Wikipedia:Community enforceable mediation/Commodore Sloat and Armon

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Welcome to Community enforceable mediation. This page is for Commodore Sloat and Armon to discuss their differences and reach an agreement. Other interested parties, please post to the outside comment page. The mediator Durova may move or refactor comments at either page as appropriate.

Case request[edit]

Commodore Sloat (talk · contribs) and Armon (talk · contribs)[edit]

Commodore Sloat, sign here:csloat 03:54, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Armon, Sign here: <<-armon->> 02:13, 14 April 2007 (UTC)


dispute over whether a claim of causality should be attributed to its authors or to Wikipedia in general, and whether sourced material should be deleted

Mediator acceptance[edit]

I'd be willing to mediate. Is Armon aware of this request? DurovaCharge! 01:32, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

I believe so, but just to be sure I just posted to his talk page. csloat 01:34, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Actually I wasn't. Thanks for letting me know. My statement's below. <<-armon->> 03:11, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Armon's statement[edit]

This dispute is quite simple, the problem seems only to be that sloat is misunderstanding the "rules" regarding WP:OR. As I've shown on the talk page, there are multiple reliable sources linking Cole's blog to his subsequent media appearances, his appearance before the US congress, and his fame in general. There are none which either implicitly or explicitly question this.

Sloat's opinion is based upon his own research which has turned up a few instances in which he was quoted before being a blogger. This is in opposition to long-standing sentences which read: Public interest in Cole's blog led to attention from other media sources. From 2002 onwards, Cole has been an active commentator in the UK and US media on topics related to the Middle East. His focus has primarily been Iraq, Iran and Israel.

This statement is sourced and accurate. Even if he did appear in a newspaper before his blog, he was not what could be described as an "active commentator" in the media in contrast to his role post-blogging. More importantly, there are no RSs which make the claim that he was any sort of pundit/public intellectual before he started blogging. When we have multiple RSs saying one thing, and none disputing it, I don't see the need to attribute every statement of fact to a particular author. This creates a bloated and unwieldy quote-farm of an article. <<-armon->> 03:11, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Csloat's Statement[edit]

The dispute is indeed simple. Armon is incorrect that I don't understand the WP:OR policy. What is actually being misunderstood here is the meaning of causality. Armon is quite correct that there are a number of sources who link Cole's blog to his media appearances and to his fame in general. All that is at issue is whether his blog "caused" his media appearances. Most of the quotes Armon cites do not make this claim at all. Armon quotes Weiss, for example, saying "it is hard to separate Cole's scholarly reputation from his Internet fame." He interprets this as meaning his internet fame is the cause of his media appearances, when in fact the quote clearly indicates that you cannot make that distinction between internet fame and scholarly reputation (which suggests that both may have been factors in his frequent media appearances). He quotes an editorial in Metrotimes that "Because of his presence on the Internet, journalists, for the first time, began to take notice and turned to him and his Web page as a resource. A flurry of media appearances occurred, and his blog began gaining wider notice. The site, which would get just a few hundred hits each month when first begun, steadily attracted more readers." Again, he interprets this as a straightforward proof of objective causality. But if anything, this quote offers a chicken and egg problem, since it states causality in two directions -- it also claims that a "flurry of media appearances" led to his blog "gaining wider notice." All I'm asking is that we not pretend that Cole never was considered an expert until his blog got 200,000 visitors, as Armon's edit implies. I have offered a compromise version of the page, which includes one of Armon's sources, the Chronicle of Higher Ed, quoted as follows: "With the debut of his Web log, Informed Comment, four years ago, Juan R.I. Cole became arguably the most visible commentator writing on the Middle East today." Surely this is enough to establish what Armon wants to establish, that Cole's blog made him more notable than he was before.

