am fine with going away from editor sectioned discussion. Mkdwtalk 18:06, 28 September 2019 (UTC)
@Beeblebrox: The sectioned comments were also supposed to make it easier for the committee to read comments directed at them (from the community) and then to reply directly back. If the community wants replies to their questions or comments in a separate section, I do not care as long as it is easier and makes sense. I would want to hear from others if they in fact want that as I have never heard anyone (before your comment now) suggest that receiving responses from the committee in their section was an elitist action. I actually would have assumed the community would want the committee to respond directly in their section (in a discussion format between them and the committee members), but I am not opposed to halting that practice if people do not want it. Mkdwtalk 18:40, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
One of the roles of clerking is ensure that discussions do not get out of hand and allows people to contribute to those discussions. One of the tools available to clerks in managing that role is the implementation of sectioned discussion - which allows easy discussion with arbitrators and less easy but still possible discussion with other parties (thanks to the ping system). It's not needed in every case, and perhaps it's been used a little too much recently - something I think the committee and clerks should be aware of going forward. WormTT(talk) 09:16, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
While I do not think a formal ruling or motion is required, I take on board Beeblebrox's concerns. We should be more thoughtful about the disadvantages of the "no threads" rule. In cases where fully restoring threaded conversation would be inappropriate, the committee should look at less obstructive formats. For example, we might keep "no threads" but introduce the ability of seconding statements more clearly (eg with a "Users endorsing this statement" sub-section). Or we might try having the talk page mirror the proposed decision, so that comments are more clearly associated with the text arbitrators are considering – and so that superseded discussions can be safely ignored. While there is scope for flexibility, I am okay opposing going back to free-form talk pages if it comes down to it. AGK ■ 20:49, 19 October 2019 (UTC)
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.
Temporary checkuser permission for election scrutineers
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.
Resolved, That temporary Checkuser rights are granted to Base, Shanmugamp7, and Einsbor for the purpose of their acting as Scrutineers in the 2019 Arbitration Committee election.