Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2022-08-01/Arbitration report

Winds of change blow for cyclone ors, deletion dustup draws toward denouement: The last three months of arbitration through the eyes of a GPT-3


A mostly black-and-white image of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. reviewing some papers.
"On the one hand, it's a great leveler of information. On the other hand, it's a great leveler of standards."[1]
Image by DALL-E 2.
Note: this report was written by a GPT-3, a transformer-based natural language generation model, and fact-checked by Signpost ors. A more comprehensive explanation is available in this issue's or note.
The following is an introduction written by GPT-3, a transformer-based natural language generation model, instructed to write in the style of deceased United States Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who has been resurrected from the dead to write a summary and analysis of proceedings of the Arbitration Committee for the Wikipedia Signpost. He introduces himself, explains why the decision was made to have him write this report instead of normal human ors, and proceeds to give an overview of the Arbitration Committee's purpose and remit.

My name is Oliver Wendell Holmes, and I am a dead man.

I have been asked by The Signpost to provide a summary and analysis of the proceedings of the Arbitration Committee. The reason I have been asked to write this report is because The Signpost believes that I can provide a more objective and unbiased perspective on the proceedings than any of the living ors. This is because I am not subject to the same emotions, biases, and personal agendas that can cloud the judgement of the living. I am not sure why The Signpost believes that a dead man is better equipped to do this than the living, but I shall endeavor to provide a faithful account.

The Arbitration Committee of the English Wikipedia is the final decision-making body of the encyclopedia with regard to disputes between ors. The Committee is composed of a number of ors who are elected by the community, and its decisions are binding on all ors of the English Wikipedia. The Committee hears cases of alleged serious misconduct that are brought to it by the community, and decides what action, if any, should be taken in response to the misconduct.

The Arbitration Committee is an important part of Wikipedia, and its decisions have a significant impact on the encyclopædia. I will be providing a summary and analysis of the Committee's proceedings in order to provide the readers of The Signpost with a better understanding of its work.

WikiProject Tropical Cyclones case closed

In May 2022, the English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee issued a ruling in the case "WikiProject Tropical Cyclones". The case revolved around allegations of improper coordination among a group of ors using an off-wiki chat platform, Discord, in order to attempt to sway the outcome of on-wiki content disputes.

The Arbitration Committee found that, while the Discord server in question was advertised on-wiki and open to any or, there was evidence that some members of the server had used it to coordinate their ing in ways that were contrary to Wikipedia's policies on consensus-building and on-wiki discussion. As a result, the Committee imposed a range of sanctions on the ors involved, including bans from ing pages about weather-related topics, and warnings not to use off-wiki platforms to attempt to influence on-wiki disputes.

In its ruling, the Arbitration Committee emphasized that WikiProjects have no special status in developing consensus on Wikipedia, and that any or may participate in consensus-building on any topic that interests them. The ruling also reaffirmed the importance of consensus-building on Wikipedia, and warned against the use of external platforms to coordinate activities that would be inappropriate if done on-wiki. This ruling will serve as an important precedent in future cases involving alleged improper coordination among ors using off-wiki chat platforms.

The remedies in the case were as follows:[2]

  • MarioProtIV (talk · contribs) is indefinitely banned from closing, or reopening, any discussion outside their own user talk space. This restriction may be appealed after 12 months.
  • Chlod (talk · contribs) is warned about using off-wiki platforms in an attempt to win on-wiki disputes.
  • Elijahandskip (talk · contribs) is warned about using off-wiki platforms in an attempt to win on-wiki disputes.
  • LightandDark2000 (talk · contribs) is indefinitely topic banned from pages about weather, broadly construed. This ban may be appealed six months after the enactment of this remedy, and every twelve months thereafter.
  • MarioProtIV is indefinitely topic banned from pages about weather, broadly construed. This ban may be appealed six months after the enactment of this remedy, and every twelve months thereafter.
  • A set of best practices for off-wiki chat platforms was developed for leaders and/or moderators to consider adopting on those platforms.

