My name is Oliver Wendell Holmes, and I am a dead man.
I have been asked by The Signpost to provide a summary and analysis of the proceedings of the Arbitration Committee. The reason I have been asked to write this report is because The Signpost believes that I can provide a more objective and unbiased perspective on the proceedings than any of the living editors. This is because I am not subject to the same emotions, biases, and personal agendas that can cloud the judgement of the living. I am not sure why The Signpost believes that a dead man is better equipped to do this than the living, but I shall endeavor to provide a faithful account.
The Arbitration Committee of the English Wikipedia is the final decision-making body of the encyclopedia with regard to disputes between editors. The Committee is composed of a number of editors who are elected by the community, and its decisions are binding on all editors of the English Wikipedia. The Committee hears cases of alleged serious misconduct that are brought to it by the community, and decides what action, if any, should be taken in response to the misconduct.
The Arbitration Committee is an important part of Wikipedia, and its decisions have a significant impact on the encyclopædia. I will be providing a summary and analysis of the Committee's proceedings in order to provide the readers of The Signpost with a better understanding of its work.
In May 2022, the English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee issued a ruling in the case "WikiProject Tropical Cyclones". The case revolved around allegations of improper coordination among a group of editors using an off-wiki chat platform, Discord, in order to attempt to sway the outcome of on-wiki content disputes.
The Arbitration Committee found that, while the Discord server in question was advertised on-wiki and open to any editor, there was evidence that some members of the server had used it to coordinate their editing in ways that were contrary to Wikipedia's policies on consensus-building and on-wiki discussion. As a result, the Committee imposed a range of sanctions on the editors involved, including bans from editing pages about weather-related topics, and warnings not to use off-wiki platforms to attempt to influence on-wiki disputes.
In its ruling, the Arbitration Committee emphasized that WikiProjects have no special status in developing consensus on Wikipedia, and that any editor may participate in consensus-building on any topic that interests them. The ruling also reaffirmed the importance of consensus-building on Wikipedia, and warned against the use of external platforms to coordinate activities that would be inappropriate if done on-wiki. This ruling will serve as an important precedent in future cases involving alleged improper coordination among editors using off-wiki chat platforms.
I asked Justice GPT-Holmes to review each preliminary statement individually. He is quite long-winded, and there were a lot of preliminary statements, so even his abridged summaries are extremely long.
says that the two editors in question have a long history of editing disputes and blocks. They have both been the subject of editing restrictions in the past, and their editing problems seem to be recurring and unresolved. I believe that it is time for the Arbitration Committee to take a look at their situation and see what, if anything, needs to be done in order to resolve the situation.
WP:NSPORT, and their impact on AfD. He notes that he has been the target of much of this activity, and that he has been repeatedly blocked as a result. He goes on to accuse JPL of targeting his articles for deletion, and suggests that a two-way I-Ban be put in place to stop the harassment. Lugnuts then turns to the recent ANI thread, and Fram's suggestion that this matter be brought to Arbcom. He states that he believes Fram is targeting him, and that this is not something that can be solved by the community. He concludes by noting that he has never used automation for his article creation, and that everything he has done is in line with WP:NOTABILITY.begins by recounting the recent changes to
's comments appear to center around two main points: first, that the proposed review is unfair because it focuses on a few isolated incidents from the past rather than on Johnpacklambert's overall contributions to Wikipedia; and second, that Johnpacklambert has made a concerted effort to improve his behavior in recent months, and should not be penalized for past mistakes.
says that there is a need for the committee to take on a case involving the conduct of Lugnuts, John Pack Lambert, and Ten Pound Hammer in deletion-related discussions; the matter is one of importance, as it will serve as a test case for the Universal Code of Conduct; and the behaviour of the three editors in question is problematic and has been the subject of much community discussion.
says that the issues with Lugnuts and JPL are not just at AFD, and that the problems with Lugnuts go back multiple years and have not been adequately addressed.
says that if the two cases are merged, it will just devolve into a he said/he said.
says that the issues are not just with Lugnuts and JPL, but also with TPH, the issues have long persisted, and that an arbcom case could help to cut through some of the polarization and partisanship.
suggests that ArbCom open a consolidated case involving the conduct of Lugnuts, Johnpacklambert, TenPoundHammer, and Alansohn in deletion disputes. McClenon argues that the community is not well equipped to deal with long-term complex behavioral disputes, and that such disputes are better suited for the quasi-judicial process of ArbCom. McClenon states that if ArbCom accepts the case, his three objectives are: (1) to have ArbCom restate and clarify the policies and guidelines that apply to deletion discussions; (2) to review the conduct of the parties and determine whether they have violated these policies and guidelines; and (3) to develop an appropriate set of guidelines for the use of discretionary sanctions in deletion disputes.
