Just two weeks ago marked the end of 2006, and the end of the biggest year Wikipedia has seen, in terms of growth, press coverage, and quality. During last year, the English Wikipedia grew from less than 900,000 to over 1,500,000 articles. It began with elections for the Arbitration Committee and stewardship, and ended with elections for the Arbitration Committee and stewardship. This week, the Wikipedia Signpost continues our look back at the year that was 2006 in Wikipedia.
Due to a scheduling quirk, 2006 saw two annual Arbitration Committee elections. The January elections saw 11 arbitrators elected in all (originally, 8 seats were up for reelection, but to avoid high turnover on the Committee, and with a high rate of community support, Jimbo Wales chose to add three extra seats). In all, 68 candidates applied for the elections; of these, 14 withdrew during the vote.
All but one incumbent arbitrator regained a seat on the Committee (Kelly Martin withdrew from consideration early in the vote and resigned from the committee shortly thereafter, citing personal reasons.)
In December, a second election was held. In this election, the five three-year seats in Tranche Gamma were available; with the resignation of Mindspillage, who took a seat on the Foundation Board of Trustees, and the absence of Filiocht, who had not participated in arbitration due to illness, two additional two-year seats were made available. Jimbo indicated that Mindspillage and Filiocht were free to claim extra seats should they come back before their terms were due to expire in December 2008. 37 candidates ran for the seats, of which 6 withdrew during the elections. The results were as follows:
Of the previous Tranche Gamma, one seat was vacant due to the resignation of Mackensen in February. None of the four remaining incumbent arbitrators chose to run again. This was the first time in the Arbitration Committee's history that no incumbents attempted to defend their seats.
Oddly enough, two annual elections were also held for the global position of steward. Stewards' main jobs are to help out with the jobs of bureaucrats and CheckUsers on smaller wikis, where bureaucrats are unlikely to be active or existent, and CheckUser policies have not yet been agreed upon (only 27 individual projects, along with Wikimedia Commons and the Meta-Wiki, currently have CheckUsers). While the Board of Trustees makes a final ruling on the suitability of a candidate, and can pick any candidates with at least 80% support and at least 30 support votes to become stewards, their decision in both 2006 elections was to promote all candidates who had received 80% or more.
In January 2006's elections, nine candidates were chosen: Ascánder, Ausir, Jean-Christophe Chazalette, Jon Harald Søby, Paginazero, Rdsmith4, Romihaitza, Suisui, and Walter. Of the nine, two (Jean-Christophe Chazalette and Ascánder) have since resigned.
In 2006, two new user classifications became widely used: CheckUser and Oversight. CheckUser, which was actually introduced as a formal classification in 2005, is the ability to view and compare the IP addresses of contributors when it is presumed that these users might be involved in sockpuppeting or disruption. The requests for CheckUser page, created in January 2006, has become a key site to visit by users who suspect that sockpuppeting might be occurring. Oversight, meanwhile, is the ability to hide page revisions containing libel, personal informations and in extreme cases, copyright violations; it was introduced in June after the insertion of inappropriate content, particularly on busy pages like the administrators' noticeboard, where deletions caused undue stress on the servers, due to the number of revisions involved. There were 17 users with oversight privileges when it was introduced; there are currently 28 users with these privileges.
A source of controversy in early 2006 was a series of disputes over userboxes. Introduced to the English Wikipedia in late March, 2005, as a way of communicating to other users the languages that a user speaks, userboxes soon became a way to express one's likes and dislikes, talents, and even edit counts. Controversy erupted in late December 2005 when Kelly Martin began deleting userboxes that she deemed controversial or offensive, and those that contained fair use images; two requests for comment were filed in the case.
More controversy occurred when a pro-pedophilia userbox ignited a wheel war. Jimbo Wales temporarily de-sysopped five of the administrators who had been most involved in escalating the situation. An arbitration case was hastily brought in the matter, and just five days after the case was opened, it was closed with the following remedies:
The case was the fastest arbitration case to close with remedies enacted. Although an April arbitration case involving userboxes was filed, and resulted in the desysopping of Guanaco, most of the controversy over userboxes has since faded, as most have been moved from the template namespace into user subpages. Divisive or inflammatory userboxes are rarely seen anymore, and can be speedy deleted under criterion T1.
Through 2005, only five users had been permanently desysopped. 11 users were permanently desysopped in 2006; other than Karmafist and Carnildo, the others are:
2006 was the biggest year Wikipedia has seen in terms of overall progress and growth. It's likely that 2007 will be even bigger, busier and more bustling. Thanks for editing Wikipedia, and thanks for reading the Signpost.