Wikipedia:ArbCom reform

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During the ArbCom 2010 election, a candidate, Iridescent, gave the following answer to a question about "what changes, if any, in how ArbCom works would you propose?"

This essay focuses on the idea of splitting off the appeals subcommittee - WP:BASC - and doesn't cover the idea of a more democratic and representative version of WP:ACPD, which is described in a separate essay called WP:RfC Committee.

Before going any further I'd like to emphasize the following isn't necessarily the view of Iridescent or ArbCom in general. Also, just in case the huge banner at the top of the page isn't clear, this isn't a proposed policy, a request for comment or an official announcement by ArbCom - it's just an essay.

Possible ways to restructure ArbCom[edit]

Option 1 - split out existing subcommittees into full committees[edit]

  • Take the appeals subcommittee, and make it a stand alone committee alongside the arbitration and mediation committees.
  • Likewise take the audit subcommittee, and make it a stand alone committee alongside arbitration and mediation committees.
  • Wikipedians can only serve on either the arbitration, appeals, audit or mediation committee.

Comments on option 1[edit]

  • Could be perceived as having advantages analogous to separation of powers.
  • Would need serious thought as to whether splitting the committee in this manner would create coordination or continuity difficulties.
  • Of these 3 separate bodies, the committee handling cases - still called the arbitration committee - would presumably retain the authority to appoint checkuser and oversight permissions. This would probably be ok, but isn't a very neat fit considering the committee would now mostly just handle cases. On the other hand, the appointments process could be largely taken over by the community, and merely ratified by the committee.

Option 2 - create a new subcommittee[edit]

  • Create a new subcommittee that deals with cases.
  • Candidates stand for election to a specific subcommittee. Possibly around 10 arbitrators could be appointed to the new cases subcommittee and 4 each to the appeals and audit subcommittees.
  • Arbitrators can only serve on a single subcommittee, that is either cases, appeals or audit, and can't transfer between them.

Comments on option 2[edit]

  • More bureaucracy, that is another subcommittee, and less complete separation of powers, but on the other hand, possibly better coordination and continuity.
  • In particular, for situations where something unexpected happens, there would still be an arbitration committee that could take a decision as a central body, instead of 3 separate committees.
  • Could be a 'stepping stone' to fully independent committees, and easier to undo if the restructuring causes problems.

Comments on options 1 & 2[edit]

  • Reduced workload of arbitrators could result in more Wikipedians stepping forward for election.
  • A reduced workload could also result in ArbCom handling matters in a more timely manner.

See also[edit]