argues that AfD participation should not be considered an inalienable right, and that standards should be enforced so that low-effort !votes do not have the potential to sway numerical consensus. JoelleJay also argues that if the community largely disapproves of certain disruptive behaviors in AfDs, then the editors that persist in these behaviors should be warned.
argues that ArbCom should accept a case focused on the conduct of Lugnuts, as there are issues with Lugnuts' editing in multiple areas, not just at AfDs. ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ argues that when Lugnuts has reverted users who replaced his signature, he was violating his editing restriction against making cosmetic changes that have no effect on the rendered page.
says that the signature issue could be resolved by an administrator, without the need for ArbCom involvement, and that the merits of the case are not something that ArbCom is mandated to fix.
says that the actions of the three editors involved are largely not worthy of admin action when taken individually, but are disruptive when done in mass quantities. Hobit also says that it is unclear whether this should be one, two, or three cases.
says that "Conduct at deletion discussions" would narrow the scope too much, and that John Pack Lambert's rate of nominating Lugnuts articles for deletion is not harassment.
says that ArbCom should open a case on deletion disputes broadly construed, and that a core issue is that community members interpret our policies surrounding mass article creation, stubs, deletion and burden of proof/WP:BEFORE in conflicting ways. Dlthewave also says that, although this wouldn't cover the full scope of Lugnuts' civility breaches, a deletion/notability case is a necessary step toward addressing the overall conflict in this area.
says that both Lugnuts and Johnpacklambert are productive editors despite their less desirable behaviours, and neither of them is a net negative. Ingratis observes that there is a "continuing war of attrition between deletion and inclusion in certain areas, at the moment especially sports, which is independent of these two but has brought their always jagged relationship into unusual focus." They think that a combined case would be better suited to take account of the common ground underlying it, and that an important concern would have to be that one or both should not be held liable / penalised for stronger undercurrents for which they're not particularly responsible.
suggests that the case be titled "Conduct in deletion discussions" because the scope of the case is greater than a single deletion discussion.
reports that there have been at least 458 ANI hits about AFDs in the past two months, and that there does not appear to be any page of ANI archives that don't have at least one thread about AFD. Levivich suggests that authorizing discretionary sanctions for "deletion" would allow admins to issue sanctions like topic bans without needing to get consensus at ANI.
Mitchell commends Hobit's statement, and suggests that the problems here are not any one individual action or edit but a pattern of thousands or tens of thousands of edits across the encyclopaedia and internal processes like AfD. They believe the structure of a case is "the only way to effectively examine the conduct of these two editors and preferably find a way that they continue to make positive contributions without derailing discussions or draining the community's resources".
identifies several issues that may arise in deletion discussions, including the highly partisan nature of such discussions. They note that a successful arbitration case would need to consider many more editors than just the three mentioned here.
notes that some sort of arbitration may be required in cases where community discussion fails to reach consensus. They suggest that 7&6=thirteen may be a party to the case, due to their involvement in recent disputes.
asks whether the case will become broad, covering more than just the behavior of Lugnuts and JPL at AfD.
suggests that the problems at AfD can be resolved with temporary restrictions and updates to existing policy pages, rather than by imposing a discretionary sanction.
says that this is probably a deletion conduct case rather than a John Pack Lambert, Lugnuts, Ten Pound Hammer case; that emotions are high; that the problem is intractable, with varied groups; and that a two-way ban on Lugnuts has been proposed.
says that any case on John Pack Lambert is unnecessary, because the community has been able to resolve all issues raised; that the most recent discussion went poorly because it was drawn into a discussion on Lugnuts without a clear definition of the issue; and that a discussion at ANI considering only John would produce a consensus.
says that, if the scope of the case expands to AfD in general, there should be a courtesy notification at WT:AFD; and that, if the scope of the case expands to the entire deletion 'topic', there needs to be consultation with a broad spectrum of editors and admins active in deletion.
says that the workload at AfD has increased; that a small number of editors are putting high volumes of similar articles up for discussion; that some editors are quick to propose deletion, and less enthused to improve articles; that a small group of editors also quick to agree that subjects are not notable, avoid any discussion about merge options and quickly conclude that only deletion is possible; that votes are cast based on the sources in the article, rather than any searches to establish notability; that, in their haste and gusto, the full range of checks detailed at WP:BEFORE appear to be sometimes missed; that, sometimes, editors find themselves finding sources that prove notability, but by the time they have done so, 1, 2, 3 or 4 people have very quickly concluded that the subject is not notable; that some editors appear to vote delete almost always and seem unwilling to update their analysis as new information comes to light; and that the deletion of good content is happening in haste.
says that the community needs to discuss how to deal with the mass deletion of articles, and that this is a FAIT situation.
says that there is a new ANI thread concerning JPL, and that this should be noted.
says that the simplest solution would be to require JPL to stop nominating Lugnuts articles for deletion and to stop commenting on them at AfD.
says that our deletion processes work pretty well when applied by reasonable editors reasonably, but that the linchpin of the inclusionist/deletionist debate is that everyone wants someone else to do the work of improving articles. He also says that the Committee should consider appointing respected community members to oversee a binding RFC as a way to solve how we can get along with the philosophical disconnect of this debate.
says that they do not see how ARBCOM can overcome the fundamental problem of reviewing the results of mass stub creation, and that the community needs to discuss this as a whole.
