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Arbitration report

ArbCom to appoint CU/OS positions after dumping election results

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By Ncmvocalist

The Arbitration Committee opened no cases this week, leaving two open.

Open cases

[Update: Shortly before this week's Signpost was published, Coren posted this proposed decision - the case is now in the proposed decision phase.]


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  • The Arbcom is, and has been for a long time, drunk on power, arbitrary and often irrational in its decisions, and prone to making decisions based on who they like and dislike; not the merits of the case: certain people cause problems again and again, and get off with nothing but a warning, but if you manage to offend an Arbcom member, watch out! It ought to be scrapped. Adam Cuerden (talk) 11:40, 19 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • I have a lot of respect for Arbcom members. They are just unpaid volunteers and have to make some very difficult decisions that affect a lot of people, and we shouldn't judge them until we've been in that position ourselves. If anyone thinks they could do better I encourage them to apply. -- œ 06:57, 20 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Hear hear Acather96 (talk) 16:39, 21 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • I really dislike the proposed settlement of the Race and Intelligence matter, limiting the percentage of edits on a given topic of involved editors. This is a really dangerous step in the wrong direction. Most good content contributors (as opposed to typo-fixers) are topically focused, I contend. Carrite (talk) 20:52, 20 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
    • Really, it's kind of a step down from other editing restrictions -- they usually require that zero percent of a user's edits be in a particular topic. However, and of course, "number of edits" is not really a good metric by which to measure anything; we all know they can be artificially inflated or deflated as one wishes. Powers T 01:17, 21 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
      • Either the users in question deserve to be banned or they don't (that obviously can and should be evaluated one user at a time). But "half-banning" someone makes no sense at all, unless you're going to tell them not to do various menial semi-automated tasks or find some way to avoid counting such menial tasks.

--NYKevin @756, i.e. 17:08, 1 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Post-publication copyedit

I've had a go at copyediting the report on the CUOS elections. The text mixed up the two points (review of old election and call for candidates for August) with the result that it wasn't clear to a reader what had actually gone on. half the coverage of the first point was mixed into the second point. There were also some wordings that seemed out of place ("tried to justify"?). Last time I looked improvements to Signpost reporting were open to all, and past articles have been edited after publication to improve their fidelity. Hopefully the copyedits make this report more faithful to the actual event and more informative to Signpost readers.

