Wikinews:Requests for arbitration/Benny the mascot vs. Arbitration Committee

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Benny the mascot vs. Arbitration Committee

A motion to overturn the Arbitration Committee's previous decision in Brian New Zealand vs. Amgine.

Involved parties[edit]

Confirmation that all parties are aware of the request
  • This committee is the involved party. Benny the mascot (talk) 16:46, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
    • All five members of the Arbitration Committee have been notified on their talk pages. Benny the mascot (talk) 17:01, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
Confirmation that other steps in dispute resolution have been tried

Statement by Benny the mascot (talk · contribs)[edit]

In a recent 8–1 decision, the community overwhelmingly voted to delete Wikinews:Userbox Policy. The policy was considered to be unnecessarily bureaucratic, but initially was created four years ago per the orders of this committee in the case Brian New Zealand vs. Amgine.

In its decision, the committee ordered the following: "The community will develop a whitelist of approved userboxes with the initial priority being given to localization and language identification. Only userboxes approved by the community in the whitelisting process will be permitted. Other userboxes, as approved by the community, will be allowed. Any userbox policy adopted by the community would supercede this remedy." At the moment, no whitelisting process is in effect, nor do we have any userbox policy approved by the community. In short, I believe that the community no longer considers Brian New Zealand vs. Amgine to be binding policy.

I initially posted a correction notice (stating that the decision had been overturned) on that case's page but was promptly reverted by Blood Red Sandman. Through discussions on the case's talk page and IRC, it has been established that the Arbitration Committee is the only body that may overturn its decisions. I now ask the members of this committee to do so. Benny the mascot (talk) 16:46, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Regarding the ArbCom's first motion under consideration, I'd like to point out that the previous decision stated: "The community will develop a whitelist of approved userboxes with the initial priority being given to localization and language identification. Only userboxes approved by the community in the whitelisting process will be permitted. Other userboxes, as approved by the community, will be allowed." In other words, the ArbCom back in 2006 mandated the creation of a whitelist, which to this day hasn't been enforced. Therefore, I still maintain that since the community is no longer interested in a userbox policy, the previous decision should be overturned altogether. Benny the mascot (talk) 17:56, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Statement by Brian McNeil (talk · contribs)[edit]

I strongly objected to the surreptitious vote to delete, and by the back door, overturn a prior ArbCom decision. I believe my grounds for opposing this vote were well based in that the ArbCom had already provided the community with a mechanism whereby a formal userbox policy could be created.

Regardless of the decision on WN:DR, I consider the deletion of the draft policy to be an out-of-order action, and outwith the remit of any administrator without recourse to the ArbCom itself.

The policy should, in my considered opinion, be reinstated and the community carry out the work left to it by the ArbCom in their decision. To whit, formulate a sane and reasonable policy about what userboxes are acceptable. -- Brian McNeil (alt. account) /alt-talkmain talk 19:06, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Response to Bawolff
  • Resistance is ... Useless! ArbCom is either the supreme body here, or is is a waste of recycled electrons. The now-deleted draft policy was where the ArbCom handed thing back to the community. Deleting that is inviting the same case end up at ArbCom again. Not to mention, I'm more known for behaving like a certain two-headed DNA character than his government's civil service. -- Brian McNeil (alt. account) /alt-talkmain talk 17:09, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
Followup from BRS/Tempo IRC discussion
  • I've read through the IRC discussion linked-to below. That, in a nutshell, was why this policy existed. There should not be frivolous userboxes cluttering up the project. I would argue that the focus of Wikinews is far more on high quality writing that that of The Other Place™. If a user wants to create a userbox-like template in their own userspace, then that is not a problem; babel boxes are the one clear-cut case where userboxes further the project goals. I will repeat, the submission of a draft policy created in response to a prior ArbCom decision for deletion was an out-of-order action. I would urge the ArbCom to take simple action; to whit, restore the deleted policy page, and task the community - as was done before - with defining a clear list of whitelisted types of user/babel boxes. --Brian McNeil / talk 10:03, 11 July 2010 (UTC)
Note following some oppose votes to the initial proposed resolution.
  • The initially offered resolution, in effect, discards the prior ArbCom decision. This should not be the case! I would propose the following:
"The ArbCom shall put forward a brief Userbox policy, which explicitly delineates project-focussed use of userspace from other types of usage. In a nutshell, any type of userbox to be used via categories or templates must further project goals. Only explicitly whitelisted types (or classes, eg babel boxes) may be created in this way. Any user wishing to employ non project-related decorations on their userpage may do so by creating pseudo-templates in their own userspace. This is a discretionary privilege extended to contributing users, and should not be construed as in conflict with "Wikinews is not a web host."
As I said before, taking this to DR was completely out of order. The correct approach should have been to discuss additions, or amendments, to the existing policy. I am getting rather tired of people importing Wikipedia idiocy such as this. Quit the Wikilawyering; we've had far, far bigger fights on here in the past and kept pushing out a decent article count. --Brian McNeil / talk 20:08, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Statement by Blood Red Sandman (talk · contribs)[edit]

