Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2021-11-29/Arbitration report

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ArbCom in 2021: We should have at least one of these every year!


With the Arbitration Committee elections for 2021 currently underway, it seems unfitting that the Signpost hasn't had a full arbitration report all year. A lot has happened in the last year: twelve motions were made, twenty-two cases were declined, one was dismissed, one was suspended, and six were closed. Three admins were desysopped, and one seemingly-nascent RfA candidate was indefinitely blocked as a sockpuppet of a Foundation-banned user. Additionally, the most active area of discretionary sanctions (American politics 2) had its scope redefined significantly. All in all, a total of 809 arbitration enforcement actions were logged, including in relatively new enforcement areas like COVID-19.

Without further ado, let's go over it!

ACE2020

Eleven candidates stood for the December 2020 Arbitration Committee Elections (with twelve nominations, of whom one withdrew prior to the start of voting). Among them were two non-administrators, two current arbitration clerks, and two sitting arbitrators from the December 2019 term.

In order of nomination, the candidates were:

  • Bradv, a sitting Committee member who was also a drafting arbitrator for Medicine, as well as Portals in January and Motorsports in March
  • Primefac, an admin and bureaucrat editing since 2012
  • Scottywong, an engineering manager who had been an editor since 2007 and an administrator since 2012
  • Maxim, another sitting member on the last Committee, who was a drafting arbitrator on RHaworth in January and Medicine in April
  • BDD, a librarian who had been an administrator since 2013
  • Barkeep49, an administrator since 2019 whose statement included a full platform
  • TonyBallioni, administrator and CU/OS since 2018 (who withdrew prior to the start of the election)
  • L235, an active editor since 2014 and an arbitration clerk since 2015
  • Hawkeye7, former administrator and MILHIST coordinator
  • CaptainEek, an OTRS agent and administrator since May 2020
  • Guerillero, arbitration clerk and administrator
  • SMcCandlish, technical editor and non-administrator

The seven candidates elected included five new arbitrators (Barkeep49, BDD, CaptainEek, L235, and Primefac), as well as the reelection of both sitting arbitrators (Bradv and Maxim).

ArbCom in 2021

In January, Tranche Beta arbitrator Xeno resigned, saying:

I have very recently accepted an upcoming role with the Foundation to help facilitate the second phase of the meta:Universal Code of Conduct consultations investigating key enforcement questions. To protect the integrity of internal committee deliberations, I am humbly tendering my resignation from the Arbitration Committee.

Since then, the Arbitration Committee has consisted of fourteen members (the above-mentioned Tranche Alpha, in addition to Casliber, Beeblebrox, David Fuchs, KrakatoaKatie, Newyorkbrad, SoWhy, and Worm That Turned).

In February, a formal structure for case workflow (initiated by Beeblebrox) was passed 8–0 with one abstention. The motion formally instituted a workflow structure for the Committee's internal handling of accepted cases (including an evidence phase, workshop phase, and proposed decision phase). The drafting arbitrator can add, remove, or extend phases according to their discretion; they can also choose to take actions like enforce threaded discussions or institute word limits on parties to a case. These parties can petition for changes to the rules in their case.

In March, a community consultation was opened regarding the practice of discretionary sanctions. This discussion concluded in May, reaching "a consensus that Discretionary Sanctions serves a purpose and remains effective in creating conditions for high quality information to be presented to our readers". Also in March, a majority of the Arbitration Committee signed an Open Letter from Arbcoms to the Board of Trustees, drafted over several months by many Committees across a variety of Wikimedia projects. The letter was included in the previous (March 2021) Signpost arbitration report, as well as a more detailed explanation of its intent and purpose.

In April, two actions were taken in the interest of increasing transparency. First, an appeals report page was created, at which arbitrators now publish periodic reports on private ban/block appeals. Later, a motion was passed regarding the Committee's retention policy on personally identifying information: an annual "examination" of the ArbCom wiki (to take place every April) was established, in which information would be "considered no longer necessary if the user has not edited under any account for a significant number of years or if the reason for the private information to be held has passed".

In September, a motion passed to amend certain Arbitration Committee "500/30" remedies, which required that editors have 500 edits and 30 days on their account prior to editing in certain areas. The amendment changed the language of the remedies to instead say "extended confirmed restrictions" were in place (which, at the time of the motion, was identical to 500/30).

New trainee clerks appointed the year 2021 include CodeLyoko, Firefly, MJL, and GeneralNotability (the latter of whom was promoted to full clerk in October).

