User talk:Dennis Brown

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Arb Election - Opposing All[edit]

Yes, I'm really opposing all. The only hope I can see for changing the Arb system is if we force change by having no one serving. This doesn't affect Arb not up for election, but one year of no one getting 50% would be enough to send a message and maybe to force some changes. I don't blame the individuals, but I do blame the system, and this is the only way to force change. It is less futile that supporting good people who are powerless to fix the system, and watching the system get worse each year, and 2015 definitely ranks as the worst year in recent memory. You don't need to even tell anyone, it isn't any of their business. Even if just some of the seats go unfilled, it will still send a message. I'm tired of being a sheep. If you are, too, and want to vote in a way that actually makes a difference, then oppose all. Dennis Brown -

Greetings, Dennis. We haven't met before, but I have come across your contributions to many heated discussions, and I would give your opinion some weight. Ergo, I would find it helpful if you would share some thoughts on what sort of reforms you are looking for in Arbcom, or alternatively point me to somewhere where you had made these opinions clear. Regards, (talk) 18:02, 25 November 2015 (UTC) Um, belatedly realized that I had not logged in; I do not intend to do so now and out my IP, but suffice to say I am an editor eligible to vote in the current election. (talk) 18:03, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
The current Arb year demonstrates changes are needed, but so have past. Outcomes that aren't reflective of community consensus, or are simply unenforceable, always late and sometimes defy logic. To make changes, it will take former Arbs (the only people that really know how things are run behind closed doors) and the input of the community BOTH to solve the problem. Insiders and outsiders both. The problem is, no discussion takes place, we just bitch about the system and nothing really changes. We just elect new people and the same thing happens. Nothing is forcing a change. I'm under no illusion that I have the answers or even fully understand all the reasons for the problems. It is kind of like when your car won't start. You don't have to be a master mechanic to realize something is broken and needs fixing. Some have mistakenly thought I was angry or sad or emotionally drawn to this, but it is really pure logic dictating my decision. If every Arb Committee is more or less the same, then it doesn't matter who I vote for, my vote is meaningless. I should either not vote or vote in a way that might make a difference. The only vote that can possible change this is enough people voting "none of the above". My expectations are low, I'm no fool, but I am sincere and not afraid to voice my opinion. At a minimum, it would be better to not waste a vote with a neutral vote, so if you must vote for a couple of people, oppose the rest. Dennis Brown - 18:31, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Unfortunately, Dennis, I think you chose the wrong year to make your protest. With a staggering 1,500 votes cast already (or so I belive) due to the mass mailing, your protest will be completely diluted, so many clueless people will be voting anyway (I mean just look at some of the questions the candidates have been asked) that we will again probably be getting the Committee we deserve rather than the one we need. Reforms to Arbcom can only really be brought about by the community. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 19:28, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
How do I amend my vote Kudpung ? I had voted for you, but given the above I wish to oppose you now. Thanks in advance. Pedro :  Chat 
Hi Pedro, Without comment on your individual vote choices, or those of any other editors; as I understand it, votes can be amended by simply voting again; the latest set of votes will take precedence. Hope this helps. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 01:34, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps, but it is really more of a statement than a protest. If I were trying to actually protest or start a movement, I would have started earlier and made sure it was posted all over Reddit, 4chan, and all the other troll havens. I'm an old marketing director by trade, if I wanted many people to know, trust me, they would know. Of course, whether they would react or not is another issue. Several fine people are running, including yourself, but I have little hope in reforms coming from within and there is currently no mechanism for change from outside. It is a walled garden if there ever was one. Win and prove me wrong, I will happily serve my own crow, but I won't hold my breath. Dennis Brown - 22:20, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
(talk page stalker) I found a "troll haven" once, but it was out of my reach, alas. Martinevans123 (talk) 22:37, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Had to reach for that one, Martin ;) I'm just tired of pretending everything is fine when it isn't. Again, not mad, I just want change and I think it will take people like me politely but bluntly saying change is needed. I don't require the masses to agree with me to know that change is needed. For now I'm content to just say it like it is. For now. Dennis Brown - 02:22, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
I admire your candour. I suspect many people will vote just to get the least worse candidates. Martinevans123 (talk) 08:56, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
I have more or less said in my candidate statement (or was it in answer to one of those pesky questions) that if I should be miraculously elected, I won't be pushing for reform. On the other hand, if I survive a two-year stint there, I shall probably have a lot to say about it when I come in from the cold. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 10:38, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Of course, what Dennis should really be looking for is an agent provocateur who can smash the system from within. Martinevans123 (talk) 11:09, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Well, as much as my genuine very good friend Dennis would like me to be, I'm not going to be an agent provocateur. Again, if (and that's one heck of a big if) I get on to the committee, my preoccupation would simply be to be equitable as possible. The big problem with Arbcom is that there are always some nice people on it, but unfortunately, they are often in the minority. If all is true about the work and the environment there as declared by WTT, its hardly surprising that the group becomes apathetic long before its term is up. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 11:19, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
As you have probably guessed, KP, I am just playing the devil's advoaat here. I'm sure your intentions are perfectly genuine. Martinevans123 (talk) 12:14, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
  • This is why I get back to forced changed, but the force coming from outside Arb, then all of us working on changing it a bit. Kudpung is right, Arb is poison to those who serve, and that is part of the problem. Ex-Arbs only talk in general terms, so you don't know until you are inside. I know enough to know it will take the cooperation of all of us, not chair throwing, but actual cooperation. But none of that starts until the choice to change is forced upon us. Dennis Brown - 12:26, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Chair throwing?? Can we please just stick to shoes? Martinevans123 (talk) 12:36, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
One of the problems with Arbcom is that unlike all other committees, it doesn't have a chair. Not that anyone would be daft enough to take the job if it existed. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 12:42, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
I would imagine that Brad was kind a of quiet, unofficial chair in many respects. I imagine Roger is filling some of that void with the behind the scenes paperwork. The problem is, when you elect new people every year, you can't always find a new "unofficial chair" person to show leadership in these times frames. I hadn't thought of an official chair, or leadership, but that is an interesting idea. Dennis Brown - 13:00, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
The impression I got was more youthful enthusiasm vs older wisdom. So you'd get the younger (and by younger I refer to number of terms, rather than actual age) members discussing lots, while the older members would just pop in and make a single comment and turn the discussion. However, there really wasn't a single person who chaired anything - whoever was interested in an area did the work there. So, I did a lot of mail management and BASC appeals, but less in the way of drafting. It rather happens naturally. WormTT(talk) 13:07, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
So some years, you get good synergy, some years you get bad. I don't think Kudpung is saying they need a dictator, but every successful open source project has one except Wikipedia (Jimbo no longer counts here). I would imagine some kind of leadership would be helpful, just judging how every organization has it, but have no idea what that means at Arb because I've never served. It does seem to be a crap shoot, which is no way to run the final dispute resolution stage of a top 10 website. Dennis Brown - 13:16, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Yes, it's one of the things I was considering suggesting to the new committee. A chair (or secretary, if people prefer) is desirable just to manage the administrative overhead: make sure all pending tasks are assigned to people, and track their progress, so if someone becomes unavailable, the task can be reassigned. Also the priority of the tasks can be rearranged as necessary. It could even be a clerk filling this role, since it doesn't require any access to the actual private discussions. isaacl (talk) 14:53, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
In many committees and boards a chair often has a casting vote but with Wikipedia's obsession with flat hierarchies it is unlikely to be ever brought into our byelaws. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 20:22, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Flat structures can sometimes be strong. Martinevans123 (talk) 21:20, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Inflexible ones, however, tend to break. ;) Dennis Brown - 21:34, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
True, but I guess you know all about matrix management and all those other Japanese inventions. Martinevans123 (talk) 21:48, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
With my suggestion, I don't see the secretary having much influence over what work gets scheduled to be done: he/she would just be making sure things run smoothly (keeping the trains running on time, so to speak). So if a committee member served in this role, I don't feel deferring his/her vote is necessary. It wouldn't cause any harm, though, and if it helps ease any concerns regarding the secretary's influence, then sure. Just having a clerk assume the role may be the simplest approach. isaacl (talk) 23:51, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
My gut says that actual leadership is needed, not just paperwork. I'm not sure how that would work in the current system. Every other organization (as Kudpung has pointed out) does it with leadership positions, not just figureheads. The trick is how we manage to do it here, and if you could even get consensus to get it done. People love to oppose change around here (or just fear it), more so now than years ago, which is why so many things end in a stalemate. Dennis Brown - 04:16, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
I'm not proposing a figurehead; the impression I get is that no one drives issues to be completed, which lets them get drawn out. In the real world, there are many committees that don't need a hierarchical leader; they just need someone to take minutes and follow up on actions to ensure they are done. That being said, I don't disagree that a leader that sets direction for the committee would be beneficial. It may not be necessary, though, to have one appointed by formal title. isaacl (talk) 06:46, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
  • This concept is something that should have been included in the mass email. — Ched :  ?  04:58, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Denis, that's not a bad idea, but as Kudpung pointed out so many are voting that it's not likely to work (and likely to lead to some unexpected results). I did support level-headed experienced people such as kudpung and Drmies but opposed the rest. As I see it, the problem is that the way ArbCom is formally structured it repeatedly creates a type of Stanford prison experiment scenario. I think the the whole idea of such a committee was a bad idea, but since we have it the best strategy might to eliminate most of its formal structure. This could greatly reduce the likelihood of creating Stanford prison experiment scenarios. For example, cases should be treated more like ANI or AN cases where there is open discussion, but informal Arb consensus and Arb closure with none of the silly voting on principles and such. --I am One of Many (talk) 05:44, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    If you go back in history, you find that Arb was setup initially with the idea that most cases would last one week. I think the formal setting for commenting is needed, to keep it from being the chaos that ANI can be. Some of the rest is too much. They skipped the Workshop phase in the current case, for instance. Not sure that hurt anything. Dennis Brown - 14:36, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    Given that the arbitration committee typically deals with situations where the community is split on how to handle matters, regardless of the level of formality used, I think it is helpful for decisions to layout the guiding principles followed, and the identified events that occurred. This clarifies the basis used by the committee to reach its conclusions regarding what transpired, how it was beneficial or detrimental to the project, and how the specified remedies are deemed suitable. isaacl (talk) 17:55, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    The problem is that within highly formalized systems undesirable group behavior can emerge from otherwise good people. Good prisons, for example, recognize this problem and attempt to train guards to avoid undesirable group behavior such as seen in the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse case. Now, the chaos of ANI could be largely avoided by strictly sticking to the principle that only Arbs' opinions matter to Arb consensus. We could become creative and even have experts at consensus—Bureaucrats—close Arb cases. --I am One of Many (talk) 05:46, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

