Wikinews:Water cooler/policy/ArbCom discussion

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Arbitration, Mediation, and Sysop Blocking[edit]

Dear all -

I want to focus not on the specific conflict but on the way to deal with behavioral disputes in general. To me, several things are clear:

  • an individual sysop should not have power to ban users for longer than a certain maximum period of days (my preferred amount would be 14 days, 30 days has also been suggested)
  • when an individual sysop's decision is reverted by another sysop, community processes should be invoked to make a decision
  • for long-term bans in particular, community processes need to be used.

Why have I arrived at these conclusions? Primarily because, even when dealing with trolls, I feel that it is of utmost importance that it is clear that we are "the good guys"; we do not act arbitrarily, none of us, individually, has sweeping powers, and we seek to rehabilitate users, rather than "punishing" them for the sake of it. I also find it inherently problematic to let the evidence for banning a user for a longer period of time be judged the person who collected it.

I feel that the English Wikipedia Arbitration Committee has worked reasonably well in this regard. While originally appointed by Jimbo, arbitrators have since then been elected by the community. Arbitrators recuse themselves from cases where they are involved, and they use very judicial processes to arrive at decisions.

Arbitrators do not, in my opinion, have to be sysops, especially for a small community like Wikinews. They should not have a short temper and generally try to examine a case rationally. Even though I believe in democracy, I find this process more appealing than one based on large community voting, which tends to favor an "us vs. them" community split. Humans, in groups, exhibit certain behaviors that are not necessarily desirable when the goal is to reach a fair and even handed decision.

The English Wikipedia mediation committee, on the other hand, has never worked very well. I do believe that the only way to make it work is to give mediators certain powers which would be based on the fact that mediation is accepted by the users in question. For example, Neutralizer and Amgine can agree to respect whatever verdict Ilya Haykinson comes up with through the mediation process. The mediators (no committee needed) would be encouraged to seek soft rather than hard solutions. If the user does not agree with a judgment, they could seek an appeal with the arbitrators (which could be approved or denied by them).

If a user refuses mediation with any mediator at all, they could simply seek arbitration immediately, but the arbitrators could deny it, assign a mediator or take instant measures. A judgment by the arbitration committee would always be non-negotiable - it would be the highest authority in the community. The ArbCom would always rule purely on behavior, not on which content is correct or false.

I suggest that we modify the mediation process based on the above considerations. Furthermore, I suggest creating a Wikinews:Arbitration policy and holding an open election on the English Wikinews to form the first arbitration committee, with members serving terms of one year each. By "election" I do not necessarily mean "vote". We could begin by simply having an RFA-like process which is consensus-based -- if that doesn't work out, we could still use a voting process.

A benefit of an operational AC would also be that we can start using the [[m:CheckUser Policy|CheckUser tool]] internally in compliance with the new policy. This would make it possible to check for sock puppets and the like.

This is fairly early in the project history to adopt such dispute resolution mechanisms, but I feel it has become necessary. Wikinews is perhaps more prone to conflicts than other Wikimedia projects -- news is, after all, almost inherently controversial. What do you think about the above proposals? If I get no response, I may simply be bold in the coming weeks.--Eloquence 22:08, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

