Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard

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Behaviour on this page: This page is for discussing announcements relating to the Arbitration Committee. Editors commenting here are required to act with appropriate decorum. While grievances, complaints, or criticism of arbitration decisions are frequently posted here, you are expected to present them without being rude or hostile. Comments that are uncivil may be removed without warning. Personal attacks against other users, including arbitrators or the clerks, will be met with sanctions.

Feedback on the Evidence Summary Style/Document Mode[edit]

One of the clerks is in process of closing World War II and the history of Jews in Poland as I type this and the next section will be the bot created section to discuss that outcome. I want to have, however, a separate place for feedback on the use of an evidence summary page. I have pretty strong feelings against it but think feedback from the community (including parties to the case if they wish) would be useful for ArbCom to consider if/when to use this again in the future. Barkeep49 (talk) 16:16, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm curious why you're against it? I thought it was helpful to figure out what arbcom was interested in, and I thought it helped keep duplicate submissions down. As well as keeping the submissions culled down to avoid useless stuff. Ealdgyth (talk) 16:30, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I found that it made the evidence as a whole much more readable. It is something that definitely improved the signal-to-noise ratio. That said, it seems to me that such an exercise is extremely labour-instensive on the part of the arbitrators who are summarizing the evidence. I'm not sure how sustainable such an approach is; while it may be workable for a particularly high-profile case as a one-off, I'm also imagining trying to keep with, for example, two open cases with a considerable amount of evidence. My recent experience of being a sitting arbitrator was that the behind-the-scenes stuff took up a fair amount of time already (case in point: the main reason why I haven't been really active this year is because I've seized some opportunities to do other things with my free time, now that I'm no longer an arbitrator). Adding something as intensive as promptly (!) summarizing all evidence may stretch a committee too thin. Even with 15 members, there is a number who are inactive or recused, but also, perhaps at the risk of saying a quiet truth too loudly, a notable percentage of remaining active arbitrators aren't up for grunt work, which is a feature of committees year-in year-out. Maxim (talk) 16:52, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Once upon a time, I suggested having co-ordinators gathering submitted evidence and putting forth a concise presentation. The goal was to reduce redundancy, thus making it easier to follow the case and save everyone time. There are clear difficulties in trying to put this into practice (getting Wikipedia editors to co-ordinate is very hard). However for a refining-of-evidence approach to be sustainable on a larger scale, I think the effort needs to be de-centralized to other community members, in order to spread the workload. isaacl (talk) 17:41, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
extremely labour-instensive is really the core issue for me. This is, I think, a rare instance where all three drafters were constantly on-call. In previous cases, the whole process was pretty resilient to one (sometimes even two) drafters needing to step back for a few days, but there was far less slack in this process. That's really just not sustainable, and despite the benefits we get when it works, if it winds up breaking everything I think we wind up in a worse position. It was an interesting tool to try, and for very specific reasons worked out well, but multiple factors would need to converge for me to suggest doing it again. I'd rather we figure out what people liked and try to come up with easier ways to achieve those outcomes without having to do this precise procedure again. Wug·a·po·des 00:06, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think it encouraged people to be like "here's a conversation" leaving it to the arbs to figure out what about that conversation needed noting. And conversely when someone did provide context or if arbs noticed something not noted by the submitter, the neutral summary meant we had to strip that context back out for the summary before putting it back in for the PD. It took tons of time to do, at least doubling the amount of time I would have spent as a drafter on processing the evidence and with no clerk feeling comfortable to ever do the summary it fell completely on the drafters. Not to mention the one reasons for it - to let give people more words/diffs while still providing some constraints ended up not completely working simply because the drafters fell behind in summarizing. And on top of all that it created extra work and points of friction between participants and arbs as people would appeal the summaries (sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not). For me it was an experiment worth doing but not one that would be sustainable or advisable again in the future. Barkeep49 (talk) 16:59, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I disliked it, and Barkeep49 just summarized a lot of the reasons why I did. You noted the possibility of friction when someone who posted evidence disagreed with how it was summarized, and (obviously to anyone who followed the case closely) I can raise my hand for that. (Example: I presented evidence of what I thought was some misrepresentation of source material on a case page. Instead of summarizing it, Barkeep49 put a hat on it, and suggested that the other Arbs should just look at it directly. Nothing came of it. I'm fine with ArbCom looking at my evidence and deciding that it just didn't rise to the level of something that required coverage in the final decision, or even deciding that I had misinterpreted what had happened. I have no problem with that. But for all I know, nobody ever even really looked at it.) It's simply an unnecessary extra step to create a curated version of the evidence page, and it puts the drafting Arbs in the strange position of screening what the other Arbs are supposed to look at.
To some extent, the idea of trying this probably arose out of all the other unusual features of this case, including that ArbCom was the "filing party" and that there was an extraordinarily large amount of content and source material that the Arbs had to try to understand. But most cases should not involve that much source material that needs to be digested. (I wonder: did the Bibliography ever really get used for anything in the Final Decision?) I can also imagine that some editors may believe that a good thing about it was that it seemed to reduce the amount of sniping between parties. But I want to point out that this case was also unusual in that many of the parties came to it with the argument that "there's nothing to see here, all the conflict died down a few years ago", which on the whole did not seem to persuade the Committee. But given this dynamic, it was inevitable that the most aggrieved parties would, nonetheless, be reluctant to go after one another. That's what really happened, and it wasn't a result of the case page structure, even though it might superficially look like it.
