User:Jclemens/Not a Wikipedian

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Note: This is not a talk page. It's an explanatory statement in the form of an FAQ.

So you're running for ArbCom again?
Yes.
What about that “not a wikipedian” comment you made?
In the course of voting to ban an editor with a documented history of both admirable content work and repeated civility violations, I made that statement, and later amended it ([1]).
Do you regret it?
That's not entirely a simple question—the simple answer is “yes”, but the details are more complicated.
I certainly should have phrased it better. As I've said previously the “are you now or have you ever been?” construction was a poor choice. I chose it for the impact, and echoes of 20th century political speech, but it was overplayed. I amended the posted statement to remove that construction.
Based on the fervency of the feedback, it's also clear that a large number of editors reacted more negatively to the characterization as “not a wikipedian”--far too many to attribute to simply those partisans latching onto any excuse to forestall Malleus Fatuorum's potentially imminent ban. While I expected the statement to be controversial, it was intended to prompt discussion on the concept of pillars as a social contract of our self-governing society, and that point was almost entirely lost in the ensuing uproar. I failed to make my point effectively and offended a number of people whom I hadn't intended to offend in the process, so it's clear that I blew it. No better way to put it, really: I tried for something provocative, and ended up with something offensive.
More subtly, I also did not intend the level of division within the committee caused by the phrasing I chose. That's something that the community as a whole will not see directly, but it's something that was real, and yet another unintended consequence.
What prompted it?
As many of you are aware, Malleus Fatuorum's conduct had previously drawn ArbCom scrutiny, including this case, in which I had supported an unsuccessful remedy to ban him for his conduct. During this case, he posted numerous comments including this on 17 October 2012, which said, in part, “Do what the fuck you like, I'm past caring what dishonest fuckers like you think” to Courcelles, another arbitration committee member. When I cast my vote to ban Malleus Fatuorum, that personal attack remained on the page. While anyone can have a bad day, his statement sat, unamended, for roughly two and a half days before any committee member moved to ban him.
But what about disagreements over what constitutes incivility?
Are you seriously suggesting that it's OK for an editor, especially oner who's previously been reprimanded by the arbitration committee for failure to maintain civility, to say “Do what the fuck you like, I'm past caring what dishonest fuckers like you think”? Because I'm not even seeing how that question can be asked in good faith. I've thought about this long and hard, and simply do not comprehend how any editor can excuse that comment as not a civility violation. While the community can and should take an active role in codifying civility expectations, the lack of rules saying “please do not call other editors 'dishonest fuckers'” is not any sort of an excuse for letting such behavior go unanswered.
So what would you change if you could do it again?
While with this hindsight I would have avoided the “are you now or have you ever been?” and “not a Wikipedian” construction, I would still have said something to justify voting to ban an editor who had excellent credentials as a content contributor as well as a long line of documented civility failures. The bottom line is that I believe that all five pillars are important enough to remove a contributor who is unable or unwilling to conform to community expectations, and I do not and will not apologize for that stance.
Is it personal with you and Malleus Fatuorum?
Not in the least. I wish he would continue to contribute appropriately while avoiding personal attacks and other general incivility. Unfortunately, “Malleus Fatuorum” is not simply a single editor—he's a rallying cry to any number of people who do not want to see him sanctioned for his incivility. Some of them point out administrator hypocrisy or misbehavior, others argue that differing parts of the English-speaking world have different definitions of incivility. While these individual arguments may have merit, they are missing the big picture: incivility contributes to a toxic atmosphere. That's why our fourth pillar is a pillar--in order to actually achieve an NPOV encyclopedia in a POV world, we need to focus on commonalities and speak appropriately to one another.
But aren't you a hypocrite?
How so? I think you'll find my language impeccably polite, even when people have recently called me various names, or implied that I wanted to unperson Malleus Fatuorum ([2]), said that “What he did is a bit like aborting a fetus and then telling it: "You have never been a member of the human race."” ([3]), accused of behavior paralelling Nazi anti-semitism ([4]), or even said that my statement is “not only more offensive, it's dangerous. That argument has been responsible for every war and every atrocity in human history.” ([5]). I think you'll find what answers I did put forth carefully circumspect, neither adding fuel to what was by then a huge drama-fest, nor falsely recanting what I did not say in an attempt to mollify criticism: I simply held my tongue.
So why wait until now to post this?
When I started to try and explain things piecemeal on my own talk page, I opened with a series of quotes from supportive emails that other editors had sent me. I was accused of dishonesty (malleus quote), and the email excerpts were removed ([6], but note that User:Nikkimaria made the edit, and User:Torchiest repaired it.) with an accusation that I was violating copyright by quoting those emails without explicit permission from the authors—even when the editors in question had sent me their missives offline in an attempt to avoid becoming part of the drama-fest. In the face of such disrespectful behavior and a hostile climate, I reconsidered my plans to answer, until I could put forth an entire argument like I've done here.
Will you recuse on matters involving Malleus Fatuorum, should you be re-elected to ArbCom?
No. As I said above, it's never been personal. Before this happened, I had voted as an arbitrator to ban him once already (Although as a "moral support" to remedy 5.2 here), and my position had not and has not changed. If I am reelected to the arbitration committee, it will be because those who agree with my approach to Malleus Fatuorum enough to vote for me outnumber those who do not. In the unlikely event that an additional matter involving Malleus Fatuorum comes before the committee prior to the election results being tallied and published, I will defer my participation until and unless the results, when published, show that I have been reelected.
So do you intend to push for Malleus Fatuorum to be banned?
I have always hoped that eventuality could be avoided. I actually think the better path is not to ban Malleus Fatuorum himself, but rather to admonish or desysop administrators who prematurely terminate legitimate civility blocks, so that the natural consequences of any future incivility would be meted out to him by administrators in proportion to any such hypothetical future offense.
Isn't that unfair?
If I was advocating an open season on Malleus Fatuorum, it would be. But I have always advocated that administrators who abuse their tools should be admonished or desysop'ed, depending on the severity of the misconduct. In the past year, the committee has tended towards banning misbehaving administrators rather than simply desysop'ing them, based on the humorously named “Super Mario problem” rationale. My response towards mutual misbehavior has generally been to sanction both editors in proportion to their respectively identified misbehaviors, rather than simply sanctioning the most at-fault editor.
So what is the civility end-state you're looking for?
I want to see a Wikipedia where conflicts of ideas are handle as conflicts of ideas, without the distraction of name calling, which is exactly WP:WIAPA expects. When and if we ever achieve that, we can decide where we want to go next. From my personal experience, the best websites—those that allow posting without pre-moderation and yet attract large groups of casual users—have very definite civility expectations and first warn, then rapidly disinvite, those who don't want to adhere to them.