Motions, cases, et cetera

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
Motions 1 4 1 1 1 2 1 1 12
Declined 3 2 0 1 2 5 2 4 1 1 1 0 22
Dismissed 1 1
Closed 2 1 1 1 1 6
Suspended 1 1
  • AP2 cutoff moved to 1992
    January 19: Following a request for clarification and amendment filed by Interstellarity on December 23, an 8-to-1 majority (with two abstentions) passed a motion amending the AP2 cutoff from 1932 to 1992. All other provisions of the remedy remain in place. The previous sanctions had been instituted when the American politics 2 case (often referred to by the shorthand of "AP2") concluded, with one of its remedies being a modification of previously existing discretionary sanctions on American politics (AP1, or ARBAP). The AP2 remedy authorized standard discretionary sanctions on "all edits about, and all pages related to post-1932 politics of the United States and closely related people".
  • Flyer22 and WanderingWanda case dismissed
    January 21: The Arbitration Committee dismissed the pending case between Flyer22 Frozen and WanderingWanda, saying: "The Committee has received word that Flyer22 Frozen has passed away [...] We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the family of Flyer22."
  • Encyclopedia Dramatica links permitted with consensus
    February 12: Following a request for amendment filed by Steve M regarding a dispute over link inclusion on the Encyclopædia Dramatica article, Remedy 1 of the MONGO case was amended by motion. The original remedy, from 2006, said that links to Encyclopædia Dramatica may be removed "wherever found on Wikipedia as may material imported from it". The amended version now says that such links "may be removed wherever found on Wikipedia, absent explicit consensus for their inclusion".
  • Gender and sexuality remedies moved to single case
    February 22: an 11–0 motion (initiated by Barkeep49, with language drafted by L235 and Maxim) passed to move Remedy 1.1 of the 2015 GamerGate arbitration ruling to a new case specifically created for it, Gender and sexuality (or "WP:ARBGSDS" -- quite a mouthful). Furthermore, remedies originally from the Manning naming dispute case, as well as the Gender Gap Task Force case, were relocated to the new WP:ARBGSDS case. There were no new sanctions or remedies issued by the motion, which was done solely for the purpose of making enforcement simpler by unifying remedies from disparate cases with similar areas of relevance.
  • Topic bans and site bans on Kurds and Kurdistan
    February 23: The Committee ruled on a wide-ranging arbitration case concerning the Kurds, Kurdistan, and Syrian Kurdistan (with drafting arbitrators BDD, Primefac and Maxim). Prior attempts at resolution were given as one thread on DRN, one on RSN, one on NPOVN, and eight on AN/I. The case was closed with a number of findings; primarily that the conduct of several participants had gone beyond the pale (in some cases as the culmination of a long history of disruptive editing). One editor, Paradise Chronicle, was warned to avoid "uncollegial conduct" in the future. Another (GPinkerton) was site-banned. Three editors (Thepharoah17, عمرو بن كلثوم, and Supreme Deliciousness) were topic-banned from "articles related to Kurds and Kurdistan, broadly construed". Three days later, these topic bans were amended by a 10–0 motion to strike "articles related to" (i.e. to make them apply across the entirety of the project).
  • Tenebrae motion
    March 23: Due to issues regarding conflict of interest, Tenebrae was "indefinitely banned from any mainspace edits related to Frank Lovece or Maitland McDonagh, broadly construed", but permitted to continue requesting edits on talk pages. Following an AN discussion two days later, Tenebrae was community-banned, and their account indefinitely blocked.
  • RexxS desysopped
    March 26: A case centering around RexxS was closed, after a month-long case filed by ProcrastinatingReader that accumulated 43 preliminary statements. Of those statements, around 17 had requested that the Committee decline the case. RexxS, a board member of Wikimedia UK until his term expired in July 2021, and an administrator since April 2019, was desysopped. RexxS, a contributor with over 43K edits since January 2008, has not edited Wikipedia since February 25, one day before the case was filed; on the 23rd he had commented that while he was open to "discuss and try to learn any lessons", he was unwilling to participate in "a forum for everybody who has ever disagreed with me to sling mud".
  • Carlossuarez46 desysopped
    March 31: An arbitration case against administrator Carlossuarez46 was filed. The dispute regarded "geostubs", articles generated from public databases of geographical information. Many geostubs serve as the basis for long and beautifully sourced articles — we all owe thanks to the famous Rambot — but many others remain stubs for years or decades, and many derive their claim to notability from the mere existence of coordinates in a database. Indeed, many geostubs are nominated for deletion upon the discovery that the database entries are the result of technical glitches, or data entry errors. Carlossuarez46, who had created thousands of geostubs in decades past, was accused of violating administrator conduct standards in 2021 discussions about his geostubs. After a week of proceedings, he announced his retirement on his userpage, and the case was suspended for three months on April 8, with a temporary three-month remedy of desysopping until it was resumed. On July 8, it was automatically closed, with him remaining desysopped.
  • Antisemitism in Poland remedy amended
    May 9: Following a request for amendment by Girth Summit on March 12, the Committee passed a motion amending Remedy 5 of the Antisemitism in Poland case.
  • COVID-19 sanctions moved from GS to DS: In the interest of full disclosure, note that yours truly made a statement on this one
    June 16: Following a long case request spurred by vigorous months-long dispute over the COVID-19 lab leak hypothesis, a motion was passed 8–1 to rescind the March 2020 AN-instituted community sanctions on COVID-19 (WP:GS/COVID19) and replace them with discretionary sanctions (WP:ARBCOVIDDS). Previously, 15 individual sanctions and 36 page sanctions had been logged under the GS regime; since the switch in June, the arbitration log has had 7 individual sanctions and 37 page sanctions for COVID-19.
  • Mutual interaction ban loosened
    July 3: the interaction ban between Ritchie333 and Praxidicae was amended by motion to allow discussion of the ban itself: "Parties may discuss the existence of the ban, and examine its implications, but remain forbidden from discussing each other and interacting with each other."
  • Palestine-Israel restrictions clarified
    July 12: Following a request for clarification and amendment by ProcrastinatingReader, the Committee passed a motion that "The phrase 'other internal project discussions', as used in Remedy 5 of the Palestine-Israel articles 4 case ('ARBPIA General Sanctions'), shall be construed to include requested moves."
  • Iranian politics DS enacted, four topic bans, two warnings
    September 20: The Iranian politics case, filed in July by Idealigic, concerned an area of dispute already under community-instituted general sanctions — namely, the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK). Previous attempts at dispute resolution had failed, and the Arbitration Committee issued four topic bans: BarcrMac, Idealigic, and Stefka Bulgaria were topic-banned from "post-1978 Iranian politics, broadly construed", while Mhhossein was topic-banned from "People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), broadly construed". Furthermore, Mhhossein and Vice regent were warned against "a battleground mentality". Additional remedies included the upgrade of post-1978 Iranian politics from general sanctions to discretionary sanctions, and the authorization of uninvolved administrators to facilitate RfC consensus-building by instituting word/diff limits on RfC participants, bans on disruptive RfC editors, sectioned commenting rules, and moratoriums (of up to one year) on additional RfCs on any given dispute.
  • Eostrix blocked
    October 19: As has been previously covered in the Signpost, prospective admin candidate Eostrix was blocked by the Arbitration Committee five days into a nearly unopposed home-run RfA. Eostrix was blocked indefinitely as a sockpuppet of Foundation global-banned user Icewhiz.
  • Emergency desysop of compromised admin account Epbr123
    November 19: Administrator Epbr123 has made over 290,000 edits since 2006, but has been largely inactive in recent years (their last 50 edits go back to 2013). The account was desysopped, globally locked, and indefinitely blocked under Level I desysopping procedures after its login credentials were compromised and used to make a highly offensive (now revdelled) edit to the article on George Floyd.