Here's what I think would be good things for ArbCom to do with this in the future. It's good for drafting Arbs (or any Arbs) to take an active role in saying "this is off-topic, and we are closing it" or "this is useful, and we would like to hear more about it". That's always beneficial to everyone involved. Arbs should feel free to use hatting to turn off unproductive evidence. It's OK for an Arb to say something like "I'm interpreting this evidence to mean X and Y, but not Z, is that a correct interpretation?" But there's no need for editors submitting evidence to have to feel like "does that mean that my evidence did/did not make the cut?" --Tryptofish (talk) 18:04, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Were the clerks not encouraged to feel comfortable producing the summaries? I didn't participate in the case and have no feelings about the new process under discussion, but it seems like if the primary complaint is drafter workload, improved delegation could help. Folly Mox (talk) 18:32, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The clerks were encouraged. In the end we really only had 1 active clerk for this case and he didn't ultimately feel comfortable doing it. Barkeep49 (talk) 18:58, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(Yeah, it wasn't a lack of encouragement that made me avoid summarizing the evidence. I was overwhelmed by the amount of evidence input and the task of compressing it to pure facts about user conduct. And while my perception may well not match reality, I suddenly felt as if I was in a position of judging article content for ArbCom. That didn't feel right.) ~ ToBeFree (talk) 19:09, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In my opinion, the clerks should not be asked to do this kind of task. It goes beyond what they are normally expected to do. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:24, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I could see it as something I'd be willing to help do for the future if I didn't get a late start on the case (because of an ill-timed unannounced Wikibreak). –MJLTalk 22:31, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think the evidence summarization was somewhat helpful to me as a party, in figuring out what was considered relevant, and I thought BK did a really good job doing it and asked some really pertinent questions. However, if the format is used in future I think the other arbitrators should give greater weight to the opinion of the arbitrator doing the summarizing, otherwise it is a waste of that person's time. I think this would have been a better decision if it had had some relationship to the summarized evidence. Elinruby (talk) 23:31, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I found it an interesting innovation that I mildly support. It was very helpful to know which parts of evidence were considered useful and which, not so much, early on (before the PD). I had some issues with appealing the evidence summary process, as in - I felt that some appeals were effectively ignored. I'd sugget formalizing appeals so they are not lost, maybe create a subpage for them or let them be at summary talk page (which here was redirected to the main evidence one I think?), and then have each one officially marked with {{resolved}} or similar templates while pending, so that it is clear which requests are backlogged, or denied. As for backlogged part, well, what were the not-very-active clerks and arbitrators doing? If we run into the perennial backlog-because-volunteers-are-understaffed/overworked issue, we need to recruit more arbitrators and clerks. Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 02:54, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
At the time I write this comment, no one has yet raised the fact that there was no Workshop phase in this case, so I'll raise it in the context of what the experience with Evidence Summary might tell us. Personally, I think Workshops are very beneficial, but I realize that there are lots of differing opinions about that. In my opinion, if ArbCom has a Workshop and really engages with it, including having drafting arbs workshop potential parts of the PD, it can help ArbCom avoid confusion over the wording of the eventual decision – witness all the questions in the talk section below, about the 1-revert remedy. Criticisms of Workshops include editors sniping at one another and extending the stress for named parties. I agree that those are legitimate concerns, but I think the way that ArbCom explored aggressive hatting of evidence in this case suggests an improvement that could be made. In future cases, Arbs might want to have a Workshop, but make aggressive use of hatting to shut down sniping and proposals that are unlikely to be used. I think that would be a good thing (and a lot easier than summarizing evidence). --Tryptofish (talk) 15:29, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If the drafting arbs have things they want feedback on, I agree the workshop is useful. But it wouldn't have helped with this 1-revert remedy which was drafted during the PD itself based on discussion among arbs, and feedback from the community. Barkeep49 (talk) 17:10, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Original announcement
  • I don't get involved in WP:AE as a rule, so maybe this is obvious to the folks who do. The two cases that just got published make reference to the usual/normal/ordinary exceptions, but don't say what they are. If somebody were to ping me with a request, "XXX violated their TBAN, you need to block them!" and XXX protested that it was one of the allowed exceptions, I wouldn't have a clue what to do next. If you don't want to spell them out each time, maybe just make a page listing them and have each of those be links to that page? -- RoySmith (talk) 19:58, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    One of the remedies referring to exceptions links to Wikipedia:Banning policy § Interaction ban. The following section is Wikipedia:Banning policy § Exceptions to limited bans. isaacl (talk) 20:27, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    (edit conflict) The "usual exceptions" are WP:BANEX and could theoretically be modified by community consensus at any time, so hard-coding them into the ArbCom remedy would make a tiny theoretical difference. ~ ToBeFree (talk) 20:29, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Perhaps the other remedy could at least link to Wikipedia:Banning policy § Interaction ban? isaacl (talk) 20:39, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Yes, I-BAN seems to be very clear. It says: "The purpose of an interaction ban (IBAN) is to stop a conflict between individuals." Fortunately, I do not have a conflict with anyone, and even an active content disagreement with anyone. It further says: Alice would not be allowed to: edit Bob's user and talk pages; reply to Bob in discussions; undo Bob's edits to any page ..., and so on. OK. This should be easy to follow. Topic ban is more tricky because it says "broadly construed" and everything in the world is related to everything. I assume one should use common sense here. For example, Soviet repressions against former prisoners of war would be fine for as long as it does not mention any Polish prisoners, does not cover anything in Poland, etc. My very best wishes (talk) 01:01, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I expect to offer some suggestions about the processes used in the case later on, but for now, I want to make two observations about the case and its impact:
  1. Given the thesis of the G&K paper that prompted the case, I find it remarkable that there was nothing in the final decision (if I'm missing it, please do correct me) about anyone having misrepresented sources. I'm not saying that's a problem with the decision, in fact, quite the opposite. It's entirely proper for ArbCom to have focused on editor conduct as opposed to content, but none of the findings seem to have been about editors systematically misusing source material.
