Timbo's ArbCom 2018 Voters Guide
The barely-filtered views of a jaded, Political Correctness-hating, NPOV-loving middle-aged pinko content writer that spends way too much time hanging out at Wikipediocracy...
::::::::::("The Øth law of Wikipedia," Author unknown, nicked from Raul's Laws.):::::::::
::::::::::(Timbo's Rule 23, by me, 2015):::::::::
Hello, fellow Wikipedians. It is that time again... Another round of elections for English Wikipedia's Discipline Committee, ArbCom.
This is a list of who I am voting for and why you should, too — not a list of who is going to win. I'm working on a streak, since 2014 I've called every single winner at Wikipediocracy. If you want to see how this election actually will turn out, you could do worse than check out my stuff in the thread entitled "WP Sado-Masochism Festival — It's 2018 Arbcom Election Time!" — including somewhat more unfiltered commentary than will fly here.
(Yeah, this is your big annual invitation to start reading and participating at Wikipediocracy — DO IT!)
I'm not sure there remains a big issue before Arbcom this year. With Friend Eric's departure from WP for the friendlier climes of Wikipediocracy, the Civility Warriors have lost their demonized Locus of Evil in the Modern World™ and therewith their mojo. As for the paid editing thing, don't we all agree on that at this point, outside of a couple crazy people chattering to themselves on the street corner? Moreover, San Francisco has moved from banning actual threats to the safety of children to permabanning Enemies of the People (as they define them), thereby removing more foodstuffs from Arbcom's plate.
Indeed, off the top of my head I can't think of a single big case that Arbcom has handled in the past year — intentionally excluding that overblown, much-ado-about-nothing German WWII content case; nor have there been any particularly controversial bannings or restorations to grace. Arbitration Enforcement of prior decisions and Discretionary Sanctions has vastly reduced the need to litigate new cases. Arbcom has in the process come to resemble a huge vat of room temperature vanilla pudding.
Why, then, should we care about the committee or these elections?
First and foremost, Arbcom remains the leading elected voice of Wikipedia. It has gravitas which allows potential negotiation with or expression of objection to, the action of the software engineering firm in California that raises tens of millions of dollars in our name. There will come a throwdown someday; these are our elected representatives. Secondly, Arbcom remains the highest decision-making body for resolution of fundamental disagreement about site policy or content, though they may not admit as much. It is where problems are solved through the removal of problematic actors. Thirdly, Arbcom is the only extant mechanism for the removal of administrators who go off the rails — and there are one or more of these every year. (Hi, Fred!) Finally, appeals to Arbcom remain the primary mechanism for banned editors to return to editing. There are a couple who have been wronged with ill-deserved bans entitled to a fair hearing; and many others who need to be kept out in the name of project stability.
It is important to have intelligent people in place who are able to weigh evidence dispassionately and to make logical decisions boldly.
Well, I'm already into Too-Long-Didn't-Read territory, so on with the show. xoxo, —tim
Strongest possible support
- SilkTork — I call this cat "My New Favorite Arbcom Member" on my User Page. Here's a double-barreled shotgun blast from the past from an Arbcom dispute from yesteryear... This level of analytical and snarky brilliance, drawing a logical conclusion from evidence, should be enough for NewYorkBrad-level support levels in this or any subsequent Arbcom vote.
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- Drmies — I wrote a record review about my nemesis Ben Weasel once that noted, "Even his greatest friends acknowledge that he is a prickly character. His detractors express a similar sentiment in a more succinct fashion." Somehow I feel like this minor witticism pretty much sums up our Dutch English teacher friend from the Deep South... God DAMN, he can be exasperating if you ever have the misfortune to be on the other side of a content debate with him, as I have... But Drmies is neither a weakling nor a bully, rather a person of strong and intelligent opinions with the courage to stand behind them, which is the true mark of leadership. And he has a sense of humor, which many people do not.
- Would I want a whole Arbcom of Drmieses? Yikes, that would be awful. But there needs to be one on that committee to kick asses as required. Big thumbs up.
Also voting for
- AGK — Anthony has been an Arb for four years already, took a break, and is now ready to drop trou and to again assume the position. Power to him, I guess, it takes all kinds. Snarkiness aside, Anthony has been a steady force during his previous time on the committee and should be near the top of your electoral hit parade this year.
- Mkdw — An Arb who is really into the job of being an Arb, as even a cursorily look at his edit history will indicate. Some people really like vanilla pudding.
- Kelapstick — I identified Kelapstick as a "sensible" alternative in the 2015 election to a field which included Mark Bernstein, Kevin Gorman (RIP), Kirill Kokshin, Gamaliel, Kudpung, Gorilla Warfare, and Keilana... Fortunately, he won a seat on the committee over some of the aforementioned. Even more fortunately, those Civility Warriors who were elected and their pals on the committee didn't drive crazy and blow up the engine and eventually got bored and parked the car... Thumbs up for a return of Kelapstick.
