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The relevance of legal certainty to the English Wikipedia

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By Anonymous

An anonymous editor gave their thoughts on how they believe "the administration of this free encyclopedia is flawed, and how it may be fixed". See revision 842176683 for attribution. This was written in 2018, and found again on a spelunking expedition in the Signpost annals.

The German philosopher of law Gustav Radbruch is widely credited with popularising and emphasising the concept of legal certainty (from the German Rechtssicherheit). This concept means that everyone who is subject to a certain legal code must be able to know which actions of his are legal (under that code) and which are not. In my opinion, on our encyclopedia, this concept is grossly violated, and I hereby intend to show some of the problems that I perceive to occur, and to offer some ideas on how to solve them.

Quite regularly, an administrator of this encyclopedia may encounter a user that he finds, for whatever reason, unsympathetic. We all know that some people we just can't stand, be they politicians, lawyers, civil servants, chief executives or teachers, just to name a few. Now in the real world, this does not really have any consequences, because we (in many cases possibly quite fortunately) do not have the power to inflict any serious damage to these people. But in the online world, where whole human beings, valuable, special and equipped with their own unique emotional worlds, are disguised as mere non-impressive text-strings with an underscore, this situation changes dramatically. Here, an administrative clique that does not have any substantial legal training in any of its facets (neutrality, the suppression of personal preference, the evaluation of evidence, the reading skills required to understand complex legal codes) or any substantial emotional fortification, decides on practically everything, in particular on user bans, the final version of articles and many more things. Isn't it strange, one asks, that admins basically never get blocked? Is this kind of immunity really implied by the rules of Wikipedia? Why, further, may administrators institute arbitrary blocks against people they themselves have a problem with? Have we not created a clique of overly powerful, nonconstructive superusers who, by aggressively having their way, shoo away large chunks of the Wikipedia community who, in real life, expect from their fellow humans a just and fair treatment and therefore are unable to deal with the realities of day-to-day Wikipedia work?

I have compiled a list of suggestions that may improve the situation as described.

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  1. As far as I know, admins are held to the same standards as anyone else. If anything, a bit higher: an admin's behavior is much more likely to be a topic of broad discussion than that of a random user.
  2. There are plenty of places, including in actual government, where lifetime appointments subject to recall are the norm.
  3. Vague talk of cabals on the Internet isn't worth the paper it (isn't) written on.
  4. Hyper-legalism is a troll's paradise. - Jmabel | Talk 22:33, 19 December 2022 (UTC)[reply]


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