With the Arbitration Committee elections for 2021 currently underway, it seems unfitting that the Signpost hasn't had a full arbitration report all year. A lot has happened in the last year: twelve motions were made, twenty-two cases were declined, one was dismissed, one was suspended, and six were closed. Three admins were desysopped, and one seemingly-nascent RfA candidate was indefinitely blocked as a sockpuppet of a Foundation-banned user. Additionally, the most active area of discretionary sanctions (American politics 2) had its scope redefined significantly. All in all, a total of 809 arbitration enforcement actions were logged, including in relatively new enforcement areas like COVID-19.
Without further ado, let's go over it!
Eleven candidates stood for the December 2020 Arbitration Committee Elections (with twelve nominations, of whom one withdrew prior to the start of voting). Among them were two non-administrators, two current arbitration clerks, and two sitting arbitrators from the December 2019 term.
I have very recently accepted an upcoming role with the Foundation to help facilitate the second phase of the meta:Universal Code of Conduct consultations investigating key enforcement questions. To protect the integrity of internal committee deliberations, I am humbly tendering my resignation from the Arbitration Committee.
In February, a formal structure for case workflow (initiated by Beeblebrox) was passed 8–0 with one abstention. The motion formally instituted a workflow structure for the Committee's internal handling of accepted cases (including an evidence phase, workshop phase, and proposed decision phase). The drafting arbitrator can add, remove, or extend phases according to their discretion; they can also choose to take actions like enforce threaded discussions or institute word limits on parties to a case. These parties can petition for changes to the rules in their case.
In March, a community consultation was opened regarding the practice of discretionary sanctions. This discussion concluded in May, reaching "a consensus that Discretionary Sanctions serves a purpose and remains effective in creating conditions for high quality information to be presented to our readers". Also in March, a majority of the Arbitration Committee signed an Open Letter from Arbcoms to the Board of Trustees, drafted over several months by many Committees across a variety of Wikimedia projects. The letter was included in the previous (March 2021) Signpost arbitration report, as well as a more detailed explanation of its intent and purpose.
In April, two actions were taken in the interest of increasing transparency. First, an appeals report page was created, at which arbitrators now publish periodic reports on private ban/block appeals. Later, a motion was passed regarding the Committee's retention policy on personally identifying information: an annual "examination" of the ArbCom wiki (to take place every April) was established, in which information would be "considered no longer necessary if the user has not edited under any account for a significant number of years or if the reason for the private information to be held has passed".
In September, a motion passed to amend certain Arbitration Committee "500/30" remedies, which required that editors have 500 edits and 30 days on their account prior to editing in certain areas. The amendment changed the language of the remedies to instead say "extended confirmed restrictions" were in place (which, at the time of the motion, was identical to 500/30).
January 19: Following a request for clarification and amendment filed by Interstellarity on December 23, an 8-to-1 majority (with two abstentions) passed a motion amending the AP2 cutoff from 1932 to 1992. All other provisions of the remedy remain in place. The previous sanctions had been instituted when the American politics 2 case (often referred to by the shorthand of "AP2") concluded, with one of its remedies being a modification of previously existing discretionary sanctions on American politics (AP1, or ARBAP). The AP2 remedy authorized standard discretionary sanctions on "all edits about, and all pages related to post-1932 politics of the United States and closely related people".
Encyclopedia Dramatica links permitted with consensus
February 12: Following a request for amendment filed by Steve M regarding a dispute over link inclusion on the Encyclopædia Dramatica article, Remedy 1 of the MONGO case was amended by motion. The original remedy, from 2006, said that links to Encyclopædia Dramatica may be removed "wherever found on Wikipedia as may material imported from it". The amended version now says that such links "may be removed wherever found on Wikipedia, absent explicit consensus for their inclusion".
Gender and sexuality remedies moved to single case
February 23: The Committee ruled on a wide-ranging arbitration case concerning the Kurds, Kurdistan, and Syrian Kurdistan (with drafting arbitrators BDD, Primefac and Maxim). Prior attempts at resolution were given as one thread on DRN, one on RSN, one on NPOVN, and eight on AN/I. The case was closed with a number of findings; primarily that the conduct of several participants had gone beyond the pale (in some cases as the culmination of a long history of disruptive editing). One editor, Paradise Chronicle, was warned to avoid "uncollegial conduct" in the future. Another (GPinkerton) was site-banned. Three editors (Thepharoah17, عمرو بن كلثوم, and Supreme Deliciousness) were topic-banned from "articles related to Kurds and Kurdistan, broadly construed". Three days later, these topic bans were amended by a 10–0 motion to strike "articles related to" (i.e. to make them apply across the entirety of the project).
March 23: Due to issues regarding conflict of interest, Tenebrae was "indefinitely banned from any mainspace edits related to Frank Lovece or Maitland McDonagh, broadly construed", but permitted to continue requesting edits on talk pages. Following an AN discussion two days later, Tenebrae was community-banned, and their account indefinitely blocked.