Arbitrators making statements is a little odd, but given the circumstances....

Without prejudice to being convinced otherwise, I would submit that the old policy contained nothing useful and had been abandoned for four years. Much of the old decision can be kept; maybe we need not kill off any of it (that will come later). If you really want such a policy - which I think is a Good Idea - then create it from scratch, because nothing of value was lost.

I would hope that any motion would consider adding a resolution that a sensible userbox policy, the content of which shall be determined by community consensus, is to be created. I would also like to include within such a motion it should be proposed that the policy shall be specifically for userboxes i.e. anything that should be a general rule for userpage content belongs elsewhere. Userboxes should be covered same as anything else by those policies. This has to address issues specific to userboxes that do not arise where the content is not contained in a box but directly upon the page. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 19:15, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

  • @Benny: I do not see any evidence that the community has rejected the decision. They have rejected one proposed version of the policy. They have not stated that it should not exist. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 18:48, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Statement by Bawolff (talk · contribs)[edit]

The short version: Don't be a Vogon!

Well to begin, I think this is an exercise in bureaucratic wiki-lawyering. Policy has force only in so much as it is enforced and consensus is in favour of it. No one really cared about the policy in the first place, if the DR was not brought up, I bet most people wouldn't know said policy existed. Just because something is written down does not make it policy.

I also disagree with the position that the DR was out of order. We're not a government, we should not unduly be concerned with procedure. At the end of the day, community consensus should prevail, and it should not matter if the proper motion was filed and signed in triplicate, etc. Structures such as arbcom, DR, etc are there to help us find consensus, if consensus appears without them, we should not ignore the consensus because it was out of order. Bawolff 20:41, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Statement by InfantGorilla (talk · contribs)[edit]

This late statement may be out of process, in which case delete it.

The two proposed amendments to Motion 1 seem to set up ArbCom as the ultimate decision maker regarding content. As far as I can tell, it exists to be the Solomon that resolves disputes about user behaviour not content. Once the users involved in the dispute have been instructed to obey the remedies, ArbCom's involvement appears to me to be over. ArbCom recommended that the (uninvolved) community create a content whitelist: it should not (and, barring IAR, it cannot) either take that responsibility back from the community, nor overrule consensus in a content decision. English Wikipedia ArbCom took to itself some limited powers to dictate content, but does Wikinews really need that to solve the user box issue? --InfantGorilla (talk) 20:44, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Arbitrators' opinions on accepting request[edit]

