AMA debate

Association of Members' Advocates' deletion debate yields no consensus

A deletion debate focusing on the future of the Association of Members' Advocates, was halted on 3 April 2007 after talks failed to achieve a consensus. The deliberation over the future of the organization resulted in over 500 edits spanning a five day period.

Nominated for deletion on 29 March 2007 (see archived story), the Association of Members' Advocates (AMA) is a controversial organization dedicated to helping users through the dispute resolution process. While their stated goals are positive, the actions and advice given by AMA members has sometimes proven to be controversial due to conflicts with administrators and the Arbitration Committee (ArbCom). When proposing the Association for deletion, Consumed Crustacean wrote that the deletion of the Association "was suggested by multiple people on [the administrators' noticeboard]. Specific reasons include the bureaucratic and lawyering nature of the AMA, and that the most useful of its functions can be served by the help desk. The AMA tends to be more divisive than anything."

Upon the opening of the miscellany for deletion debate, arguments mainly focused on keeping the AMA, or "Esperanzifying" the organization. Esperanza was a Wikipedia group whose "goal was to support the encyclopedia indirectly by encouraging a sense of community." However, the organization was heavily criticized for cabalism, opaqueness, and a lack of consensus building. This led to the group being declared inactive after its second deletion debate on 1 January 2007 (see archived story). In arguing for the retirement of the Association of Members' Advocates Guy further explained the term and summed up the majority of complaints about the organization and its members writing:

Esperanzify, that is, mark [the Association] historical, stub or delete subpages. AMA involvement in cases has, in my experience, been one of two things: useless, or actively unhelpful. I am sure we need a system of some sort, but this is not it. Check through past cases, you will see well-meaning and enthusiastic AMA advocates (a word which in itself is as un-Wikipedia as you get, they should be assistants not advocates) taking up cases on behalf of trolls, and in the process pissing off people who thought they had dealt with the troll, only to find it popping up again with reinforcements. AMA involvement in ArbCom cases has never, as far as I can tell, yielded a good result. I have sent people the way of AMA, and I profoundly regret it. Yes, we undoubtedly need a place where people can go to be assisted through difficult times, but that is not what AMA does, what AMA all too often does is to advocate for problem users rather than explain to them why their behavior is a problem. Please, please shut it down. Esperanza was mostly harmless but distracting; AMA is in many cases actively harmful.

Following continued discussion, the level of discourse devolved into confusion, argument, and comments foreign to the issue at hand. As a result NicholasTurnbull closed the deletion discussion early on 3 April writing:

The result of the debate was no consensus. Although there has been a huge amount of comment here on this [miscellany for deletion] (MfD), more recently that comment has not been germane to the question as to whether this page is deleted. There has been much personal comment and argument entirely unrelated to the question, and it is frankly impossible for this discussion (given its current length) to yield any valuable purpose. Thus, I am closing this discussion now as is clear this discussion is no longer serving the purpose of gaining consensus. Although the simple majority for this discussion was delete/Esperanzify, there is insufficient evidence for Wikipedia consensus to do so. As a consequence, for the time being, I will undertake no closing administrative action regarding these pages. I leave the question to others as to what the next course of action to take will be; I personally feel MfD is probably not the place to discuss this.

During the debate a similar organization, editor assistance, was created to be a sister project, and possible successor, to the AMA. Unlike the AMA, editor assistants are specifically required to inform disruptive and unhelpful users that they are being so, and not to automatically take their side. Assistance is intended to help the user become aware of the best avenues to pursue, what policies affect their situation, and how to express themselves effectively and civilly.

At this point the future of the Association of Members' Advocates' remains uncertain. Following the closure of the deletion debate, a wide range of proposals were made on the Association's discussion page, however it is not yet evident which changes the AMA will choose to adopt, if any.

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