This week, Jimbo Wales created a new straw poll and responded to the community's concerns regarding the upcoming Arbitration Committee elections.
"I have removed the poll which was previously here in order to start a new poll, this one based a bit more on reality. (Of course you can see it all in the history.), " Jimbo wrote. "The previous poll claimed, for example, that 'This year, Jimbo has announced that he will appoint candidates directly.' This is either false or misleading. I have always appointed people to the ArbCom directly, for one thing. And this formulation suggests (particularly as it was misleadingly contrasted with 'a public election') that I intend to do so without any community approval or vote, which is simply false." Wales continued, "So we had a straw poll here with zero relevance to the actual question at hand. For the record, the final votes in the flawed poll were 51-17 and then a host of other sorts of votes for things like 'prefer something else', 'unsure', 'polls are evil' and so on. Most of the voters seemed to have been misled into thinking that the choice was between direct appointment by me without any community input versus democratic elections. That's really misleading. I apologize if I had anything to do with the misunderstanding."
Jimbo also attempted to quell some of the community's concerns. "I would like to emphasize very strongly that none of these deliberations has anything to do with me trusting or not trusting the community. I trust the community with my life. The issue is that voting mechanisms are inherently flawed in some ways. A lot of people are fond, as I am, of quoting Winston Churchill's famous line about democracy being the worst form of government except for all the others. He said this, of course, in defense of Great Britain -- a democracy, but also a monarchy and aristocracy. Like the British system, the Wikipedia system is a mixed system and should remain so for at least the present time. I have tried, below, to outline the most prominent options, and to write as fair as I can about the strengths and weaknesses as I see them. I encourage those who are filling out this poll to also add their own brief views on the strengths and weaknesses, so that in another round of polling a week or so from now we can try to work on the details of whatever emerges."
Wales then created a poll with five choices: "Unsure", "Don't care", last year's election method, or two methods that he proposed. Jimbo's "first proposal" was the one he had announced previously, where he would nominate several candidates and the community would either approve or reject each candidate based on a vote. Strengths, he pointed out, were that it would "allow a diversity of candidates, including famous and less famous [Wikipedians]", less ill-will and campaigning because of less controversial candidates, and still giving the community input with the "50% vote by definition". Jimbo also acknowledged several weaknesses in this plan, saying that the plan could be limited: "can Jimbo effectively appoint outside people he knows personally?" In addition, Wales also said that other weaknesses included a "trust issue" and whether or not he could "be trusted to balance community wishes against the fundamental purpose of Wikipedia (to create an encyclopedia, not to have an experiment in democracy)" and that the process would not be as open as a general election.
Jimbo's second proposal was a hybrid between the first proposal and an election. Besides letting Jimbo appoint people and have the community ratify the candidates, the community could also elect candidates with a 50% majority required to pass. However, each candidate would still have to be approved by Wales. Anyone approved by both the community and Jimbo would become an Arbitrator, with excess qualified Wikipedians going into a pool of reserves for the ArbCom. The strengths of the plan would include balancing letting the community choose Arbitrators and allowing Jimbo to ensure diversity; weaknesses would be include "elements of the weaknesses of the previous methods". Jimbo acknowledged that this proposal was an attempt to find a "middle path that does everything we want it to do".
In addition, Talrias later made a proposal on the page: that the community nominate Arbitrators themselves and require a 50% majority to be approved. All candidates would have to garner at least ten people to support him/her before the voting could begin.
After some concern was expressed regarding the deletion of the prior poll instead of archiving it elsewhere (as was later done), the community feedback to the proposals were generally positive. "I applaud you for making efforts to clarify this ArbComm issue and process and look forward to working with you," said E Pluribus Anthony. However, there was limited dissent. "I support anything that takes Jimbo out of the loop. No offense, Jimbo is a great guy, and his 1st ArbCom was awesome. Unfortunately, he is too busy doing things other than editing (which is also great!) to be any good at appointing our judges. Jimbo doesn't scale, " commented Sam Spade.
As of the time of press, Jimbo's second proposal had garnered the most support by far, followed by an open election, Talrias's proposal, and then Jimbo's first proposal. It is unclear how long the straw poll will run; Wikipedians are encouraged to voice their opinions there.