I second that, Senator!MESSEDROCKER (talk) 22:13, 9 November 2005 (UTC)
This is the second proposal about this on this page, and additional discussions are ongoing in a lot of places. I think The Bellman's Wikinews:Dispute resolution system could be improved by some of the ideas above. I am cautious regarding the Aribitration committee, but supportive of it in theory; the example at en.WP is not inspiring for me, personally, but it provides opportunities for Wikinews to improve on the model.
On the other hand, the CheckUser policy does not require an arbitration committee, and I consider the two roles would be better separate than conflated. I'd rather not have Wikinews's CheckUser privileges held up by the development and implementation of further policy when instead the community could select two or more trusted individuals who could be independent of arbcom ruling requirements. - Amgine 22:27, 9 November 2005 (UTC)
What CheckUser is, isn't immediately clear to me - and presumably to others not from a wiki background. Is this some utility for using IP addresses to determine sockpuppetry? Brianmc 22:31, 9 November 2005 (UTC)
Yes. This tool would allow a community-selected person to perform sock checks; which is a really arduous and time-consuming task. It is complicated further by Wikimedia Foundation's privacy policy (linked from the policy page). What it comes down to is a way to gain some limited server log information, which the volunteer must then check and cross-reference by hand, and then come up with a true/false answer to the sock puppet question, since no other information is allowed to be passed on from a sock puppet request. - Amgine 22:38, 9 November 2005 (UTC)
Eloquence, I find this a very well-reasoned and constructive set of ideas and you've certainly convinced me. Rcameronw 23:33, 9 November 2005 (UTC)
Agreed. Excellent idea. --Wolfrider 01:31, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose. And here's why. I strongly disagree with limiting an Admin's choice of a block period longer for a set time (except in cases of permanent bans), as well as having one Admin revert another's decision - this should always be discussed between those two admins, and the community should only act by request of both parties. Bans should never be used, except for those who vandalize or advertise. All these items are the current fashion, and up until now - they were working. I believe the only problem with them right now is that the community is preventing administrators from doing what they were appointed to. Similarly, I believe some administrators are to blame as well for not doing what they should have done. But I refuse to comment any longer on the issue. --MrMiscellanious (talk) (contribs) 02:13, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
Mr Misc., let me say that I have a lot of respect for your work here on Wikinews, and I completely understand your frustration. I haven't even had time to look at all the evidence in this specific case yet, but I have certainly seen clear cases where Neutralizer has been unnecessarily abusive. I have also, however, seen cases where I did not agree that the behavior in question "crossed the line". For example, I do not think that "rm unsupported claims" is an "abusive edit summary", though it should certainly be followed up with an explanation.
Again, I understand that you are angry, and want action to be taken quickly. I understand that you were relieved when Amgine finally banned Neutralizer, which you saw as something that should have been done earlier. I understand that you found it frustrating that I removed this block, whcih you saw as admins bickering unnecessarily while a disruptive user was on the loose.
My position is that while we should look at each individual case, we should also look at what principles and processes we want to use for our project in the long run. I worry about the power of precedent. While what you propose may be a good short term solution, I would like to cordially invite you to reflect upon whether you truly believe this is a good long term model of governance for Wikinews.
The reason I am concerned is that what you are saying sounds effectively like admins should be allowed to do whatever they want, and other admins should generally not intervene. While this kind of "Shoot first, ask questions later" moderation approach may be used in forums and mailing lists, wikis have a tradition of being open, consensus-driven and extremely careful in excluding members from participation. There are good reasons admins are frequently referred to as "janitors" of the community. It is not their job to moderate, it is their job to do what the community tells them to do, and to act on their own without consultation only in absolutely crystal clear and obvious cases (vandalism etc.).
It works this way all the way up in the Wikimedia power hierarchy. Bureaucrats give admin rights based on whether there's community consensus. Stewards create bureaucrats and bots and desysop people, using the same principles. Even the Wikimedia Board tries to be informed in its decisions by the community as a whole (e.g. vote to launch Wikinews, vote to launch Wikiversity). This principle is what makes wikis so powerful.
A group of sysops who follow only their own conscience and who back each other up almost unconditionally might ban some people unfairly who could be reformed to become valuable contributors. It might create a perception that admins truly are editors, already widely misreported in the media. It might lead to feelings of cabalism, and to an increasingly restrictive adminship process. After all, any user who wants to become an admin would have to shoulder an enormous moral responsibility.
Then there's the backlash issue. The kinds of people who are often labeled "trolls" are frequently simply people with difficult personalities. The kind of mischievous person who cunningly sets people up to make fun of them later is the exception. Much more common are people with poor social skills who lash out easily at others when they feel bullied. A seemingly arbitrary process will create much more problems than it solves with these kinds of people: sock puppets, vandalbots, slander on external sites, and so forth. I do not suggest we let them get away with whatever they want to do; I do believe that we should do what we can not to provoke these people unnecessarily while at the same time maintaining the integrity of our policies and content.
A reasonable ArbCom process helps with that.
Now, if I feel we're dealing with a genuine troll personality, such as the G*N*A*A people, I sometimes find the ArbCom processes frustratingly slow. But with very few exceptions, it's incredibly hard to draw the line between users who are deliberately disruptive for the fun of it, and those who simply do not know any better. Both for reasons of fairness and to minimize "backlash" effects, I consider it sensible to make use of an ArbCom process when not dealing with entirely unambiguous vandalism and disruption.--Eloquence 05:59, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