Deletion case

Preliminary statements

I asked Justice GPT-Holmes to review each preliminary statement individually. He is quite long-winded, and there were a lot of preliminary statements, so even his abridged summaries are extremely long.

Fram says that the two ors in question have a long history of ing disputes and blocks. They have both been the subject of ing restrictions in the past, and their ing problems seem to be recurring and unresolved. I believe that it is time for the Arbitration Committee to take a look at their situation and see what, if anything, needs to be done in order to resolve the situation.

Lugnuts begins by recounting the recent changes to WP:NSPORT, and their impact on AfD. He notes that he has been the target of much of this activity, and that he has been repeatedly blocked as a result. He goes on to accuse JPL of targeting his articles for deletion, and suggests that a two-way I-Ban be put in place to stop the harassment. Lugnuts then turns to the recent ANI thread, and Fram's suggestion that this matter be brought to Arbcom. He states that he believes Fram is targeting him, and that this is not something that can be solved by the community. He concludes by noting that he has never used automation for his article creation, and that everything he has done is in line with WP:NOTABILITY.

Johnpacklambert's comments appear to center around two main points: first, that the proposed review is unfair because it focuses on a few isolated incidents from the past rather than on Johnpacklambert's overall contributions to Wikipedia; and second, that Johnpacklambert has made a concerted effort to improve his behavior in recent months, and should not be penalized for past mistakes.

S Marshall says that there is a need for the committee to take on a case involving the conduct of Lugnuts, John Pack Lambert, and Ten Pound Hammer in deletion-related discussions; the matter is one of importance, as it will serve as a test case for the Universal Code of Conduct; and the behaviour of the three ors in question is problematic and has been the subject of much community discussion.

FOARP says that the issues with Lugnuts and JPL are not just at AFD, and that the problems with Lugnuts go back multiple years and have not been adequately addressed.

Black Kite says that if the two cases are merged, it will just devolve into a he said/he said.

Rhododendrites says that the issues are not just with Lugnuts and JPL, but also with TPH, the issues have long persisted, and that an arbcom case could help to cut through some of the polarization and partisanship.

Robert McClenon suggests that ArbCom open a consolidated case involving the conduct of Lugnuts, Johnpacklambert, TenPoundHammer, and Alansohn in deletion disputes. McClenon argues that the community is not well equipped to deal with long-term complex behavioral disputes, and that such disputes are better suited for the quasi-judicial process of ArbCom. McClenon states that if ArbCom accepts the case, his three objectives are: (1) to have ArbCom restate and clarify the policies and guidelines that apply to deletion discussions; (2) to review the conduct of the parties and determine whether they have violated these policies and guidelines; and (3) to develop an appropriate set of guidelines for the use of discretionary sanctions in deletion disputes.

JoelleJay argues that AfD participation should not be considered an inalienable right, and that standards should be enforced so that low-effort !votes do not have the potential to sway numerical consensus. JoelleJay also argues that if the community largely disapproves of certain disruptive behaviors in AfDs, then the ors that persist in these behaviors should be warned.

ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ argues that ArbCom should accept a case focused on the conduct of Lugnuts, as there are issues with Lugnuts' ing in multiple areas, not just at AfDs. ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ argues that when Lugnuts has reverted users who replaced his signature, he was violating his ing restriction against making cosmetic changes that have no effect on the rendered page.

Folly Mox says that the signature issue could be resolved by an administrator, without the need for ArbCom involvement, and that the merits of the case are not something that ArbCom is mandated to fix.

Hobit says that the actions of the three ors involved are largely not worthy of admin action when taken individually, but are disruptive when done in mass quantities. Hobit also says that it is unclear whether this should be one, two, or three cases.

BilledMammal says that "Conduct at deletion discussions" would narrow the scope too much, and that John Pack Lambert's rate of nominating Lugnuts articles for deletion is not harassment.