ANI style cases.

  • Never seen Arb compared to Abu Ghraib, which is a bit humorous and obviously unfair to make a direct comparison, but I get your point that once in an isolated group, behavior changes. Stanford prison experiment is an interesting read in group think, an experiment that won't likely be repeated but has some value nonetheless. Dennis Brown - 12:55, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Abu Ghraib is, of course, an extreme example. Unexpected group effects happen in degrees. Unfortunately social psychologists have dropped the ball in studying Stanford prison experiment like phenomena. There are ethical issues but such social phenomena (including the Milgram experiment) need to be better understood. My view is that similar social phenomena often arise in rigidly interpreted rule-bound systems. You have probably found (at least in some cases) that by not rigidly following Wikipedia policy, you can save editors. ArbCom is the paradigm of rigid rule following on Wikipedia and I think an important source of its problems. --I am One of Many (talk) 19:19, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
'Ere Dennis, I've got this mate in Bay Area, any chance you could vote for him, he also thinks the whole farce is absurd. Martinevans123 (talk) 00:17, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • All the fun is here, including a graph. Maybe with a bit of luck the election will be declared null and void and we'll have to go through the whole rigmarole again. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 16:22, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
    • I was talking to Carrite on WO, where he was looking forward to more voters (but probably not this kind of turnout), and I remarked that as participation increases, the average knowledge of the candidates goes down, so at some point you reach a diminished return and maybe even negative results in respect to the quality of the "winners". When you see huge participation increases like we have seen now, it is usually not a good thing. Claims of gaming, ballot stuffing, offwiki canvassing, sockpuppetry, etc will soon be filling the pages, just watch. Whether any of this is true, it is anyone's guess, but it looks like I picked a great year to not run and instead oppose all the candidates afterall. Thankfully, real life keep me busy enough to not get involved. Dennis Brown - 17:10, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
I'm not sure who will get elected to ArbCom (and, as a clerk, I'll work with whomever does get elected), but I'm 100% certain that many individuals who don't get a seat will lay the blame on the mass messaging. For some reason, few seem to believe the increased turnout will help their candidacy which is odd.
Is it such a bad thing for voters to judge candidates based on their ACE2015 statements and Q&A and not be aware of their long history of interactions with other editors? I mean, knowing someone's history on Wikipedia can work for or against a candidate. There are few editors who have been here any length of time who don't carry around some baggage.
My guess is with so many editors talking about blanket opposes of all candidates, there likely won't be 9 candidates who get over 50% support. But that's just a guess. So, no revolution, no mandate for change, just a smaller number of arbitrators to handle the workload. Liz Read! Talk! 20:28, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
I agree that regardless of outcome, some candidates will complain. As for people relying on just the statements and answers instead of actually knowing the candidate, I'm not sure it is better or worse, but it is different and changes the dynamics of the election. I still have no idea what the outcome will be, no guess at all. Fewer Arbs might be better or worse, who knows, but I'm thinking that a higher turnout will likely mean the slots will get filled. People have always been more willing to support than oppose, and at least as willing to be neutral. I do notice that I haven't received the mass mailing here yet. All I do know for sure is that the mailing system will be scrutinized, as will the decision makers for it. Dennis Brown - 20:52, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
(Maybe the delivery bot has seen how keen you are to vote, Dennis?) Martinevans123 (talk) 20:56, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
I was quite keen to vote, and did soon after the polls opened. Dennis Brown - 21:25, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
You're such a Mephistopheles, Dennis. Martinevans123 (talk) 00:08, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Re: the idea of a chair mentioned above, I think it would be good to have one who wasn't part of the committee. I like the idea of a community observer, someone who would write regular reports about how cases were handled, deadlines met, etc. Also strongly agree that people's behaviour changes once elected. Can we centralize this discussion somewhere? SarahSV (talk) 17:05, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
    • Doesn't really fit under the scope of WER, so not sure where else to take it. VP discussions often get dominated by regulars, enough that I seldom even visit. After the election (and the fallout), it might be interesting to have a full WP: page on the concept, just a brainstorming, but organizing all that text will be a problem, because it will get flooded, so the good bits get lost. Dennis Brown - 17:10, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Logistically, that makes sense to me as well, and while is no guarantee it won't turn into chaos, is pretty much in line with how we would expect to propose change: Brainstorm followed by a well crafted, carefully worded and properly vetted RFC. It is always the wording of these things that dooms them, then everyone loses interest. Dennis Brown - 19:17, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • The key issue is that the Arbitration Committee sets its own procedures. The community could provide its advice based on an RfC, but the committee isn't compelled to follow it. isaacl (talk) 00:02, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
    • The talk page for Wikipedia:Arbitration redirects to Wikipedia talk:Arbitration/Requests, so that's where I posted my previous suggest for a minor change to the arbitration process, but I'm not sure if it got much attention from arbitrators. (Maybe they all agreed with the one arbitrator who responded?) Given that a proposal for a secretary is more related to how the committee works and not the arbitration process itself, perhaps Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee would be a good place to discuss it.
    • Regarding a community observer, if I understand your proposal correctly, no privileged information is required to write it. If that is the case, anyone can volunteer to do it right now and publish it in, say, the Signpost. isaacl (talk) 18:02, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I couldn't get myself to oppose anyone....well, except for the one that pulled their nomination. I figured if the option was there I vote to oppose.--Mark Miller (talk) 18:41, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