  2. In her published reaction to the case decision, one of the authors of that paper faulted ArbCom for not having asked historians to correct the content: [1]. This is an unjustified criticism of ArbCom. Not only does ArbCom have no mandate to dictate content, but ArbCom made a considered decision to have User:Chapmansh as a named party. That was an explicit invitation for her to participate in the case, and to do so in her capacity as a subject matter expert in history if she chose to. She is of course free not to participate, but then to complain about never having been invited to participate seems like a deliberate wish to find reasons to criticize Wikipedia.
--Tryptofish (talk) 20:40, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Are there any ethical considerations to their actions in this case? I'm pretty certain at least Klein's postmortem is a major failure to do basic research about the Arbitration Committee's lack of remit as regards disputed article content at large. It's not like there isn't literally over a decade of precedent of ArbCom deferring to community processes for them, and it's not like they're particularly hard to find. —Jéské Couriano v^_^v Source assessment notes 22:39, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Are we reading the same thing? She literally says Arbcom is “bound by Wiki policy to steer clear of content. ArbCom was simply the wrong solution to begin with.” 2601:196:4600:5BF0:18E5:B19C:5238:1AC0 (talk) 16:04, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But in the exact same paper (hell, the exact same paragraph) she faults ArbCom for not being historians and thus, in her view, being incompetent to address the article content and suggesting they demand historians' input - which is a distinction without a difference as ArbCom would still be directly interfering in article content at that point. Note that several of the content-dispute related remedies above (Mantanmoreland, Scientology, Socionics, GamerGate, War of the Pacific) also request (but do not mandate) knowledgeable users who otherwise have not involved themselves in the on-wiki disputes to get involved to address the articles' content.
Another thing complicating matters with "just ask historians" is the fact that, unlike Gamergate/GenSex and Scientology (the two cases above that were/are contentious topics), the heart of the Eastern Europe issues is not so easy to fix as to be answered with pure facts, something which ArbCom itself has acknowledged multiple times. The contentious topic it's in is one of five (the others being AA2, AP2, IP, and PIA) where the base issues are deeply-entrenched ethnic and nationalistic sentiments that cannot realistically be resolved on Wikipedia short of the suggestion made by User:Short Brigade Harvester Boris here, and which we'd all agree is incredibly extreme. Even if we assumed historians would be free from the bias that permeates the area IRL, that wouldn't stop their words from being used by whatever side to support their position if it can even remotely be used to do so without committing source fraud.—Jéské Couriano v^_^v Source assessment notes 17:35, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(Addendum: All the cases above, bar Seeyou, are cases that explicitly have a remedy deferring content matters to the community or its content-dispute-resolution processes. It does not include cases (again, except for Seeyou) where ArbCom invokes the "It is not our role to adjudicate good-faith content disputes" principle, which would include far more than just these cases. —Jéské Couriano v^_^v Source assessment notes 22:52, 20 May 2023 (UTC))Reply[reply]
About whether there were ethical considerations, ArbCom examined that and decided that there were not (see: FoF 9). Some members of the community (including me) are not entirely comfortable with that, and there is like to be further discussion (see WT:Harassment#WP:OUTING). --Tryptofish (talk) 15:20, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Though, it's important to recognize that intentional distortion of a source, or tendentious misuse of a source, is absolutely a conduct issue and does fall within ArbCom's remit... but very little evidence of that was actually presented during the case (even by people who broadly support the overarching thrust of the G&K paper otherwise), which suggests that those aspects were probably reasonable disagreements between sources and not editors outright misrepresenting them. Admittedly, this may also be because most of the evidence was contributed by experienced editors who knew that WP:CIVILPOV and deliberate distortion of sources is hard to prove, whereas edit warring, incivility, and violation of previous restrictions are easy, and therefore devoted their limited time to finding evidence of the latter rather than trying to string together an inevitably more tenuous case for the former... especially given that in the end ArbCom concluded that virtually every major participant in the case except Piotrus had enough of that evidence against them to support a topic-ban on their own, anyway. (Or in GCB's case were a banned sockpuppet so none of the other evidence mattered.) --Aquillion (talk) 07:25, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The way I read the FoF 6 family is that except in one case attributable to GCB, the evidence characterised as source misrepresentation could be more easily explained as translation variance, but this might be because – as a person who has translated – I find this incredibly plausible.
User:Tryptofish, Principle 9 makes it clear that source misrepresentation is understood as a conduct issue, and FoF 5 explains that not all sources were possible to examine due to availability and language barrier issues. It is still telling that there was apparently only one instance of source misrepresentation that was positively verified.