Apologies Ncm - hopefully though you will agree this is a good reflection on the sources. FT2 (Talk | email) 14:40, 23 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I preferred FT2's version (it seemed more neutral), it has been reverted. –xenotalk 14:52, 23 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Until now, the feedback I received since publication appears to suggest that users have made sense of what is being said without your editing. I don't doubt there will always be room for improvement, and I welcome all feedback, but not to the extent where you can substantially change the text of a report that I hold responsibility over. If there may have been a major issue in the reporting of something, (for example, in another report, we (Signpost) once reported something inaccurately), we have and will leave a note to this effect - directing readers to those issues so that they can make sense of what is happening without altering our original text. Even to that extent, I don't agree that there is an issue here (and I certainly haven't received any correspondence from an active arbitrator regarding any concerns to this effect; they know how to reach me and I know how to reach them). I also don't think it was so messy or that you should have edited it given your stance no the issue, but I'll certainly take your feedback in relation to the standards that you expected. In any case, this appears to be a case where I should clarify something.
Please note that this is not a Committee noticeboard - this is Signpost; a publication that is not only independent of ArbCom's office (and its previous members), but one that was published half a week ago (most users have already read through it and come to their own views, regardless of the merits for changing the text now). Please also note that Signpost is not another vehicle for merely singing the exact tunes that are sung at the Committee noticeboard because that's what the Committee, or users who support the Committee's position (on a particular issue), want others to hear or ideally to agree with. Similarly, Signpost is not a vehicle that merely sings the same tunes that are sung by users who criticise the Committee on the noticeboard talk, because that's what users who oppose the Committee's position (on a particular issue) want others to hear or ideally to agree with. Signpost has never pretended that it is a replacement for anything, and holds no obligations in that regard - it will, through its journalists, certainly try to take care not to misstate or misrepresent a comment, a view or an issue (and any concerns should be forwarded to the relevant journalist), but it will not hold some unreal and stringent alliance to statements that were in themselves flawed (either due to omissions or copyediting in themselves). Users have the opportunity to look at links and diffs that are provided in the report to ascertain for themselves (to come to their own views) about what is happening, why it is happening, how it is happening, where it is happening and when it is happening (adjust "is happening" to "has happened" for things that have already occurred). What was written was within the discretion of the journalist (and others who looked at it the day after it was published agreed). Ncmvocalist (talk) 16:10, 23 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I'm still not sure what you mean to say when you write the results were "dumped". –xenotalk 16:51, 23 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I meant that the results were disposed of similar to the way waste is disposed of because they were no longer considered to be needed (or have value) in serving the purpose that they were meant to. I appreciate that there may be debate over whether recycling occurred or should have occurred, but that's something for readers to consider. Sorry for the delay in response. Ncmvocalist (talk) 20:35, 23 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
It seems to me that the results were accepted and implemented as originally planned. The one user who got through was given the rights, the other users were not. "Dumped" just seems out of place. Jmho. –xenotalk 13:16, 24 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I appreciate that, but I think you'll find that others disagree with that view too because the politics of it is clear. The elections and its results served the purpose of filling up to 6 OSers positions and 4 CUsers positions - the results deemed that in accordance with the requirements set by ArbCom, only 1 of these positions could be filled at this time; nobody finds issue with this. Would the results have still been deemed unsatisfactory if ArbCom had set more sensible requirements (such as, for example, avoiding the use of SecurePoll)? This was what people kept thinking about. The people who disagree with your view will say this: if the elections+results had value in serving the purpose that they were meant to, ArbCom would not have made a call for more candidates, with specific encouragement to the same unsuccessful candidates, barely 2 months after the community voted in the previous election. What this means, in practice, whether the politicians of Wikipedia like it or not, or agree with it or not, is that the elections set by ArbCom+its results have been dumped in favour of another (former) process+its results. Ncmvocalist (talk) 03:31, 25 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
IMHO you're missing the point. The results of the elections haven't been dumped. The results have been accepted but only appointed one member. However as the number of people appointed is considered too low (I presume) for their effective functioning, arbcom has abandoned (dumped if you will) that method of selecting CU and oversighters and is going to appoint more people in addition to those elected in the accepted results of the election. Whether or not you agree with the arbcom's decision to appoint additional members or abandon/dump the election process doesn't change the fact the previous results were accepted and acted upon by the arbcom. In fact, it's even possible the arbcom may use the results in reaching their decision on who to appoint (I don't know if they've commented on that), which doesn't exactly speak for 'results have been dumped'. As I've said you need to differentiate between results and process/method. BTW, I don't really understand how SecurePoll comes in to it. If SecurePoll hadn't been used, it's easily possible the same result would have happened. In fact it's even possible no one would have been elected. It's true by not using SecurePoll, arbcom or someone else could have analysed any comments left and used those to help them make a decision on who to appoint, which would arguably be more useful then just analysing the number of support and oppose from the SecurePoll election. But even so, if the non-securepoll election had required 70% support, and this was only achieved for 1 or no candidates, then any decision by the arbcom, or the community, or whatever to later change the method/process of selectng candidates would be a change. And if the community had not come to consensus on re-using the results in any way or otherwise appointing/election more CU+oversighters in some way, then we would be in the same boat. The arbcom would have acted on the results of this non-securepoll, and then would have had to decide in some way to appoint additional members, perhaps by using the results of the election to help them, perhaps not. It seems clear to me the issue here is the number of people elected is was not sufficient, not that the arbcom wasn't happy with the results and that could have happened whatever method of election you'd used. Of course if you hadn't use an election method, things would be different again, but the above comment was about the use of SecurePoll, not whether an election was the best method. P.S. I didn't vote in the CU&O election. In fact I didn't even know it was ongoing. Nor did I participate in the RFC, again didn't know it was ongoing. And to be honest, I don't really care that much either way how they're appointed/elected. I simply dislike things which IMHO are clearly untrue or strongly misleading. Nil Einne (talk) 23:07, 17 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
BTW, as I said above, I have no idea if the arbcom will use the results at all in making a decision on who to appoint for CU/oversight. If they have made it clear they will not, and the signpost entry was trying to say this, it was an incredibly poor wording. A far better wording would be something like:
The Committee also announced that no further appointments will be made on the basis of the results of the May 2010 CheckUser and Oversight election; those results were deemed as unsatisfactory (see Signpost coverage) and will not be used as part of any future decisions. Instead, the Committee has made a call for CheckUser and Oversight applications from administrators only. Additionally, the Committee encouraged unsuccessful candidates from the election to reapply.
or probably better
The Committee also announced that no further appointments will be made on the basis of the results of the May 2010 CheckUser and Oversight election; those results were deemed as unsatisfactory (see Signpost coverage). Instead, the Committee has made a call for CheckUser and Oversight applications from administrators only. Additionally, the Committee encouraged unsuccessful candidates from the election to reapply but has stated the results of the May 2010 election will not play a part in their decisions.
or something of that sort, which conveys what is intended i.e. the arbcom isn't going to use the results in making their decision, but doesn't misleadingly suggest they've been dumped. In fact I'm not particularly happy about the 'unsatisfactory' part but I'm lazy to tackle that and it isn't that bad.
Nil Einne (talk) 00:08, 18 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Additional criticism

I have to say "The Committee tried to justify this decision on the basis of its evaluation" is IMHO a rather offensive and clearly non neutral wording in my eyes. It seems to imply that the Committee tried to justify their decision, but failed. Simply saying "The Committee justified this decision" is far more neutral. Note that this doesn't imply they successfully justified this decision to my reading. It simply factually states this is the reason they gave for to justify their decision. Whether or not people agree with this justification, should be up to the reader, not the signpost writers to decide.