Arb Election Part Deux[edit]

Thanks to Kudpung for the link discussing the mass mailing here. Worth looking at if anyone missed it. The entire outside world must be laughing hysterically at how this place is run, making us look as if we couldn't find our own arse if we looked with both hands. The election seems obviously compromised but I fully expect nothing will be done, nothing will be publicly admitted, and nothing will really change anyway. Fortunately, none of this really matters for the reader. Dennis Brown - 18:10, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

Iridescent makes some good points, particularly:

... well-intentioned but unfamiliar with Wikipedia culture noobs (of the type who nominate themselves at RFA after two weeks) are precisely the people most likely to be flattered at receiving a talkpage message and thus feel they ought to do their bit, whereas the old sweats who've been here long enough to have a healthy contempt for arbcom will just ignore or delete the message. Consequently, I suspect this will lead to a statistically significant number of voters who really have no idea what they're voting for ...

SarahSV (talk) 19:06, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
Might cancel out a bunch of folks with axes to grind or pushing something...who knows. At this stage looks like we're all going white water rafting. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 19:42, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
I've started a discussion on Mdann52's page about how it happened. It seems that it was Kevin's proposal (he's a candidate and probably shouldn't have done that), then Errant took his proposal further and, in closing, lost Kevin's "editors active in the previous three months."
Cas, it could cancel out the grinding axes or cancel them in. The new Arbs will effectively have been chosen at random. SarahSV (talk) 19:55, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • A very apt description Casliber, we may end up in calm water at the end, or dashed upon the rocks, both are possible but for now, we simply do not know. To be mid-election and have this level of uncertainty about the process itself makes it unacceptable. Dennis Brown - 20:56, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • This coming from you who has said they'll be opposing everyone? ;) Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 20:59, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
I can't believe the contempt for average editors that this quote displays. People say that ArbCom is out-of-touch but what is with this attitude that "noobs", meaning editors not making thousands of edits a year, are going to make terrible, stupid decisions that all of the elite corps will have to live with? I mean, could this sentiment be any more condescending? As if only those editors with a "healthy contempt for arbcom" are the ones worthy to cast a vote but, surprise, surprise!, they aren't voting this year or are voting all oppose. So, it appears that many of these "noobs" value their vote more than some of the top 3000 very active editors.
That's democracy, folks. Everyone who meets the minimal voting requirements is entitled to vote. If you don't like this situation, change the voting requirements so it only applies to certain classes of editors you deem worthy...assuming that they will choose to vote. Liz Read! Talk! 00:46, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • It's hard for me to not be very sad at all of this. IMO - this was a year where we needed to see some improvement in Arbcom as a whole. — Ched :  ?  20:11, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes, it's a crucial year. SarahSV (talk) 20:15, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • One of the problems is that the successful candidates won't really have a mandate, so it will undermine the winners, and the others may feel they might have won had it not been for this. Should we consider re-starting it? Doing that won't make much difference time-wise. Pinging Kudpung too. SarahSV (talk) 20:18, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
      • This is Wikipedia, remember, so it would take a 30 day RFC to decide if we should restart, and, well, you know it won't happen. Only Jimbo could force it, but he won't. Too much potential fallout. I think you nailed it on Mdann's page, the results will likely be random selection of Arbs. Then again, if you wanted to vote fraudulently and get away with it (100 man sock army sitting on a university IP, canvassing, etc), this would have been a great year, as the there is no way the volunteers that are sorting the votes will be able to properly vet them. The bar will be very low, literally touching the ground. I have no idea what is really going on or will happen but we can't put this toothpaste back in the tube: Whatever happens, I think we we will just have to live with it because people will flip out if we seriously talk about restarting the vote. Dennis Brown - 20:38, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

(edit conflict)That thread is probably more important than most of us here even realise. Every post Iridescent made in that thread hit every nail squarely on the head. Even I with my famous talent for cynical prose couldn't have said it better. Ched makes a valid point above. I don't think it will be possible to overturn the election, but it's what should be done. Even my anecdotal suggestion for an election system might have better results. One of the problems is getting a decent selection of nominees. Perhaps there should be a run up to the election where users can nominate and second candidates, then let the candidate decide if s/he wants to run in the election along with the self-noms Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 20:55, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

