Dispute resolution changes

Changes to dispute resolution lead to controversy

Attempts were made to remodel several different aspects of the dispute resolution process last week, but all of them met with resistance, either over a lack of notice or outright opposition to the proposed changes.

Arbitration policy amendment adopted, then revote opened

The arbitration policy has received no significant updates since the creation of the arbitration process at the beginning of 2004. Last November, an amendment was proposed and voted on, and seemed to have fairly solid support. Most of the changes were proposed in order to bring the formal policy in line with the actual practices of the Arbitration Committee.

According to its terms, the November vote required at least 100 total votes and 70% support in order to pass. The vote was supposed to last two weeks, at the close of which the vote was 44-8 in favor. No action was taken at that point, and votes continued to trickle in until it stood at 58-14 in favor.

At the suggestion of arbitrator Grunt, Jimbo Wales stepped in last Friday to ratify the proposed amendment as officially adopted based on the results of this vote. Wales indicated that the threshold set of 100 support votes had been "overly ambitious" considering that 500 edits were required in order to be eligible to vote. He added that policy amendments would not necessarily be handled this way in the future.

However, this ratification prompted a new round of objections over the failure to follow the process outlined at the beginning of the vote, as well as the appearance of self-serving decisions by Wales and the arbitrators. To deal with this, a revote was started to try and get a result that complied with the procedures established at the beginning of the vote. Due to concerns expressed about individual aspects of the proposal, the revote is being conducted as a separate vote regarding each item in the proposed amendment. The revote also set a higher requirement for passage of 80% support for each item.

Requests for comment overhaul debated

The requests for comment process also had some changes implemented last week and promptly disputed, and an edit war even resulted over the page.

For a few weeks, Jguk and a few others have been working on a draft of some amendments to the handling of user conduct disputes within the RfC system. The proposal was mentioned on a few talk pages related to dispute resolution, but not widely advertised.

Among other things, the proposal would have eliminated the requirement that an RfC listing be certified by two different people. It also created a specific timetable to identify when the listing would be closed and deleted. With no objections having been raised, Jguk changed the main RfC page last Thursday to correspond with the terms of the proposal.

This promptly drew an objection from Netoholic, who reverted the page back to its previous state, and the two reverted back and forth until each had exhausted his limit of three reverts. At this point, a notice was placed on the page instead indicating that there were two competing versions being considered.

With the additional publicity, a number of people raised their concerns about the changes. The proposal to routinely delete old listings in particular received considerable opposition. Finally Maurreen, one of Jguk's collaborators on the draft changes, suggested that everyone involved get a fresh start and work together to develop agreeable changes to the system.

Attempt to resurrect quickpolls

Meanwhile, Merovingian introduced a proposal on Friday to bring back quickpolls, an experiment started in March 2004 to provide relatively swift action for violations of certain policies. Quickpolls allowed people to vote on whether 24-hour blocks should be applied to users for violating the three-revert rule or other misbehavior. The system could also theoretically be used for desysoping, although it was never applied for this purpose.

After a 30-day experiment, a review of the experience showed that many people were dissatisfied with quickpolls as a way of enforcing the three-revert rule, even though that had been the primary use for quickpolls during the experiment. As a result, the quickpoll system fell into disuse and was retired.

With this history, the proposed reintroduction of quickpolls so far has not proved to be a popular idea. In the poll on whether to have quickpolls again, the latest tally had more than two people opposing for every supporter of the proposal.

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