Wikipedia talk:Town sheriff/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

SJS (Special Judicial Squad)

Who will judge the Judges? It has been pointed out that ther are already probloms wiht Sysop with cabals operating to protect (lets call them) tame admins. How are we going to determine if a judge has not upheld the law?Slatersteven (talk) 17:23, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

"There have been plenty of examples of nominally uninvolved administrators who’ve still enforced policy non-neutrally" I'm also concerned about this, and I've seen it too. We need to take as many precautions as possible without vitiating the role. One thing we need is to explain exactly when a ban or block is necessary, seeing that the Sheriff would be redacting other's posts. So when do they actually block/ban? And, one thing we could do is not have a judicial squad, but rather have judgments from editors who are not active, now or in the past, in the subject area broadly interpreted. How about that? But the main thing is as Ludwigs said: make sure that the rules are strict and clearly stated. If done properly we should be able to make it hard to subvert. BECritical__Talk 18:47, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Sorry I should have made it clear that the SJS was not a sugestion but a referance to the idea of a cop, judge, jury and executioner ic one package (the Megacity One Judge system). The idea that the jury should consist of only uninvilved Edds will address many of my concearns.Slatersteven (talk) 14:15, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Banning and blocking

Will there be a right of appeal, whi will hear this appeal and will a sheriff be able to block user talk pages as well (thereby stopiig any potential appeals)? I( read it that they can only apply sanctions on the actual articels pages is that in fact the case?Slatersteven (talk) 21:07, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

blocks (and I assume bans) will be a maximum of 24 hours, and non-escalating - I see no reason for an appeal process. I someone gets blocked for grossly unfair reasons, the sheriff will be in trouble for it and the block will get undone if it the problem is realized before the day expires (obviously). but if it's a reasonable block within the sheriff's purview - well, 24 hours is not long to wait in the grand scheme of things, and it will be a very good incentive not to repeat whatever it was earned the block in the first place (those of you who have young kids will recognize the 'time-out' strategy of behavior modification).
It will also do wonders to help editors realize that the "hurryhurryrushrushneeditrightNOW!" mindset is not the best way to approach Wikipedia. That alone will make the editing process so much more pleasant. --Ludwigs2 22:49, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

Should it not be clearer (rather then based on assumption (which can only lead to abuse)) that any Sheriff actions are only for 24 hours. Also I note that 'you say only if its noticed', given the amount of power these paragons of NPOV will have that seems to me (again) to be almost an invitation to abuse the system. If you are a 'Rico' who uses thier powers to push a POV and you have enough support you will be able to manipulate the system to ensure an almost constant series of 24 hour bans. So exactly what procedures will be in place (rather then assuming the good intentions of those involved) to stop such a situation?Slatersteven (talk) 14:11, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
It might be wise to set up a special review board for Sheriffs. The board would have more of a guidance role, but in extreme cases would remove the sheriff from sheriffhood. BECritical__Talk 16:57, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
I thought he 24 hour thing was clear, but I can make it clearer if you like. and the "only if it's noticed" referred to cases where the blocked editor has to wait 24 hours before screaming to high heaven at ANI themselves. Most editors who feel they are being abused by a sheriff wouldn't wait that long (using their talk page and email to et other people to intervene on their behalf), but people have lives outside of wikipedia and it may take time for those kinds of appeals to result in fruitful action. That's all I meant.
This is not intended to be like sysop problems, where a sysop can say "I judged that this was appropriate action, and I stand by that" and can basically fend off criticism indefinitely. the sheriff's abilities are narrowly enough construed that it is difficult for the sheriff to any serious POV-pushing without violating them. the most vulnerable point in the idea is in the 'subjective' fair-and-equal application point. but even that can be argued by an examination of diffs, and the worst that will happen is that one side of the discussion will be forced to be more civil than the other side (it's not like sysop intervention, where one side can actually be removed from editing through gamesmanship of that sort). In short, you guys worry too much. Face-smile.svg
With respect to a review board, it's probably best to have other sheriffs review problems of this sort first, monitored by sysops. Other sheriffs will be more familiar with the ins-and-outs of the job, and will have their own reputations at stake. --Ludwigs2 19:07, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Blocks and bans

When does a Sheriff block or ban instead of redacting? BECritical__Talk 23:15, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

Only at need. the way I envision it, something like the following process would be followed:
  1. one warning for inappropriate behavior, with request to self-revert or self-redact.
  2. subsequent actions redacted by sheriff
  3. blocking only in extreme cases.
basically, I see sheriff's giving a 24 hour block for three primary reasons:
  • gross, offensive, or otherwise over-the-top personal attacks: actual chill-blocks, because an editor is just raging.
  • incitement to edit war: to my mind, sheriffs would enforce BRD - one editor makes an edit, another editor reverts it (BRD), next editor to revert after that earns a warning and is asked to self-revert, anyone who reverts after that (even if it's their first edit to the article) gets a 24hr block for incitement. there's no reason I can see for ever doing that third revert, as opposed to discussing in talk, except incitement.
  • reverting a sheriff's actions: Sheriff's actions are authoritative, and that is the only way to maintain that authority on page. this is true of any cop, anywhere - the one sure way to win yourself a good time in handcuffs or night in jail is to disobey an officer's orders.
The sheriff should be aiming to preserve civil dialog and keep order on the page, and he ought to follow a 'least action needed' rubric for doing that. --Ludwigs2 19:24, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, I just wanted to get that answered before getting more input on this. BECritical__Talk 19:39, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

