Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2008-06-26/BLP enforcement

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ArbCom's BLP "special enforcement" remedy proves controversial

By Ral315, 26 June, 2008

A remedy passed in the Arbitration Committee's "footnoted quotes" case has proven controversial. This remedy, which allows administrators to "use any and all means at their disposal to ensure that every Wikipedia article is in full compliance with the letter and spirit of the biographies of living persons policy", has been the source of some criticism; many users believe that the remedy is, in essence, creating policy.

The case closed on June 16, and its main remedy proved controversial even before the case was closed. The remedy reads as follows:

Administrators are authorized to use any and all means at their disposal to ensure that every Wikipedia article is in full compliance with the letter and spirit of the biographies of living persons policy. Administrators may use the page protection and deletion tools as they believe to be reasonably necessary to effect compliance.

Administrators should counsel editors who fail to comply with BLP policy by giving them specific steps that they can take to improve their editing in the area, and should ensure that such editors are warned of the consequences of failing to comply with this policy. Where editors fail to comply with BLP policy after being counseled and warned, administrators may impose sanctions on them, including restrictions on reverts or other specified behaviors, bans from editing any BLP or BLP-related page or set of pages, blocks of up to one year in length, or any other measures which may be considered necessary.

This does not preclude the use of emergency measures where necessary, and all administrators are explicitly authorized to take such measures at their own discretion.

A few days before the case closed, the case's remedy became more well-known, and many users criticized it on the case's talk page. On June 11, WJBScribe argued, "This remedy has a feel of, "We must do something. This is something, therefore we must do it." It is being implemented through a case which has had little community attention ... This remedy is going to come as a surprise to many and its implementation is in my view going to generate more heat than light."

Many other users agreed, arguing that the remedy was a marked change from the current BLP policy, particularly given the phrases "Administrators are authorized to use any and all means at their disposal" and "This does not preclude the use of emergency measures where necessary", both of which, some have noted, seem to strengthen BLP policy. FloNight disagreed, however, in comments on that page:

Frankly, I do not see this as a significant change from the current BLP or admin policy. From my perspective, the Committee is restating existing policy in a manner that draws attention to the matter while spelling out some safeguards such as warnings, central logging, and requiring careful review before acting.

The "any other measures necessary" and "emergency measures at their own discretion" clauses need to be included so that the BLP is not weakened.

Discussion continued, peaking with the nomination of the remedy's enforcement log for deletion. The discussion was closed as "speedy keep" within less than an hour, and discussion then moved to a talk page regarding the remedy.

The issue has essentially stalled over the last few days; while some discussion continues, no actions have been taken citing that remedy, though it still presumably remains in full effect barring community agreement to the contrary.



Also this week:

Board elections — BLP enforcement — Global groups — WikiWorld — News and notes — Dispatches — Features and admins — Technology report — Arbitration report


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