Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Highways

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Case Opened on 17:46, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
Case Closed on 16:44, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Please do not edit this page directly unless you wish to become a participant in this request. (All participants are subject to Arbitration Committee decisions, and the ArbCom will consider each participant's role in the dispute.) Comments are very welcome on the Talk page, and will be read, in full. Evidence, no matter who can provide it, is very welcome at /Evidence. Evidence is more useful than comments.

Arbitrators will be working on evidence and suggesting proposed decisions at /Workshop and voting on proposed decisions at /Proposed decision.

Involved parties[edit]

Requests for comment[edit]

Brief summary of dispute

In short, this dispute involves move warring over the naming of various state roads. Various attempts to mediate has not been suscessful and SPUI has refused an offer I have made for third party binding arbitration due to the fact that he insists he is right "I'm very leery of binding arbitration, as I know I'm correct. Thus I'll have to say no. --SPUI (T - C - RFC) 19:25, 3 May 2006 (UTC)." In the past, SPUI has made changes to the naming of the pages, and JohnnyBGood has reverted them pending lack of consensus. I attempted to offer mediation but various users have stated that after previous attempts it is almost pointless and ArbCom is the only way to settle this dispute -- Tawker 00:50, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

I am not filing a statement in this party as I am not in dispute, I am only trying to find a solution here and it has come down to this. -- Tawker 00:50, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Statement by SPUI[edit]

I guess I'm party 1? I have move warred. Maybe I shouldn't have. But nothing else was working. My arguments were clearly detailed at Talk:State Route 2 (California). I still don't understand the arguments of the other side. Maybe it would have gone better if I did, but I really don't. The majority of people I've talked to, or that have commented out of the blue, agree with my names, but there are several editors that keep moving them back to "California State Route X", even claiming that that is somehow not only the correct disambiguation method, but also the correct name in real life. But that's all a content dispute, and outside the ArbCom's mandate. Which is why this will probably not result in a solution any more than the previous attempts.

For a specific example: State Route 66 (California). I was working on U.S. Route 66-related stuff, and saw that U.S. Route 66 in California was a double redirect - JohnnyBGood never cleans them up. I had two choices - either fix the double redirects to what I knew to be the wrong name, or move it back. I chose the option that I knew would make the encyclopedia better.

Another example, this time by Rschen7754 - [1].

Again, this is all content dispute stuff. So whatever. I move warred, because nothing else was working, and I knew I had consensus from real life and disambiguation conventions. --SPUI (T - C - RFC) 01:34, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Statement by Rschen7754[edit]

A few months ago, SPUI moved the Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, and other pages to what he considers to be the proper disambiguation standard: "State Route/Road/Highway x (State)". He was not opposed there. A few months ago, SPUI removed the {{routeboxca2}} infobox from California State Route 15. He then proceeded to move the page to State Route 15 (California). He was reverted. He reverted back. He ignored discussions. He then proceeded to move all of the California State Route pages (over 200), and reverted after he was reverted, with no consensus for his position at WP:NC/NH. He then tried to massively redo {{routeboxca2}}. He was reverted. He tried to TFD {{routeboxca2}}. No consensus for deletion. He created his own {{Infobox CA Route}} and changed many articles to it. He was reverted. He reverted back. He spread this dispute to other states such as Washington and Rhode Island. He was reverted. He reverted back. In short, all 2,500+ articles are subject to become part of this edit war. Something must be done.

This is not a personal attack against SPUI by the way. He is a good contributor. We just don't approve of his methods sometimes. --Rschen7754 (talk - contribs) 01:39, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Statement by User:PHenry[edit]

I regret that this unbelievably stupid dispute has come to this, but I think it's been inevitable for a long time and I am certain that it will continue until some kind of binding decision is made. During the course of this unpleasantness, I have found that every participant on either side that I've tried to communicate with has been interested in working toward a mutual common-sense solution with the sole exception of SPUI. If he were not involved, I have no doubt whatsoever that any dispute would have been settled quickly a long time ago. Unfortunately, SPUI doesn't "do" discussion—his preferred method of operation is to wear more-reasonable editors down through warring, hostility, and abusive behavior, until they give up and he gets his way.

I honestly don't care that much about which naming standard is settled upon. I have been a reluctant participant in these edit wars because I believe very strongly that one user should not be allowed to steamroll over everyone else simply because he's willing to be more obnoxious than everyone else. My opinions and contributions are valid, goddammit, and so are Rschen7754's and JohnnyBGood's and Atamir's and yours and those of every other good-faith editor on Wikipedia. And SPUI, who is generally a very valuable contributor, is not more valid than anyone else, and certainly does not have a license to disregard the process of consensus building through polite discussion and negotiation without which Wikipedia cannot survive. I've revert-warred with SPUI in defense of a position that I didn't even agree with, because the matter had gone through a deletion debate that his (and my) position lost, yet he refused to accept it. That's how strongly I feel about the necessity of respecting other people's input and contributions.

