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  • How can we distinguish between a serious commitment to ending bullying, and the feckless hand-wringing “we’re trying, but..” that has been so familiar by the infamous GGTF, Gamergate, Lightbreather cases? MarkBernstein (talk) 18:50, 1 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
If nobody else asks the candidates, I will ask them directly "Are you willing to take serious steps to stop bullying of editors on Wikipedia? especially bullying directed toward women editors? Is this your number 1 priority?" I think this will help distinguish between those committed to a solution and the hand-wavers. Smallbones(smalltalk) 18:55, 1 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
A good idea. Last year, I asked the candidates what I thought were softball questions about civility and gender and I was astonished to see how many of them flailed about or responded in ways that were appalling. Gamaliel (talk) 19:08, 1 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • I think there are 7/15 slots up this time, unless there are some resignations... Carrite (talk) 19:16, 1 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
"For 2015, seven current arbitrators will remain on the committee. The committee will continue to have 15 seats, leaving eight vacant seats with two-year terms to be filled in this election."
Smallbones(smalltalk) 19:48, 1 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
There are seven expiring two-year terms, plus another arbitrator is leaving the Committee a year early which explains the eighth vacancy. Newyorkbrad (talk) 23:29, 1 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Correct, Euryalus announced that he or she will be stepping down at the end of the year. Mike VTalk 00:49, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • The problem I foresee with this approach is that many editors will link "anti-bullying" to editors who promote civility which, to some folks, is a cardinal sin. You wouldn't think that encouraging civility and politeness, even in the midst of heated disagreement would be a bad thing but to some editors it's equated with a disparaging term, the civility police. This notion has tripped up many discussions and caused them to go off-track as some believe civility actually promotes censorship which is not the point at all. Liz Read! Talk! 00:47, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    • The decision to abandon enforcement of civility opened the door. That decision seems irreversible with strong support of most if not all, sitting arbitrators and the community. User:Fred Bauder Talk 03:22, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
      • @Liz: - We have to have faith in the community. Sure there are groups boys around here who like to joke around and don't intend to be obnoxious, but I believe the very large majority - even of the immature boys here - know the difference between joking around and systematically harassing a large part of humanity. The very large majority don't like bullying because they have, at times, been subjected to it themselves. Most people know the difference between right and wrong and are willing to act on it if they see the way forward. Have faith and respect the community.
      • @Fred Bauder: Perhaps the sitting arbs would rather not bother with standing up to the bullies, but I just cannot agree that the community supports ignoring the problem. Smallbones(smalltalk) 04:25, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
      • To be fair, we should acknowledge that bullies are not just those who use a few naughty words. Bullies also include a not insignificant number of "editors" who act as though they were as pure as the driven snow while aggressively progressing their own agendas, as well as any editor who feels that they are "punching up", or that it is appropriate to do so. We could all (and I do include myself) do a lot worse than having a long, hard look in the mirror. Sometimes the best way to address bullying is to simply stop. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 09:36, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • Please don't say "don't vote neutral." I'll vote neutral if, after much deliberation, I neither support nor oppose the candidate. I'll also vote neutral if I don't have an informed opinion on a given candidate by the time I cast my vote. If, as it sometimes happens, life intervenes and I don't have time to have an informed opinion on any candidate I may skip the election altogether rather than "vote neutral" across the board. Ditto if I do some or all of my homework and still can't support or oppose any candidate which I had time to research. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 21:18, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • I think if you asked most sitting arbs if they were committed to stopping bullying, they'd answer in the affirmative. It's a lot easier though, to sit on the sidelines and say "This is what should happen", and a lot harder to make the same call when you're going to have to cop the responsibility and consequences. Lankiveil (speak to me) 02:10, 3 November 2015 (UTC).[reply]

ClueBot for talk pages?

Wikipedia has benefited for a long time now from the services of ClueBot and its descendants to protect content from vandalism. Maybe we should think about whether a similar artificial intelligence solution, using an edit filter and/or tags, could also be viable for catching problematic talk page interactions: Wikipedia should value its editors as much as its readers: without editors, there is no content. If you have suggestions or concerns related to this idea, there is an ongoing discussion at Wikipedia:Village_pump_(proposals)#Proposed:_Tag_.2F_edit_filter_for_talk_page_abuse. Thanks. Andreas JN466 21:21, 1 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

