The Wikipedia Signpost
The Wikipedia Signpost

Below are candidate profiles and interviews of former candidates for the December 2008 Arbitration Committee elections. All users on this page have withdrawn from the elections; their responses have been archived here for reference.

This list does not include candidates who withdrew before the candidate guide was first published, in the November 24th issue.

ArbCom candidate profiles:    A-F  |  G-K  |  L-S  |  T-Z  |  All  |  (Withdrawn)


Candidate profile
First edit date: June 8, 2005
Local Rights/Positions: None
Global Rights/Positions: None
Questions? here
Vote: here

Candidacy statement:

I have been a Wikipedia editor for three productive years. I have not been an admin or official, but an ordinary contributor who has, I hope, contributed to the project in some small way. In the spirit of a recent election victor, I would suggest that the true essence of wikipedia is best represented by the ordinary editors who work in the background to improve neutrality and sourcing. I will do my best to carry that spirit to the Arbitration Committee if elected.

What positions do you hold (adminship, mediation, etc.), on this or other wikis?

I currently hold no authority over wikipedia.

Have you been involved in any arbitration cases? In what capacity?

I am glad to say that I've never been sufficiently impugned or sufficiently injured to come before the ArbCom. However, I have succeeded in resolving an informal dispute: I managed to resolve a troubling edit war over the death of Robin Cook. I would like to build on this type of experience in a larger capacity.

Why are you running for the Arbitration Committee?

I'm running 'cause I believe that Wikipedia is losing sight of the 'pedia and is focused only on the wiki.

User:Franamax has provided an excellent summary of the candidates' contributions. I played around with them on Excel, and noticed something striking.

Most of the candidates are well and truly sunk into Wikipedia's introspective policy arguments. Many of the candidates have edited WP space (policy etc.) more than they've edited actual articles. Over half of them have edited it 30% as much as they've edited mainspace. The only ones who have edited less policy than me as a percentage are two editors with a handful of contributions, and Charles Matthews. Whatever his merits might be, this is an artefact of his prolific editing all round and he is as clearly part of the wiki-village as anyone.

Why do I mention this? Because it is the articles which are the lifeblood of Wikipedia. Yet the Economist recently reported that 25% of all Wikipedia's text is given over to policy and policy discussion. Policies are eminently necessary, but we need arbitration which is focused on content, and not personalities. If I am elected, I will decide cases by setting as little precedent as possible, having the least impact on policy, and avoid the personal bickering which has come to epitomise Wikipedia's top institutions.

How do you feel the Arbitration Committee has handled cases and other situations over the last year? Can you provide an examples of situations where you feel the Committee handled a situation exceptionally well, and why? Any you feel they handled poorly, and why?

One particularly good case was Wikipedia talk:Requests for arbitration/Homeopathy. I think it is vitally important that partisan editors, representing the peculiar professional interests and beliefs that they do, must be shown the door if they persistently push POV. Ultimately, this is far more harmful to our project than mere incivility, or even trolling.

As for poor handling, this does not lie in any specific case but in the fact that the committee has become a buzzing hive of controversy, rather than the faintly boring and arcane thing which it ought to be. I promise that my tenure will be as boring as reasonably possible :).

What is your opinion on confidentiality? If evidence is submitted privately to the Committee, would you share it with other parties in the case? Would you make a decision based on confidential information without making it public?

If confidential information is being used to block or punish an editor, the assumption must be that the 'defendant' is able to respond to this in some way. The only exception I would make to this is if the defendant has been guilty of stalking or physically threatening behaviour towards another, which is thankfully relatively rare.

Why do you think users should vote for you?

[BillMasen answered this question in his response to the third question, Why are you running for the Arbitration Committee?]

