The volume of work for the Arbitration Committee increased again last week, with five new requests being accepted and only two matters closed. Following considerable discussion about the enforcement of content-related policies, the Committee accepted a potential test case dealing with this area.
A number of recent discussions, especially on the mailing lists, have focused on how to enforce policies such as no original research and cite sources in the context of the dispute resolution process. Several users complained that arbitration had been effective in dealing with poor behavior, but unable to deal with other policy violations that harmed the quality of articles. Proposed solutions floated during the debate included the creation of a separate committee to handle "content arbitration", or the expansion of the current Arbitration Committee's work to consider violations of content-related policy, but without actually dictating what content goes in or stays out of an article.
Slrubenstein, one of those who had expressed concerns about the imbalance, requested arbitration last Friday against RJII in a dispute over definitions of capitalism. Two arbitrators initially voted to reject the request, with Ambi saying, "We don't deal with content disputes." In response, mav argued, "We would not be ruling on content itself per se but instead enforcing our content policies." Ultimately seven arbitrators agreed to accept the request in order to take this approach to the issue.
Another of the newly accepted requests is also in large part a content dispute, although the evidence mixes in more allegations of misbehavior. That would be Cortonin's request against William M. Connolley, which stems from a debate over issues related to global warming. This request also saw the arbitrators divided between rejecting and accepting, but was narrowly accepted after Ambi changed her vote to support acceptance.
Matters involving the same people repeatedly coming into arbitration continued to fill up the process, as half of the currently open cases are at least the second request accepted dealing with that particular user. Two of last week's new cases deal with users who were banned last year and have returned after serving out the term of their ban.
John Gohde, previously known as Mr-Natural-Health and once banned for three months, brought a request against Snowspinner, who has been monitoring Gohde's activity for several weeks, for systematically reverting Gohde's addition of infoboxes to articles dealing with alternative medicine. The arbitrators rejected this request, but agreed to consider Snowspinner's "counterclaim" that Gohde had "returned to the behavior which got him in trouble twice before."
Rex071404 only received a partial ban from articles involving US politics, for a period of four months starting last November, and now has apparently returned using the IP address 188.8.131.52. In the brief period since returning, he has already been blocked twice for blanking pages and for violating the three-revert rule. JamesMLane, who spearheaded the case against him last time, made the new request and asked for a stronger remedy, saying, "It's obvious that we have here a definite and unrepentant problem user."
In the case brought against Anthony DiPierro, on the issue that prompted the request for arbitration — DiPierro's copying of content from a deleted article to his user space — the arbitrators decided that this did not constitute recreation of the actual article (this apparently would make the copy ineligible for speedy deletion). However, they went on to prohibit DiPierro from recreating a deleted article in any namespace for three months if a vote for undeletion failed after a proper deletion.
Finding that DiPierro had "engaged in an unhelpful amount of revert warring", along with occasional incivility, the ruling imposed a one-revert limit for a period of three months. Pointing to the fact that "almost all" of these disputes were conducted in the Wikipedia namespace, the arbitrators decided to ban DiPierro from that namespace for a year, with some limited exceptions. As the case was being closed, DiPierro said he would be "taking a break from Wikipedia", apparently for the three months covered by his revert parole.
Mirv criticized the arbitrators for not addressing the behavior of Snowspinner and David Gerard in "picking a fight with an illegitimate revert war over a page in someone else's userspace". In response, Snowspinner contended that he should not be sanctioned for a good faith interpretation of a vague policy in need of clarification, prompting DiPierro to say, "Good faith interpretations of vague policies is exactly what I've been smacked down for".
Meanwhile, the request against Dr Zen, apparently moot since he left the project once the case started, closed with an indefinite prohibition on "removing or otherwise altering the manner of appearance of any photographs on the article Clitoris." As arbitrator Nohat clarified, the ruling applied only to Dr Zen, and other editors are free to make any changes that have consensus support.