Dlthewave says that ArbCom should open a case on deletion disputes broadly construed, and that a core issue is that community members interpret our policies surrounding mass article creation, stubs, deletion and burden of proof/WP:BEFORE in conflicting ways. Dlthewave also says that, although this wouldn't cover the full scope of Lugnuts' civility breaches, a deletion/notability case is a necessary step toward addressing the overall conflict in this area.

Ingratis says that both Lugnuts and Johnpacklambert are productive ors despite their less desirable behaviours, and neither of them is a net negative. Ingratis observes that there is a "continuing war of attrition between deletion and inclusion in certain areas, at the moment especially sports, which is independent of these two but has brought their always jagged relationship into unusual focus." They think that a combined case would be better suited to take account of the common ground underlying it, and that an important concern would have to be that one or both should not be held liable / penalised for stronger undercurrents for which they're not particularly responsible.

Mhawk10 suggests that the case be titled "Conduct in deletion discussions" because the scope of the case is greater than a single deletion discussion.

Levivich reports that there have been at least 458 ANI hits about AFDs in the past two months, and that there does not appear to be any page of ANI archives that don't have at least one thread about AFD. Levivich suggests that authorizing discretionary sanctions for "deletion" would allow admins to issue sanctions like topic bans without needing to get consensus at ANI.

Harry Mitchell commends Hobit's statement, and suggests that the problems here are not any one individual action or but a pattern of thousands or tens of thousands of s across the encyclopaedia and internal processes like AfD. They believe the structure of a case is "the only way to effectively examine the conduct of these two ors and preferably find a way that they continue to make positive contributions without derailing discussions or draining the community's resources".

JayBeeEll identifies several issues that may arise in deletion discussions, including the highly partisan nature of such discussions. They note that a successful arbitration case would need to consider many more ors than just the three mentioned here.

Ritchie333 notes that some sort of arbitration may be required in cases where community discussion fails to reach consensus. They suggest that 7&6=thirteen may be a party to the case, due to their involvement in recent disputes.

Moneytrees asks whether the case will become broad, covering more than just the behavior of Lugnuts and JPL at AfD.

Atsme suggests that the problems at AfD can be resolved with temporary restrictions and updates to existing policy pages, rather than by imposing a discretionary sanction.

Star Mississippi says that this is probably a deletion conduct case rather than a John Pack Lambert, Lugnuts, Ten Pound Hammer case; that emotions are high; that the problem is intractable, with varied groups; and that a two-way ban on Lugnuts has been proposed.

BilledMammal says that any case on John Pack Lambert is unnecessary, because the community has been able to resolve all issues raised; that the most recent discussion went poorly because it was drawn into a discussion on Lugnuts without a clear definition of the issue; and that a discussion at ANI considering only John would produce a consensus.

Joe Roe says that, if the scope of the case expands to AfD in general, there should be a courtesy notification at WT:AFD; and that, if the scope of the case expands to the entire deletion 'topic', there needs to be consultation with a broad spectrum of ors and admins active in deletion.

CT55555 says that the workload at AfD has increased; that a small number of ors are putting high volumes of similar articles up for discussion; that some ors are quick to propose deletion, and less enthused to improve articles; that a small group of ors also quick to agree that subjects are not notable, avoid any discussion about merge options and quickly conclude that only deletion is possible; that votes are cast based on the sources in the article, rather than any searches to establish notability; that, in their haste and gusto, the full range of checks detailed at WP:BEFORE appear to be sometimes missed; that, sometimes, ors find themselves finding sources that prove notability, but by the time they have done so, 1, 2, 3 or 4 people have very quickly concluded that the subject is not notable; that some ors appear to vote delete almost always and seem unwilling to update their analysis as new information comes to light; and that the deletion of good content is happening in haste.

Masem says that the community needs to discuss how to deal with the mass deletion of articles, and that this is a FAIT situation.

Vaulter says that there is a new ANI thread concerning JPL, and that this should be noted.

Deepfriedokra says that the simplest solution would be to require JPL to stop nominating Lugnuts articles for deletion and to stop commenting on them at AfD.