This is a great and potentially revolutionary idea. Instead of putting the onus on editors, especially new ones, to find out how to request assistance and negotiate Wikipedia's dramaboards, help can come to them. As long as humans reviewed the bot's results, I don't see any downside. Gamaliel (talk) 21:24, 1 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Except it's not anything different than what we do now. People read talk page comments. Will a bot somehow give it more "gravitas?" "The bot said so" is not really a stronger argument than what goes on now. And no, the chance that it will be used to bring "help" to new users is as naive as saying posting to ANI will bring "help." More likely it will attract drama bullies looking to wield the ban hammer. It will be like a tool that brings ANI to every discussion. Reviews of ANI and it reveals that it is not a welcoming place for new editors and most new editors learn about "boomerangs." There will be a new talk page summary coment though: "rv per bot."
Really the first step would be to eliminate offensive words. If we can't even agree on a framework of "offensive," a bot will just derail discussion into the weeds. Lightbreather was bullied by the "C" word because she found it offensive - intolerably offensive. That there is still an argument about that means we face a fundamental divide that has to be bridged before bullying can even be addressed. It's like trying to battle racism but having ground rules that allow the "N" word. Bullying can be intensely personal so Lightbreathers offense being greater than others in the discussion is not an excuse. Her venture to ANI where that word was used is a preview of the drama a bot will bring to talk pages - hordes of people arguing about whether a victim is really a victim. I don't think it will help unless more fundamental issues are solved. --DHeyward (talk) 18:54, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Reading something like this makes me really wonder what Wikipedia has become. Just to recap, you want a bot to censor naughty words because they might be bullying. Did Wikipedia get bought by Tumblr or something? Gigs (talk) 00:17, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
No, that's a strawman. A bot will just provide a list where such words are used, which will then be checked by human volunteers. Vandalism bots do the same thing without human intervention. Is Cluebot a censor machine? Gamaliel (talk) 00:24, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Gigs, you nailed it. Just as a broken clock can be right twice a day, so too can conservatives, who correctly warned us of the "creeping authoritarianism" liberals and progressives can unleash if given the chance. Viriditas (talk) 01:08, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
So when are you going to post to the Village Pump and demand they deactivate Cluebot? Gamaliel (talk) 01:19, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Bots can flag it for review but what we've already seen is there isn't even an agreement on what is civil or harassing. Without that, I'm not sure what a review will accomplish. Clear-cut cases are already handled, marginal cases create drama. Until we teach the difference between "censored" and "civil", there will always be someone arguing for their "right" to speak "truth" to "power." Failing to see how offensive the "C" can be in certain cultures (and its total lack of necessity in civil and collegian discourse) speaks to infantilism of the community. No bot will cure that. In the course of my life, I've learned some choice Hindi words that are not polite in mixed company. But simply because the words mean nothing to me and are not offensive to me, doesn't give me carte blanche license to use those words. The "no, no, no, it's okay because I wasn't offended" is nonsense. --DHeyward (talk) 01:07, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
But besides, as was pointed out below, the superficially polite people who can abuse our processes to bully people are far more insidious and damaging than some random insults. Gigs (talk) 01:22, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
The problem is not the editors using those words. The problem is that unlike every modern organization, Wikipedia tolerates those words and the disrespect of others. Until you do a current, community wide civility assessment survey, you won't be able to gauge the extent of the problem. But I already know what the survey is going to show. It will show that admins and arbs and all the rest of the bureaucrats are out of step with our civility policies and guidelines and have allowed the problem to fester over the years because they can't be bothered. You folks have elected the wrong people and you've appointed the wrong people, so now you need to lie in the bed you've made. Don't you dare blame other editors for your monumental failures. Viriditas (talk) 01:21, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Self-government and self-responsibility