Klein's press release reads as if she didn't read these bits, or Remedy 2, which is not particularly surprising given that it also impugns ArbCom for not doing a thing it never does, and also mistakes the PD for the closure of the case. As to whether it represents a deliberate wish to find reasons to criticize Wikipedia, the press release does open with a statement about how you can hire her to come criticize Wikipedia, so uh inferences can be drawn. Folly Mox (talk) 10:06, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Folly Mox, I agree that Principle 9 says that, as a principle, but there really were no findings of fact that it happened in the ways that the G&K paper claimed, or in the ways that the case scope appeared to anticipate. From the evidence that I saw, it was mostly a problem in the earlier history of the content dispute, involving editors who were not named parties because they were long gone for one reason or another by the time the case arose. This points to some limitations of basing an ArbCom case on complaints made off-site. And the difficulties in examining sources seems to me to have been a limitation to ArbCom being able to deal with things that are on the boundary between content and conduct. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:11, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Without regard to this case specifically, I do feel that many intractable disputes between experienced editors happen because one or both sides in the dispute dig in and defend an edit or wording that they wouldn't have added themselves (and which may have fundamental problems) because they see themselves as defending articles against the "other side." It's one of the problems with WP:BATTLEGROUND conduct. --Aquillion (talk) 15:30, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Opening a press release with “Chapman University’s Dr. Shira Klein is available to speak to the recent ruling by Wikipedia’s arbitration committee” is a far cry from “hire me to criticize Wikipedia” 2601:196:4600:5BF0:18E5:B19C:5238:1AC0 (talk) 16:07, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not tryna hassle her hustle — everybody's got to get paid. But is available to speak is an invitation to engage her as a paid speaker or lecturer, and if the recent ruling by Wikipedia's arbitration committee is in any way represented by the paragraphs that follow, where she says nothing positive about the site or the ruling, saying Wikipedia failed... miserably and even downplaying VM's and MVBW's topic bans with but the ruling is appealable in 12 months instead of celebrating it as a desired outcome, I'd be pretty surprised if she doesn't incorporate a fair amount of Wikipedia criticism into her paid speaking engagements. It's fair play and probably exactly the market niche I'd grab ahold of in her position. I hope she'll also build in some constructive suggestions for her audience members about how to get involved and improve quality and representation of sourcing in historical articles. Folly Mox (talk) 20:26, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In fairness, I'm not reading "is available to speak" in that way. It's a university newspaper, and it probably just means that this professor made herself available to speak to a student reporter. It doesn't come across to me as an advertisement. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:35, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm open to the possibility that I'm being too cynical. I'm noticing some tropaic echoes in this whole situation that are resonating with open emotional wounds, and I think it's making me too salty to express the level of kindness I'd like to. I didn't even participate in the case and don't edit the topic area, so I'm not sure what value I'm adding here. Thanks to the arbs and clerks and evidence submitters for all their volunteer labour. Folly Mox (talk) 20:49, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is a university press release aimed at the press. She wants the press to interview her on the subject. It isn't about paid speaking engagements or aimed at students. Zerotalk 02:00, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks, Zero. I should have seen "Press Release" right there in red letters at the top. That means that Klein/Chapmansh approved all of the text that was published there. She's not looking to make money from it, but she is actively trying to get widespread notice of her perspectives on the case. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:43, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Just slightly confused by VM's 1 revert restriction. Is that 1 revert period? Not per day, or week. 1 revert on an article and then no more reverts, even unrelated content weeks later, absent explicit consensus for that revert? Is that really what yall meant? nableezy - 21:32, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Yes, this is confusing. Did y’all mean once per article per day, one revert for any particular piece of content, or one revert per article until the heat death of the universe? This needs to be clarified before the AE messes start. Courcelles (talk) 22:21, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Unless otherwise stated, it means reverts per article per 24 hours, subject to all the exceptions which apply to 3RR. Animal lover |666| 07:40, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It was intended to be 1 revert per piece of content until consensus is developed. Barkeep49 (talk) 08:50, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Barkeep49: Well, it certainly doesn't say that. And unless my reading skills have failed, does this 1RR apply to the entire encyclopedia, or just this topic area? Black Kite (talk) 16:14, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It was meant to apply to the entire encyclopedia, so your reading skills and the intention match there. Barkeep49 (talk) 16:57, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I think ArbCom made tough but fair judgements in this case. For all the whingeing from some corners about how Icewhiz will be overjoyed with results of this case I really don't think this case vindicates him at all. I agree with Nableezy that VM's 1R restriction is unclear and should be clarified. Hemiauchenia (talk) 22:17, 20 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Arbitrators, thank you for your hard work on this case, especially Barkeep49, Izno, Wugapodes, Primefac, and Captain Eek who's names I remember seeing frequently in the discussions. Jehochman Talk 13:38, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I think it would be useful to look back at how the case got started. There were multiple unusual things about that (which is what made me interested in the case to begin with). It was started by ArbCom itself, rather than by a member of the community serving as the "filing party". It was started in immediate response to an external publication about Wikipedia, although ArbCom also took into consideration previous requests for Arbitration that had been declined, and in hindsight looked more worthy of a case. And it involved ArbCom having to do much more examination of source material than is typical in an ArbCom case. In my opinion, there was nothing about this that went beyond ArbCom's remit according to policy. So ArbCom can do these things. But the question is whether ArbCom should, and what can be learned going forward about things to watch out for if ArbCom does.