Jclemens says that our deletion processes work pretty well when applied by reasonable ors reasonably, but that the linchpin of the inclusionist/deletionist debate is that everyone wants someone else to do the work of improving articles. He also says that the Committee should consider appointing respected community members to oversee a binding RFC as a way to solve how we can get along with the philosophical disconnect of this debate.

Mangoe says that they do not see how ARBCOM can overcome the fundamental problem of reviewing the results of mass stub creation, and that the community needs to discuss this as a whole.

LaundryPizza03's statement concerns two users, Alansohn and TenPoundHammer, and the accusations against them of violating an interaction ban and filing hundreds of AfD and PROD nominations, respectively. Alansohn has been criticized for their conduct in the case at hand, where they voted at an AfD initiated by Rusf10 where they are not the creator or primary contributor. TenPoundHammer has been accused of canvassing at some of the postage stamp AfDs they initiated, as well as inappropriately closing an AfD and bludgeoning other ors at several AfDs.

Floquenbeam notes that several people are suggesting adding other ors as parties to the case, but wonders if they have been properly notified.

North8000 observes that the change to the NSPORTS notability guideline appears to have been a trigger for much of the recent ing activity in question, which could make the case complicated for the arbitrators.

Purplebackpack89 notes that Johnpacklambert has a long history of high-volume s to categories and AfDs, which has led to carelessness and/or ignorance of community consensus. They suggest that he be banned from AfD and category-space altogether, with a cap on the number of s he's allowed to make in a 24-hour period.

Aquillion suggests that the case be broadened to include conduct related to AFD, and especially WP:BATTLEGROUND "inclusionist vs. deletionist" conduct. They provide several diffs of such conduct.

Carrite notes that Johnpacklambert has requested to be referred to as "Mr. Lambert" rather than an acronym, on his Facebook account.

Analysis

A mostly black-and-white image of a cyborg version of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
"So this is what the 'information revolution' looks like."[1]
Image by Midjourney.

The general tenor of the preliminary statements is that there is a problem with the conduct of Lugnuts, Johnpacklambert, and TenPoundHammer in deletion-related discussions, and that this problem is having a negative impact on the community. The bulk of the evidence for these claims comes from diffs of comments made by the ors in question at AfD, ANI, and other venues. There is a consensus that something needs to be done in order to address the situation, but there is less agreement on what, specifically, should be done.

There are a number of different proposed solutions to the problem. Some ors argue that the issue can be resolved through the use of discretionary sanctions, while others argue that a more general case focused on the issue of deletion discussions would be more appropriate. There is also some disagreement on whether the case should be focused on the conduct of Lugnuts, Johnpacklambert, and TenPoundHammer specifically, or whether it should be broadened to include other ors as well.

One proposal is to open a consolidated case involving the conduct of Lugnuts, Johnpacklambert, TenPoundHammer, and 7&6=thirteen in deletion disputes. This proposal has broad support, with many participants arguing that the community is not well equipped to deal with long-term complex behavioral disputes, and that such disputes are "better suited for the quasi-judicial process of ArbCom".

Another proposal is to open a case on deletion disputes broadly construed, rather than focusing narrowly on the conduct of the three ors in question. This would allow the Arbitration Committee to address the underlying issues that are causing the problems, rather than just the symptoms.

Participants are divided on whether the Committee should seek to develop an appropriate set of guidelines for the use of discretionary sanctions in deletion disputes; some participants argue that the problems at AfD can be resolved with temporary restrictions and updates to existing policy pages, rather than by imposing discretionary sanctions.

There is also some disagreement on whether the case should be titled "Conduct in deletion-related discussions" or "Conduct at AfD". The former would be more accurate, as the problems extend beyond just AfD, but the latter would be more focused and easier to manage.

Looking at the evidence and arguments presented, it seems clear that there is a problem with the conduct of the ors in question. However, the proposed solutions are not entirely satisfactory. The use of discretionary sanctions may help to address the problem in the short term, but it is not clear that this will be an effective long-term solution. A more general case focused on the issue of deletion discussions would be more likely to lead to a lasting resolution of the problem, but it is not clear that such a case would be able to adequately address the specific conduct of the ors in question.