May as well wait - technically it is more "democratic" to have a load of folks voting - remember, eligible is eligible. I suspect many inactive accounts that got notified are not actually eligible...Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 20:57, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
Cas, Kevin proposed that eligible voters active in the previous three months be informed. In closing the RfC, ErrantX may have misunderstood the proposal and changed it to all eligible voters. There was no consensus for that. On top of which, the RfC wasn't properly formatted, properly worded, it was closed prematurely, it wasn't advertised on CENT, and I'm not even sure the RfC bot distributed it. This isn't the fault of any individual, but it has left us with an election in which the stakeholders – the people who will be affected by the outcome – have been vastly outnumbered. SarahSV (talk) 21:48, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • While I understand that you guys are all concerned about how the turnout this year has turned what we've come to expect of elections on its head and made the results unpredictable - I certainly agree that it's probably anybody's game at this point, precisely because the vote is going to be affected by more than just the super-duper-insiders' opinions - I have to say that I'm rather concerned to see discussion among a group of highly influential editors (including some of the arbcom candidates!) of invalidating the whole election because people who are eligible to vote are, you know, voting. They're eligible to vote, by the rules the community itself decided on. They have standing to vote. They have as much of a voice as any of us in community decisions. There is no basis for disqualifying their votes (assuming they're not, like, a 2000-person sock army of doom, and I don't think they are) just because people hoped to - were used to - slipping the election by without them noticing. We have a reputation as a website that is cold and unwelcoming to those who aren't insiders, and this conversation strikes me as symptomatic of why people think that way about us: here we have a group of highly-active administrators openly discussing how to go the extra mile to retroactively disenfranchise people whose opinions those people apparently feel don't - and shouldn't be allowed to - matter, because that's how the insiders are used to it working and by god, they like it that way. If you're concerned that less-active editors are less engaged in and informed about the community, the way to fix that is not by going out of our way to make sure they know for sure they're not welcome in big community decision-making processes. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 21:59, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Fluffernutter, I don't want to point to examples, but I've randomly looked at a few, and they are people who aren't at all active. During local elections where you live, you probably wouldn't be happy if all the occasional tourists were invited to vote too.
The point is that the RfC close didn't follow Kevin's proposal. It extended it. So we have an arguably contentious proposal, not advertised properly, closed prematurely, and extended by the closing admin to become a different proposal. If you're arguing for a more democratic process, this really isn't it. SarahSV (talk) 22:11, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm not really arguing for any process, SlimVirgin. I think there are arguments to be made in all directions as far as whether talk page notifications are a good idea, and I understand that the process of the notifications this year ended up being wonky. But the people who were notified, even if there were more of them than intended, were eligible voters. So what I'm saying is that, eligible voters having been notified now, it looks really bad for people to be sitting here trying to come up with ways to erase the votes of those people because influential editors deem them to be nevertheless "not informed enough" or "not active enough". The community sets arbcom voting criteria, and if it wanted to have a criterion of "...and also, voters must be felt to be 'well-informed' by power users", it would have that. It doesn't. The criteria the community set are objective, and state that anyone who passes them is eligible. If you object to less-active editors being eligible (oh lord, I've now typed "eligible" so many times that it's stopped having meaning and I started to type "edible" instead...that would be a bad typo to make), the way to fix that is to start a proposal to change the voting eligibility criteria for the next election; it's not to look at an election half-done and go "...well, but we didn't actually want 'eligible' to mean 'eligible', let's disenfranchise the people we don't feel are up to snuff, despite the fact that they are eligible to vote under current policy and after they were specifically told they could vote this year!" That way lies madness and yet more negative news articles talking about how insular Wikipedia is. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 22:30, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • The idea I think most people have is that voters will see there's an election happening because they are part of the community. The community has set the bar low so that even new editors can vote.
But if you notify people on their talk pages, and if the notification system emails them, you have extended the electorate to people who really aren't involved at all in Wikipedia.
I take your point about the community having chosen the criteria. But they chose them before knowing about this mass messaging and emailing. At each point throughout this process, things happened without the left hand knowing what the right hand would do next, so no one was evaluating the consequences of each step. The result is that we are basically choosing the committee randomly. SarahSV (talk) 22:44, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi all - I can only post a brief comment currently, heading home from the holidays and leaching off a friend's wifi right before we're headed out. I will be back for-real tomorrow. I made my original proposal at WP:AN before I had decided to declare myself as a candidate; both due to my own feelings and direct recusal requests from a number of people, I decided to step back from the proposal once I had declared my candidacy. I asked Mdann52 to take over the proposal which he graciously did (eventually on the behalf of the whole EC.) I did intend for only eligible voters who had made an edit in the last three months to be notified, but this got lost in the steps between proposal and implementation. I don't think that my original proposal was a poorly formed RfC; WP:AN is the ordinary board where the appropriateness of use of the admin tools is evaluated. I viewed my original proposal as an (ex ante, rather than ex post facto) review of the appropriateness of me using +massmessage (part of the admin toolset) to notify all recently eligible voters of their eligibility, and not an RfC on how to conduct the election itself. The idea initially came up after we came across a content editor with over 50k edits who was unaware they could vote for arbcom. Besides bans, ibans, etc, arbcom also has active discretionary sanctions that can be applied to a huge portion of all Wikipedia topics (I mean, everything to do with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India had DS on it last I checked, as well as US politics post-1932 just as a couple examples - that's a lot of stuff.) Combined with the fact that arbcom has the ability to (and very well may) block/ban/otherwise censure content creators who may have quite significant roles in major content areas, I think the average recently active eligible voter has an active interest in knowing, at a bare minimum, that they are able to vote. It was fairly well advertised, though I don't have a full list of locations where it was advertised (and could make one later, but running low on time.) I feel the consensus established at WP:AN pretty strongly established that using the admin toolset in the way I proposed was appropriate - although the fact that *all* eligible voters were messaged does make me wonder what the results be like. Although I know this is an awful lot of massmessages, the consensus established at WP:AN that the proposed use of the admin toolset was appropriate was quite strong for review of any admin action at WP:AN. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:45, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Kevin, it should have been formatted as an RfC, distributed by the RfC bot, and advertised on CENT for proper input. But that's not the key point. It's that your proposal, which had a minimum recent-activity level and had gained consensus, was changed. SarahSV (talk) 22:59, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Mobile reply, excuse any formatting errors please. It was actually on cent, although iirc I didn't put it there myself and probably would've chosen a different title. Since it was an ex ante review of proposed admin actions doable with normal toolset, I don't actually agree that it needed to be an rfc - ex ante reviews of admin tooluse rarely are, so I think it's format was perfectly legitimate especially with the turnout it got. That said I do see the big issue with expanding three months eligible to all eligible voters ever... I'm just not really sure to say or do about it atm. Kevin Gorman (talk) 23:14, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks, Kevin. I came here to correct myself that it wasn't on CENT. I see Cirt added it on 28 October, and Kharkiv07 removed it on 10 November. SarahSV (talk) 23:21, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

Note: I opposed the mailing from the git-go; we have an election RFC specifically to work things out in a systematic manner. That said, what's done is done, and there is no solution moving forward from today except to accept whatever outcomes may occur. Since I'm now in the self-promotion business, I'll note I'm actually really good at two things: ignoring nonsense, and having a decent sense of how big picture consensus items will unfold: per the latter, there is essentially zero chance sufficient support will build to ex post facto invalidate voters or have a "do-over" election.