This essay is a nice fantasy best suited for the gullible, but history shows otherwise. There is no elected body of people that have ever changed a single damn thing to improve the lives of individuals. All change comes from within and radiates outward, from our close relationships with others to society at large. Until people take responsibility nothing will change. This begins with the author who says that he never really considered himself a feminist. I will not be placing my hope in any elected body of people but in myself and other people who I interact with on a daily basis, because that is the only thing that matters. Everything else is a distraction from the responsibility we have to each other. All that is necessary for gender-based discrimination to continue is for good men and women to do nothing when they encounter it. The solution is not arbcom but the will to act by the individual. Even consensus is not enough to stop it because groups can decide to discriminate as they see fit. So in closing, I voice my objection to the idea that the solution exists outside of ourselves and the choices that we make. Arbcom is not the solution and never will be the solution. Viriditas (talk) 02:40, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Of course the main way forward is for individuals to stand up to the bullies. I'm asking people to stand up to the bullies as a group. I don't agree that "There is no elected body of people that have ever changed a single damn thing to improve the lives of individuals" People can and do work together all the time. Wikipedia is a prime example. Let's just work together in an even better way. Smallbones(smalltalk) 04:25, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
The way forward is to weaken bureaucracy and strengthen individual decision making. Wikipedia has focused far too much time and energy on building bureaucracy that has become more and more distant from the actual needs and requirements of the editors who use this site. It's almost 2016. We are now in the era of decentralized, direct democracy made possible by instantaneous communication and feedback. We are no longer in the realm of following leaders and organizations down blind alleys that lead nowhere. The model of this era is organically complex, fluid, non-hierarchical, self-organizing and emergent. Ironically, the old model of bureaucracy used a computational model that time and time again biology has disproved. The model of our time is a living system not an artificial intelligence, and this necessitates allowing the system to function on its own until homeostasis is reached. Instead what we see, time and time again, is a bloated, uncompromising bureaucracy trying to lobotomize, surgically remove, and extract the most important elements while ignoring their essential function. Stop building bureaucracy and start building relationships between editors that reinforces community. And stop saying Wikipedia isn't a social network. It is and it must function as one to retain female editors. Viriditas (talk) 04:47, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I don't disagree with the idea that we need to "start building relationships between editors that reinforces community" but I'm not sure how that alone will help create and reinforce positive behaviors. Bureaucracy is not ideal, but almost every rule ever created was because some idiot did something to make that rule necessary. How is will a sense of community alone help fend off people determined to be terrible? Gamaliel (talk) 05:01, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Lord Acton? The evidence shows that the "people determined to be terrible" are those with power. By decentralizing power, you eliminate the problem. Why would you want to harm someone if that action would only end up harming you? When there is an imbalance of power, the distance between a harmful action and the victim is that much greater, externalizing the risks and the harm. At the end of the day this is about values and conflicts over values. Do you value knowledge and knowledge building, or hat and trinket collecting? Power and prestige, or sharing and self respect? Viriditas (talk) 05:17, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Whether it's the abolition of slavery, the introduction of old age pensions, the plimsoll line and other health and safety legislation, removing lead from petrol or banning children from being chimney sweeps, history has shown that elected bodies can change things in ways that improve the lives of individuals. To think otherwise is an extreme libertarian or anarchist political view that ignores many successful reforms by elected bodies. Of course elected bodies can prove inept, and Arbcom has often got things wrong, but the alternative of accepting that all individuals are free to act as they choose is to yield this site to the trolls, spammers and vandals, and in short order even the spammers would abandon it once the audience had gone. ϢereSpielChequers 09:17, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
All of your examples demonstrate my point. All individuals are free to act as they choose. In the past, many people freely engaged in slavery, allowed the elderly to live and die in poverty, gave corporations carte blanche to pollute, etc. Elected bodies allowed these things to happen. History shows that reform came about due to the efforts of individuals, not elected bodies, who are always the last to officiate and "legislate" what society has already decided. You have confused cause and effect. The pomp and circumstance of institutional formality comes after individuals have devoted and given their lives for these causes, in most cases against the consensus of the elected bodies who allowed them to happen in the first place. Your version of history is completely at odds with the arrow of time. Elected bodies of representatives are completely irrelevant in the Internet age of direct democracy. You're free of course, to keep trying to bring back the 18th century, but I think most of us have moved on. Government works only for the government. Few if any of us benefit from "representation". It may be difficult for you to accept these facts, but politics can and does evolve. We don't need arbcom or any other kind of bureaucratic process on Wikipedia, but it seems like a great number of people here are religiously devoted to creating and perpetuating unnecessary bureaucracy by any means necessary as a way to ignore the real problems and issues. It's essentially a shell game. Vote all you want, nothing is going to change until people change. Real change takes place at the level of the individual, not with laws nor with governments. Viriditas (talk) 09:57, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Being a fan of subsidiarity, I am all for solving social problems "at the most immediate (or local) level consistent with their solution." And I hope that you will consider organizing a local user group to do just that. You may make many wonderful friends that way. However, your local group will only be able to stick up for you against bullies at your local events.
It's pretty crazy to insist that the community should refuse to designate participants (such as the Arbcom, administrators, or WMF representatives) as having responsibility and authority to assist volunteers who are being bullied. Fighting things out as individuals has had some nasty results, some of which spill over onto other websites, and impact people in their offline lives. Basic order and civilized behavior is not optional if you want to be an appealing place for volunteers.
As for elected bodies: some volunteers here appear to think that elected governmental bodies are powerless to affect what happens on the Wikipedia websites because the websites are located in "cyberspace." Dream on, folks! If we don't solve our problems ourselves and elected governmental bodies have to step in, I can guarantee you it will not be fun. --Djembayz (talk) 23:45, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
And here we see the problem on display. I am "crazy" for objecting to an idea and proposing one of my own. Is this your version of civility? Perhaps you meant that my idea was crazy, in which case you would be attacking the idea, not the person. But what I've said is not crazy at all. Running to mommy arb or daddy admin for help when the big bad editor is uncivil is not a solution to anything. The solution is to teach individuals how to deal with and mitigate conflict and disputes on their own with tools and resources available to all. Is that so crazy? Perhaps it is to someone brainwashed by the authoritarian aesthetic that seems to have taken hold of this site. If you put down your glass of Kool-Aid for just a moment, you'll realize that instead of giving people fish we need to be teaching them how to fish. And when people can solve disputes on the level of the individual, disputes at the higher levels will resolve, from the bottom up. You've been deliberately misled into thinking that leadership and problem solving are a top-down process. It isn't and it never has been. Viriditas (talk) 21:01, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
It is. Your proposal is long on principle and short on concrete methods for dealing with these issues. It would be a recipe for chaos that puts the onus for dealing with these issues on victims of incivility and harassment and gives the perpetrators free reign. Gamaliel (talk) 21:24, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Concrete methods start with you. For example, in a previous discussion, many editors expressed displeasure and unease with your use of the word "mansplaining", yet you continued to brazenly use it, right in their face, so to speak. So if you can't be civil yourself, I don't expect you to understand the problem. You keep projecting the issue on to others and for others to clean up because you won't take responsibility for your own contribution to the problem. Viriditas (talk) 21:32, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Are you familiar with the phrase "tone policing"? Because that's what you're doing here. Gamaliel (talk) 21:53, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Are you familiar with the phrase "old ideas die hard"? Your continued claims of "chaos" fly in the face of research and innovation. Urban areas, for example, are removing traffic lights and signs to improve the flow of traffic. According to your argument, this should lead to chaos. Why doesn't it? Viriditas (talk) 22:03, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Show me a new idea and I will consider it. Gamaliel (talk) 22:27, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, if you have some specific technique that makes it possible for individuals to defend ourselves against bullies on this website without turning to others for help, it would be very useful. What is it? --Djembayz (talk) 23:32, 6 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I can tell you as someone who was on the committee when some of the cases referenced were being handled that I was not pleased with some of the results. In fact, there was one case where I was 'in fairly strong opposition to the results and at odds with other members of the committee about how to proceed.