View by User:Arthur Rubin

I don't see any way this could work. However, at a minimum, if consensus if found that a "sheriff" has "exceeded his authority", he must not be allowed to be a sheriff for at least 12 months, and probably should be banned from other positions of "authority", such as mediator. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 16:14, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Can't really answer this without reasons behind it. BECritical__Talk 17:12, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
it's likely that a sheriff who exceeds his authority far enough to be sanctioned will lose his sheriff status entirely and permanently. There is (obviously) going to be a range of mild mistakes that call for correction rather than sanction.
as to you're not seeing any way this could work: understandable, I suppose. I think the first thing I need to Do when I propose this is to get the community to temporarily grant me block power (for demonstration purposes) and point me at a page so that I can give a demonstration of how it works and what the controls on it are. (and yes, before you complain, the block power would be strictly limited to participants on that page, and to the 24 hour limit, and I would expect any sysop to immediately undo any action I took that stepped even a micron outside those boundaries - let's save the excess drama for if-and-when I decide to post an RfA). --Ludwigs2 19:15, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
<redacted>. Not going to happen.
Even if this were to be a tested proposal, it's inappropriate for the proposer to be a sheriff. You know what you want the sheriff to do; but if there's disagreement, we would need to have clear specifications. Regardless of whether you were acting within the guidelines in a previous dispute (which shall not be named) we've been involved in, it's clear that there was significant misunderstandings on someone's part, and ArbCom findings of fact found that your interpretation of your "powers" was incorrect. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:42, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
well, I'm not sure I follow what you're saying (you seem to be running three different conversational threads here), but all I can really say to you is "we'll see". I suspect that the bulk of the community would not be averse to seeing a demonstration in practice from the proposer. As to your last statement: I don't know what the heck you are talking about. please don't mix your apples and oranges with my pears, not unless we're going to be making a delicious smoothy. Face-smile.svg --Ludwigs2 23:59, 7 February 2011 (UTC)


I just want to express my admiration for this idea and would like to make a couple of suggestions and comments:

  • Has expanding the powers to include 24-hour (or perhaps even 48-hour) full and semi page protection been considered? In my work at the Third Opinion Project I've noticed that while these kinds of problems are frequently unilateral they are equally often bilateral. A short page protection to either let everyone cool off or to make sure everyone knows that someone is watching and isn't kidding about possible sanctions often works to fix, or at least cool down, the problem. While the same thing can be done, of course, by just sheriff-blocking everyone involved, PP has the advantage of not putting a blot on the combatants' block log records.
  • In light of the excruciating, volunteer-daunting manner in which sysops are already being approved, I have some deep reservations about the idea that, "The process for approving a Sheriff is the same as that for becoming a full administrator." Why would someone want to go through that gauntlet to just become a Sheriff if they can become a fully-empowered sysop through the same process? Just off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of ways that this might be avoided by trusting the authority of existing sysops:
  • First, instead of having a separate class of specially-empowered Sheriff's, instead provide that Sheriffs are merely a subclass of administrators who have indicated that they are willing to take on this kind of role, but also provide that sysops acting as Sheriffs in a case must appoint a non-sysop as a Deputy. The Deputy would take on the day-to-day monitoring of the page, and would have and exercise all the powers, privileges, and authority currently listed for a Sheriff in the proposal, except for the implementation of blocks (and, if my last suggestion is adopted, for page protection). The Deputy would apply to the Sheriff for blocks/protection, but the Sheriff would have the right to implement a Deputy's requested blocks or protection without checking to see if they are or are not justified. Deputies would be selected by the Sheriff on his or her own individual discretion with the only criteria being that the Deputy must be an experienced editor who is neutral and uninvolved with the article and subject of dispute in question and that the Deputy must be a person with whom the Sheriff was already familiar. The Sheriff would be authorized to replace a Deputy in a dispute at any time without having to state or justify a reason for doing so. The Sheriff would not, in general, be responsible for the actions of his or her Deputy or for following the Deputy's requests for blocks/page protection unless and until the Sheriff has received valid complaints about the Deputy's actions and has failed to investigate or address them (note "valid"). In short, Deputies would be neutral experienced users already familiar to the Sheriff and the Sheriff would, on a day to day basis, frankly be a kind of meatpuppet for the Deputy, who would only need to examine what the Deputy is doing when there are complaints. By requiring Deputies and insulating Sheriffs from the need to monitor their Deputies' actions on a day to day basis, the pool of potential participants in this project would be considerably expanded without the need to do RFA's on every non-sysop who might want to participate.
  • As an alternative not using Deputies, allow Sheriffs to be appointed in an abbreviated appointment process on the recommendation of any "n" - say three, for example - administrators, perhaps subject to being blackballed on the recommendation of any n minus x - say two - administrators.
  • There should be a rule which specifically says that a Sheriff (or in my first recommendation, a Deputy) is only authorized to exercise or to attempt or claim to exercise his or her authority in the "territory" in which he is appointed (that is, on the specific article page and talk page at which the dispute is occurring and on the talk pages of the disputants, and nowhere else) and that a Sheriff who acts outside his territory without first obtaining authority to do so from the appointing site (ordinarily, AN) will be automatically de-Sheriffed (or de-Deputied) without further discussion or appeal. The "Off-duty status" section implies this, of course, but it probably ought to be clearly stated. This specific statement would be particularly important to prevent this from becoming a way to appoint generally-empowered trial or probationary sysops if my suggestion to allow existing sysops to appoint Sheriffs were to be adopted.