March 26: A case centering around RexxS was closed, after a month-long case filed by ProcrastinatingReader that accumulated 43 preliminary statements. Of those statements, around 17 had requested that the Committee decline the case. RexxS, a board member of Wikimedia UK until his term expired in July 2021, and an administrator since April 2019, was desysopped. RexxS, a contributor with over 43K edits since January 2008, has not edited Wikipedia since February 25, one day before the case was filed; on the 23rd he had commented that while he was open to "discuss and try to learn any lessons", he was unwilling to participate in "a forum for everybody who has ever disagreed with me to sling mud".
March 31: An arbitration case against administrator Carlossuarez46 was filed. The dispute regarded "geostubs", articles generated from public databases of geographical information. Many geostubs serve as the basis for long and beautifully sourced articles — we all owe thanks to the famous Rambot — but many others remain stubs for years or decades, and many derive their claim to notability from the mere existence of coordinates in a database. Indeed, many geostubs are nominated for deletion upon the discovery that the database entries are the result of technical glitches, or data entry errors. Carlossuarez46, who had created thousands of geostubs in decades past, was accused of violating administrator conduct standards in 2021 discussions about his geostubs. After a week of proceedings, he announced his retirement on his userpage, and the case was suspended for three months on April 8, with a temporary three-month remedy of desysopping until it was resumed. On July 8, it was automatically closed, with him remaining desysopped.
Antisemitism in Poland remedy amended
May 9: Following a request for amendment by Girth Summit on March 12, the Committee passed a motion amending Remedy 5 of the Antisemitism in Poland case.
June 16: Following a long case request spurred by vigorous months-long dispute over the COVID-19 lab leak hypothesis, a motion was passed 8–1 to rescind the March 2020 AN-instituted community sanctions on COVID-19 (WP:GS/COVID19) and replace them with discretionary sanctions (WP:ARBCOVIDDS). Previously, 15 individual sanctions and 36 page sanctions had been logged under the GS regime; since the switch in June, the arbitration log has had 7 individual sanctions and 37 page sanctions for COVID-19.
Mutual interaction ban loosened
July 3: the interaction ban between Ritchie333 and Praxidicae was amended by motion to allow discussion of the ban itself: "Parties may discuss the existence of the ban, and examine its implications, but remain forbidden from discussing each other and interacting with each other."
Palestine-Israel restrictions clarified
July 12: Following a request for clarification and amendment by ProcrastinatingReader, the Committee passed a motion that "The phrase 'other internal project discussions', as used in Remedy 5 of the Palestine-Israel articles 4 case ('ARBPIA General Sanctions'), shall be construed to include requested moves."
Iranian politics DS enacted, four topic bans, two warnings
September 20: The Iranian politics case, filed in July by Idealigic, concerned an area of dispute already under community-instituted general sanctions — namely, the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK). Previous attempts at dispute resolution had failed, and the Arbitration Committee issued four topic bans: BarcrMac, Idealigic, and Stefka Bulgaria were topic-banned from "post-1978 Iranian politics, broadly construed", while Mhhossein was topic-banned from "People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), broadly construed". Furthermore, Mhhossein and Vice regent were warned against "a battleground mentality". Additional remedies included the upgrade of post-1978 Iranian politics from general sanctions to discretionary sanctions, and the authorization of uninvolved administrators to facilitate RfC consensus-building by instituting word/diff limits on RfC participants, bans on disruptive RfC editors, sectioned commenting rules, and moratoriums (of up to one year) on additional RfCs on any given dispute.
October 19: As has been previously covered in the Signpost, prospective admin candidate Eostrix was blocked by the Arbitration Committee five days into a nearly unopposed home-run RfA. Eostrix was blocked indefinitely as a sockpuppet of Foundation global-banned user Icewhiz.
Emergency desysop of compromised admin account Epbr123
November 19: Administrator Epbr123 has made over 290,000 edits since 2006, but has been largely inactive in recent years (their last 50 edits go back to 2013). The account was desysopped, globally locked, and indefinitely blocked under Level I desysopping procedures after its login credentials were compromised and used to make a highly offensive (now revdelled) edit to the article on George Floyd.
January 27: Donald1972, indefinitely blocked in August 2019, made a successful appeal to the Arbitration Committee, and was unblocked on the condition that they be forbidden from editing the article Matthias Laurenz Gräff.
March 4: SethRuebens, previously indefinitely blocked in August 2020, was unblocked following a successful appeal to the Committee. This editor would again be indefinitely blocked following an AN/I discussion in July.
March 17: J-Man11, indefinitely blocked since September 2020.
March 24: Jessiemay1984, indefinitely blocked since January 2021.
June 14: Uhooep, indefinitely blocked since May 2021.
Corrections: After publication, it was noted that RexxS's last edit was on February 25, not February 26, and that of the statements in his case, around 17 had been requests to decline. His final comment on the issue, from February 23, was also provided.