Unblocks

  • January 27: Donald1972, indefinitely blocked in August 2019, made a successful appeal to the Arbitration Committee, and was unblocked on the condition that they be forbidden from editing the article Matthias Laurenz Gräff.
  • March 4: SethRuebens, previously indefinitely blocked in August 2020, was unblocked following a successful appeal to the Committee. This editor would again be indefinitely blocked following an AN/I discussion in July.
  • March 17: J-Man11, indefinitely blocked since September 2020.
  • March 24: Jessiemay1984, indefinitely blocked since January 2021.
  • June 14: Uhooep, indefinitely blocked since May 2021.

Enforcement actions

Sanction area Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
Article titles and capitalisation 0
Catflap08 and Hijiri88 0
Civility in infobox discussions 0
Climate change 0
Electronic Cigarettes 0
Genetically modified organisms 0
German war effort 0
Gun control 0
Medicine 0
September 11 conspiracy theories 0
Abortion 1 1
Falun Gong 2 1 1
Infoboxes 1 1
Pseudoscience 1 1
Scientology 1 1
BLP issues on British politics articles 2 2
Macedonia 2 2
Shakespeare authorship question 2 2
The Troubles 2 1 3
Race and intelligence 1 1 1 1 4
Acupuncture 1 3 1 1 6
Iranian politics 1 1 3 1 6
Antisemitism in Poland 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 1 11
Motorsports 10 1 11
Horn of Africa 1 1 7 1 1 2 1 2 16
COVID-19 (individual sanctions) 8 5 1 2 1 3 2 22
Kurds and Kurdistan 2 1 2 1 3 5 3 3 4 1 25
Armenia-Azerbaijan 2 4 4 4 2 1 4 3 5 5 2 34
Gender and sexuality 8 8 6 1 8 4 7 7 7 1 57
Eastern Europe 7 14 11 6 6 3 7 5 3 1 63
COVID-19 (page-level restrictions) 6 8 4 8 4 12 12 8 3 7 1 73
India-Pakistan-Afghanistan 5 10 6 8 1 7 3 21 9 6 1 77
Palestine-Israel articles 12 6 17 7 21 13 8 2 10 5 3 104
American politics 2 23 20 17 18 7 12 10 12 10 10 4 143
Biographies of Living Persons 28 20 17 18 7 12 5 12 10 10 4 143
·Total ·97 ·113 ·96 ·81 ·48 ·83 ·59 ·82 ·66 ·61 ·23 ·0 ·809

So far, a total of 809 enforcement actions have been logged in 2021. These include a few in rarely-seen areas like Falun Gong, Scientology and Macedonia; the bulk of enforcement, however, occurred in traditionally contentious areas like Israel-Palestine and American politics 2. The most active category, however, was Biographies of Living Persons, at 143 logged actions.

Corrections: After publication, it was noted that RexxS's last edit was on February 25, not February 26, and that of the statements in his case, around 17 had been requests to decline. His final comment on the issue, from February 23, was also provided.