Best regards, TRANSPORTERMAN (TALK) 17:48, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Excellent ideas. Page protection: definitely. Streamlined process for becoming a Sheriff: yes, I agree with you now, it should be greatly streamlined. I think it's too cumbersome to have the Sysop/Deputy thing, but I think it's an alternative if we can't get agreement to give the Sheriff the powers. Agree about limiting Sheriff powers to the article they're monitoring, and participant talk pages. I'll modify the project page later if you don't do it yourself. BECritical__Talk 18:19, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
When I made my suggestions above, I had missed the theme in the proposal which suggests that a Sheriff can self-appoint himself to an article and had just presumed that appointment to a page must be required. Allowing self-appointment is a really bad idea, in my opinion. Unless Sheriffs are going to be sysops or be approved through the current sysop process, then this proposal becomes a means by which to appoint "junior sysops" or probationary sysops or something like that. Such proposals have been made many times through the years and have always been soundly rejected (see, for example, this recent discussion). By limiting the Sheriff to a particular article plus disputants' talk pages we would eliminate much of the need for them to be a fully-fledged sysop.
Considering that the community has constantly rejected giving any users a limited set of sysop powers in the probationary or junior sysop context, I have some grave concern that this proposal is not going to survive and mature into policy for that reason. While the delegated-powers (Deputy) idea is, admittedly, a bit cumbersome, it would eliminate the need for the page monitor (whatever called: Sheriff or Deputy) to have any sysop powers at all, but only having authority backed by policy and the threat of virtually-automatic enforcement by someone who is a sysop; I'd like to see the idea reserved as a backup in case the empowered-Sheriff idea is rejected for the reasons discussed above.
Here's my question: Before spending a lot more time and effort on this in its current empowered-Sheriff form, should a notice about the idea be posted at the RFA talk page and/or at other policy discussion points? If it's going to be shot down for the reasons I discussed above, then it would be better to have that lesson learned sooner than later. Before taking it there, however, if the quick-and-easy-appointment idea is going to be used, it needs to be fleshed out. How would you see it working? Regards, TRANSPORTERMAN (TALK) 19:07, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
Good ideas. My sense is that you're right that we need to remove the 'self-appointing' thing (even under the restriction that permission is asked at AN first). I don't think it's a bad idea, mind you, but I think it's too paranoia-inducing right now; the concept will need to be established in its simpler form first, and then we can discuss expanding it if it works.
I dislike the 'subset of admins' idea for the following reasons: part of the goal here is to separate sysops from policing functions, except in extreme cases. having sysops do policing functions has the same problems as blending police and judiciary functions in the real world: you end up with 'Judge Dread' scenarios where a sysop ends up as judge, jury, and executioner. setting up a class of people with limited powers to handle the policing function, with sysops overseeing and acting as the final judges, is much more stable and much less prone to both drama and errors of judgement. Further, having a separate police class improves legitimacy: minor problems are handled by sheriffs in a tightly regulated manor, and sheriffs defuse a lot of the friction that goes with such minor problems simply by being limited, regulated functionaries. Then when major problems occur, sysops can intervene without a history of minor frictions, making their actions look more legitimate as well. Plus, sysops can focus on more important tasks than minor talk-page peccadilloes, which is a better allocation of their greater powers.
As far as the trouble of selling it, that's a given. as I mentioned above it probably needs a trial case to show everyone how it works. I can argue the rationale behind it very effectively, mind you, but there's nothing like 'show me' to prove a point. --Ludwigs2 19:35, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
P.s. Forgot to mention: my way of seeing sheriff power granted is that if the following are true: (i) an editor has a good number of edits (say 10000), (ii) an editor is willing explicitly to commit him/herself to the sheriffing rules, and (iii) no one offers a credible reason for denying sheriffhood in a reasonable time frame (say a week, where credible reasons would be major wikipedia offenses like sock puppetry, significant vandalism, or a history of arbcom admonitions or sanctions), then a sheriff should be approved. The system is designed to make bad sheriffs easily removable and to severely limit the damage they can do, so the acceptance process can be much more lenient than RfA. --Ludwigs2 19:43, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by the "'subset of admins' idea", Ludwigs. I raised that idea in the context of the means by which Sheriffs would be approved (i.e. qualified), but I'm confused whether or not you are saying that you still hold that they should be appointed in the same way as sysops. Are you saying that you see Sheriffs not as "junior sysops" but as "super sysops" and for that reason they need to qualify both under the regular criteria for sysops and under those that you set out above in your PS? If that's the case, then I think that we'll see even fewer candidates for this role than we see for regular adminship. Regards, TRANSPORTERMAN (TALK) 20:40, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
I think maybe I got confused over what you said. I think that sheriffs should be a class separate from sysops, one that has a significantly lower bar for approval, significantly more constrained areas of operation, but (within their particular bailiwick), some rights and powers that sysops currently lack. They wold be subordinate to sysops in the sense that sysops would have the final say if problems arise, but they would not be 'junior sysops'. They would have a narrowly defined mandate in which they are authoritative, and no power whatsoever outside of that. So, for instance, a sheriff should be able to give a sysop a 24 hour block should the need arise, so long as the sysop's behavior falls clearly within the sheriff's mandate, but otherwise sheriffs are just normal editors. does that answer what you're asking? --Ludwigs2 22:14, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Yes, it does, and I think that we're in substantial agreement about what's needed. Regards, TRANSPORTERMAN (TALK) 22:55, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Determination of consensus

I've reverted Becritical's addition of a determination of consensus subsection. I appreciate his effort to try to put limits on it so that it is only enabled when consensus is very clear, but (in keeping with the analogy and notion of creating a police force) police officers only interpret the law to the extent needed to enforce it. In this context, I think that means that their power to determine consensus should be limited only to those situations in which it is needed to determine their ability to enforce one of the concerns listed in the bullet points in the "The basic theory" section and should further be limited to those situations in which consensus is so clear that to argue that it is not clear is unquestionably tendentious. The ability to determine consensus should not be a separately-listed power, which elevates it to the same level of discretion as the other powers and allows the Sheriff to become an arbitrator of content, but should be an "included power" or "sub-power". Best regards, TRANSPORTERMAN (TALK) 21:11, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Sounds good. BECritical__Talk 22:13, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Level of consensus needed to appoint

Does anyone else feel that the marked–out words in the following quote from the "Appointment to a page" subsection are too limiting?

Various procedures for doing so may occur, but in general the procedure should be on the level of an extended discussion at the administrator's noticeboard or a policy-level request for comment. There should be sufficient consensus evident to be certain that the community as a whole is fed up with the behavior of editors at the page or topic in question and that other avenues of resolving the conflict are ineffective.

The process is sufficiently useful that it seems to me that even short or bare consensus for Sheriffing at ANI or in a policy RFP ought to be enough. By including the marked-out restrictions, we would just give the combatants fuel to shift the argument from its current venue to the Sheriffing proposal and/or to then argue about whether the appointment of a Sheriff was valid because the discussion was insufficiently extensive or involved too few editors to represent the community as a whole. Best regards, TRANSPORTERMAN (TALK) 22:13, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. BECritical__Talk 22:15, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
There's room for discussion on this point (I intentionally wrote it in the most limiting form possible), but please be aware that the central concern here is legitimacy. For a sheriff to be effective, s/he needs to work in such a way that his actions can be viewed as an outgrowth of the broad desires of the community. That (along with fair and equal application) is what should make the sheriff's authority credible and legitimate. The more limited the consensus for appointing a sheriff, the greater the potential for legitimacy issues. Personally I agree with removing the marked out words and making the process of appointment looser, I just want to make sure it doesn't get so loose that sheriffs are getting appointed by (say) some dive-by sysop. that being said, have at it. Face-smile.svg --Ludwigs2 22:29, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
If I understand correctly, the appointment process is sequential. If the first volunteer sheriff fails to get a consensus (51%? 99%?) then that application is eventually rejected and the next sheriff gets to submit their editing history to scrutiny. That discussion can take another few days or a week. If it fails to achieve consensus then a third applicant is necessary. Is that right?   Will Beback  talk  03:48, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't know that that the process is (or should be) that developed. I modeled it after the way mediators are chosen at the Mediation Cabal (volunteers that need to be accepted), if that helps any. --Ludwigs2 06:16, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't see any particular process for selecting potential mediators for MedCab cases. Mediators have no authority and no special tools, and mediation is entirely voluntary, so that might not be the best model. If it's unclear how sheriffs would be appointed to handle a topic then maybe it'd be best to leave that section blank with a note saying it is "to be determined".   Will Beback  talk  07:19, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Technical considerations