To use an example, if someone were to say "The Bush administration justified their decision to invade Iraq based on (alleged) evidence of WMD" this wouldn't imply the reader should accept this justification. In fact, nowadays, it would be common for someone to say something like "The Bush administration justified their decision to invade Iraq based on evidence of WMD. However no WMD were found in Iraq after the invasion. In addition, evidence later emerge that the Bush administration had mislead people in their justification." Clearly in this case, the writer is suggesting their justification was dubious, yet they don't need to write "tried to justify".

Also take from this what you will. I actually started this earlier but decided it was unduly harsh and served no purpose but reading ncmvocalist comment above, I've changed my mind. I rarely read the signpost. Some comments on Talk:Main Page recently made me wonder whether I should. But frankly seeing this I'm thinking I'm right not to read it since it seems that the signpost clearly doesn't even try to be neutral instead aims to reflect the bias of the writer and says silly and clearly untrue things I guess because of the personal dislike of the writer for something that's happening. Note that I'm not suggesting that the signpost should mirror what the arbcom says. Instead, they should aim for neutrality. It's great to present meaningful criticism, but the signpost shouldn't take a side on which one is correct and they definitely shouldn't snidely suggest one side is wrong as it seems from the discussions here and this signpost entry is the norm and accepted practice.

In other words, let the reader decide, don't try to make up their minds for them. Or do the same thing you will do when writing an article. Also what most reputable journalism sources do. While this sort of stuff may be popular with Fox News, I think you'll find it's the sort of thing which for a lot of readers just offends them and makes them far less likely to actually agree with you. As I've said above, I have no particular care about how people are elected/appointed/whatever to be CU/oversighters and AFAIK have never even participated in an election or RFC yet all this signpost entry and associated discussions on it in this page have made me do is feel that the arbcom must have made the right decision.

The funny thing is, as I've said above, I didn't know about the elections etc. I might have taken part had I known. This, not knowing but may be would have taken part if I had is quite common. Some of this probably appears in my watchlist but I almost never check it out. I probably should check it out WP:CENT a bit more. But even so, something like the signpost may be useful to get to know what's going on. As I said earlier, it was something I was thinking of a few weeks back but it's become clear to me it's not. So I'm going to continue to be in the dark. I'm guessing I'm not the only one. This is IMHO a sad thing for wikipedia.

If anyone is interested in starting something which will aim to tell me what's going on in wikipedia, presenting multiple sides were appropriate, but not aim to tell me what I should think, then do leave me a message, it would be welcome. Perhaps even better would be for signpost writers to consider whether trying to tell me what to think alienating me and likely many others in the process and therefore effectively leaving me in the dark is good for wikipedia. Or whether it may be better to neutrally tell me what's going on, neutrally presenting criticism where appropriate and letting me make up my own mind.

P.S. Perhaps the reason why limited criticism was received of the wording is because many people have given up on reading the signpost, and even those that haven't don't feel there's much point offering criticism since it will just be dismissed (particularly if they don't offer it within a day of publication or whatever) as the earlier criticism by others seems to have been?

Nil Einne (talk) 23:52, 17 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Related discussion: Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia Signpost#Ncmvocalist needs to step down or be replaced. –xenotalk 00:13, 18 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
As an addition I'm please to see Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2010-07-26/Arbitration report clarification is offered in the next entry about the concerns. While this is a good thing and reduces my annoyance (I probably wouldn't have bothered to post the long rant above about the signpost if I'd seen this earlier), clarification should be offered in this entry as well since there's no guarantee readers are going to read the next entry (I clearly didn't until now). That's one of the good things about electronic media, you don't have to wait until the next edition to offer clarification.
BTW, while I still clearly have concerns that this sort of thing happens in the first place I admit it seems the signpost isn't quite as bad as I first thought from this entry so perhaps I will start to read it. However this should also be an important message on why getting it right in the first place is important, and offering clarification in the current entry is wise. First impressions count and there's no guarantee a reader is going to see the clarification.
Nil Einne (talk) 00:29, 18 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
In the interest of full disclosure, I realised I probably should also mention I don't really have the dislike for 'arbcom power' that some people have so am usually not overly worried about that sort of thing. Also I am somewhat of a believer in representative democracy and do somewhat believe there's a risk if you try to get people to make too many votes, many of them just don't care enough so they either don't vote leaving own a small number of self selected voters, or they spend next to no time considering their vote and may make a bad decision. I'm not trying to have a debate about these points, simply mentioning it to acknowledge I do of course have biases which undoutedly influence my opinions Nil Einne (talk) 00:42, 18 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]


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