  • Reject. This does not need to be opened as a full Arbitration Case. Proposal: Deal with it as a Motion instead, something as simple as a proposal to vote on a motion of a yes/no regarding whether the Arbitration Committee simply recognizes the decision of Wikinews:Deletion_requests/Archives/2010/Q3#Wikinews:Userbox_Policy. No modifications need to be made to older ArbCom case pages. -- Cirt (talk) 17:06, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
    • Has this been done before? May I suggest that you change your vote to "accept" and have the ArbCom vote on the motion? Benny the mascot (talk) 17:10, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
    • I object, and feel the ArbCom should not allow this "backdoor challenge" to its authority to stand. The now-deleted proposed policy offered the community a solution. Its removal is a return to a state where stupidity and childishness can creep into the project. -- Brian McNeil (alt. account) /alt-talkmain talk 19:17, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
      • Do we have an active issue with bad userboxes? In my time here, I can't recall anything, and I'm not sure a policy is going to help solve any existing problem. It's not exactly as if we're like Wikipedia, being inundated with templates that require heavy-duty policing - at the moment, I'm of the opinion that any questionable userboxes can go through WN:DR as they are created. Tempodivalse [talk] 20:06, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
  • Support forming a motion for the ArbCom to vote on. However, I don't think this necessarily needs to be made out to a full-fledged arbitration case, per Cirt above. While such a motion would be bureaucratic and it appears few people were paying attention to the committee's decision anyway, if it wants to have credibility as the top-level enforcer, then it ultimately should be the one deciding to overrule its own decision. Tempodivalse [talk] 17:12, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
  • Support motion, reject full case Forming a motion is the way to go. I think its fairly common sense not to open an entire massive case; I don't anticipate controversy. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:22, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
  • Conflict of Interest Abstain, As I was in involved party in the previous case, I could not possibility be involved in any rehearing of this. On a side note, that was such a long time ago, I had almost forgotten about it! Brian | (Talk) | New Zealand Portal 21:06, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
Since a majority appears to have been reached, I now request that the ArbCom begin consideration of this motion. Benny the mascot (talk) 04:08, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
Let us wait until all arbitrators have commented here. -- Cirt (talk) 16:29, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
(Only one left, User:Cspurrier). -- Cirt (talk) 17:02, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
  • Support motion, reject full case DR was not the appropriate way overrule a Arbcom case. If the community does not wish for this to be a policy we can get rid of it, but it should be done by arbcom or a much longer and more visible process then a typical DR. --Cspurrier (talk) 09:41, 10 July 2010 (UTC)
Ok, since all arbitrators have commented, should we begin consideration of the motion now or after the election? Benny the mascot (talk) 15:02, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
See motion proposed, below. As the case was filed with the current arbcom slate of 5 active members, those selfsame members should conclude this particular issue. -- Cirt (talk) 16:32, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Motion 1[edit]

Note: Out of 5 active arbitrators, 4 rejected a full case, and supported voting on a motion. One abstained.


Proposed: The Arbitration Committee recognizes the outcome of consensus after a deletion discussion (July 2010), where the community determined to delete the page Wikinews:Userbox Policy. The community may propose, discuss, and adopt a new Wikinews:Userbox Policy if members wish this. However, there is no need to modify the existing prior case from 2006, Wikinews:Requests for arbitration/Brian New Zealand vs. Amgine. The determination at Wikinews:Requests_for_arbitration/Brian_New_Zealand_vs._Amgine#Userbox_whitelist deferred development of policy to the community, and with the community it still remains. The ArbCom notes that it is still the final decision-maker, but reminds that strong community consensus may be presented as evidence to encourage overruling an unpopular decision.


  1. Support. As proposed. -- Cirt (talk) 16:27, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
  2. Support I'm now satisfied with the motion. @Bennythemascot's latest comment: while I suppose we could explicitly say that the previous ruling was overturned and no longer relevant, I think that's more or less implied from the current motion's phrasing. Tempodivalse [talk] 21:57, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
  3. Support. To respond to McNeil: The resolution never stated that the policy must grow out of that specific version. The community had the right to reject that without overturning the decision one must exist in some form; and that is what they have done. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 10:27, 13 July 2010 (UTC)


  1. Oppose. While I support everything this motion says, I feel it should also remind people that ArbCom is the Wikinews Supreme Court and can overule consensus. I should like a motion that addressed that to also remind people that if strong consensus were reached to overturn an ArbCOm decision, this consensus could be presented to the ArbCom as evidence they should overturn their own decision. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 16:40, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
  2. Oppose I agree with the motion, but per BRS, feel there should be a mention that community consensus can't casually override the ArbCom. How about appending something like (just off the top of my head): "The ArbCom notes that it is still the final decision-maker, but reminds that strong community consensus may be presented as evidence to encourage overruling an unpopular decision."? Tempodivalse [talk] 17:18, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
    Added suggested wording by Tempodivalse (talk · contribs). -- Cirt (talk) 20:58, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
    Thanks Cirt. Looks better now. Tempodivalse [talk] 21:57, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
  1. Oppose. The DR was opened 6 July, the policy page was deleted 8 July. Two days are not sufficient to express community consensus (particularly not to the extent necessary to overrule an arbcom decision). Also as the arbcom derives its power from the community, true “strong community consensus” should overrule the arbcom. Our decisions have power only because the community supports us and by extension the decisions. If the community truly does not support our decision, I can not see any situation in which we really have the power to override the will of the community.--Cspurrier (talk) 16:19, 21 July 2010 (UTC)


Motion passes[edit]

Majority of those that voted are in support (with one member recused from this case.) The motion passes. -- Cirt (talk) 14:47, 31 July 2010 (UTC)