On the other hand, people need to understand that arbcom is not an investigative body, it si a deliberative body. In other words, an arbcom decision is only as good as the evidence submitted. Sometimes there is not enough evidence to support a strong finding or sanction. Sometimes there are moutains and moutains of evidence, but much of it is irrelevant. If arbcom had their own investigative wing that could put in the hundreds of hours needed to thoroughly research each case on their own and gather their own evidence, they would produce more even results. As it is, they are simply volunteers like everyone else and can barely keep up with their workload.

It is not my intention with these remarks to defend some of the more questionable decisions that have come out of the committee in the last few years, but to point out that the problem is not nearly as simple as this piece would have us believe. Different arbs would probably produce different results, but do we actually know that they would be better results? I think not. Beeblebrox (talk) 19:50, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

First, though ArbCom has limited abilities, it is far from clear that they have used the resources available or sought the resources that were needed. A small deliberative body which, for example, decides to act on the theory that Gamergate is about gender, really might be expected to seek expertise about gender before proceeding. A small deliberative body which decides to act on the theory that the Lightbreather case concerned harassment might have sought expertise about harassment. Consultation would have helped prevent blunders which continue to damage the project.
Second, does ArbCom use even the evidence placed before it? In the current AE2 case, it has indulged endless arguments to the effect that discussion of The Atlantic required that an editor be able to reply on-wiki, even though such a reply violated an Arbcom sanction. In contrast, another editor, Lightbreather, requested permission from Arbcom to address the same question a week ago, and has apparently not received even the courtesy of an acknowledgment. The disparate treatment complained of in The Atlantic continues, it seems.
Third, collusion and coordination have been the consistent, if silent, subtext of much of ArbCom’s recent work. Instead of stepping back, observing the big picture, and addressing the true problem, Arbcom has consistently chosen to pretend that all problems stem from personal misbehavior and can be addressed through personal solutions, as if the source of all problems were childish or deranged behavior. Many problems faced by the project stem from well-planned and well-executed conspiracies and campaigns conducted by dedicated operatives; you cannot hope to fix these with tools adapted for disciplining misbehaving children.
Finally, while ArbCom claims to base its decisions on evidence, it appears increasingly clear that evidence is beside the point: civility -- as Eric Corbett has pointed out so effectively -- is whatever your allies (or ArbCom’s) say it is. When is a cunt not a cunt? We now have thousands of words on this edifying subject! When is a block not a block? When the blocked party has influential friends! Wikipedia has become a place of men, not rules. When we equate harassment and the resistance to harassment, and when we demand that perpetrators and victims alike behave blamelessly, we ask too much; when we do nothing about offsite attacks and then demand that victims either offer no defense (lowering their profile as ArbCom intended to require) or offer a defense that is studiously civil to their attackers, scrupulously neutral in tone and substance, and never exhibits a trace of battleground behavior or ownership, we ask too much. We are asking volunteers to act as if they were saints in the face of attacks for which they were unprepared -- and then further demand that their behavior be judged as saintly by their dedicated opponents. MarkBernstein (talk) 23:45, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I don't use the c-word, I don't try to retrieve it for discourse, and I frankly don't find it useful. That's me. Now others, however, seem to use it to offend other people, perhaps for the shock value and classless humor, I don't know. Whatever the reason, we know others use it. We also know that some editors want to control the words other people use. Maybe it's because they want to increase the participation of a certain group of people. It doesn't matter for the sake of this example, but we know that some people seek to control others. Now, we also know that there is consensus for civility, decorum, and maintaining a healthy environment. I'm on board with that as are most people. So what's the problem? This is about civility enforcement, which the community has refused to do, time and time again. So what are we taking about? The same old arguments, going over the same old ground, with no solution in sight. Now stop for a minute and think what would happen if you taught people how to deal with incivility? Just think about that for a moment. If editors had a toolset from which to draw from, civility would form at the lowest levels, between editors, and percolate to WikiProjects, noticeboards, and talk pages. If you want people to be civil, teach them. Show them the benefits and what they will gain by it. Pointing them to policy or guideline pages isn't working. Gamaliel, Smallbones, and others should have spent their valuable time selling civility to the community, instead they have squandered it by asking us to put our faith and trust in the behavior of other people. That avoids the problem once again. It is our collective behavior that is the problem and needs to be addressed. Stop asking other people to do it for you. Viriditas (talk) 21:22, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Of course, some -- many -- editors don't want civility at all. Some want to be free to drive their opponents off-wiki and to silence their critics through threats and extortion. Some hope to be free to drive opponents off simply by making editing unpleasant for them. Some hope to drive their critics to distraction through endlessly repetitive reposting of the same discredited arguments, time and again, for months or years on end -- all while being scrupulously “civil” in the finest passive-aggressive tradition. We all know it, we all see it. We do nothing to stop it; in fact, we encourage it by banning the victims, making the perpetrators unblockable, and maintaining the fiction that tag-teaming and offsite coordination are unwelcome. Unless we start enforcing the pillars with an even hand, and unless we end the current practice of applying rules only to the powerless, we’ll see more, not less, harassment. The cure for that will ultimately be governmental regulation; you won’t like it, but have a wonderful day!. MarkBernstein (talk) 22:44, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