Eloquence: you unblocked user:Neutralizer apparently in violation of blocking policy, without discussing it first and without any attempt at investigating the situation. Doing so has seriously undermined the ability of administrators who are working in this community, so please do not expect great support for your initiatives without also considering your own actions and their effects. - Amgine 06:07, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
I will not partake in your effort to take this discussion to the level of mutual accusations. Your record speaks for itself.--Eloquence 06:12, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
Yes, it most certainly does. - Amgine 06:15, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
Right now, I don't have enough trust in the community to believe that even 25% of the users here are informed of the policies and guidelines, let alone do I have any faith in trusting them running an ArbCom. I do, however, trust most of the Administrators to make good decisions - it has been proven with some of them to take those decisions. Yours unblocking Neutralizer without discussion (and without reasoning, for that) was not a good decision, and I am questioning your reasons for reverting such an action (as no statement of the blocking policy warrants your unblock). That aside, your reasons for the requests have not made an impact with me. The only thing that needs to change is that Administrators should not be heckled for their compliance with policy without reasoning. --MrMiscellanious (talk) (contribs) 16:12, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
And this ladies and gentleman is what the community complains about and what gives admins an almost universally bad name on the internet. To defend Eloquence, he was unblocking Neutralizer because there was massive community consensus that this was the wrong move and there was no policy at all in regards to your (Amgine's) action. Your post on Jimmy Wales' talk page indicates that you thought it appropriate to proactively create a policy (without community consensus). Unfortunately the admins of this Wiki seem content to bicker back and forth about who's done what when rather than solve a problem that is of great importance to the community. MrM's "I quite honestly could careless what other users want and what the order used to be on this site. I am not asking you if he should be blocked - he should be," comment should be enough on its own to prove Eloquence's point (and frankly have his Sysop status removed). The water cooler is for legitimate discussion about the project not about seeking what is essentially a permanent ban on a user that you two simply do not like. And, to be blunt, have invested an almost pathetic amount of time in making sure that the ban goes through. Frankly I'm sick of it. If admins wish to compare the size of their genitalia to each other's leave the Wiki and go on usenet, I'll even provide the rulers. --Wolfrider 16:15, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
And like I said, I don't care what you say. Honestly, I don't - I probably think I care more about what the Canadian parliament is doing rather than to hear your constant excuses. I don't care if the community thinks Neutralizer should be banned or not - policy obviously states that he should be blocked - end of discussion there. You are creating exceptions to users that you like - that is not acceptable. Eloquence acted on his own, off policy, and unblocked a user who was blocked in accordiance to a policy that has been long acting on this website. If you want to make changes to the policy, go ahead - but there are NO EXCEPTIONS to it - everyone will be treated EQUALLY under it, and right now - you are stopping that. I don't care if you and Neutralizer are buddies or whatever, THE BLOCKING POLICY WILL NOT BE DISRUPTED DUE TO USERS' PERSONAL FEELINGS TOWARDS ANOTHER USER WHO HAS VIOLATED THE POLICY. That is the end of discussion. The only time you should act on your own is when you have POLICY that proves those actions are warranted - so far, neither you nor Eloquence have provided them. Read the policies. Get informed. Stop trying to defend based on personal feelings. --MrMiscellanious (talk) (contribs) 16:24, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
I don't think there's any point in continuing this discussion with you. I will continue to promote the idea of an Arbcom for Wikinews, and if necessary, put it to a vote.--Eloquence 18:46, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
I find the need for a vote to be necessary. Please advise me when it has been set up. --MrMiscellanious (talk) (contribs) 23:06, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
I've added a note further up the page inviting Mr M to retract his comment: "I quite honestly could careless what other users want and what the order used to be on this site. I am not asking you if he should be blocked - he should be. And that's not the community's place to decide - it is the administrators", on the basis that it is disrespectful to the community and a mischaracterisation of the role of administrators. Rcameronw 20:16, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
I will never retract what I have said - not now, not in the future. The community has been disrespectful in not keeping their place on Wikinews, and has also been disrespectful to the administrators who are the ones who review the blocking policy to determine if a case is applicable under it. No mischaracterization, no disrespect (without disrespect thrown). --MrMiscellanious (talk) (contribs) 09:08, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
How about you just retract the part where you say (or seem to be saying) that you don't care about the views of the other members of this community? To care about someone else's views isn't necessarily to agree with them - it's just to acknowledge that those views actually do matter. I think it's important for administrators to acknowledge that the views of non-admins actually do matter, even where they disagree with those views. I think that we have an honest disagreement over who should decide a) the specific kinds of circumstances under which blocking is appropriate in principle b) certain specific blocking cases in practice (eg. where a long-term block is under consideration). I personally feel that the community as whole should be involved in deciding these issues. You (I think) disagree. To disagree with someone is not in itself to show disrespect towards them. What is disrespectful, however, is to assert that you don't care at all about another person's views. If wikinewsies don't show respect to each other, wikinews won't work. Administrators should, in my humble opinion, by setting an example to other wikinewsies. Therefore I (respectfully) invite you to retract the assertion I've referred to above.