An interesting side-effect of ArbCom initiating the case was that most of the named parties felt less of a need to present evidence of wrongdoing, and more of a motivation to claim that there wasn't really a problem. In most other cases, the filing party and those who agree with the filer lay out a series of accusations, and those accused respond in kind. That was muted here, and I think it made it much harder for ArbCom to find the evidence that it needed. Future ArbComs should keep that in mind, before acting as the filing party.
That ran up against the immense amount of difficult source material that the drafting arbs tried to digest. In the talk section above, I asked somewhat rhetorically whether the Bibliography ended up being used for anything, and I'd actually be curious what the answer would be, but I'm going to guess that it became a huge amount of work that didn't really yield anything useful. I think ArbCom ultimately did a very good job of explaining in the Final Decision what ArbCom does and does not do with content versus conduct. But I think going forward ArbCom should think twice, and then think again, before undertaking a task like this.
And finally, there's the fact that the case was so heavily influenced by the fact that the G&K paper had come out. Arbs have said repeatedly that they made their own evaluations of the facts, and that's good, but the fact remains that a polemic by scholars with a bone to pick had an oversized role in this case. And the complaints by scholars on opposite "sides" of the academic debate as soon as the PD came out ([2], [3]), demonstrate that this really wasn't ever a situation where there was a scholarly consensus that Wikipedia failed to reflect. There is actually an ongoing scholarly dispute, and Wikipedia displeased two scholars on one side of that dispute because Wikipedia doesn't take their side. ArbCom, and Wikipedia in general, are going to have to get used to this kind of external academic criticism, because it's going to become more and more frequent. It's good when we take note of such criticism and look to see if there are things we need to fix. But we shouldn't have a knee-jerk overreaction. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:03, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So, tl;dr, G&K basically intended to try and influence the matter on Wikipedia, but failed utterly because ArbCom wouldn't play ball? Where have I heard this story before?Jéské Couriano v^_^v Source assessment notes 17:46, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A couple of responses. First G&K posit that Lucas' assertions are not with-in the realm of legitimate academic debate and that Wikipedia treating G&K and Lucas as two equally valid sides is itself part of the problem. Second I think a lot of people have over thought things. G&K want our coverage to more closely align with their analysis of history and since that was never going to be an outcome of this case of course it was going to disappoint them. I will say that if their assertions about the state of mainstream scholarship is correct then our coverage should actually more in the direction they wish, but that will be up to other editors in the days, weeks, and months ahead to decide. Hopefully aided by what other historians have to say. Finally, while I agree that a lot of the actors settled on a "nothing to see here" narrative ultimately I flat out disagree that there wasn't sufficient evidence to find. In the end there was sufficient evidence to pass multiple topic bans and nearly the banning of an incredibly longtime editor. Barkeep49 (talk) 18:22, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for these thoughts. I need to clarify that I agree with you entirely when you say that there was, in fact, sufficient evidence brought forth to allow ArbCom to have a solid basis for taking decisive action to resolve the conduct issues. I agree with that. But I didn't say (or at least didn't mean to say) that ArbCom failed to find enough evidence. I said: I think it made it much harder for ArbCom to find the evidence that it needed. You found it, but it was harder for you than it needed to be. I think we can agree about that.
As for the first part of what you said, it's certainly G&K's opinion that they are the mainstream academic view. I've been struck throughout the case by the absence of secondary sources that state an academic consensus on the matter. G&K also take the attitude that academics who disagree with them are not only wrong, but engaging in something outrageous, bordering on antisemitism. But I think it's open to debate as to whether Richard C. Lukas is (a) someone who is so far outside of the academic mainstream as to be a WP:FRINGE scholar, or (b) a scholar who holds a minority view within an ongoing academic dispute. I think it's closer to (b). Editors have recently discussed how Wikipedia should position the matter at Talk:The Forgotten Holocaust#Arbitration case, and Legitimizing fringe academics, and I'm not seeing a consensus that Lucas is fringey, although the argument is being made. My sense of where Wikipedia is likely to end up is something more nuanced, not treating Grabowski and Lukas as equal, but not treating one of them as "completely right" and the other as "completely wrong", either. Of course, you and I are not going to decide that here. But I'm uncomfortable when ArbCom flirts with deciding a content matter before the community has. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:23, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
According to Worldcat, Lukas' most well known book on the Holocaust is held by 1304 libraries. Grabowski's by 901. Here are Lukas' books prominently featured in a bibliography published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: [4]. Similarly here. Just saying. Andreas JN466 05:27, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I find it very interesting that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recommends Lukas (as well as Grabowski) as an author worth reading. It's pretty hard to reconcile that with Lukas being regarded by Holocaust experts as a fringe figure who is hostile to mainstream views on the subject. This seems to me to be a clear indication of how ArbCom can be the wrong body to attempt to make determinations, unilaterally, of which "side" of an outside academic dispute is right. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:54, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is a potential "first mover advantage" in this kind of situation, too. Andreas JN466 21:23, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Tryptofish "Lukas being regarded by Holocaust experts as" would be more correct as "Lukas being regarded by some Holocaust experts as". Arguably, isn't he an expert in the same field with differing views on those who regard him as..., etc.? Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 02:02, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, certainly. And all the more reason to regard this as an academic field where there is ongoing disagreement amongst experts. --Tryptofish (talk) 12:37, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Lukas' other major book, "Out of the Inferno", is held by 1,255 libraries according to Worldcat. Like The Forgotten Holocaust mentioned above, it was published by the University Press of Kentucky, Lexington. This may not be a top university press in the U.S., but it is a long, long way from "fringe".