The bigger issue here is that Armon is also deleting several WP:RS citations from prior to 2002. Armon implies that these citations are WP:OR, but they are not. I found them just as I find any other citation, and I did not do any synthesis of their claims to make an original argument. Those citations were not included to make an original argument; they were included to make the article more accurate. Wikipedia should not attribute causality to a phenomenon that is more complicated than that. I am not advocating citing every single instance of someone connecting Cole's blog to his reputation, as Armon implies. I am simply suggesting that we not make the relationship definitively causal, and that we do not hide Cole's pre-2002 commentary in the media.

My suggested version of the page both preserves the claim that Armon thinks is important -- that after 2002, Cole's media appearances multiplied -- without deleting the relevant pre-2002 citations. I am happy to consider other versions of this paragraph as long as those versions do not delete this material. Thanks! csloat 04:19, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

See also[edit]

Proposed solution to "microproblem"[edit]

As per discussion on outside comments page, I suggest the following text:

Cole was cited by the press as a Middle-East expert several times before he began his blog however, he was considered obscure outside his field, and was unable to get his opinion pieces published. From 2002 onwards, Cole has been an active commentator in the UK and US media on topics related to the Middle East. His focus has primarily been Iraq, Iran, The Palestinian Authority, and Israel. He has published op-eds on the Mideast at the... <<-armon->> 00:43, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

I suggest the following:

Cole was cited by the press as a Middle East expert several times since 1990. However, he was considered obscure outside his field prior to 2002, when he began publishing his weblog. From 2002 onwards, etc... csloat 05:38, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Am I to assume you reject the compromise text I proposed? Unless you have a valid and compelling reason, this tit for tat is still trolling. <<-armon->> 07:08, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
Can you stop with the unnecessary personal attacks or is it essential that you get one in with every single post? I could easily ask you the same question and make the same unfair assumption. What is your valid and compelling reason for rejecting the text I proposed? I based mine on that offered by Jayjg on the outside comments page. I removed the redundancy, I clarified the date ("since 1990" is better than "before he began his blog"), and I presented a solution to the causality quandary (as stated in my edit summaries). csloat 18:55, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
Over a month of arguing over one sentence is completely and utterly over the top -yet you continue, and now pretend that this was Jayjg's text. There is no "causality quandary" because you never provided any evidence of one. <<-armon->> 02:28, 20 May 2007 (UTC)
If it is over the top you can stop arguing about it any time. The "quandary" was well explained - the superior version of the text does not take a position on causality the way yours does, yet it preserves the meaning of it. I am not "pretending" anything; see for yourself on the outside comments page. Besides it does not matter whose text it was - I am the one proposing it here. I do agree that it is long past time to move on. Is the text acceptable to you or not?csloat 05:23, 20 May 2007 (UTC)
Present the sources which back up your POV regarding "causality" (which would contradict Cole himself) or drop it. Argumentum ad nauseum is your preferred method of trolling, and is the "macroproblem" in a nutshell. I would also point out that you had no support whatsoever among the other editors on the page for your "causality" objection. Present citations or drop it. <<-armon->> 08:05, 20 May 2007 (UTC)
