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Arbitration report

Final decision in "World War II and the history of Jews in Poland"

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World War II and the history of Jews in Poland final decision

The final decision for the case "World War II and the history of Jews in Poland" was posted May 20, the day before publication of this issue of The Signpost.

The Arbitration Committee acknowledged that their acceptance of the case was "in response" to the February 9, 2023 publication of "Wikipedia's Intentional Distortion of the History of the Holocaust", authored by Jan Grabowski and Shira Klein, but reaffirmed that their review was solely concerning editor conduct, not to make a determination about the facts of history about which Wikipedia editors disagree, nor facts represented in the paper. (Reacting to the proposed decision in a university press release, Klein critiqued this same "policy to steer clear of content", see this issue's In the media: "Wikipedia's World War II controversy attracts comments from opposing scholars".)

The principles determined to be relevant to the case were an unsurprising recital of Wikipedia conduct standards such as battleground behavior, acceptable sourcing and source manipulation, and the role of the Universal Code of Conduct.

Findings of fact were likewise unsurprising, and noted defense of some parties by other parties. Findings included both exemplary community-mindedness – helping to find consensus on difficult issues, for example – and behavior that is not commensurate with community standards.

The decision includes "standard" remedies:

No editor was banned from Wikipedia in the final decision, although a proposal to do so was made (see below), and GizzyCatBella was blocked by the committee as a sockpuppet of Jacurek while the case was still ongoing.

In addition, there is now a new "reliable sourcing restriction" in the topic area, which reads as follows:

All articles and edits in the topic area of Polish history during World War II (1933–1945) and the history of Jews in Poland are subject to a "reliable source consensus-required" contentious topic restriction. When a source that is not an article in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal, an academically focused book by a reputable publisher, and/or an article published by a reputable institution is removed from an article, no editor may reinstate the source without first obtaining consensus on the talk page of the article in question or consensus about the reliability of the source in a discussion at the Reliable Sources Noticeboard. Administrators may enforce this restriction with page protections, topic bans, or blocks; enforcement decisions should consider not merely the severity of the violation but the general disciplinary record of the editor in violation.

This new sourcing restriction replaces a similar but discretionary restriction that had been instituted as part of the 2019 Antisemitism in Poland case and strengthened in 2021.

Of note is a lengthy section on the proposed decision page written by arbitrator Wugapodes, "Wugapodes' rationale" for an editor ban, which seems to be in alignment with their 2021 Signpost opinion piece "The (Universal) Code of Conduct"; and principle 16 of the Arbitration Committee's final decision, also concerning the UCoC:

The Universal Code of Conduct (UCoC) defines a minimum set of guidelines of expected and unacceptable behaviour. The English Wikipedia has developed policies and guidelines (PAG) that add to this minimum that take account of local and cultural context, maintaining the UCoC criteria as a minimum standard and, in many PAGs, going beyond those minimums. Therefore, the Arbitration Committee, as an identified high-level decision making body under the UCoC enforcement guidelines, may choose to evaluate compliance with English Wikipedia PAG, while still respecting the UCoC.

This is the first major ArbCom decision following the Foundation's ratification of the UCoC Enforcement Guidelines this March (see previous Signpost coverage). In this decision, ArbCom appears to be setting up a precedent for their own role in adopting its authorities. Whether the UCoC is or should be a source of authority was debated by the Committee, but with seemingly little dissent from an affirmative decision.

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