  • Fluffernutter, your points are well-taken, but hoped to - were used to - slipping the election by without them noticing is too much. That's not what folks are saying here; ace watchlist notices have been standard for years. The concern is inducing voters who were aware, but previously not sufficiently motivated to participate, to vote, may skew the results in manner detrimental to the project. While I disagree with that point of view, that's no reason to disparage the motivations of the editors promoting it.
  • SarahSV, The community has set the bar low so that even new editors can vote. Using "low" is fairly offensive, and inconsistent with an editor has expressed legitimate concerns about making Wikipedia more inclusive. NE Ent 23:30, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
  • NE Ent, you quoted me out of context, so I'd like to clarify that I wasn't arguing against new editors being given the vote. I'm arguing that accounts with just 150 mainspace edits since 2001, who may not have logged in for years, ought not to be invited to vote by email; or, if the community wants that, we ought to have had a proper RfC to decide it. SarahSV (talk) 23:59, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
    • I agree that the mass notification should have been considered part of the election procedure and so not something that could be added after the RFC had closed. I also agree that it's unreasonable to try to overturn the current election, simply because previously unlikely voters participated. For better or worse, the eligibility criteria were agreed upon, and did not contain any threshold of community involvement. isaacl (talk) 23:47, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
      • Isaac: my advertised ex ante review request of my proposed behavior at WP:AN actually had more participation than the entire ACE2015 rfc. The question of why that was is one we should study, but it's pretty well-established that a strong consensus established in a reasonable place takes precedence over weaker previously attempted consensus efforts. I could understand the point if it had been a proposal one day before the election took place or something, but it wasn't - and if it had been it wouldn't have reached a fairly strong consensus. It's a pretty big principle that WP:Consensus can change, so even if it would be ideal to get election procedures all set at once, the fact that they weren't doesn't invalidate a later proposal with a stronger consensus than anything at the ACE2015RfC had. This is ignoring of course eligible voters active within three months vs all eligible voters ever, which isn't an issue I know how to begin to address, let alone on mobile. Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:15, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
        • Yes, I've already read your previous statements on this. The problem is there was no ability to revisit the election procedures with respect to how they may be affected by a mass mailing, because the RfC was closed. isaacl (talk) 00:21, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
          • Significant concerns about them could've been brought up and handled in the course of the discussion, and either resolved (since there was time left till voting started,) or been significant enough to make the ex ante review find the proposed tool use inappropriate, in which case no mass messaging would've occurred. This is again ignoring the difference between three months and all ever eligible, just because I'm not sure how to address it even if I wasn't mobile, heh. Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:34, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
            • I highly doubt a change in eligibility criteria, for example, would be entertained after the close of the RfC. By design these matters are locked down at specific dates so voter expectations can be set well in advance, as well as any lead time required for setting up the vote. isaacl (talk) 00:39, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
              • If it had been brought up by enough people as a concern, they certainly would've been revisited or my ex ante review killed. There was plenty of lead time to set up SecurePoll and all of the technical aspects of voting. Kevin Gorman (talk) 15:48, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
                • Part of your reasoning for implementing a notification mechanism was to follow general practices in real world elections. By the same token, the procedures for real world elections are fixed at a specific date, so everyone can understand the ground rules and make appropriate plans. It is poor practice to advertise a date where the procedures will be fixed, allowing interested parties to allocate their time accordingly, and then subsequently change the procedures. To inspire confidence in all participants, those running an election need to clearly lay out what will be done, and then follow through on the plan. isaacl (talk) 16:33, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Also just to make a clear though mobile statement: I made the proposal not intending to consider running, while I was trying to attract more candidates. It started looking hard to recruit enough potential candidates that I decided to declare as a candidate myself. At that point, I asked someone else to take over implementation of the mechanics if it passed, though offering any technical assistance necessary (which was none.) So while I definitely didn't intend to massmessage 108k people, I also made the initial suggestion strongly thinking I wouldn't run, and stepped from implementation/discussion for the most part (like my participation here) once I declared. Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:27, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I didn't see or participate in the RFC, but due to the shortness of it, the close, and you then running, there is one problem: if you win, some people are going to ask questions. How many, I can't say, depending on how the vote count goes, may or may not be a big deal. I would imagine you already know this. It is just one more wrinkle in this whole election. Depending on how "plausible" the ratios are compared to previous years, innocent people may get swept up into some serious drama. And who is to say what is plausible? Of course, we won't know until the count is in, and it may all be fine, but there is real potential for drama looming. As we know, appearances are often as important as reality around here, so innocence isn't insurance. Dennis Brown - 00:41, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't think I saw it, either. Is the CENT thing reliable? Eg: pinging sometimes fails, for reasons unknown to me. Or perhaps it is just that I wasn't active during the dates in question - will have to check my contribution history. - Sitush (talk) 00:49, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Cent is reliable as long as you check centralized notices (which many people list on their userpages, etc.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 08:01, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Dennis, the candidates who lose will wonder whether they would have been elected by more active editors. And those who win a seat will be open to the claim that they don't have a real mandate because the vote was opened up too much. It's not an ideal situation for the candidates, no matter the outcome. SarahSV (talk) 00:53, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I agree, but Kevin's involvement in that process may (or may not) make him the target for an extra ration of vitriol. I'm not saying how fair that is, but the potential is certainly there, and better that he is prepared for that possibility. Not every discussion is going to be as calm and drama-free as this one. I've never seen an election with so many variables, so you hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Dennis Brown - 01:10, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Yep, certainly recognized. I don't expect to win anyway because most guides opposed me for one reason or another - although ironically some of the health-based ones are a bit backwards due to personal details I have chosen not to reveal; for the next two years I'm actually likely to be active and healthy, but have nothing approaching a fulltime committment to anything else, so I'd be a highly active arb. To be honest, with the current candidate pool, there mere fact that health meant I did miss most of 2015 as an editor would be enough to win an oppose or neutral in most reasonable guides. There's always the chance that people are directly reading candidate questions etc and thus voted me in, but I'd be a bit surprised if that happened. Since SV notes below that emails are not sent by talk-page notices, the implementation of this could also be not that different than what I suggested overall - if SV is correct (I haven't checked,) it would suggest that the extra votes are primarily coming in from people who meet the eligible guidelines AND were actively logged in to their Wikipedia accounts in the process. Though I don't expect to win, and fully expect more shit than average if I do win, I think I'll be comfortable enough putting it off: the ex ante tool review was started by me, but had 41 !support votes that were primarily from people I didn't know, had stronger rationales than the fewer opposes, and was closed by an admin I'm not sure I've spoken to. That said, I do regret that the situation I contributed to (I don't think the proposal if stuck entirely to three months of eligible voters would have the backlash it is now,) is going to put the next arbcom under a hell of a lot of fire. Kevin Gorman (talk) 08:01, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
    • Requesting that an email notification be sent when a post is made to your talk page is an optional setting, so emails would be sent if you have configured your settings accordingly. isaacl (talk) 13:34, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • If the election isn't restarted before the count begins – and it seems clear that there wouldn't be consensus for that – we'll have to respect the results. Anyone objecting to the election after the fact will be accused of sour grapes. SarahSV (talk) 01:55, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • That might be true, it would depend on the results. We already see anomalies in average experience in the voter. Likely, this means more total "support" votes and less "oppose" votes (which knocks the wind out of my sails, but I didn't expect much anyway). If everyone candidate receives over 50% of the vote, for instance, that is going to be really, really weird. I don't think that would be sour grapes to complain. I don't see any possibility of a "do over" happening here. Too many people are already invested, no one is going to fall on their own sword (that is clear), and at least a large minority probably think the more voters, the better, confusing it with Western Democracy. Dennis Brown - 02:04, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • There are lots of parts to this, which is why it's no one's fault. Another issue I think I have to correct myself on is that the accounts were emailed. I've just checked the default, and emails are not sent by default for a talk-page notice. If that's correct, it's perhaps not as bad as I first thought. SarahSV (talk) 00:50, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • The very fact this conversation exists is pretty strong evidence that the notification wasn't a good idea. The RFC stays open for a long time, and is open to all editors, rather than on an administrator noticeboard. (The argument that, because administrator tools are involved in implementation, AN is a suitable venue for policy is ridiculous; every policy may eventually require admins tools for enforcement.) The fact there were few comments in this year's RFC doesn't mean there wasn't a strong consensus, because election procedures have been worked out via years of RFCs. Due to voluntary response bias, when people are generally satisfied with something, they're less likely to participate. The lesson learned should be to include in the 2016 RFC an explicit prohibition against changing the conduct of the election after the RFC close. NE Ent 02:36, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Every policy may eventually require admin tools for enforcement, but changes to policies like WP:RS don't require admin tools to make them, and this wasn't a suggested policy change, but literally a use of my toolset. The thread on AN got a significant number of uninvolved opinions including from non admins (especially since it was on cent) than the 2015 ACE RFC did - and I would point out that given many threads elsewhere over the last year have made it clear people aren't happy with issues that could've been brought up in the 2015 ACE RFC, the lack of feedback and proposals in that RFC comes pretty close to invalidating it. That's not voluntary response bias, it's a RFC conglomerate that most people weren't aware of and those who were generally failed to understand the kind of feedback and proposals that could be accepted on it. I'd invite you to point to any precedent in the recent history of ENWP where except for a handful of arbcom ordered binding RFCs, the principle that consensus can change has been explicitly blocked. And I can't really imagine arbcom making ACERFC2016 a binding RFC going over stunningly. Kevin Gorman (talk) 08:01, 30 November 2015 (UTC)