I urge—no, I beg the ArbCom to take this matter up, while apologizing for my part in dragging you into what our children's children will remember as one of the lamest edit wars ever. Under normal circumstances, there would be no need for a formally binding decision to be made here, but as SPUI made clear to me,[2] he doesn't intend to stop warring, ever, not until he gets his way. This attitude needs to be stopped here and now. --phh (t/c) 03:01, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Comment by JohnnyBGood[edit]

Just a thought, why don't we keep this confined to the naming dispute. If you have an issue with any actions of Rschen let's keep it seperate as all parties involved in this dispute have done things that violate policy in some form or another and bringing one in will lead them all to be dumped here, which will just cloud the core issue that needs to be resolved here. JohnnyBGood t c 20:42, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

While there may or may not be other policy violations, I'm concerned with the chilling effect Rschen7754's actions may have had on people who may have spoken up in favor of SPUI or been more open to changing their mind. The landscape of any dispute changes drastically when someone abuses sysop powers like this. I don't believe any other policy violations rise to this level in this dispute, and I believe this dispute may have been shaped differently had Rschen7754 not abused his powers. (Rschen7754 has also blocked SPUI, for the record). —Locke Coletc 23:56, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Well by the same token I could bring up how chilling and outright disturbing it is that SPUI, even when rightly blocked has been getting himself unblocked in under 15 minutes because he seems to have so many people with admin powers in his back pocket. I count no less then 6 times he was unblocked prematurely without acceptable cause in the first 7 listed here. Now THAT is chilling, especially when other users, myself included, who are blocked for the same infractions are either unable to get them lifted or it takes hours or days, rather then minutes as it does for SPUI. If Rschen is to be sanctioned then all of those admins who seem to be helping SPUI by wheel warring habitually should suffer the same fate as they also seem to have a conflict of interest. JohnnyBGood t c 17:32, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Statement by User:Northenglish[edit]

IMHO, and the keyword there is my humble opinion, as I am quite new to Wikipedia, and have not been involved in any of the move warring, I would prefer to see the articles in question located at Washington State Route 3 (for example). I agree with SPUI in the sense that the legal name for such a road is State Route 3, and that people in the state of Washington refer to that road as "State Route 3". I agree with Rschen7754 and company when they state that people outside the state of Washington would refer to it as "Washington State Route 3", but SPUI claims that people who refer to the road as such are using a sort of disambiguation, and I agree with SPUI there as well. SPUI's main reasoning for titling articles as "State Route 3 (Washington)" is that it is the proper format for disambiguation on Wikipedia, and he is correct for the most part. Every article on a city that I have found is disambiguated with a comma, not parentheses--"Philadelphia, Pennsylvania", not "Philadelphia (Pennsylvania)"--matching conventional disambiguation outside of Wikipedia to ease Wikipedia users in searching for the articles. I think state route articles is another perfect case to use the disambiguation convention from outside Wikipedia. -- Northenglish 22:39, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

As another outside party, I have just received this e-mail from WSDOT:

Thank you for your e-mail to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) asking about the official name of a state highway in Washington State. I do apologize for the delay in responding to your e-mail.

The official name is State Route #, not Washington State Route #

Again, I am very sorry for this late response. We do appreciate you taking the time to write to us.

Kimberly Colburn Customer Service WSDOT Communications PO Box 47322 Olympia, WA 98504-7322 (360) 705-7438

atanamir 23:03, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

As I said, I agree that the official legal name of a state route is "State Route X" without the state name. (For some states, it might be "State Highway X".) But unlike SPUI, I don't think that's the only factor that needs to be taken into account when titling articles. -- Northenglish 17:07, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Works for me. --Rschen7754 (talk - contribs) 22:21, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
I third that. JohnnyBGood Flag of Mexico.svg t c 00:41, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Query by Northenglish[edit]

All right, question for Fred Bauder then... What is it you want us to see at that Talk page? All I see is a debate that reached no definite conclusion, just as I see at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject California State Highways and a number of other pages. Furthermore, the main article at Wikipedia:Naming conventions/Numbered highways contains a gross inconsistency stating "The Florida state highway should be disambiguated by putting said region first," (emphasis mine), then using as examples "State Road 50 (Florida), not Florida State Road 50." More clarification on what you would like us to look at would be most useful. -- Northenglish 22:24, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm not impressed by that talk page either. I am just suggesting that an imposed decision may be better than endless unproductive discussion. Fred Bauder 22:47, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
Excellent, I agree wholeheartedly! I was just confused for a moment. -- Northenglish 22:50, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Query 2 by Northenglish[edit]

Two things. First, in addition to the points being made here on Arbcom, I would like to bring the arbitrators' attention to recent discussions at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject California State Highways and Talk:List of Washington State Routes.