Can Sheriffs be given the power to block (which can be monitored) without giving them the power to read deleted content (which cannot)? If not, this would be a technical barrier to the appointments, as I doubt the foundation would approve "read deleted content" without some further vetting process. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 18:17, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

I don't know - my impression is that blocking can be giving as a specific user-right, but we really need to get someone with more technical knowledge to answer. However, a sheriff who deleted a page would lose his sheriff status (preventing further damage), and would probably face hefty sanctions, maybe even a site ban. can't guard against every possible contingency. --Ludwigs2 18:31, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
I would prefer a top-down style, like my suggestion on Jimbo's page I linked to above. Imho a benevolent, over-arching dictator is better than local warlords. Seems like our democracy has devolved into anarchy with localized (certain topics) petty dictators. Obviously, if Jimbo is not willing to manage or to appoint a manager, that wouldn't work. Yopienso (talk) 20:16, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Well, this is the classic political science problem of authority: from almost every perspective people prefer a wise, benevolent dictator (one of the reasons, I think, why God is such a popular concept), but no one ever fully trusts that dictators will actually be wise and benevolent, and even where dictators are wise and benevolent, there's no guarantee that the people they delegate to will share those qualities. Modern democracies almost invariable eschew the 'benevolent dictator' approach in favor of a 'balance of power' approach, where authorities with different kinds and loci of power are placed against each other, keeping each other in check. we can debate the matter, of course, but... --Ludwigs2 20:32, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Did you read my suggestion, linked to above under "Broader Issues? I would trust Jimbo; he's unfailingly polite and of course believes in his project, even if he may be getting a little tired of its daily cares. I'm confident he could employ sheriffs or policemen or interlocutors or WikiKnights or whatever they might be called who would faithfully do his bidding. Heck, he could even cajole volunteers to do what he wants them to do. Just give 'em a badge and a six-shooter/billy club/hook/lance he could take right back if he was displeased with their performance, which would rarely be necessary. It works perfectly at the site I linked to in my suggestion. Yopienso (talk) 21:22, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

reference to bureaucrats?

Will, you add a statement that appointment to a page would be ratified by a bureaucrat. I think that might be extreme and limiting (I have no idea how many bureaucrats there are, but there can't be that many). I think a simple consensus that there is no outstanding problem that would block a sheriff's appointment would be sufficient. --Ludwigs2 23:01, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

I added bureaucrats to the "volunteering" section, not the "appointment" section.   Will Beback  talk  23:07, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
But since you raise the issue of appointment, exactly how would that proceed? After a sheriff puts down their name, how long should the discussion last? Who decides that the outstanding problems, if any are mentioned, are sufficient to reject the application? Who closes the discussion and ratifies the appointment? Admins? Random editors?   Will Beback  talk  23:12, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Ah, I guess a bureaucrat would be needed to add the user rights anyway. got it.
with respect to the other, I would think that any discussion would last no less than a couple of days and no more than a week. it's really fairly pro forma: it's unlikely a sheriff would volunteer for a page s/he had been heavily involved with in the past, so mostly it would be a check on mistakes (e.g., the volunteer did not know that someone they have a history with was one of the current editors in the dispute). Sans some obvious diffs that show a clear involvement, there isn't much to talk about.--Ludwigs2 23:35, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Anything that can be disputed will be disputed. Let's say the topic is Italian nationalism. Does having edited an article on some Italian politician count as having a previous involvement? How much editing makes one "involved"? And so on. So the question remains, who decides?   Will Beback  talk  23:44, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
again (and really, this is a general principle that needs to be understood), it's much better assume good faith here and not worry too much about the sheriff's personal characteristics. People are going to complain about sheriffs no matter who they are (people on contentious pages won't appreciate being restricted, and will look for ways to gripe about it). A sheriff proves his legitimacy by following the rules and enforcing them equally; people who gripe should for the most part be told to stop griping, unless they have a really clear case of improper behavior or unfairness. You are far too over-concerned about the qualities of the individual doing the sheriffing - the system is designed so that it's almost impossible for the sheriff to do anything problematic without being so obvious that someone catches them at it, and if they get caught they are out the door. Frankly, you could even put a full-fledged POV-pusher in the sheriff's seat on a page, because I seriously doubt the POV-pusher could figure out a way to push their POV from the sheriff's seat without getting pulled from the page.
Take it as an exercise: pretend you want to push a POV, and tell me how you could do that as a sheriff without getting yourself removed and/or desheriffed. I'll give you whatever odds you like that you cannot think of a way to do it effectively. --Ludwigs2 00:07, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
The concern I raised above is with the practical matter of who decides that an appointment is approved.   Will Beback  talk  00:39, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
yes, and I'd say a loose consensus among the sysops who asked for the sheriff in the first place (with minimal discussion) should be sufficient. I tried to design things so that the system is robust, so that even questionable appointees are likely to succeed in the task, so long as they are trying. --Ludwigs2 01:14, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
I didn't realize that only admins could request and appoint a sheriff. So the process then is that admins process the request for having a sheriff, and then decide who will be appointed to that job. It's good to get this clear.   Will Beback  talk  06:07, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Interaction with other DR

  1. Would the sheriff decide whether there should be a posting to a noticeboard or whether that would be forum shopping?
    1. Would the sheriff police the NB discussion?
    2. Or would the NB have its own sheriff?
    3. Or would the sheriff simply ban existing disputants from posting to the NB and instead post on their behalf, deciding in that case what would be appropriate?
  2. If the NB reached a decision, would the sheriff enforce it, even against a local majority?