Like I've said elsewhere, I'm not interested in blame because I don't think anyone intentionally tried to do harm. I do think there were mistakes made and we need to focus on not repeating them. And we have no choice but to move forward and live with the results, and just HOPE that the already busy team that filters through the votes isn't overwhelmed and that bad votes get through. I've already been said all this. I disagree that this discussion is disenfranchising someone or making Wikipedia look bad. Our mistakes did that, and they are our mistakes because we all have to live with them, we share in them. Whether it was the close, the execution, the delays, we will sort that out later. And to be clear, my talk page is always open for peaceful debate on contentious topics. Dennis Brown - 00:04, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

I'm curious about the worries some folks have expressed about sock armies. I was under the impression that the software screened for 500 edits and one month of editing; am I wrong? Vanamonde93 (talk) 11:12, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
In this thread; people say that more people voting in an election decreases its legitimacy, and while the WMF tries to find new ways of attracting and retaining editors, vested contributors angrily complain that "the rabble" might mess up their attempts to sway an election and say their opinion isn't worth jack. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 14:28, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
I find it kind of odd too - and found the opposes to my original ex ante review odd as well. Many of them seemed to actively suggest that arbcom should only be elected by a small educated cabal, despite the fact that 2014's voter turnout was godawful and most people didn't exactly seem to think that the 2014 session involved the highest quality arbitration we've seen. I didn't intend to have quite this effect (limiting it to a three month notification I think would've assuaged most worries that we were contacting people simply too out of touch with Wikipedia,) but I don't understand people who want us to have as a whole lower turnout. Even if this was not implemented in a way that will be pretty and wasn't what I had intended, we should be taking all reasonable measures we can think of to increase arbcom voter turnout, especially since almost all cases before arbcom involve issues that seriously effect editor retention. Kevin Gorman (talk) 15:48, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
David and Kevin, I can't see the need for the personal attacks and talk of power users, cabals, etc. Kevin, ideally ArbCom would be elected by an educated electorate as far as possible. Not a cabal, not small, but educated. What this did was create an electorate that has little idea of who the candidates are. I'm puzzled as to why anyone would think this a good idea.
A strong argument could be made for drawing up a long list of good candidates, then randomizing who is actually chosen. And perhaps doing this quite frequently so that we have faster turnover. But that needs to be put to the community to decide. This has effectively introduced randomization by accident. SarahSV (talk) 17:44, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
I don't intend any of my comments as a personal attack, but a couple of responses to my proposal literally suggested that a larger educated electorate was a bad idea, and that's a viewpoint that just confuses the bejesus out of me. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:00, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
Although you're right this would have to be done elsehwere, I actually kind of like this idea. Set minimum standards including block log/sanction standards, reasonable tenure, voting on a large pool of candidates and then alternating between them every few months, while perhaps making NYB permanent chancellor for the institutional knowledge and general wisdom :p This might also decrease the general hesitancy people have to run for arbcom and decrease arb burnout - and would probably speed up the process of deciding cases. But, as you said, that's an idea that would need to be fleshed out and discussed elsewhere. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:00, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
By the way, Kevin, your idea of notifying eligible voters who'd been active in the last three months was quite sensible. It's the loss of the three months recent activity that has caused the unease. Errant has explained elsewhere why this happened, and it's clear that it was just one of those things, nobody's fault. He thought you were going to do the messaging, so when he closed he didn't think he needed to spell out the proposal. But then you decided to stand, so Matt did the messaging instead. He simply followed Errant's close, and the three months got lost. SarahSV (talk) 18:24, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
Glad you think it was a decent idea :). And yeah, I think the idea as initially proposed was solid and would've helped - especially after we got fewer than 600 voters last year. It makes me nervous to see *arbitrators* elected with 273 votes, when we've had RFA's as high as 218 votes. I really wish the current situation hadn't occurred and regret the mess that it has caused. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:49, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
Kevin, I agree that the previous low turnout was a problem; or rather it was symptomatic of the problem, which is that the community feels disenfranchised. No matter how they vote, the committee seems not to work, so people are disillusioned. I hope when the election is over we can open a central page and start brainstorming about root-and-branch reform, including maintaining permanent long lists of good candidates, with "juries" chosen from that list at random, either for particular cases, or for short periods of time. SarahSV (talk) 19:03, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
SlimVirgin: There's no personal attack, but bald statement of facts: people here are suggesting that disenfranchising voters is the best way forward. Fewer voters does enable rigged elections more easily. And you're following up by suggesting you'd get rid of direct elections entirely. That's not an improvement. As for the assertion that the resulting electorate is essentially picking candidates at random—citation needed. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 18:38, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
I think you are oversimplifying it, David. My take on it is a bit different than most here, but if we have people voting who haven't been active here in a few years (not in mass, but it will happen) then that is outside what the community clearly asked for. I think most people are fine with Kevin's original plan, to notify people who have been active in the last 3 months. That makes sense, they DO have a horse in this race and it makes sense to notify them. That isn't what happened. What is most appalling to me is how we are this top 10 website and we can't pull off the only annual election we have, using new notification rules that the community agreed to beforehand in an RFC. Dismissing the failure isn't conducive to ensuring it doesn't happen again. If you want to notify everyone who has edited in the last year, or even allow anonymous editors to vote, fine, start an RFC, the community can decide. This year, the community clearly said the cut off was 3 months to notify. What damage will be cause (if any), I have no idea, but to suggest that wanting the process to follow consensus is the same wanting to disenfranchising people seems a bit of hyperbole. Whether it randomizes the outcome, I'm not sure, but neither are you. When you instantly and radically change the dynamics of an election (with or without consensus), you open up several possibilities, including a few that you and I hadn't thought of. Dennis Brown - 20:31, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
Nabla mentioned randomness during the original discussion and seemed to know what he was talking about, so perhaps he can explain more here. If we're going to send out mass messages in future, we should agree in an RfC, make sure the entry point is sensible, build in a recent-activity criterion, and alert voters much earlier so they have time to do research. SarahSV (talk) 20:48, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
What "RFC" are you referencing? The WP:AN discussion was not an RFC. NE Ent 21:19, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
SarahSV, I am using simple mathematical reasoning (which might be wrong, if it is I would very much like to know why. Really :-) I have been around for years but I am not too active. I know a few of the candidates because I had already multiple interactions with them or at least I have read their contributions to several discussions quite a few times. Then I may read a few statements, a few questions, and so on. So I base my votes on a few tens of individual inputs about each candidate, and I can read a few things in between the lines for the less known ones, I "average" it out in my mind, and there I go, "Nay" or "Yea" for each. Some users spend lots more time in here (e.g., you :-), so their vote is based on maybe hundreds of those smallish inputs that build up to form a strong impression if the candidates are to their liking or not. Much less active user will base their vote on very little knowledge, maybe only "that guy voted to (keep|delete) <that> article", or similar. If you base your decision on little information, you may, by chance, to have a first bad impression of someone you would like if you knew them better, or a first good impression of someone you would dislike if you knew them better. (see: Type I and type II errors if statistics ain't too frightening, or I could tell you about two guys at my work :-).
In short, less informed users (with smaller data sample about the candidates) are more likely to vote against *their own* beliefs by mistake. So this votes are more prone to error (the votes are not random, off course - ... I hope ... - but the events leading to them are). In the end all votes carry the same weight, although they do not carry the same information. So, there is some chance that we get the "wrong" outcome - that is not the same outcome we'd have if everyone is well informed. That said, note that if we have really many many many of those less informed votes, we eventually have a "collective brain" that has "all" the information. So there may be a breaking point, where having a few "random voters" randomizes the result (that is bad), but a *lot* of "random voters" actually work out well. I wonder if there is some study about it somewhere.
All in all, I'd say, it is ill advised to poke everybody about the ACE. Nothing against the right for everyone to vote, as long as they fit the criteria. But I think there is a implicit criterion we shouldn't change: if you are not here long enough to know you can vote for the ArbCom, them probably you are not ready to be a full citizen from this 'nation' yet.
I am sure I could have been clearer, I hope it makes some sense. - Nabla (talk) 20:56, 1 December 2015 (UTC)