Let's look at another author, Nechama Tec, who Grabowski and Klein mention approvingly in their essay. Her major work, "When light pierced the darkness", is held by 1,356 libraries according to Worldcat. Her "Dry Tears" come in at 694 libraries, her "Defiance" at 303 libraries.
So Lukas' key works, at 1,304 and 1,255 libraries, are at least as well represented on Worldcat as Nechama Tec's, are they not? Is this compatible with the notion that this author is "fringe"?
Now let's look at Grabowski's other works: In addition to "Hunt for the Jews" (901 libraries), Grabowski has published the Polish-language "Dalej jest noc". This is held by 43 libraries. His other English-language book, "The Polish police: collaboration in the Holocaust", is held by 5 (five) libraries according to Worldcat.
User:Barkeep49, you said above, "G&K posit that Lucas' assertions are not with-in the realm of legitimate academic debate". Were you aware of these numbers? And if not, do they alter your thinking on how much weight to give Grabowski's opinions on Lukas, compared to the weight we should give Lukas' opinions on Grabowski? Andreas JN466 15:48, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And this book is held by 2,467 libraries according to Worldcat, a much higher number than any of the above. So by Andreas' logic, we must not regard Holocaust denier David Irving as "fringe" either. A good illustration of the quality of some arguments in this debate area. (Andreas' Holocaust Museum argument regarding Lukas has also been questioned by several other users, see the talk page of Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2023-03-09/Recent research and the preceding discussion mentioned there. But of course that doesn't stop him and others from continuing to repeat it.) Regards, HaeB (talk) 17:30, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good try. Face-smile.svg Quoting from our lead for David Irving: "By the late 1980s, Irving had placed himself outside the mainstream of the study of history". The book you mention was published in 1977. Contrast its library holdings against those of Irving's later works: Churchill's War (1987), 346 libraries; Goebbels (1996), 192 libraries; Hitler's Army (2011), 9 libraries; True Himmler (2020), 2 libraries. Surely there is at least some correlation between the worth of a book and libraries' decision to purchase it.
And while I concede my argument about the USHMM bibliographies has been "questioned", nobody has explained why in a bibliography on "Polish and Soviet civilians, and Soviet prisoners of war" comprising a total of five (5) works, two of which are about Russia, the USHMM would choose to include two books by Lukas. Apparently we're supposed to believe they rolled dice. Andreas JN466 18:10, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Irving may not yet have outright denied the holocaust in 1977 yet. But as noted in our article about this book, he was arguing at that time already "that Hitler was against the killings of Jews. He claimed that Hitler even ordered a stop to the extermination of Jews in November 1941 (British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper noted that this admission blatantly contradicted Irving's other claim that Hitler was ignorant about the mass killing of Jews)". See also this RSN discussion about an even earlier (1964) book of Irving where the same argument that Andreas makes here was roundly dismissed.
Instead of engaging in such shaky arguments based on metrics that for good reasons are not used elsewhere to assess scholarly credibility, it might be more productive to address the concrete criticism of Lukas that the paper makes and cites. Regards, HaeB (talk) 20:10, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You can't rely on just one essay that extols Engel. I read most of the back and forth of the "ongoing discussion" in Slavic Review the other day; just the first page of it visible here should disabuse you of the notion that Engel's and G&K's views were generally shared then, thirty years ago, when Lukas' book appeared.
Worldcat holdings are routinely used to judge authors' "fringiness" at RS/N, and I don't see any reference to them in the discussion you link. I think it's pretty clear that today, most libraries no longer touch Irving with a bargepole, and for very good and clear reasons. This is not the case with Lukas: cf. [5]. Are you seriously trying to compare Lukas to Irving? I hope not. Regards, Andreas JN466 21:11, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm having flashbacks to the arguments during the case over VM's methodology in determining the numbers of AE threads in the case scope year-by-year – which in the end really didn't matter to the results of the case. To my knowledge, Irving hasn't made a public statement about the case decision, so we really don't need to evaluate his fringieness for that purpose. Lukas may be in a minority in his field, but he is not a fringe figure. G&K may, arguably, be more in the majority in that field, but their dismissal of Lukas should not be taken on face value, especially not for labeling editor conduct as disruptive. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:18, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I'm just going to copy, without further comment, something I wrote on the proposed decision talkpage:
    As we all know, the Committee opened this case on its own initiative to examine the claims in an academic publication, which asserted that our articles in an important and sensitive topic-area were being intentionally distorted and manipulated by a group of nationalist editors. I understand why the arbitrators may have felt compelled to weigh in, and I do not criticize their decision to open the case. However, it is far from obvious that an ArbCom case was the best way to address the issue.