Peter jackson (talk) 11:30, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Very good questions.

  1. No, I don't think a Sheriff would control actions taken outside the context of the page they're working on. But an admin might.
  2. The Sheriff might post an opinion on a noticeboard, but would not police it. Noticeboards don't need Sheriffs, so far as I know.
  3. The Sheriff would not ban people from noticeboards, but an admin might take action.
  4. In the situation where, for example, you had a consensus at RS/N agree that X is not an RS, and 5 to 2 at the page who thought X was an RS, I think you might be able to declare a community consensus. So, maybe, in a very clearcut case. Do you think that would be a problem? BECritical__Talk 17:11, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
Sheriffs might suggest that a discussion be taken to a noticeboard, but sheriffs don't police areas where they haven't been assigned, and they don't enforce results, ever. The point of a sheriff is to make sure that consensus discussions are civil and reasonable, on the assumption that civil, reasonable discussions can usually produce results on their own. --Ludwigs2 19:08, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
What often happens with NB is that all the disputants troop over there & rehash the dispute. It's claimed that this deters new contributions. Peter jackson (talk) 10:10, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
In this context, the NB discussion could become a place to say things which wouldn't be allowed by the sheriff on the article talk page. Sometimes disputants, even those on opposing sides, are looking for a fight rather than a solution. If they're not allowed to fight indoors they'll go outside. Not always, but it does happen. I don't think civilization has found a way around that yet so it might not be possible here either.   Will Beback  talk  10:50, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately true, yes. Though I will say this: part of the reason why - and allow me to call this behavior by its correct name - hormonal, demanding, ego-driven aggression is so generally accepted on wikipedia is that it's so pervasive. almost every page I've ever worked on has had at least one snarling, whining, fist-shaking editor shouting about how other editors are ruining the article through ignorance or stupidity; new editors see this and quickly learn to either (a) be like mice and tiptoe around the page-ogre or (b) turn into page-ogres themselves, because it looks like a successful strategy. Part of the long-term goal of projects like this is that (IMO) once editors start to see that quiet, civil, productive discussions are possible with the correct controls, they will start liking it, and start putting a higher priority seeing that editors control themselves.
As far as shifting nastiness to noticeboards, well.. assume for a moment it happens, and picture how that makes the editor look. on the article the editor is polite, civil, communicative; on the noticeboard s/he's aggressive and insulting. it's one thing when an editor behaves badly everywhere (then one assumes it's a character flaw, and either puts up with it or bans the editor). It's another thing when an editor behaves well in one place and badly in another - that means the editor is clearly choosing to behave badly, which is likely to raise a good bit more social condemnation. If we can start to crack the social dynamic that indulges bad behavior, we'll start to see bad behavior disappear. --Ludwigs2 16:57, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Bad behavior comes in many forms, some of which aren't as obvious as the "ogre". I recall the case of a now-banned editor who had a certain reptilian charm and could smother talk page discussions, not with fist pounding like an ogre, but with misdirection, red herrings, appeals to authority, etc. These are techniques which a sheriff might be swayed by at first, but if they're smart they'd catch onto eventually. The editor in question also spent considerable effort doing favors for with editors in unrelated topics and when his issues came to noticeboards they'd assume that the charming, helpful editor was probably in the right. The point being that disruptive or POV pushing editors don't necessarily walk around with a large sign identifying themselves as such. Again, I don't know a good solution, but I'm inclined to think that it'd be helpful for sheriffs to be involved in NB requests in some fashion. It might be a matter of asking the fighting editors to agree on the formulation of the question to be posted on the NB, and a request that involved editors stay off the NB to allow uninvolved editors to add their comments without cross-talk. But that doesn't necessarily need to be spelled out in the policy proposal. We could simply say that sheriffs may help coordinate talk page-NB interactions.   Will Beback  talk  23:59, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

User talk pages

  • Sheriffs may only exercise their status, authority, or privileges on pages that they have been appointed to by the community, or on the user talk pages of editors involved with the page they have been appointed to;

What are we envisioning here? Is this intended to handle side discussions? The sheriff could issue blocks for inappropriate/unhelpful discussions on user talk pages between users who've edited a covered article?   Will Beback  talk  22:39, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Not my addition. I suspect it was intended to allow sheriffs to say that they are sheriffs when talking to people on their own user pages (a literal reading of 'only on the article and article talk page' would preclude the sheriff from leaving a warning message or a request to refactor on a user's talk page). I'm not sure we need the clause, but I think that's the problem it's trying to resolve. --Ludwigs2 22:58, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
That was added by user:TransporterMan.[1] I don't see any discussion of that proposed authority.   Will Beback  talk  23:51, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Not a necessary power. BECritical__Talk 16:17, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Pending a good reason to keep it, I'll remove that clause.   Will Beback  talk  23:03, 9 February 2011 (UTC)


What happens if this is abused, as admin ship is on occasions?Slatersteven (talk) 14:14, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