Gwen Gale[edit]

Candidate profile
First edit date: February 14, 2004[1]
Local Rights/Positions: Adminship since May 2008
Global Rights/Positions: None
Questions? here
Vote: here

Candidacy statement:

I made my first edit to Wikipedia almost 5 years ago and began editing steadily, as User:Wyss, about 4 years ago. I've been an admin for 6 months. Arbcom is meant to deal with behavioural worries. It is in no way a means of handling content disputes. Although article content may sometimes come up in an RfAR, since traits like PoV pushing and long-term straying from WP:BLP are behavioural, arbcom must always stay wholly neutral as to content. I believe in wide transparency for arbcom, since this is the only way its decisions can gain deep support across the community. Arbcom's meaningful and lasting sway (or authority) upon a living, growing Wikipedia will never be arbitrary, because it cannot be. Its decisions are drawn from the experiences, character and thoughts of its members, such as they are, not as we wish they were. So if, say, decision-making talks are witheld off-wiki, the community is thwarted because editors do not have the means to understand how or why a decision was made, which can make it seem empty or worse, driven by something other than our notions of fairness and Wikipedia policy (which might be nothing more than laziness, or the sloppiness of a rushed task). Meanwhile arbcom can seem like one of Wikipedia's weakest projects because it has to deal with some of Wikipedia's worst aspects. I haven't even been on the admin IRC channel since about the first week after my RfA (it was very helpful for getting me up to speed with some admin tasks). Lastly, arbcom's decisions need to be swifter and more keenly targeted at understanding and resolving the pith of behavioural/Wikipedia policy problems in a preventative way. Arbcom is neither an Anglo-Saxon court drawing from a growing body of common law, nor a Napoleonic court fussily implementing tiny-grained bits of law and regulation. It's only a means of arbitration and last resort on a private website. Most editors can and do learn how to fit into this wonderful project, each in their own way.

Gwen Gale did not respond to questions before withdrawing.

Sam Korn[edit]

Candidate profile
First edit date: October 8, 2004
Local Rights/Positions: Arbitrator, 2006
Adminship since April 2005
Checkuser, oversight
Global Rights/Positions: None
Questions? here
Vote: here

Candidacy statement:

This hasn't been an easy year for the Arbitration Committee. I think it is entirely reasonable to say that the degree of mistrust in the Committee is as high as it has ever been. I am running for election to the Committee, therefore, in an attempt to increase the esteem in which the Committee is held.

I believe the first requirement for a member of the Committee is integrity. This means more than recusing when appropriate and not voting in favour of my "friends" in disputes: it means strictly following my conscience in the decisions I support. "Right" beats "expedient", in other words. For this reason, I don't promise to support a principle that has popular support but that I oppose. The Committee must be a servant of the community, but it must not become merely an instrument. I do, however, promise to listen to those who disagree (whether they are members of the Committee or not), to attempt to understand their arguments and to enter into dialogue with them.

I believe further that, for there to be community trust in the Committee, there must be openness. To be effective, the Committee must have the respect of the community; to gain this respect, the Committee must in turn respect the community. The potential for secrecy and cabalism is high; radical openness -- a central Wikipedia principle -- is necessary to combat these.

The third feature necessary in a member of the Committee is energy. It is useless to have someone with the greatest integrity and the greatest commitment to openness if they aren't going to take an active part in dealing the the Committee's business. I know I have that energy to get things done efficiently and effectively.

Finally, it is vitally important that the behaviour of a member of the Committee is exemplary. Resolving disputes is the job of the Committee; it is fatal if the behaviour of members of the Committee themselves are, by their behaviour, aggravating those very disputes. Making the process confrontational is highly counter-productive.

I think I am qualified by these tests, and that my record (over four years on-wiki, of which three-and-a-half as an administrator; I was a member of the Committee in 2006) will bear this out.

My thanks to you.

Sam Korn has not yet responded to questions. This page will be updated as answers are submitted.

  1. ^ Gwen Gale's first edit under previous username Wyss was on February 14, 2004. First edit under current username was on November 23, 2006.


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0