[WikiEN-l] Arbcom has completely lost its mind

Conrad Dunkerson conrad.dunkerson at worldnet.att.net
Sat Feb 11 18:15:26 UTC 2006

charles matthews wrote:

> Apologies in return.  I made it abundantly clear during the ArbCom elections 
> that I didn't think precedent is a good basis for Arbitrators having their 
> hands tied.  Therefore I also don't think much of your extrapolations. 
> Asking that each case be treated on its merits is a much better bet.

While there must always be room for flexibility and re-assessment there 
are also reasons that every established legal system on the planet 
relies heavily on precedence. No, I am not suggesting that ArbCom should 
follow a legalistic design (any moreso than it does already), but the 
logic behind the principle of precedence applies in any case.

A few months back there was an intense discussion about pedophiles on 
Wikipedia... which allowed them to stay openly. That was a precedent. 
The various user pages where editors have identified themselves as 
pedophiles yet not had these statements removed or their accounts 
blocked over long periods of time were precedents.

We CAN change the situation (and apparently now HAVE done so), but the 
precedents should not be ignored. The 'bad actors' in this were largely 
following what were, in truth, the established norms... but were then 
judged against standards which simply did not exist at the time they 
made their decisions. That is capricious and inherently destructive.

As for 'extrapolations':

"While not explicitly stated on Wikipedia:User page, it is implicit 
there that users should refrain from creating user pages likely to bring 
the project into disrepute. The pedophile userbox (and the like) falls 
into this category. Note that this should not be construed to bar 
reasonable criticism of the project."

That's from the final decision. The pedophile userbox, as I recall, 
contained the text 'This user is a pedophile'. Thus, the only 
'extrapolation' here is that the statements I listed were "like" that 
one. I can't imagine that anyone would claim they are not. So... why are 
exceedingly similar statements being treated in completely different 
ways? Again, it seems capricious... did we establish standards solely 
for the purpose of shaping the outcome of this single case?

No, ArbCom should not have their 'hands tied' by precedent. However, 
acknowledgement of it's EXISTENCE would probably help them to arbitrate 
without being arbitrary.

More information about the WikiEN-l mailing list