- Robert McClenon — I have long argued there are five basic types of Wikipedians: (1) Those who write content; (2) Those who polish, finesse, and curate content written by others; (3) Those who fight vandals and approve new articles; (4) Those who keep the site running though administrative maintenance tasks, protecting articles, and resolving inter-personal controversies, and such; (5) Drone bees who are just in it for the lulz. Robert's problem is that he is so deeply focused on Task 4 above that he has crashed and burned trying to run the RFA gauntlet to obtain the Administrator flag — having been too inadequate a content-writer or copy-editor to get over the bar. This may disqualify him from ArbCom in the eyes of some, which is both shallow and a pity. Sitting on ArbCom, our supreme dispute resolution and discipline committee, is really what Robert is meant to do. That's his focus as a volunteer at Wikipedia.
- Now, do I agree with him on every issue? Absolutely not. He is far more hawkish on the matter of paid editing than am I. Moreover, if we were in the middle of the wave of Civility hysteria that shook Wikipedia a few years ago, in which an organized caucus attempted to take over Arbcom, I'd have Robert thoroughly pegged as a Friendly Spacer and would have consigned him to HELL NO Island. The situation has calmed down since and I can appreciate Robert's efforts for what they are in a more neutral context. I think the groundbreaking event of electing a non-administrator to ArbCom and having them do an excellent job outweighs whatever disagreements about particular issues we may have. So, yeah, I'm voting for Robert McClenon, believe it or not.
- GorillaWarfare — Whoops, GW slipped in under the wire like an eBay sniper... You're gonna make picking the winners in this election difficult, Molly. You're one of them, we'll start from that premise. Not sure why you keep doing this horrible job, one would think your time could be better spent in the content world.
- Lourdes — A new arrival at WP in December 2015, Lourdes passed RFA by a vote of 207-3 back in February of this year. She is well regarded and would undoubtedly do a good job. After winning tools she has virtually stopped editing mainspace, which is fine, I suppose. Still: what's the big hurry?
- Joe Roe — Although registered in 2005, Joe wasn't really active at WP until 2010 and was gone a couple years between then and now. He got tools in Nov. 2017 by a 169-to-2 vote. There's no reason to think he wouldn't do a good job at Arbcom, but the bottom line is this: a relative new face jumping into the race at the 11th hour isn't a play that's going to get one to the winners' podium ahead of the pack already clustered around the rail. If you were serious about this, you're about five days late... [Addendum: According to Doug Weller there were real life reasons for Joe's tardiness; the spirit was willing, the internet connection, no so much...]
- Isarra — Lack of gumption in the great rhubarb v. strawberry-rhubarb debate, for starters. Fantastic candidate who will be getting a solidarity 7th vote from me.
Just say no
- Courcelles — Look, Courcelles is gonna win, we all know that, right? But for me this is an automatic DQ by virtue of family relation to a WMF employee, let alone past disagreements from more tumultuous days. The world will not end with his return, but seek superior alternatives.
- DGG — Four hours before entering the race, Disappointing Dave Goodman posted the following on Joe Roe's User Talk: "I think we need new people there, which is one of the reasons I decided not to run again. thanks for running." I advise you to take his advice.
You have got to be kidding me
- Fred Bauder — Eric Corbett's question for the candidate and the lame response pretty much sum up why in this era of #MeToo a candidacy such as this for a seat on our highest elected board absolutely should not fly. Some would have it that we're not supposed to Google the real life stories of on-Wiki identified individuals such as Fred. To which I respond: What, do you think the next journalist doing a cookie-cutter hit piece on Wikipedia claiming it is "unfriendly to women" isn't gonna do exactly that? Damned straight that we've gotta be playing chess on matters like this...
- Nor do I think that a low volume editor (exactly one month as a Very Active Editor in Mainspace in the past two years) who futzes around with dubious editing in the field of contemporary American politics is apt to be of much benefit to the committee, even if he does happen to be Wikipedia User #5190 from November 2002.
- P.S. The above take originated in less dramatic days prior to Fred blowing up his Wikipedia career with a pair of bizarre self-unblocks and descent into a textbook display of wheel-warring. Yet he is still running for Arbcom? Holy shit... How's that for bad judgment??? Actually, he's not gonna be an Arbcom member, he's gonna be a fuckin' Arbcom case.
- Doug Weller — Doug Weller is a content person who found the argument that he didn't need to be wasting his life at Arbcom to be compelling. He indicates that Joe Roe would make an excellent Arbcommer...
- Patient Zero — Young man in a hurry. (How do you say that in Welsh?) See ya after you've run the RFA gauntlet and piled up a few more years of solid work.