[WikiEN-l] Fred Bauder "clarifies" on attack site link policy

Stephen Bain stephen.bain at gmail.com
Sun Jul 1 15:09:59 UTC 2007

On 7/1/07, Daniel R. Tobias <dan at tobias.name> wrote:
> Unfortunately, this response is full of contradictions.  Bauder is
> claiming that the ruling in question is "not policy", that it applies
> only to a "specific situation", and shouldn't be "generalized" and is
> not "good general policy"; furthermore, it should be applied only in
> "egregious circumstances" to particular sites that have been
> considered in a hearing.  However, he is also saying that it's proper
> to block Kamryn because she was "warned"...

Bauder could have chosen his words more carefully, but there is not
really any contradiction. As he says, arbitration rulings are not
policy and should not be taken as such. What he leave out is the
implicit corollary that rulings are applications of policy to
particular situations, and similar situations ought to be approached
in similar

The crucial point is that attempts to take the rulings from the Mongo
case and turn them into *general* rules have not been constructive.
The ways in which some people have chosen to extrapolate from the
Mongo case have failed to take into account the nuances of the

The "links to attack site" principle in the Mongo case should not be
read in isolation from the other principles in that case.
Specifically, it should be read alongside the principles discussing
harassment (and especially the "support of harassment" principle,
which emphasises that linkers ought to be considered responsible for
their linking). It should also be read alongside the "guilt by
association" principle.

The other main way in which attempted generalisations from the Mongo
principles have been problematic (aside from reading the principles in
isolation) is the tendency for people to seek to supply a new
definition for "attack sites". The Mongo case focuses heavily on the
disclosure of private personal information, and harassment, both of
which, I should point out, are behaviours which are blockable if
performed on-wiki.

Part of these problems are to do with the way in which arbitration
decisions are structured, which, with its highly condensed and
simplified elements, can sometimes be prone to being misunderstood.
But that's a debate for another time.

The thrust of the Mongo principles was essentially to say two things:
firstly, that links to external sites which engage in certain types of
behaviour which would be blockable on-wiki should be avoided, and
secondly, that while no guilt by association test applies, people who
link to external content are responsible for what they link to, and
should not act to aid or abet behaviour like harassment or disclosure
of personal information when it occurs off-site.

I don't want to comment on the particular situation involving this
user, I just wanted to emphasise that that is what the Mongo case was
about, and that, I believe, is more or less what Fred was getting at.

Stephen Bain
stephen.bain at gmail.com

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