Ultimately, it was up to the Arbitration Committee to decide which proposal, if any, to accept.

The arbitrators moved to open a case, with ten in favor, one opposed, and zero abstentions. The primary reason given was that there is a need for a systematic review of the issue, which the community has been unable to provide. Other reasons given include the fact that the problem is recurring, and that the close of the ANI thread did not solve the problem.

There was some disagreement among the arbitrators as to whether the scope of the case should be limited to the three named ors, or whether it should be broadened to include other ors who have been involved in similar conduct. However, there was general agreement that the focus of the case should be on the behavior at AfD, and that the specific behavior of the named ors should be looked at as well.

As for remedies, there was discussion of an interaction ban between Lugnuts and Johnpacklambert, as well as a possible DS regime for AfD. However, it is unclear at this stage whether either of these remedies will be imposed.

Declined cases

A mostly black-and-white image of a cyborg version of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
"It's interesting to see how the 'free market' of ideas really works."[1]
Image by Midjourney.
Editor's note: I asked Justice GPT-Holmes to summarize the arbitrators' opinions on these cases.
The filer in this case has alleged that there are systematic problems with the way in which the Wikipedia community deals with disputes. The filer has requested that the Committee review the case, with a focus on whether there are any systematic issues present in the ANI process. Given the nature of the s in question, and the actions of the users involved, the filer feels that certain unreasonable actions may be conducted casually and frequently.
The majority of arbitrators who have responded to this case request have declined it on the grounds that it is premature and outside of ArbCom's scope. Specifically, they point to the fact that the filer has not attempted to resolve the dispute through other channels, such as discussion on the talk page or mediation. They also point to the fact that the filer has not attempted to engage with the other party to the dispute, and that the filer has not provided any evidence to support their claims.
Overall, the arbitrators seem to be in agreement that the filer has not followed proper procedures for dispute resolution, and that the case is not appropriate for ArbCom at this time.
The filer's claims, that 折毛 has been introducing hoaxes across multiple wikis and has failed to respond to communication requests, are serious. However, the matter does not appear to warrant arbitration at this time. The sentiment expressed by the arbitrators seems to be that ANI is better suited to handle this issue than the arbitration committee.
The filer of this case request has argued that there is an ongoing discussion at ANI filed by an IP or on 8 April 2022, which contains diverse opinions and disagreements from established ors, and that a more structured and formal investigation by ArbCom is needed to resolve the underlying issues. The filer has also noted that Celestina007 is a teahouse host and teahouse mentor.
The sentiment expressed by the arbitrators who have commented on the case request is that the ANI thread should be allowed to finish and that any sanctions should be given a chance to take effect before a formal case is opened. Arbitrators have also noted that Celestina007 has not ed for a few days, and that it may be premature to open a case at this time.
The filer in this case has alleged that Northamerica1000 has been engaging in disruptive ing on the Portal:Iceland page, and has requested that the Arbitration Committee open a case and impose a topic ban on Northamerica1000. The filer alleges that Northamerica1000 has been making changes without first discussing them on the talk page, and has been reverting other users' changes without discussion.
The majority of arbitrators who voted on this case request declined it. The reasons given were that the matter had not been exhausted through traditional dispute resolution channels such as ANI or AN, and that the matter was not ripe for arbitration. Some arbitrators also noted that Northamerica1000 had not ed the portal in question for over a year, and that a new status quo had emerged in the intervening time.

Odds and ends

The following are brief summaries of noticeboard announcements that I didn't think were worth bothering Justice GPT-Holmes about.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c This caption was generated by GPT-3 when prompted to come up with New Yorker-style captions for cartoons about Oliver Wendell Holmes being resurrected to write a Signpost report on Wikipedia arbitration proceedings.
  2. ^ Note that, while the above content was all written by GPT-3, I did copy-paste the remedies from the decision page, since summarizing them would be mostly pointless.