    A takeaway: Wikipedia probably needs a procedure for evaluating allegations that sensitive and important articles are pervasively untrustworthy. I am not sure what that procedure should be, but I am confident that an arbitration case is not it. Brainstorming about how this type of situation should be handled in the future could be at least as important as the "white paper" the Committee proposes to solicit in remedy 1. Newyorkbrad (talk) 19:40, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I agree entirely, and I hope that the current Arbs really hear what you are saying. I'm looking forward to seeing whatever the white paper does or does not say. But once we know that, I very much want to see the community brainstorm about what the white paper seems likely to be about (personal information in scholarly writing), and, separately, how Wikipedia should respond to academic publications claiming that we have gotten content wrong, because that really is not what we elect ArbCom to do. I do want to say that ArbCom did a pretty good job with what they got handed to them, but the community should not, and very probably will not, want ArbCom to become an arbiter of content problems. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:30, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    The "white paper" is supposed to give advice to external writers on "how to study and write about Wikipedians and their personal information in a way that respects our principles." However, there is no journalist or academic who feels obligated to follow our principles. If they pay any attention at all, it will be to resent being told how to do their job. So I don't see the point. Zerotalk 02:19, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    One worthwhile aspect is that it might clarify what the UCoC is actually supposed to mean. Because according to the UCoC, nobody who wants to participate in Wikimedia projects should be writing about Wikipedians' personal information at all without their explicit consent. Andreas JN466 06:09, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It's true that external writers will not feel obligated to do what the white paper asks them to do, and it's also true that editors disagree about what the UCoC really says. For both these reasons, I think the most important use of the white paper, once it is issued, is for editors here to use it to assess where the WMF stands on the subject, and then, to take a hard look at what we want our en-wiki policies to say about it. We won't be able to tell external writers what to write. But if they write something that we decide violates community norms, we can decide what our policies will be with respect to those writers being able to participate as editors here. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:05, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    100% agree. I understand why ArbCom felt it needed to do something here, but the result was predictable from the outset: topic bans for (nearly) everyone involved, no progress made on the root cause of the problem because it's a 'content issue'. They have done a more thorough job than we did with Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Antisemitism in Poland, but essentially is the same decision and I'm not optimistic that it will be any more successful in fixing the problems in this topic area. – Joe (talk) 08:38, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I don't think Arbcom can "fix" any topic area like this. Ever. But that doesn't remove an obligation of arbcom to try and do what it can to improve these kinds of topic areas. The AN discussion about MEK right now is an example of another similar topic area arbcom clearly hasn't fixed but where I see the case having resulted in some marginal improvements. Barkeep49 (talk) 09:03, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I, for one, am extremely surprised by the lack of discussion around Levivich amongst Arbs on this one. I see nothing here warranting such a permanent IBAN between Levivich and VM when he hadn't even previously had a warning, certainly nothing recent. Very disappointing. Everything else, pretty much spot on. Buffs (talk) 04:09, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Sorry guys, but there is bad blood going back to the 2019 case-- about four years. Considering that, I was honestly surprised to see some reactions saying that the interaction ban was unjustified. This was Moneytrees' comment as they voted to support the Levivich/VM IBAN. —Jéské Couriano v^_^v Source assessment notes 06:54, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Something that they forgot to include on the evidence page. For all the constant talk of "Arbs can only judge based on what you post on the evidence page" it was interesting to see arbs themselves post all of the diffs and justification on the talkpage of the proposed decision instead. Parabolist (talk) 10:08, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Ibans are small potatoes, particularly as they don't interfere with WP:HERE (creating content). Which part of the FoF justifies topic banning MVBW from article space? I still have trouble understanding that. Oh well. Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 10:34, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Just as ArbCom has never been a court of law, ArbCom has never been required to consider only the evidence that is on the Evidence page. I can remember way back to the Civility case, probably about a decade ago, when I provided a small amount of evidence of what someone had done, and it was the only evidence of that particular thing. But when the PD came out, ArbCom made a substantial FoF about it, with a topic ban, and the FoF included not only my diffs, but additional diffs in the same area, that the drafting arbs found on their own after looking into mine. Editors should not assume that there are legalistic rules of evidence here. It's much more like IAR.
    I also don't buy the arguments that ArbCom didn't have evidence sufficient to enact an IBAN, or that ArbCom never warned Levivich that his conduct was going to be examined. During the case request, some of the Arbs specifically told him that they were going to look at this after he asked why he had been named as a party.