Oh please. If you actually have something to say about the macroproblem please do so in a manner that is not insulting on the outside sources page. As for causality, I pointed to the fact that your citations showed causality in two different directions. I'm offering an easy and NPOV way out of it. Since you haven't commented on the other issues, I take it we are agreed on everything but the causality? csloat 23:01, 20 May 2007 (UTC)
YOUR analysis re: causality is irrelevant and contradicts RSs on the subject -including Cole himself. I've agreed to include "cited by the press as a Middle-East expert" because your sources back that up. I've agreed to change "he remained obscure" to "he was considered obscure" despite the lack of any dispute about his former obscurity -again, backed up by Cole himself. Being an expert is not the same as being a commentator so I won't agree to remove Cole's statement that he couldn't get his op-eds published. So this is where we stand. If you have citations, show them, otherwise, it's time to end this. <<-armon->> 23:14, 20 May 2007 (UTC)
If you want to cite Cole's statement directly let's quote it; I won't agree to have it stated as an objective conclusion of wikipedia. I don't see why you're asking for citations from me; I'm not making a claim that needs to be cited other than what we have already been through. csloat 23:20, 20 May 2007 (UTC)
Which statement won't you agree to? That that he couldn't get his op-eds published? Is there some reason to believe that Cole is lying? If so, cite it. <<-armon->> 23:49, 20 May 2007 (UTC)
Please stop asking me to cite things to back up claims I never made. It is rude and deceptive. I never said Cole was lying, as you are well aware. What I said was it's fine if you want to quote Cole directly; otherwise, leave the claim out. csloat 01:51, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
Why? <<-armon->> 02:01, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
As I have been saying, we should not falsely attribute to Wikipedia a conclusion that is actually the claim of a particular author. In addition, it raises the problem of context and POV -- taking an author's words out of context in order to make him look bad raises both POV and BLP issues. Even if you are not doing this, best to avoid the issue altogether by quoting Cole directly. What is it you have against quoting him in context? Why are you holding up mediation over this? csloat 19:10, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
Sorry but I don't even know what are you are actually talking about here. What conclusion? That he couldn't get his op eds published? How is this a disputed fact? Who disputes it? If Cole himself has stated this in more than one place, how does this make him look "bad". Please explain what the supposed POV and BLP "issues" are, and please explain what the "proper context" is. <<-armon->> 02:41, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
It is not a "disputed fact"; it is an opinion that needs to be cited. If Cole stated it, quote him rather than pretending Wikipedia is saying it. csloat 06:24, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
Still flogging the dead horse of "opinion" vs. "fact" I see. As was pointed out to you before, WP:NPOV states By value or opinion, on the other hand, we mean "a piece of information about which there is some dispute.". What exactly are you claiming is an "opinion"? I just want to get this straight. Is it that he couldn't get his op-eds published? I notice you've simply ignored my other questions, but thank you for proving my point. <<-armon->> 07:18, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
You're not responding to the issue. All I'm saying is we should cite Cole directly if you think his comment in this regard is notable. I have not "proven your point." I am trying to stick to the issues here. What is it you have against quoting him directly, in context? csloat 07:57, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
What I have against it is the equivocations and truly horrible writing it produces. How about "Cole claims his birthday is 22 May" or "It's Cole's opinion that his dog's name is Rex"? Now, feel free to answer my questions. <<-armon->> 10:45, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
What "equivocations and horrible writing" are we talking about? All I'm saying is let's quote Cole directly, not that we make silly statements. csloat 22:11, 22 May 2007 (UTC)