Rcameronw 15:29, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

  • Maybe you misunderstood what I meant. As far as users are concerned, they're all equal - therefore I honestly do not care what they say (say whatever they want), I find their input valuable. But excuses and personal opinion based solely on an aspect that is wanted are not input. I absolutely hate it when users try to get another off the hook without even acknowledging their wrongdoings or admitting there was violations taken. Apologies are worthless, it takes someone who is genuinely sorry to make up for it by building up a respectable personality, and not muttering a few words based on pressure from the community (remember, we're not US politicians here). The problem I have with letting the community decide is that almost no one in the community has read a single policy, and therefore will act on personal feelings rather than to decide on what the policy states. These were written to keep Wikinews running smoothly. If I had proof that I knew the community actually read and understood the policies in place, I'd rather have them educated than to write up new policies and groups of members to deal with a nonexistant problem (which, essentially, is the ArbCom's place right now. It's useless - people are going to treat it like they treat Administrators). I have no problem in letting the people decide, as long as they can make an informed decision. That has yet to prove me that 25% of users actually know what they're voting for or against when polls are conducted. --MrMiscellanious (talk) (contribs) 16:02, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
  • OK, now I think I'm starting to understand where you're coming from. I fully agree that a very committed wikinewsie like yourself is usually going to be in a better position to understand the rules than a newbie or an occasional user. But I still think there are some big advantages in trying to involve the wider community as much as possible whenever serious decisions are being considered. One reason is that "participation motivates understanding" - ie. that people are more likely to make the effort to read and understand the rules if their opinion is being solicited over how, in practice, those rules should be interpreted. If the wider community is excluded from participation in the really big (ie. usually the more interesting) decisions then far fewer editors will, I think, bother to look at the rules.
  • Now I'm a fairly regular visitor to this site and I have tried pretty hard to read and understand the various wikinews rules, but I would say that it's often been quite a "conundrum" because many of the rules seem very vague and open to interpretation. One example is the set of rules on blocking, which I think even admins tend to interpret very differently among themselves, as we've seen in the last week or so. I think the issue is complicated by the way that the rules (and the way they're applied) seem, at least in my perception, to be constantly subject to change. In one instance we even had a situation where someone wanted to make up a new rule, unilaterally, "on the hoof", as it were. My concern is that, as is the case in real life, when the rules get too vague, they start to become more or less arbitrary. So if the admins are the only people empowered to apply the rules, and change the rules at will, then the admins, effectively, have arbitrary power! -- Rcameronw 18:37, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
  • One further point - d'you think it might be helpful if we started some kind of community-wide effort to clarify and promote-understanding-of the rules? It might be a contentious process, but if we could try and hammer out, for example, a simple and clear ten-point-summary of the major rules most likely to impact individual wikinewsies day-to-day (together with maybe a short guide on "what to avoid doing if you don't want to get blocked"!), I think that might be a useful start. If we get something agreed, maybe this "beginners guide" could be part of the information that new users see on their talk page when they first create their ID. The summary could also provide links to the full, more detailed rules, to make it easy for people to read up in depth. What do you think? -- Rcameronw 19:05, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
  • I suppose if some users want to cook one up, go ahead. But I highly doubt, that with the current response from the {{hello}} template (which provides all the links you need to educate a user), that the guide would be any more effective than the note is right now. --MrMiscellanious (talk) (contribs) 19:15, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
I would hope you would care more about the current status of a political entity than my opinions, it means your engaged at least. As far as Neut and I being "buddies" I assure you we are not. We don't speak offline or offsite. The only time I've ever conversed with him is through email and the biggest word count occurred when I chastised him for something he said privately to me. Apart from that was me honoring his request to inform the community about his position on mediation as he was unable to do so himself. I have yet to hear a proper defence of the 6 month block or Amgine's comment that he was going to create a policy by doing. This is an important factor in the discussion and one that is being ignored by the both of you. If Amgine felt it wrong enough to inform Jimmy Wales of his action, there is an issue here. --Wolfrider 16:55, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
  • Mr M, I'm really sorry that you feel you are unable trust the Wikinews community. But is it not the case that trust generally works both ways? I believe that the proposals Eloquence has put forward would help to build trust within the community as a whole - in fact I hope that they might help us get to a situation of mutual trust and understanding, whereby you felt that you could say with confidence that you trusted your fellow wikinewsies. I also believe it's important that Admins are, and strive to be, people who the community feels it can trust.
  • MM, I think we can all agree that trust develops through mutual understanding. I've just read your reply to Wolfrider above. Can I respectfully suggest that a more conciliatory, less confrontational tone might help you win people over to your point of view, and that it might also increase the trust and respect that people feel towards you? I'm not saying this because I am or am not anyone's "buddy", but as it happens I do think we should try our best to be "buddies" on this site because I think that wikinews would work better for it. Now, how about having a a nice cup of tea and a sit down?