Mostly agree with Fluffernutter's statements above, but a few more things to consider:

  • 1. Most regulars seem pretty unhappy with the current ArbCom, so trying to limit the electorate to pretty much the same people who voted the last time might not be the ideal way to improve that.
  • 2. People with older accounts may have stopped editing because of dissatisfaction with the management, so their participation might help improve things.
  • 3. SV and others above seem to imply that these voters "won't know what's going on", and so we're going to have an arbcom "selected at random". Frankly that's rather insulting to the old hands, who I presume would read the candidate statements, Q&A pages, and/or some of the voter guides. The objection that they "should know the candidates already" really does reduce this it to a popularity contest.
  • 4. If the notifications have been stopped mid-way (as seems to be the case, or perhaps someone managed to take me off the list), it should be restarted. Silly to jump off in the middle of it, when nobody knows what the results are anyway.

Anyway, imagine how the "press" will come down if WP dismisses the elections because the turnout was too high. That might be just as effective as "opposing all" as a way to begin sweeping away the volunteer management if the WMF is embarrassed enough. --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 14:38, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

  • Thank you for this post. (If you weren't notified, there's also a good chance your name was parsed incorrectly, since the list received apparently had formatting errors that were hard to automatically correct. However, I'm not honestly sure if all notifications went out.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 15:48, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
    Well obviously not a big deal for me since I knew about the election ;-). I see a bot delivering messages again on my watchlist now, so perhaps I just haven't come up in the cue yet (or it could be that when I made the account the underscore was in the username, but that doesn't appear in my login screen). --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 22:34, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • This is another issue that should be looked into. Some people were notified twice, others not at all. Kevin, who supplied the list of accounts to send messages to? SarahSV (talk) 17:47, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
  • As far as I know, Mdann52 got it from WMF. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:00, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

To address all of the above, it isn't about increased voter turn out, which is a good thing, it is about how it was executed. The close of the RFC did not match the discussion, the execution did not match the consensus, and there are some odd trends in the voting. Turning this into a "well you are saying more voters is bad, you are part of the cabal" is pure ad hominem and has no place in a rational discussion. Arguably, Kevin's original idea to notify those that have been active in the last 3 months would be an interesting and relatively safe way to boost participation. It was supported by a consensus, after all. This is not what happened. Instead, we have a situation with a lot of unknown consequences, and instead of increasing the credibility of the election, the very opposite may be true. If you think the only people that are concerned are speaking on this talk page, you are mistaken. If you believe that Wikipedia is a democracy simply because we have ONE election in our entire system of governance, you are also wrong. Perhaps we should stick with the merits of the arguments rather than call each other cabalists and otherwise assume bad faith. Dennis Brown - 16:06, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