There's a big difference between enforcing civility by taking a zero tolerance stand (which for the last decade I've been here, admins refuse to do to the detriment of the community) and issuing fatwas. You need to start blaming your holy and exalted guvmint for the problem, and stop blaming editors who live under their failed policies. Viriditas (talk) 00:22, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Now we're going to start religious bullying, too? I thought that was limited to off-wiki harassers, who regularly regale me with a variety of anti-Semitic slurs. I do blame editors for sexual harassment, however, despite the government’s occasional shortcomings. MarkBernstein (talk) 00:29, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Mark, using a figure of speech is not "religious bullying" in any form. I'm getting the sense that you enjoy playing the "I'm taking offense at your offense" card to win sympathy for your position. I don't blame any editors for harassment, I blame the admins and arbs who should take a zero tolerance stand when it comes to incivility, just like every major, modern organization. Please leave your ramblings about some kind of government control out of this. I'm not the least bit interested in your Sharia-like enforcement proposals so keep it to yourself. Viriditas (talk) 00:40, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
"Ramblings" is an interestingly civil choice of words here, much as "fatwa" was above. You'll note that my Congresswoman.has been a leader on these issues; see, for example, her prominent statement (and prominent invitation) in the wake of the SXSW Gamergate debacle. If Wikipedia cannot rid itself of harassers--and all indications are that it cannot or will not-- we'll take steps to see that the harassment ends.MarkBernstein (talk) 05:29, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Seriously though. Congress passes laws. This sounds a lot like a legal threat. (talk) 05:52, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I'm increasingly finding Mark's rambling rants indistinguishable from the kind of raging fatwas issued by fanatical clerics. Is Mark trying to discredit feminists by pretending to support them? Viriditas (talk) 06:00, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
It's good that you are keeping this issue in perspective. Gamaliel (talk) 13:56, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Am I reading this right? You're defending the ayatollah's Mark's threat to sic the FBI on Wikipedia editors? Have you gone crazy? Viriditas (talk) 00:16, 5 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
"That’s a nice store window you have here. It would be a shame if...."[1] I know it when I see it. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 06:58, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
To be fair, it was brave of Ms. Clark to risk the lives of the "‘‘SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community’'" panelists in the face of threatened violence. The show must go on. --DHeyward (talk) 07:55, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
What I find problematic is to continually use the example of Lightbreather or any other individual that's been banned, as a one dimensional whipping post for all that's wrong with Wikipedia. Lightbreather was certainly not the only person offended by the "C" word. Nor is she the only feminist. As GorillaWarfare highlighted, she is not the only one who has been harassed, sexually or otherwise. She did, however, earn her site ban. It has nothing to do with her being a woman or a feminist, rather it had a lot to do with how Lightbreather behaved. It is the same for Eric Corbett. He gets blocked rather regularly but it's for his actions and reputation, not because he's a man or because of his choice words. He's a polarizing figure just as Lightbreather is so it's not surprising that they earn very polarizing sanctions. It's a long and drawn out history that cannot be summed up in pithy soundbites, rather these individuals end up exhausting the communities patience. Claiming her site ban is because of her stance on feminism or intolerance of harassment or "tone" does a grave disservice to women and feminists that manage not to get site banned and still fight harassment and still uphold their feminist beliefs. "Works and plays well with others" is the key learning from Kindergarten that underpins civlitiy and that's really all anyone needs to survive here. If an editor finds themselves constantly at AE or ANI, they should indeed "lower their profile" but it has nothing to do with their ideological stance. Anybody that's played the whack-a-mole game knows this basic rule. Topic bans by their nature are enforced "profile lowering" and "tone policing" by fiat. --DHeyward (talk) 22:47, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
As a new arb this year, I am acutely aware that there are some inevitable limits to what arb com can do. For one thing, it has to act with evidence. This obviously limits its ability to act on internal conviction, but it also limits its ability to act on the basis of prejudice and rumor. For another, it acts by majority decision. This limits the influence of the few people who may happen to be in the right in a particular situation but cannot convince the others, but it eliminates the first-mover effect in other processes, where the person who is most convinced they are right and quickest on the trigger can get their own way. It cannot make policy, as a limitation imposed by the community, and this prevents it doing right when the community has not come to a conclusion. But this also prevents it going its own independent way and dominating everything. A key example of such a policy limitation is the community policy that avoiding outing is more important than avoiding disruption or even harassment. To the extent the community is willing to change that, a great deal more could be done.