Second, and the actual query part, is this binding decision going to apply only to pages where we have had specific issues (California and Washington), or U.S. Roads in general? This information is essential to determining how things play out after the decision is handed down. -- Northenglish 18:54, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Preliminary decisions[edit]

Arbitrators' opinion on hearing this matter (4/0/0/0)[edit]

Temporary injunction (none)[edit]

Final decision[edit]


Assume good faith[edit]

1) Assume good faith in the absence of evidence to the contrary. This keeps the project workable in the face of many widely variant points of view and avoids inadvertent personal attacks and disruption through creation of an unfriendly editing environment, and keeps with our long-standing tradition of being open and welcoming.

Passed 9 to 0 at 16:29, 5 July 2006 (UTC)


2) Civility, disruption, and reasonableness:

  • Wikipedia users are expected to behave reasonably in their dealings with other users and to observe the principles of assuming good faith, civility, and the writers' rules of engagement. If disputes arise, users are expected to use dispute resolution procedures instead of making personal attacks.
  • Don't disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point. This is considered editing in bad faith. State your point, but don't attempt to illustrate it experimentally.
  • Editing in a manner so as to intentionally provoke other editors is a form of trolling and goes against established Wikipedia policies, as well as the spirit of Wikipedia and the will of its editors.
  • Insulting and intimidating other users harms the community by creating a hostile environment. All users are instructed to refrain from this activity. Admins are instructed to use good judgement while enforcing this policy. All users are encouraged to remove personal attacks on sight.
Passed 9 to 0 at 16:29, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Ownership of articles[edit]

3) Wikipedia pages do not have owners or custodians who control edits to them. Instead, they are "owned" by the community at large, which comes to a consensus version by means of discussion, negotiation, and/or voting. See Wikipedia:Ownership of articles and Wikipedia:Be bold in updating pages

Passed 9 to 0 at 16:29, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

No personal attacks[edit]

4) Personal attacks are expressly prohibited because they make Wikipedia a hostile environment for editors, and thereby damage Wikipedia both as an encyclopedia (by losing valued contributors) and as a wiki community (by discouraging reasoned discussion). Wikipedia editors should conduct their relationship with other editors with courtesy, and must avoid responding in kind when personally attacked.

Passed 9 to 0 at 16:29, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Edit warring[edit]

5) Edit wars or revert wars are usually considered harmful, because they cause ill-will between users and negatively destabilize articles. Editors are encourage to explore alternate methods of dispute resolution, such as negotiation, surveys, requests for comment, mediation, or arbitration. When disagreements arise, users are expected to adhere to the three-revert rule and discuss their differences rationally rather than reverting ad nauseum. "Slow revert wars," where an editor persistently reverts an article but technically adheres to the three-revert rule are also strongly discouraged and are unlikely to constitute working properly with others. All of this applies to page moves.

Passed 9 to 0 at 16:29, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Alternative forms[edit]

6) In cases where there are two or more acceptable form of spelling or title, disambiguation and redirects are used to assist the reader in finding articles on the subject. In instances where there is no clear basis for preference of one usage over another, an arbitrary decision may be made, for example, in the case of British versus American spelling the article created first determines the title.

Passed 8 to 0 at 16:29, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Conscious responsible editing[edit]

7) Wikipedia editors and administrators are expected to notice when a conflict occurs between alternate forms and to use and accept an effective decision making process, arbitrary if necessary, which settles the conflict.

Passed 8 to 0 at 16:29, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Use of parenthesis for disambiguation[edit]

8) Parentheses are frequently used for disambiguation on Wikipedia, Wikipedia:Disambiguation and Wikipedia:Manual of Style (disambiguation pages) but their use is not a required method.

Passed 8 to 0 at 16:29, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Making arbitrary decisions[edit]

9) When an arbitrary decision is called for, it should be made by those users and administrators in a position to do so. Sometimes any decision is better than no decision.

Passed 7 to 1 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Accepting an arbitrary decision[edit]

10) When an arguably arbitrary decision has been made, unless there is a substantial basis for changing it, the decision should be accepted.

Passed 8 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Guidelines not binding[edit]

11) Wikipedia:Guidelines, while recommended, are not binding, and may be varied from in appropriate circumstances.

Passed 8 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Restrictions on editing[edit]

12) The editing by users who disrupt Wikipedia or Wikipedia articles may be restricted.

Passed 8 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Many ways[edit]

13) There is often more than one good way to accomplish a task.