First off, note that abuse is much easier to identify that it is with normal sysops, because of the restricted nature of what a sheriff can do. Sheriffs have a clear and limited mandate, and are held to a higher standard: If they can justify their acts as unbiased and necessary for the preservation of peace on the page they should be more or less immune, but if there's even a reasonable suspicion that they've gone awry then the community should take action. There are different gradations: a sheriff who makes an error in judgement should probably get a reminder about the restricted mandate, then be allowed to do a mea culpa and get back to work. A sheriff who seems not to understand the limited mandate and consistently behaves in un-sheriff-like ways should be removed and replaced, possibly with a bar on sheriffing again until they understand the rules better. A sheriff who grossly and intentionally violates the limited mandate (e.g. where someone volunteers to sheriff on a page specifically to use those powers to push through a POV), should be removed, barred from sheriffing, and probably desysoped for the violation of community trust. It's pretty much like cops in the real world: they should be given broad benefit of the doubt because they are doing an unpleasant job for the community's benefit, but woe unto them if they violate that community trust.
It's actually a fairly self-balancing system. Sheriffs can pretty much guarantee to ruffle feathers on a page, and editors with ruffled feathers will be watching and documenting every darned thing the sheriff does, looking for a way to get him/her in trouble. perceived abuse will be noticed and reported rapidly, and evaluation of such claims is straight-forward (does the reported incident lie within the sheriff's limited mandate or not?). Sheriffs will get quick feedback on their actions, will have an incentive to stick to the letter of their mandate religiously, and the clear specification of that mandate means that whole thing will be handled with far less wiki-drama than your normal ANI "this sysop is being mean to me" thread. --Ludwigs2 16:02, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
Im seem to recall that that has all be sadi about admin ship, yet admins regulay abuse their power with apparetn impunity. Such as the recent incident over Carol where admins clealry acted in a way that was (at best) partial. Unless it is will and not should then we will get the saem cabalisation gangs of Sherifs protecting their pets. Its not only the rules, but the enforcement that would have to be tougher.Slatersteven (talk) 14:02, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
Slater, pardon me for leading off with this, but you really need to (1) pay more attention to your typing, or (2) invest in a background spell checker. posts like above are hard to parse, and make it hard to take you seriously. I mean, nine spelling/grammar errors in one short paragraph??? My 12 year old niece wouldn't do that badly, ever...
The key difference here is that the rules for a sheriff are specific and restrictive. The problem with controlling normal sysops is that sysops have broad powers, more or less complete autonomy, and an ambiguous mandate. Anyone who wants to say that a sysop is doing something s/he shouldn't be doing has to get over the hurdle that no one has a clear idea of what a sysop should be doing, so such discussions boil down to wandering debates with huge loopholes and lots of wiggle room. That's not the case here, where the intent is to restrict the job to a limited area of action and take a jaundiced view of behavior that seems to step outside that area. It will be easy to tell when a sheriff is doing something s/he oughtn't, and quickly resolvable by removing the sheriff (who is only there because the community asked him/her to be there int he first place).
In short, I understand your concern, but the system is designed specifically to minimize that concern Rogue sheriffs will get the axe without fuss, muss or bother. --Ludwigs2 15:29, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
I would suggest then the addition of a new restriction. "that no Sheriff may be appointed to pages that they have been involved in acting in the role of an editor or as a party to dispute.” Lets make sure that the old gangs do not show up by having truly uninvolved sheriffs.Slatersteven (talk) 16:21, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, that would probably be a natural part of the selection process, but it's easy enough to work in. I'll add it. --Ludwigs2 17:47, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
HAs it been added yet>Slatersteven (talk) 13:19, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I see two things here: one, that a sheriff would need to apply the rules equally to people on both sides of a debate. I've seen it happen otherwise. Second, a sheriff would need to be someone who is inexpert not only in the subject area, but also in the kinds of debates taking place. There are too many people on WP who simply have an ax to grind concerning particular types of POV pushing, whether it be about race, politics, or other kinds of things. These admins have seen so much POV pushing that they are angry, and they will be unable to see that a POV pusher may have a point. They will subtly favor one group over another. I really don't like it that the admin corps is going to enforce this. If this is what we're going to do, then create a new usergroup in addition to admins. Here's what I propose:

Create a new usergroup called "sheriff" like this

$wgGroupPermissions['sheriff']['block'] = true;

That added to the WP Localsettings file would add a new usergroup and people could be given that right (by a bureaucrat), as "temporary admins" and they would be allowed only to block users who are editing on the page where they've volunteered to be a sheriff. (And yeah, it's that simple to implement in mediawiki). BECritical__Talk 20:01, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

Another suggestion: what if the editors on a particular page had to agree to accept the sheriff? They could be told they have to have a sheriff, perhaps, but they could choose which one they wanted by full consensus. Full consensus probably wouldn't be too hard to achieve on such a matter, if the pool of sheriffs were large enough. BECritical__Talk 01:36, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

I've added in most of your stuff, plus some other material. check it over. with respect to your last point, sure, if a group of editors decides they want a sheriff, they could ask (either over at AN, or maybe on a special Sheriff's noticeboard for things like that). That's kind of covered under the 'Various procedures for doing so may occur...' bit.--Ludwigs2 09:49, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
Two problems jump out at me. First, the name is too reminiscent of Citizendium's constables.
Secondly, a bigger concern is that admins do this kind of thing already. Why would a special group need to be formed for it? SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 10:08, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
Also, the reverting back to a version of the sheriff's choice is highly problematic for all the obvious reasons. Admins have leeway to do this now, but it has to be used sparingly—there has to be something like a BLP violation, or some other clearly inappropriate thing. We can also choose to revert to a version before a 3RR violation. But making a purely editorial decision (this is the best version) is not on. And I think I saw somewhere on the page (though now I can't find it) that sheriffs should apply their restrictions to all parties equally? SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 10:17, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