  • I do worry, quite a bit, about how this was actually executed, and if the unknown consequences end up being unexpected, dread for the sanity of the next committee members. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:00, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
    • We all share that, let us all remember that. We have different ideas about how we got here and they are worth discussing, we all (myself included) just need to keep a calm demeanor. These informal discussions are better than dragging to a board at this point, because we don't really know the impact, and we really can't do much until after the vote has been counted anyway. Dennis Brown - 18:12, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
      • I like pointless graphs, it's the engineer in me. So here we go. As of about ten minutes ago, we had 2185 unique voters. The chart attached shows when they cast their first vote (duplicates have been removed).
23 Nov
24 Nov
25 Nov
26 Nov
27 Nov
28 Nov
29 Nov
30 Nov
  • I don't know if this adds anything to the conversation, but like I said, I like graphs. --kelapstick(bainuu) 21:54, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm one of those who makes up their mind at the end of the voting period. A lot can happen over two weeks to sway ones opinions. Liz Read! Talk! 22:04, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
Kelapstick, your competition has thrown down the graph-gauntlet. User_talk:Opabinia_regalis#Click_here_for_graphs_and_stuff -- are you gonna let her get away with that? Better pull out your fanciest protractor, or whatever it is folks use to make these pretty pictures nowadays.  :-) (talk) 14:40, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
75, Opabinia is not my competition, as I am nowhere in her league, both as a candidate, or graph generator. Truthfully, I don't consider this election a competition. Those who get elected will get elected, and I wish all candidates the best of luck in their endeavor. --kelapstick(bainuu) 20:19, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
The difference between scientists and engineers right here ;) Scientist: multiple overly complicated graphs with long explanations. Engineer: one graph, easy to read, makes the point. Oh, and Kelapstick even used the chart function instead of making everyone click through images. Smart guy. Opabinia regalis (talk) 20:53, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
I hope you didn't think I was attacking you or anyone else, Dennis. My reductio ad absurdum was intended to convince, not belittle (and by the way, the section title was to help alert other people who have your page watched about the topic under discussion, since "break" isn't particularly informative (though otoh I suppose my section title was a bit snarky)).
Two things that I'm not getting here. First, I don't understand how a larger electorate correlates to random selection. Second, if (as you've said on a few occasions) we should always be focused on the reader rather than the editor, it strikes me that a poll of all users with x number of edits since 2001 (or however far back that the database can be grepped) is more likely to resemble the "community of interested readers" than smaller alternative samples of "people who check their watchlists often" or "people who have edited in the past 3 months". --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 22:34, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
No offense was taken and all viewpoints are welcome. Sometimes I have to wrangle a bit, but being the host, that's my duty. I completely understand why you and many others feel that more people, including more people who aren't really involved, is better. I really do, and if it made up 10% of the vote, it wouldn't bother me. In fact, I might say it was a good thing because it might bring them back. And what if we went to 6 months back or a year? All valid discussions to have before the election. But when a mistake overwhelms the normal number of voters in the system, there is a possibility it can disrupt the election because new voters outnumber the normal turnout, you have the potential for chaos and unpredictable results that might not reflect the consensus of those that are here every day, or every month, or at least a few times a year. What people are forgetting is how many people READ Wikipedia while logged in but haven't edited in a while. They voted too, which again is fine. The problem isn't any individual that voted, it was that possible more people voted who aren't familiar with with they are voting FOR, than really understood what they were voting for. Not saying that is a given, only that it is possible. And that is a problem as the result may be more random than you think. Or maybe not, but we don't know. We do know mistakes were made, and casting blame aside, we need to make sure they don't happen again. Basically, this was a lousy time to inject this much uncertainty about the process, considering how uncertainty we already have about Arb in general. Dennis Brown - 23:45, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
Whether lousy timing or perfect timing, it's certainly interesting timing, and a cat well out of the bag. Informing all the enfranchised of their status may be one of the most spectacular examples of unintentional BOLDness we've seen in a long time. There's a horticultural technique called "kill or cure" that comes to mind. --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 02:00, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
Don't Panic towel.jpg
I think that sending the 100k notifications will NOT have much impact, in practice. Surprisingly enough. Opabinia_regalis is also a sucker for graphs, like Kelapstick, and has been doing some good analysis-work over at her usertalk, see User_talk:Opabinia_regalis#Click_here_for_graphs_and_stuff as well as points further up that usertalk. In particular, by her calculations (as I understand them), of the ~2200 unique bangvotes cast so far, there are 163 of them who would NOT have been notified under the must-be-active-in-the-past-three-months qualifier. In other words, although 100k mass-messages were sent out, in *practice* only people recently active showed up to actually vote, plus a smidge more. That additional 163 bangvotes won't statistically screw up the election, because they aren't acting in concert, and they don't overwhelm the rest of the electorate.
  On an unrelated matter, that worried me plenty more than the mass-message, Opabinia *also* did a check of how many usernames were created during 2015, and found only 87, which is a good indication that there is not a lot of unsophisticated socking happening during this election, either. In short, everything is probably gonna be fine. Those calling for a recount, and demanding the hanging chad question be solved... there might not even BE such problems, as fears of the unknown can sometimes generate. This arbcom election is going decently, and is being done in the wikipedia way: by amateurs, who don't know what we're doing, but end up with a reasonably high-quality outcome anyways, at the end of the day.  :-)     I can only repeat the great philosopher Adams, who sayeth, don't WP:PANIC please. (talk) 14:40, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
Interesting take and I'm hoping you are right. My biggest frustration is how this all happened, and how quickly some are to dismiss it. Regardless of outcome, this is a giant breach of community trust, and that counts for something. Dennis Brown - 15:05, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
Well, I'm still doing my own off-wiki number crunching.  :-)     So I'm not completely WP:DGAF. But I was -- note past tense -- seriously worried at first, that we would have a turnout of 15k+ low-info-voters, and that didn't happen. There was an AN discussion (kinda like an RfC), which got approved, and somebody dropped the ball on the way from the approved-plan to a seemingly-dramatically-different plan... but in the end, the fear of dramatic difference did not come to pass. If you averaged the voterguides of worm, ealdgyth, elonka, carrite, tryptofish, and harry in 2014 you could see who was going to win, and roughly the ordering. 2015 will be different, because there was a mass-message to 100k eligible rather than to ~~10k eligible && active ... but in the event, a very small portion of those ~~90k eligible yet inactive bothered to actually vote. Anyways, I see clumsy ball-dropping (which as you point out is not worth playing the blame-game over), but I don't see the Giant Breach... clumsy can be fixed next year, without horse-already-bolted-talk of overturning *this* election, right? So if there *is* some kind of Giant Britches Of Flame, besides the accidentally-wider-than-intended mass message during the first attempted trial run of this election-alert scheme, please clue me in. (talk) 15:22, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
Couple of quick comments on the above: to be consistent with the rest of the data on my talk page, I looked only at the same 1901 votes (=1811 unique voters) from Nov 23-26 that I used for the earlier graphs. So it's 162/1811 = 9% who miss the cutoff, and 87/1811 = 5% who registered in 2015. It's still true that the distribution of voter edit counts is very different from prior elections, with many more low-edit-count voters, and this is not easily explained by expected variation in wiki-life-cycle over time. I agree with 75's conclusion though: everything's probably going to work out fine. Opabinia regalis (talk) 20:53, 1 December 2015 (UTC)

The 72 hrs only recommendation[edit]

I approve of your 72hrs only proposal, concerning AE blocks. However, IMHO it should extend to all sanctioned editors & not just EC :) GoodDay (talk) 14:57, 1 December 2015 (UTC)

  • For simple civility breaches, I would agree. Most of the time, no block is needed, just discussion. I didn't run for admin to be the politically correct police, you have to be tolerant of heated discussion sometimes and use words instead of block buttons when you can. Too many admins simply block because it is easier, and they can walk away, go play a video game or whatever, and let others deal with the aftermath. Dennis Brown - 15:02, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
Don't I know it. Due to having little or no support, my two trips to AE, resulted in a 1-week vacation & then a 1-month vacation. GoodDay (talk) 15:08, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
This is why it is important to have clear, liberal policies, and good judgement by admin. I don't know the particulars of your case (and to be honest, I lack the time to investigate) but cases like Eric's should serve to reset the bar a bit for all editors. Blocks ARE cheap, that doesn't mean they are always the best tools. Dennis Brown - 15:20, 1 December 2015 (UTC)