BTW, just to be absolutely clear about the discussion above, I'm giving you all the rope you need to in order to make my point about the use of argumentum ad nauseum as your preferred method of trolling. If you had any valid objections, or any evidence whatsoever to appeal to, you would have presented both by now. Instead, you are hand waving about unspecified "problems" that you haven't managed to clarify after over a month. The only thing you managed to establish (and only after repeated requests for the cites) is that Cole was indeed quoted in the press before his blog. Once I saw the evidence, I offered you a perfectly reasonable compromise, which should have been the end of it. If you wish to accuse me holding things up, then I suggest you make your appeals to the evidence, rather than troll. If the community decides that they are going sanction me for not giving in to your proof by assertion and trolling, then I'm afraid that's too bad. This is not how WP is meant to work, and it's the only reason I'm bothering to continue with this. It's fine if you want to drive off other editors and push your POV, but you are damaging the project with this behaviour. <<-armon->> 04:18, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

You're the one hand-waving with this attack. I've stated the argument clearly above and have not "trolled" anyone. All my appeals are to the evidence and you know it. Please do not pretend otherwise, and please do not personally attack me like this. csloat 06:25, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
By the way, your claim that I did not show the evidence that Cole was cited prior to 2002 until repeated requests is absolute nonsense and you know it. I gave the cites before this mediation even began; in fact, the whole reason this mediation began is because you insisted upon deleting the cites. csloat 06:27, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
See diff. <<-armon->> 07:26, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
Non sequitur. The "proper and full citations" were given before CEM began, as you are well aware. csloat 07:54, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
Your last edit before CEM "Newsweek (29 October 1990); Associated Press (17 December 1998); Interview on WXYZ-TV (11 September 2001); Toronto Star (21 October 2001)" Now compare that to full citations. <<-armon->> 11:10, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
So your complaint is I didn't have the titles and page numbers? That was quickly remedied when it was asked for.[1] The problem, Armon, is that you were holding things up with the fallacious argument that those titles were relevant to the issue under mediation. The issue under mediation was whether the citations should be deleted entirely; not whether the citations were complete. I pointed this out several times and you ignored the comment, instead making the bogus argument that magazines such as Newsweek were somehow inaccessible. That was what was holding up mediation; that, and your insistence on double standards regarding WP:NOR, a stance that User:Blue Tie exposed. In the past couple days you are bringing up a new issue on this page - the claim that Cole could not get his essays published - in order to stall mediation further. Meanwhile you have ignored my attempts to offer solutions to the macroproblem. What is bizarre and disconcerting is that you vehemently accuse me of the very behaviors that you are manifestly engaged in. csloat 22:09, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
Nice try, User:Blue Tie "exposed" nothing of the sort. He expressed an opinion on double standards regarding WP:NOR which didn't stand up to scrutiny.
The issue was that you were less than forthcoming with the evidence for your OR. Specifically, your assertion that there was some doubt about his role as a commentator before his blog. This completely contradicts RSs (including Cole himself) which everyone has easy access to. The burden of proof is on you for your edits -especially for claims which raise red flags, yet you didn't so much as present the titles or authors of your "cites". Again, see diff and WP:POT.
The solution to the macroproblem is easy -follow WP policy, both in terms of civility and especially content. You have no special status here, so you must appeal to the evidence just like everyone else. If you are unable to do so, there will be no possibility for us to find common ground. Rhetoric, sophistry, and intransigence is not the solution and will not get anywhere with me. This is not the first time I've pointed this out to you, but it's the last time. Either accept the compromise I proposed, which is more accurate and informative than what's there (at least we've made some small improvement) -or don't. If you cannot accept it, then please let Durova and myself know, so that we can close down this mediation. There's no point in continuing this or any other DR with you. <<-armon->> 04:01, 23 May 2007 (UTC)
Sigh. It was your position that didn't stand up to scrutiny, and Blue Tie did a nice job of applying the scrutiny until you chased him off. I was never "less than forthcoming" and you know it. I simply tried to stick to the issue at hand, while you kept bringing up a red herring. The burden of proof was met before the CEM began, as you know; I presented four citations that supported the claim. Presenting a link to someone whining that people can't click on links -- to articles in such obscure sources as Newsweek -- does not help your case. The solution to the macroproblem is indeed easy -- a lengthy block to you for incessant violations of WP:AGF and WP:NPA, and a handshake agreement that you will quit those violations and that you will quit deleting well sourced text from numerous articles dealing with the middle east. I proposed a compromise and you are welcome to accept it; accusing me of "sophistry" is a personal attack (see WP:NPA), and accusing me of "intransigence" is a clear-cut case of WP:POT. So -- either accept the compromise I've proposed, or let Durova and myself know that you are unilaterally jettisoning the attempt at mediation. Thanks. csloat 10:45, 23 May 2007 (UTC)
I'll take that as a "No" you won't. <<-armon->> 13:38, 23 May 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps you should read what I wrote instead of putting words in my mouth. Can we get back to the issue? Do you accept the compromise I have offered or not? csloat 21:49, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Closing this case[edit]

With thanks to everyone who did their best here, this mediation just hasn't worked out. I'm closing it now and I wish you all well. DurovaCharge! 03:07, 13 June 2007 (UTC)