Why so many 'mays' A sheriff who breaks rule A may lose his powers. Sorry but if they have extraordinary powers then the sanctions need to be extraordinary too. I would say that any sheriff, who is found to have broken the rules, should not may, lose their status as a sheriff.Slatersteven (talk) 13:19, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
@Slim: I've never edited (or even looked) at Citizendium, so I don't know what constables do there, or why the comparison is problematic. That being said, the idea here is to create a class of 'Officers of the Peace' (aka cops), and so any appropriate name is going to be reminiscent of every other appropriate name. unless, that is, you want to reach for obscure referents. The thing I like about the TS name is that it retains that sense of lawlessness that Wikipedia already prizes - 'sheriff' feels more freewheeling and liberal while 'constable' sounds stuffy and establishment oriented (to my ear anyway). do you have a better suggestion?
with respect to reversion - this kind of thing isn't strictly necessary, but it's a useful tool for the toolbox. As noted, the goal here is to take away the advantages of bad behavior. One of the more frequent activities I see in page fights is editors struggling over which version gets displayed to the public during discussions, and this often has ramifications for the discussion - editors who manage to get their preferred version displayed will often drag their heels or try to squelch discussion, because they already have what they want. and that's not even considering tendentious edits and reverts in mainspace designed merely to infuriate other editors. Giving the sheriff power to dictate a particular version of the page for the purpose of the discussion pulls the rug right out from under that. If it helps, think of it as an ad hoc implementation of flagged revisions for troubled pages. Remember, the operant thought here is that sheriffs are going to be heavily monitored by page participants and sysops at AN, and will lose the sheriff status if they do anything controversial or one -ided, or at least anything that they cannot explain adequately on demand.
@Slatersteven: I'm still rewriting. however, I do want to leave the opportunity for sheriffs to explain an action and have them discussed rather than just get a bureaucratic axe on appearances. I expect some acts might look odd at first blush, but actually have decent reasons behind them which place them well within the Sheriff's scope. We wouldn't want good sheriffs de-sheriffed for doing their job well. --Ludwigs2 17:04, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
I am not sugesting that what I am saying is that if a 'cop' breaks the rules (and is found to have broken the ruels) there should be no may about them being sanctioned (and indead givent the extent of their powers I see no reason why they should not lose those for even minor infringements). I see that this will be the same as aminship with 'Cops' arguing the toss about the fact they did not breach the rules for days on end at RFC's. There is also the issue of consesnsus, If some one does indead become an advocacy 'cop' then he will have allies who will step into any complaint and assist.Slatersteven (talk) 17:18, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
Hi Ludwigs, constables on Citizendium are or were the admins, and the name attracted a fair bit of ridicule because of the cop aspect. We had a similar thing on Wikipedia years ago, which didn't last, and I'm writing now entirely from memory, but it was an investigations/mediation group that offered to troubleshoot at any article it was invited to look at, and it also used cop imagery, and was sunk almost entirely because of the name. So I think "sheriff" wouldn't work. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 17:19, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
Jack Merridew 15:49, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
So why not call them a Protector? Or (as a joke) a page lord.Slatersteven (talk) 17:22, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
lol - thank you for not suggesting "unterführer". Face-smile.svg The two keys to making this not a joke are establishing authority and legitimacy. achieve that and it will work, fail to, and it won't. To my mind the name is largely irrelevant, because what's ultimately going to make it fly is the broad understanding that this person (whatever s/he's called) can make it impossible to achieve editing goals on an article unless the goals are sought in civil, deliberative discussion. To use a not-great analogy, this is the same reason they have teachers in study hall: the teachers don't do anything, they just inhibit the kids from acting out on the normal hijinks that kids will get into unsupervised. Without the hijinks, the kids either sit in boredom or study; what else is there to do? The teacher needs to have the authority to send students to the principle, obviously, and needs to pay attention to stop sneaky hijinks, but once that authority is recognized as legitimate it almost never needs to be used because the rules get respected.
and you're right about all the 'mays'. I'll fix that now. --Ludwigs2 21:05, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I changed the reverting back part per SV. These Sheriffs have greater powers than current admins at the pages they monitor. Their mandate is for much deeper control than I've ever seen an admin take under the current system. In accordance with this, they have to have stricter rules so they don't abuse their powers. But of course there should be consensus among neutral editors that they did abuse them. You can't have a Sheriff feeling too unsafe. It would be embarrassing to actually lose your status.

I have another suggestion, which I don't really like, but which might make this fly much more easily: give Sheriffs the ability to give page bans, and subject area bans, but not blocks. However, if an editor breaches a ban, a sysop should automatically block. That way, there won't be so much blather about it.

The Sheriff should have the power to make a call on consensus and then enforce it for a period of time- say a month or a week: once consensus is reached you don't want a couple of editors to come in and say "oops, no consensus anymore."

I'd be fine changing the name... how about "Crisis Mediator?" Sound psychological enough? BECritical__Talk 03:22, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

And another suggestion: a Sheriff should try to get a bunch of other editors involved; that should be easier for a page under a Sheriff, because sometimes all the non-POV accounts have been driven off and would come back under a sheriff's protection. This would be necessary to getting real NPOV. Sometimes most of the current page editors are of one opinion, and they would call in a Sheriff thinking they will get their way. BECritical__Talk 03:30, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

BC, you're starting to lose the edge on this. it's very important from a sociological perspective that sheriffs are self-contained authorities. If we don't grant them the power to impose short blocks, then they have to rely on sysops for their power, and they will (almost immediately) find themselves having to request help and having to explain before they act, and that will mean that the editors they are trying to moderate will be able to start doing run-arounds (wheedling sysops, organizing disputes and debates, playing politics, attacking the sheriff's character and legitimacy). If that happens you might as well not even have a sheriff. they will not be able to do the job effectively, and will just be another bureaucratic layer for people to squabble in.
I understand that this is very uncomfortable (and I know it will be uncomfortable for many people on project), but the only way this will work is if you give the sheriff complete self-contained authority over the page, and rely on the strict restrictions, close monitoring, and the ability to easily unseat him/her to keep his/her behavior in line. Imagine what the world would be like if police officers had to call their superiors each and every time they wanted to discharge their weapon: the ones who didn't get shot waiting for permission would not have one ounce of respect from anyone.
I'm less concerned about the reversion thing, but I'd still like to see it available as an option. again, the point here is to give the sheriff the tools s/he needs to quickly, quietly, and efficiently put a stop to nonsense. In disputes, people use mainspace to do all sorts of nonsense. Half the time I see edit wars start, they start because a group of editors is trying to bait another editor into getting blocked so that they don't have to discuss changes in talk. Now a sheriff could put a stop to that quickly enough with BoP blocks, but that will leave legitimacy issues of its own (much like the 'always locked on the wrong version' thing with edit protection). Maybe we could compromise - rather than give sheriffs revert power, give the sheriff a special template that says something like "This article/section is currently disputed; discussion is ongoing"; they can slap that onto the article and insist that it stay there until editors work things out. The point is not to let the end product of a nascent edit war be seen as a victory for either side.
In other news... If you really don't like the name, I suggest we go with the simple but factual "Moderator". That's really what they are, anyway, but I like the folksy feel of the word sheriff. Reminds me of The Andy Griffith Show. Face-smile.svg
with the respect to your last point - I don't think sheriffs should canvass, and I think they should steer entirely clear of content issues. The most a sheriff would do would be to recommend an RfC or noticeboard posting to participants without insisting on it. if you get a page that's dominated by editors of a single mind, then what they decide is what they decide; The sheriff's only job is to make sure that if editors of a different opinion show up, the conversation remains civil and productive, and doesn't devolve to dirty tricks.--Ludwigs2 04:06, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Okay, so let's see if we can get them blocking power. I don't think Mediawiki gives the option for single page blocking, which would be ideal. I think moderation would be part of the job. Also, I think a moderator should have the ability to enforce consensus. IOW, make a judgment about what the consensus is, and not let one or two objecting editors mess it up for at least a while. Install a consensus version, and then continue discussion, then a week later maybe there's a change if someone still objects. It should be official also that a Sheriff can block/ban for continual IDIDNTHEARTHAT which has been explained in a thoroughly convincing way over and over. Which is about the same thing as saying enforce consensus for a period of time. As to reverting to an NPOV version of the page, that requires content decisions on the part of the moderator. But reverting to a page before the current dispute should be acceptable. BECritical__Talk 04:47, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
If you want to change it to "Moderator," there's a draft in my sandbox you can use. BECritical__Talk 05:18, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

Sorry if you’ve already addressed this point somewhere else Ludwig, but if you have I haven’t seen it. Your proposal for this policy says that editors can make a complaint if they think the sheriff is using his power irresponsibly, and that if this is indeed the case it’ll lead to the sheriff being replaced. What I’d like to know is, who will be making the ultimate decision about whether the sheriff has misused his power? Will it just be determined by community consensus?