Rcameronw 17:36, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

Yes you're right. My apologies MrM. This situation is just beginning to grate on my nerves. --Wolfrider 17:40, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

I would like to repeat my cautious support the concept of an arbcom? Since this is the policy section of the water cooler, and there have been several ideas raised regarding what an ArbCom might look like, perhaps we can talk about what it might entail? - Amgine 19:36, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

Yes, let's focus on actual policy issues. My starting considerations are:
  • the ArbCom is the next stage after the mediation process.
  • the ArbCom only deals with behavioral issues, it does not try to ascertain the "truth" of an article one way or another.
  • the ArbCom can also use a certain amount of common sense in interpreting terms like "disruption", that is, they do not have to be trolled by people who violate the spirit, but not the letter of a policy
  • the members of the ArbCom should enjoy as wide support from the community as possible. (Near) consensus is preferable to a vote.
  • the ArbCom decides to hear or not hear a case with a simple majority, after a deliberation period of 5 days.
  • the ArbCom can use a wide range of remedies, some of which are purely behavioral in nature (e.g. "do not edit these articles"). These remedies can be enforced through blocks by other sysops.--Eloquence 21:14, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
<nod> These are some good points. I'd like people to add in sections which have come up elsewhere which are not currently being addressed, and to make sub-sections here to make the conversation easier to join. I'm restating your points in sections below, which I might get wrong as I'm trying to see if I understood what you were addressing, as well as making some of my own suggestions:

ArbCom is a resolution stage[edit]

Arbitration is for situations where other methods of resolution have failed. All other options should have been exhausted prior to a dispute being brought to the Arbitration stage.

ArbCom deals with community issues, rather than article issues[edit]

The Arbitration Committee cannot determine "truth". Instead it addresses issues between and among members of the community. In making determinations, the committee is not bound by the strict letter of policies but may determine by their perception of the spirit of both the policy and the motivations of people they are reviewing.

ArbCom members are selected through discussion[edit]

Members of the committee should be chosen with as near a consensus as possible, and without a poll.