There are also some limitations that are not inevitable, but self-imposed: the committee tries to decide cases on the immediate issues, not the fundamental problems, and in this sense resembles most conventional judicial systems. The committee tends to judge by the letter of the policy rather than the intent, and is not always willing to use discretion, and therefore sometimes creates more injustice than it need to, again resembling many judicial systems. The committee keeps most votes internal, to avoid pressure on individual arbitrators, but this can give a false impression of unanimity and make it seem hopeless to accomplish changes. These three factors can be changed by the community, by electing arbs who feel differently about them. (I personally would welcome such changes.) DGG ( talk ) 23:15, 5 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
@DGG: Thank you for a cogent and well-reasoned comment. Unfortunately, you depend on “the community”: does that community any longer exist? Gamergate, for example, has openly sought to recruit editors and administrators to its cause, with systematic efforts to create new accounts and to revive disused accounts that can be newly devoted to the cause of using Wikipedia to harass female software developers. Will these Gamergate accounts ever join in a community consensus to deplore harassment? Of course not. Will they embrace a proposal to make WP:OUTING subsidiary to, say, threatening Wikipedians, or seeking to make them unemployable if they interfere with harassment? Of course they won’t.
The same situation holds elsewhere -- Mens Rights Activism, the Balkans, I/P, American Politics. Nor will the professional publicists who work for major corporations and agencies weaken the shield that protects their lucrative operations from scrutiny. No Wikipedia dispute today is likely to be free from threats, veiled or unveiled; we just saw a legal threat directed at an admin on the talk page of a clerk(!) and what happened? The admin was told to lower their profile! Wikipedia has one set of rules for the bullies and their pals and another for their victims. The “community” cannot even muster the will to deplore sexual harassment; no real consensus is possible in these circumstances, and so nothing can change.
There is no community -- no unified purpose or goal. There is only ArbCom, and as far as outsiders can see, they're working for the harassers. MarkBernstein (talk) 23:49, 5 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Editors may be inclined to wonder on We just saw a legal threat directed at an admin on the talk page of a clerk(!) and what happened? The admin was told to lower their profile!, and find bewilderment in how such an occurrence could find here a home.
Of course, no legal threats were made. Per my comments on that page, One is ever comforted by the knowledge that strong mechanisms licensing the practice of law exist, and that those reading the comments as legal threats are assuredly not licensed to practise in any jurisdiction ... One might ask that editors read policy before referencing it, but an explicit request that they comprehend the same would also seem to be required - and for some, a bridge too far.
Editors whose assumption of good faith is weakened by regular witness of such hyperbole may be inclined to assume willful misunderstanding or willful misrepresentation. I, of course, do not so assume; comforted as I am by both Hanlon's Razor, and the knowledge that repetition of nonsense does not make it true. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 07:32, 6 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
No matter what the deficiency of the community, it's what we have. There is no one else, unless we're prepared to let the Foundation run this from the top downwards. Beyond trying to improve the encyclopedia, of course there is no unified purpose or goal. Why should there be? We're a very wide and inclusive community of volunteers, each with our own vision, and the visions can be expected to clash at times. We have different ideas of what the encycopedia should be like, of what editors should do, of how they should do it, of how they should work with to each other.
No matter what our mode of organization, a large minority of people are not going to like it. If we work in a organization directed from above, we often won't like the directives. If we delegate authority to a committee, we often won't like want their conclusions. If we work in a democracy, we often will lose important votes. If we work in a manner dominated by conflicting tries at rough consensus, the results may please no one. If we work in an environment dominated by cliques, our clique will often be the loser. If we work in a free-for-all, we often won't like whatever come out on top. If something is worth fighting for, one side is going to lose. This is inevitable for people in groups, unless the group is going to be totally brain-dead. Group activities at their best involve doing other than what you really want, for the achievement of what you think important. In GG and some other recent cases, it was very clear that no matter what arb com did, it would offend a significant part of the community; in fact, I think that to most of us, it was clear that we had no real solution. In some current cases, decisions have been very slow because nobody has been able to think of an adequate remedy for something we all know to be a problem.
I like many of us ideally want a situation where I'd win every argument and people would always listen to me. I learned as a child this wasn't going to happen in the real world, and a little later that it wouldn't happen in any imaginary or constructed world I wanted others to join. I didn't come to WP because I thought I'd finally found a place that would fulfill all my desires. I joined because I thought, correctly, that this was a place where I could find some corners where what I wanted to do would be accepted reasonably often, and where I could simply pay no attention to the parts I didn't like. (Unlike the RW where one is often forced to pay attention to things one finds unpleasant). Anyone who cannot be satisfied with this for whatever part of their life they want to spend here will not be happy here. DGG ( talk ) 06:29, 6 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]