If that’s the answer, I’m concerned that situation will lend itself to the same cycle of bias that already exists. If an article is being dominated by a large enough group of editors with the same viewpoint, they would be able to select a sheriff who shares this viewpoint, who could then help drive away everyone who opposes this group. Even though this would obviously be an abuse of the sheriff’s power, if the dominant group of editors support him and all of the editors who oppose him have been driven away, it would still be impossible to reach a consensus to replace him. If this proposal gets implemented, how would we prevent this sort of situation from happening? --Captain Occam (talk) 16:32, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

I am also concearned about this. I have raised doubts about this as well. The idea that Sheriffs will not be able to enforce on pagesd that are already active on is one answer to this. But enforcement by consensus would still be a potential issue.Slatersteven (talk) 16:38, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Sheriffs definitely should need to meet the criteria to be considered “uninvolved” in the pages they patrol, but I don’t think that’ll be enough on its own. There have been plenty of examples of nominally uninvolved administrators who’ve still enforced policy non-neutrally. From what I’ve seen, this problem seems to have arisen especially often in the climate change topic area. --Captain Occam (talk) 16:49, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree its not enough. I shall start a new sectio to discuse this point.Slatersteven (talk) 17:21, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
The point of this (and this is an idea that might take some getting used to) is to make the sheriff's responsibilities as non-interpretive as possible, and to impress upon sheriffs that they should interpret their abilities narrowly. that makes the system self-balancing. so, as an example: the sheriff has a right to redact personal attacks, but shouldn't disrupt the flow of conversation; yet some editor posts "If that idea weren't so stupid it would be laughable, but assuming you idiots really want it, we could try this..." Possible sheriff actions and results
  • Sheriff does nothing - s/he's not fulfilling the mandate for the job. should be reminded of the job or even replaced if the pattern continues.
  • Sheriff redacts the first two clauses, leaving the "we could try this..." part - fulfills the job mandate, can in no way be seen as exceeding it.
  • Sheriff redacts the whole line - fulfills the job mandate, but exceeds it - should be reminded of the restrictions, asked to restore the non-attack part, and if the pattern continues should be removed or replaced.
What makes this work is the fact that some editor on the page is inevitably going to be (at minimum) miffed by any action that the sheriff takes which the editor thinks is unfair, and there will be an open thread somewhere (at AN, perhaps), where perceived unfairness can be reported. This creates a nice tension. On the one hand, miffed editors have an incentive to keep a watchful eye and complain about perceived unfairness, but must make clear and compelling arguments because the sheriff will be assumed to be acting in good faith by default. On the other hand, the sheriff (if he's not an idiot) will recognize that people he restricts are going to be pissed at him and looking for ways to get him in trouble, and that's a wonderful incentive for the sheriff to be a pedantic stickler about remaining within the office's limits and doing things correctly by the book. Add that there's nothing a sheriff can do that's seriously irremediable (redactions should all be inline, and the worst a sheriff can deal out is a 24hr block). Let's take the absolute worst case scenario I can think of: a sheriff goes totally off the deep end, starts redacting every post an editor made and starts blocking him every 24 hours. well, sheriffs don't have the power to lock pages, so the editor will be complaining in his talk (and probably emailing sysops), no one can really argue that the sheriff's actions are within the job's restrictions (even if they want to), so within 2-3 days at the outside all that sheriff's actions are undone, the sheriff is off the page, desheriffed and probably having a very unpleasant time at ANI; problem solved.
The trick is keeping the complaint threads tightly focussed on the "Is this allowable?" question, not "should this have been done" or "was this right". any questions of the latter type should be directed to a thread about modifying the rules that sheriffs work by; so long as a particular sheriff stays within the rules and applies them fairly he should be more or less immune. if he steps outside them, he should be toast.
(Just as an aside, this is a standard move in governance everywhere: create a set of rules, make individals accountable for performing those rules correctly, but make any legitimacy questions focus on the rules themselves. cops do the job the legislature tells them they should do; people can't really argue with cops for doing their job, but should get the legislature to change laws they don't like.) --Ludwigs2 18:12, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Okay. I do think this could work, but you haven’t really answered my question. In the hypothetical situation you’ve described, where a sheriff goes off the deep end, who will actually be making the decision about whether or not they’ve abused their power? Even if what is and isn’t an abuse of their power is defined in completely objective terms, it’s still going to have to be someone’s job to examine complaints about this, and determine whether or not the complaints have any merit.
From what you’ve said here, it sounds like this would be determined by discussion at AN/I, and the decision to replace the sheriff would be made by ordinary sysops in response to complaints there. Well, if the sheriff is a popular editor whose actions are supported by many other editors, even if those actions are clear policy violations, I’m a lot less confident than you that an AN/I complaint would be able to resolve the issue. You probably remember the way this went when we were dealing with Mathsci’s personal attacks last spring. Some of the comments in question were completely obvious and clear-cut violations of WP:NPA, and ArbCom eventually agreed with us about that, but every time this issue was brought up at AN/I most of the people there ended up supporting Mathsci regardless, and it was impossible to find a sysop who was willing to do anything about how he was acting. How can we be confident that this same situation won’t arise when someone is trying to report a popular sheriff who’s abused his power? --Captain Occam (talk) 23:41, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes, we don't want Sheriffs to have the same problems as the Admin corps. BECritical__Talk 23:52, 5 February 2011 (UTC)