Mechanics of the Arbitration Committee[edit]

Hearing a case[edit]

The arbcom will choose to accept a case by simple majority. Cases which do not gain a simple majority within 5 days (120 hours) are rejected.


There should be a fixed, odd number of members. There are no fixed criteria for membership, but availability for speedy review of case applications should be a consideration. When a vacancy occurs the community should fill the vacancy in an expeditious manner.

A thought. How about the "community" being the fifth member? I.E. any tie that takes place relies on a community vote to break it. There also might be a problem with potential bias if the members are personally involved in a case. Perhaps there should be a "pool" of members and four selected from that pool to review a case, with the fifth being community input? --Wolfrider 02:21, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
Wondering how we could do that but still avoid the possibility of parties and politics. As a wild example, imagine a US citizen vs a UK citizen over british/US spelling - if the arbcom is already split, likely the community will also split and long-lasting bad feelings. If the arbcom manages the decision itself, we can all just hate them! <grin> - Amgine 03:11, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

To avoid the arbcom becoming a popularity contest, I suggest arbcom positions be reviewed annually for removal but otherwise be permanent until a member chooses to resign. That is, an arbcom member, once selected, never needs to meet the consensus requirements again; on an annual basis they may be discussed for removal, which would require a consensus to remove.

Based on the WP arbcom about 60% of the committee will be lost to attrition annually as their time and needs dictate, allowing for a steady turn over in membership over time. Members who become inactive for a period of time should be automatically removed; limited vacancy can be worked with (vacations, etc.)


The arbcom may use a range of remedies, including behavioural remedies such as requiring an editor to avoid certain articles or topic categories. These remedies may be enforced by blocks.

Community Appeal[edit]

I thought of a way to control the ArbCom which I think could also give greater acceptance to their decision. I call it "Community Appeal".

  • All cases go to the ArbCom first and get decided there.
  • A defendent who has been handed a verdict from the ArbCom can appeal to the community.
  • Note that an appeal will not delay the implementation of the ArbCom decision
  • Two other editors need to certify that appeal in order for it to accepted
  • If that happens, the community can vote to overturn the ArbCom decision
  • It would need some supermajority like 2/3 majority to do that
  • If that majority has been achieved, the ArbCom case will reopen
  • Only difference here is, that now every user is allowed the participate and vote.

Do you think that could work or is it just some crazy idea? --Deprifry|+T+ 06:13, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

This is a cool idea, but there are a couple of thoughts:
  • One way of looking at creating guidelines is "only create solutions for existing problems, and then only just enough to solve the problem." I don't think this problem exists yet (someone not accepting an arbcom decision, and the community agreeing.)
  • ArbCom and Quick Polls do the same thing. You probably shouldn't have both, but select one and support it.
  • Every user can/should participate in the selection of arbcom members, and then try to support them in their decision-making. This suggestion seems to me to undermine the ability of the arbcom to be a peace-making team on Wikinews. Realize, too, the experience of other wikis is that serving on an arbcom is extremely taxing and stressful and relatively few members actually serve their full term - adding more stress and complexity would probably not be helpful. - Amgine 23:07, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
My knee jerk reaction is to agree with Dep, but after reading Amgine's comment I'm inclined to agree. Perhaps we should keep the idea on the backburner if/when such an issue arises. --Wolfrider 02:37, 14 November 2005 (UTC)

Discussion regarding arbcom[edit]

Some of these ideas are great. One problem for me, personally, is due to my involvement with Wikinews I could probably not serve on the committee: I would need to recuse myself from nearly any case due to involvement with it, and so it would be useless for me to be on it. This may be true for most people on Wikinews because of a relatively small community. - Amgine 23:19, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