Passed 8 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Findings of fact[edit]

Locus of dispute[edit]

1.1) A number of editors have been unable to reach consensus regarding state highway naming conventions. The use of disambiguating parentheses is in dispute, for instance "California state route" versus "state route (California)" (Talk:State Route 2 (California)). Many of the participants in this dispute, including SPUI, PHenry, Freakofnurture, JohnnyBGood, and Rschen7754, have resorted to move warring, making mass page moves to their preferred convention without consensus.

Passed 8 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Failure to reach consensus[edit]

3) Following an extended debate on the form to be used for California state highways Nightstallion (talk · contribs · blocks · protections · deletions · page moves · rights · RfA) declared that there was "no consensus" Talk:State Route 2 (California). After extended move warring and extended discussion, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject California State Highways#SPUI and JohnnyBGood move wars, the current suggested usage at Wikipedia:WikiProject California State Highways#Article Naming Convention is "California State Route XXX".

Passed 8 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

SPUI insists he is right[edit]

4) SPUI rejected binding arbitration of the naming dispute on the basis that his position was "correct" [3]. He has repeatedly asserted that disambiguation by parenthesis was the Wikipedia method of disambiguation. "Whether there was consensus - or groupthink - is immaterial. What matters is correctness. --SPUI (T - C) 00:10, 8 June 2006 (UTC)" [4]

Passed 8 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Efforts to reach consensus have become unworkably complex[edit]

5) Over the past four months, failed efforts have been made to formally address the Wikipedia state highway naming convention at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (numbered highways), Wikipedia:WikiProject Highways/U.S. state highway naming conventions, Talk:California State Highway 2, Wikipedia:WikiProject U.S. Roads, Wikipedia:Mediation Cabal/Cases/2006-03-12 U.S. Roads, Wikipedia:State route naming conventions poll, and less formally at countless other pages. It is not reasonable to expect a typical editor to know which of these pages, if any, is the appropriate place for discussing and agreeing upon highway naming conventions, and it has made reaching and judging any consensus difficult.

Passed 6 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Participants have been uncivil[edit]

6) JohnnyBGood has mischaracterized SPUI's actions in this content dispute as vandalism, and continues to do so currently ([5]), depite having been informed of Wikipedia's definition of vandalism, and that his words constitute incivility. SPUI has also been uncivil to other editors during this dispute ([6], [7], [8]).

Passed 7 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)


Note: All remedies that refer to a period of time, for example to a ban of X months or a revert parole of Y months, are to run concurrently unless otherwise stated.


2.1) Should SPUI, JohnnyBGood, Rschen7754, and PHenry disrupt the editing of any article which concerns highways he or she may be banned by any administrator from that article or related articles. All bans are to be logged at Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Highways#Log of blocks and bans.

Passed 6 to 1 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Probation ended[edit]

Rschen7754 (talk · contribs) and PHenry (talk · contribs) have appealed their continued probation in the Highways case. I believe that their continued probation is not necessary and move to end it forthwith. Matthew Brown (Morven) (T:C) 13:50, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Passed 8-0 with one abstention at 12:45, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Further motion to lift probation[edit]

User:JohnnyBGood has requested the same relief from probation as granted to User:Rschen7754 and User:PHenry. I am inclined to grant it. I am not inclined to extend such relief to User:SPUI, based on repeated violations of the probation, but I also wish to propose that restrictions on SPUI terminate twelve months after his last probation violation.

Passed 7-0 with one abstention at 01:49, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Consensus encouraged[edit]

5) At present, none of the disputants has demonstrated that consensus exists for their preferred convention. The Arbitration Committee encourages the community to adopt a formal policy on the naming of state highways as quickly as possible so as to reduce conflict.

Passed 6 to 1 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Controversial moves[edit]

6) Until a formal naming convention policy regarding state highways is reached, no page shall be moved from one controversial name to another. It is understood that this will result in some inconsistency of names until a policy is reached, but, without a policy, inconsistency is the best option available.

Passed 7 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Parties warned for incivility[edit]

7) JohnnyBGood and SPUI are warned to remain civil at all times; in particular, JohnnyBGood is reminded not to refer to good faith edits as vandalism. All participants in this dispute are encouraged to maintain a courteous atmosphere.

Passed 7 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)


Enforcement by block[edit]

1) Should any parties placed on Probation violate any ban imposed under this decision he may be briefly blocked, up to a week in the event of repeat offenses. After 5 blocks the maximum block shall increase to one year.

Passed 7 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Enforcement of moves without consensus[edit]

2) If any participant to this dispute moves a state highway page to their preferred convention before a formal policy has been reached, he or she may be blocked for a short time of up to a week for repeated offenses. In the case of such moves by other editors, they shall be warned and/or blocked at administrator discretion.

Passed 7 to 0 at 16:39, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Log of blocks and bans[edit]

Log any block, ban or extension under any remedy in this decision here. Minimum information includes name of administrator, date and time, what was done and the basis for doing it.