The article correctly points out that one doesn't need to be an admin to stand for Arbcom, but omits to mention that so far the community has only elected admins to arbcom. If any non admin reading this is considering running for Arbcom either this December or next December then may I suggest they consider first becoming an admin. ϢereSpielChequers 09:03, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Since RfA should be abolished and user rights devolved and decentralized and made available to anyone who needs them, which in turns allows them to be removed easily and without the current tyranny of indefinite terms, and in the process limits the powers of admins and gives the power back to the community whom they have disenfranchised to begin with, I would strongly disagree. Viriditas (talk) 10:24, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
WSC is just being real. The truth is that while it is technically possible to be a non-admin arb, it has never happened in the history of the committee. It's all well and good to imagine a whole other way of doing things and what you believe it should be like, but realistically it is highly unlikely, but not impossible. Beeblebrox (talk) 19:54, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks Beeblebrox. I actually think that if we don't succeed in fixing RFA it is only a matter of time before we elect a non admin as an arb. Possibly even this year, personally I have voted for at least one non admin candidate in the past. But if any such are watching this becoming an admin first is going to make it easier to win an Arbcom election, and in my view anyone who would get 50% support in an arbcom election is likely to get over 75% support at RFA. ϢereSpielChequers 22:59, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Imagine me as an Arbitrator, if you can :) GoodDay (talk) 21:32, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]