I respectfully suggest that most people (90% or more) on Wikinews would likely not be involved in nearly every case so I can't see that would be a problem for the vast majority of the community. Neutralizer 23:40, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
<laughing> Yes, I phrased that very poorly, didn't I? What I meant was, those people who are most active and, presumably, more aware of the community policies and practices are, due to the size of the community, quite likely to already be involved in any case which has exhausted all other possible methods of resolution. I did not intend to only make my own case. - Amgine 23:52, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for clarification; it just occurred to me that this position may be ideal for some of our experienced but less active administrators; for the reason Amgine mentions. It might be good to bring in a pair of fresh eyes to the issues. Neutralizer 01:58, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
Based on what I've seen so far, this seems like a good outline to me. One point I would make, though. I think it would be wise to have the arbcom members re-appointed every six months/year by popular vote rather than automatically. I think this would "incentivise good judgement" and give us as a community an effective mechanism for addressing any concerns arising from the operation of the committee. In other words, it would have a democratic "check" in-built. Personally, I don't think that wikinews suffers from an excess of democracy - I think perhaps we might need a little bit more. You can describe democracy as a "a popularity contest" if you like but personally I'd rather have that than a system of "Presidents for life"!

Actually, I think there may also be a case for Admin-status to be something that gets renewed on a fixed-term basis by popular vote... Rcameronw 00:26, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

Specifically, I'm a bit doubtful about this element of the design: that a member "once selected, never needs to meet the consensus requirements again". If Wikinewsies are to be trusted to appoint someone to the committee when they don't have any track record, does it not also make sense that we should be trusted to re-appoint in the light of how they've actually done the job in practice? Rcameronw 00:43, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
Keep in mind that arbitrators will almost certainly make enemies, no matter what they do. Perhaps put them up for re-election (using the same approach that put them in their position), but only count opinions from users who were not directly the subject of an arbitration case? Those who were could still raise their objections, and try to convince others to oppose reelection.--Eloquence 02:45, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
(re to Amgine's first post) I share that concern. I think most people here active enough to serve on the ArbCom need to recuse themself in a lot of cases because we a such a small community and everyone deals with just about anybody. --Deprifry|+T+ 06:02, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
  • I understand the reasoning for limiting who can/can't participate in elections but I think that in practice community members can be reasonable enough to take people on their merits, without being totally coloured by personal grievances. In "real life" we don't bar people who've been directly affected by the decisions of, for example, a particular mayor, from voting when he stands for re-election. In fact we tend to work by the principle that people have a right to a say in reappointments exactly BECAUSE of their personal connections to the issue. If the mayor has put up your local taxes or closed down your kid's school, then that's a very good reason why you SHOULD have a say in his reappointment - it's not a reason for barring you! In real life the only people we bar from voting are criminals and the insane - and I don't think any member of this community falls into either of those categories!

Rcameronw 15:48, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

  • Of course it might be argued that arbcoms are more like judges than mayors, BUT judges have to meet an extremely high standard before becoming judges, and have a consistently strong track record. As a result there's a lot of "quality control" involved in the appointment of judges that I don't think is possible within our system - at least not yet. Bottom line is we're unlikely to know what someone's really going to be like in the role until it's "too late". Hence the virtue of a democratic safeguard. It should be at least as easy to get someone out as it was to get them in. I actually think that some of the problems we've had recently with perceived admin abuse illustrate what can go wrong when such safeguards are not in place (as I've said elsewhere I also think there's a case for periodic re-elections of administrators).

Rcameronw 15:59, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

Let me point out that I am not opposed to the formation of an ArbCom, my feeling was that in the specific case that caused it to be brought up there was a problem as some of the proposed members had been involved in the dispute. Had the suggestion been to "borrow" Wikipedia's ArbCom for this one dispute then give time for things to settle down and elect our own, I would have fully supported the proposal.
Anyway, I'm posting what I consider a reminder to some people who appear to be spending the majority of the time they can devote to Wikinews debating how policy should be formulated. This is, Wikinews, the free news source you can write! and some seem to be losing sight of this. Brian McNeil / talk 15:18, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Arbitration Committee policy proposal[edit]

Based Erik's proposal and discussion here on the Water cooler, and borrowing the process model of the w:Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee, I've written up a draft arbcom policy. I encourage the community to discuss on the talk page additional changes before we open the discussion on members. - Amgine 01:52, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Wikinews:Arbitration Committee elections 2006[edit]

Elections are now open for the 2006 Arbitration Committee - Amgine | talk en.WN 17:13, 18 January 2006 (UTC)