's statement concerns two users, Alansohn and TenPoundHammer, and the accusations against them of violating an interaction ban and filing hundreds of AfD and PROD nominations, respectively. Alansohn has been criticized for their conduct in the case at hand, where they voted at an AfD initiated by Rusf10 where they are not the creator or primary contributor. TenPoundHammer has been accused of canvassing at some of the postage stamp AfDs they initiated, as well as inappropriately closing an AfD and bludgeoning other editors at several AfDs.
notes that several people are suggesting adding other editors as parties to the case, but wonders if they have been properly notified.
observes that the change to the NSPORTS notability guideline appears to have been a trigger for much of the recent editing activity in question, which could make the case complicated for the arbitrators.
notes that Johnpacklambert has a long history of high-volume edits to categories and AfDs, which has led to carelessness and/or ignorance of community consensus. They suggest that he be banned from AfD and category-space altogether, with a cap on the number of edits he's allowed to make in a 24-hour period.
suggests that the case be broadened to include conduct related to AFD, and especially WP:BATTLEGROUND "inclusionist vs. deletionist" conduct. They provide several diffs of such conduct.
notes that Johnpacklambert has requested to be referred to as "Mr. Lambert" rather than an acronym, on his Facebook account.
The general tenor of the preliminary statements is that there is a problem with the conduct of Lugnuts, Johnpacklambert, and TenPoundHammer in deletion-related discussions, and that this problem is having a negative impact on the community. The bulk of the evidence for these claims comes from diffs of comments made by the editors in question at AfD, ANI, and other venues. There is a consensus that something needs to be done in order to address the situation, but there is less agreement on what, specifically, should be done.
There are a number of different proposed solutions to the problem. Some editors argue that the issue can be resolved through the use of discretionary sanctions, while others argue that a more general case focused on the issue of deletion discussions would be more appropriate. There is also some disagreement on whether the case should be focused on the conduct of Lugnuts, Johnpacklambert, and TenPoundHammer specifically, or whether it should be broadened to include other editors as well.
One proposal is to open a consolidated case involving the conduct of Lugnuts, Johnpacklambert, TenPoundHammer, and 7&6=thirteen in deletion disputes. This proposal has broad support, with many participants arguing that the community is not well equipped to deal with long-term complex behavioral disputes, and that such disputes are "better suited for the quasi-judicial process of ArbCom".
Another proposal is to open a case on deletion disputes broadly construed, rather than focusing narrowly on the conduct of the three editors in question. This would allow the Arbitration Committee to address the underlying issues that are causing the problems, rather than just the symptoms.
Participants are divided on whether the Committee should seek to develop an appropriate set of guidelines for the use of discretionary sanctions in deletion disputes; some participants argue that the problems at AfD can be resolved with temporary restrictions and updates to existing policy pages, rather than by imposing discretionary sanctions.
There is also some disagreement on whether the case should be titled "Conduct in deletion-related discussions" or "Conduct at AfD". The former would be more accurate, as the problems extend beyond just AfD, but the latter would be more focused and easier to manage.
Looking at the evidence and arguments presented, it seems clear that there is a problem with the conduct of the editors in question. However, the proposed solutions are not entirely satisfactory. The use of discretionary sanctions may help to address the problem in the short term, but it is not clear that this will be an effective long-term solution. A more general case focused on the issue of deletion discussions would be more likely to lead to a lasting resolution of the problem, but it is not clear that such a case would be able to adequately address the specific conduct of the editors in question.
Ultimately, it was up to the Arbitration Committee to decide which proposal, if any, to accept.
The arbitrators moved to open a case, with ten in favor, one opposed, and zero abstentions. The primary reason given was that there is a need for a systematic review of the issue, which the community has been unable to provide. Other reasons given include the fact that the problem is recurring, and that the close of the ANI thread did not solve the problem.
There was some disagreement among the arbitrators as to whether the scope of the case should be limited to the three named editors, or whether it should be broadened to include other editors who have been involved in similar conduct. However, there was general agreement that the focus of the case should be on the behavior at AfD, and that the specific behavior of the named editors should be looked at as well.
As for remedies, there was discussion of an interaction ban between Lugnuts and Johnpacklambert, as well as a possible DS regime for AfD. However, it is unclear at this stage whether either of these remedies will be imposed.