Is there a reason we are going about this via an Arbcom election, instead of (say) writing these concerns on a project page and slapping it with {{proposed}}? This just seems a very indirect method to me. Have we really given up all hope of Arbcom following policy? --NYKevin 22:03, 2 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

  1. WP:Civility and WP:Harassment are already quite clear on the matter, but ArbCom has chosen to view these policies as optional.
  2. When the people's elected representatives do not represent the people's views, it is customary in a civilized society, for the people to elect new representatives in the next election. Smallbones(smalltalk) 03:12, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Policy is enforced an ANI and AE and everywhere else. Arbcom settles disputes, they don't set policy nor are they particularly vested in enforcing policy except as it relates to the dispute they are solving. It seems rather shocking, given the complaints over site bans and blocks, that one would argue they are viewing these policies as "optional." I wish they would have done more but most peopleseem to be complaining they did too much. --DHeyward (talk) 01:23, 4 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Of course arb com "determines" policy, by interpreting it. They don't make policy in a literal sense, but they determine the scope of it and how to apply it & thus set the effective policy.
But that's not the problem with this particular issue: rather, the key difficulty is that many cases can not be investigated within the restrictions set by the basic policy of anonymity. If we permit unidentified editing we will never be free from harassment. Anonymity is a foundation policies, and even if the community here wanted to significantly modify it, we almost certainly would not be permitted to. We therefore need to accept that we can & should try to decrease harassment, but we cannot end it. For most instances of harassment I've seen on the committee, there is not much help we can provide. Those running for arb com who are urging stronger action will, once they are on the committee, find themselves just as frustrated about this as I have been. DGG ( talk ) 07:15, 22 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]


I would support an anti-bullying agenda. I think it is worth understanding what bullying (or attempted bullying) is. Bullying is the use of power to abuse or illegitimately coerce. It's important to realise that power is a subtle thing, especially on Wikipedia - it's not just wielded by arbitrators and administrators. Long standing editors have power, those that write for the Signpost have power - and, of course, we inherit, if we choose, power structures from the outside world. For example attempting to belittle another author's knowledge of Shakespeare as User:MarkBernstein has done, is an exercise, and I would say an abuse, of power. Making accusations of criminal activity against other (blocked!) editors is an abuse of power. Forming a cabal is an abuse of power.

Are those who are so keen on anti-bullying prepared to have their own actions scrutinised?

All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 00:54, 3 November 2015 (UTC).[reply]

The only power I have is to tell people things that make them uncomfortable. Given the response the last two weeks, apparently people are very uncomfortable. As gratified I am to wield that power, I want to point out that we are willing to share that power with anyone who is willing to contribute to the publication. Gamaliel (talk) 03:01, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
You can resign as an admin, making the above statement true retroactively. Or not. I think it's already pretty clear what role "truth" plays in your narrative. (talk) 04:26, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Nah, I'm having too much fun pissing off the peanut gallery. Gamaliel (talk) 04:34, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]
That's hardly any kind of "power", Gamaliel. As adults, we have to take responsibility for our own reactions, including aversion. When you learn how to control the reaction of feeling "uncomfortable", the power manifests itself in the individual, not in anything one would say or do. And here we come to the central problem. You and others wish to take power from others by treating people as infants, potential victims who can't control their own reactions. And I will continue to object and disagree with you and others on this point. You don't have any power to make me feel uncomfortable; the only power you have is the power others give you to control their reaction. When individuals work together, on a personal basis, the entire power structure of domination and control is undermined, and the "bullying" that you talk so much about (and depend upon for your next article) vaporizes as if it never existed. This is, of course, the big secret. By keeping people divided, by separating us over issues, you diffuse and weaken the personal power of the individual. You may not even be aware you are doing it, but that's exactly what's happening. Anyone who tells us we are incapable of controlling our own lives needs to be called out as liars. Viriditas (talk) 20:40, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Brush up your Shakespeare! You better start quoting him now. Brush up your Shakespeare, and the women you will wow! (Are you quite certain is was Shakespeare and not Milton, Rich? Or Marlowe, perchance? Maybe it was Cole Porter? Or Sondheim?) The occasional literary allusion is not bullying; it's a good way to keep educated people amused and engaged. Jokes are good too, but they're hard work. MarkBernstein (talk) 04:18, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Should such literary giants seem too far a reach, one might solace in the bon mot of Justice Potter Stewart. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 07:07, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I thought we still had a policy that said something about No Personal Attacks. Did it really read, "no personal attacks by little people?" Speaking of the weather, and without reference to anything above, I also would like to mention that threatened boomerangs can be used by a mob of harassers to silence their opponents. "That’s a nice store window you have here. It would be a shame if...." MarkBernstein (talk) 16:45, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Voter guides

When I last ran page views to voter guides were about double those of the candidates' question pages. That means that about a dozen guide writers have a huge influence as opinion leaders, and if they don't like a certain type of candidate, for instance non-admins, then there is very little chance to gain a seat. --Pgallert (talk) 05:57, 3 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I've always been a little dubious about having these, but perhaps they're better collected than spread out in people's talk. DGG ( talk ) 07:01, 22 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]


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