    I have complicated feelings about this. I, myself, got upset by something that happened some time ago, and I "retired" then. I genuinely believed at the time that I had quit – and everyone can see for yourselves that I'm very much still here. So I can sort-of understand how Levivich feels. On the other hand, I clearly remember that at the time of my quit, Levivich said some mocking things about my having done that. Funny how that looks now. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:20, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Even the original IBAN imposer has said "I would have gone with a warning if their conflict wasn't with VM. I knew that warnings were less than effective with VM, so that it would be a waste of time. I couldn't institute a 1way IBAN and a warning or a block and a warning after L's comment, especially as it was pretty obvious we were on good terms. To me, the IBAN seemed like the best result that could come out of that situation, and it never occured to me that Arbcom would have extended it to indef." Buffs (talk) 19:05, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That was a bit eyebrow-raising. The original restriction placed by an admin was done with the rationale that I'd rather cut things off now than risk more severe sanctions - I feel that it probably would have been fine to leave it in the hands of the admin in question, since it was already essentially handled. But I was honestly more surprised by the topic ban for MVBW when the only evidence about him concerned behavior during the ArbCom case. Decorum during ArbCom cases is important, and I guess this answers the question of "how willing is ArbCom to sanction people for violations of that alone", but a topic-ban with no evidence that the user has any larger problems editing the topic area itself seems more punitive than preventative. If there were any problems at all with MVBW's editing in the topic area that needed to be addressed, I could understand ArbCom's problem with them seeming to downplay issues during the case, because it would imply there's no likelihood of improvement; but in the absence of those problems it feels like they're just topic-banning someone for being wrong. And part of the reason decorum during ArbCom cases is so important is because they're stressful - that's a reason to demand best behavior, but if someone only has problems during the case, it's also probably a sign that their issue is specific to that situation and not a general problem requiring a topic ban. (Though, as MVBW said, it may just not matter since they didn't edit the topic area much in the first place.) --Aquillion (talk) 21:01, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No one will see the outcome as perfect. It never can be with such a huge, I'd say, impossible, workload taken on to defend the bona fides of wikipedia, a visionary project in progress created by anonymous volunteers that, by its nature, given the immense terrain it covers, can't satisfy everyone. As a formerly permabanned editor who thought the case against himself was flawed, I accepted the ban without comment, and sat out my sentence, until it was drastically truncated after about a year when an appeal, unknown to me, was made on my behalf by two representatives of both sides of the contentious topic area. If sometimes this place fouls up, just quietly taking it on the chin, without grievance, editing elsewhere, and leaving one's future in the hands of fellow- editors is an option, who, after a year, might make a representation for review with admins. There's plenty of evidence that some sanctioned editors on both sides here have wikipedians in good standing who would consider supporting such appeals. If one lesson lies here, it is to be somewhat more tough-skinned when blips of mediocre research pop up, as they always will, to scream 'foul'. If academics (many already do) are unhappy, they can always consider tithing their precious time to do a little collaborative work in improving what tens of thousands of people already do anonymously, i.e., constructive community service. I live in Italy which is perhaps congenitally prone to dysfunctionalism. Grumbling is part and parcel of every other conversation. In the meantime, crises or no, it manages to get by thanks to an extremely high level of participation in voluntary projects, and wikipedia is much the same.Nishidani (talk) 21:52, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Replying to Aquillion about the MVBW sanction, I know that some of the Arbs have already said that editors should always expect that their demeanor on case pages will come under scrutiny, and should not need to be told. Basically, I accept that as true. It says so in ArbCom's guidance to editors participating in cases. However, it strikes me that, in a case where the drafting arbs were very active in hatting posts on case pages, with explanations of the rationale for the hatting (all of which I like), there wasn't much in any of that, that would have alerted MVBW that the Arbs were concerned about it. I get the feeling that the Arbs felt as though MVBW's case page posts were indicative of a problem that was also happening in main space, but the main space evidence wasn't at hand. This seems to me to be an example of where ArbCom's assuming the role of the filing party, along with the reluctance of some editors to post evidence critical of one another, left ArbCom in the position of simultaneously doing both prosecution and judgment, and the volume of evidence that ArbCom had to sift through, because of the inclusion of so much content and source material, caused ArbCom to cut a few corners. I'm not saying that to criticize the Arbs, so much as to point out how there are things about how the case was accepted that future ArbComs need to be alert to. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:22, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This page is full of criticsm so I'm not sure why you're pretending "caused ArbCom to cut a few corners" isn't a critcism Trypto. I think your analysis doesn't stand up to scrutiny: the committee didn't even mention (let alone sanction) the two editors who were outright sanctioned for their conduct during the case in the final decision. So clearly there was something about MVBW's conduct that struck arbs (including me) differently. And as for why I didn't say anything it's because it's potentially really unfair, for a single arb, or even the three drafting arbs, to say your conduct when taken as a whole (as opposed to some "brightline" issue) is disruptive. Also compare this to my stating during the case (first privately then publicly) that I found Piotrus off-wiki conduct troubling. I wasn't looking to take shortcuts, but by the time that it became clear to me that MVBW's conduct during the case needed more scrutiny we were days away from the 2nd evidence phase/analysis closing. Now I hadn't previously written on this because I think the idea that we could have mishandled MBVW's better is fair and genuinely worth considering (I know I will). But this idea that it was done because Arbs were taking a shortcut feels demonstrably untrue.
And because you keep bringing it up I read you as believing that ArbCom exercising its policy authority to sua sponte open the case was a mistake. I have some real concerns about ArbCom doing this with any sort of regularity but I think ArbCom was right, at the time to open the case (hence why I voted to do it) and having brought the case to conclusion I still think that was the right decision. Whatever shortcomings may have been caused by that choice - and I think we largely agree on what they were - I don't think it makes it the wrong choice. Barkeep49 (talk) 23:10, 22 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
By saying my purpose wasn't to criticize, but to give advice for the future, I was trying to cut ArbCom some slack. And I didn't say that the end result was wrong. What I said is pretty much what you say, that you were near the deadline, that you could have handled it differently and should think about it. That's not saying that the end result was wrong. As for sua sponte, I've already said very clearly that "In my opinion, there was nothing about this that went beyond ArbCom's remit according to policy. So ArbCom can do these things. But the question is whether ArbCom should, and what can be learned going forward about things to watch out for if ArbCom does." --Tryptofish (talk) 12:48, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think one problem with a FoF and a resulting sanction stemming solely from misconduct during a case, in retrospect, is that it can sometimes seem to come out of nowhere without much time for anyone but arbs to discuss it or for the person in question to try and respond. (Granted that MVBW's responses during the case were the problem so that might have just been WP:ROPE.) For anything other than misconduct during the case, if people realized late into the process there was an issue that hadn't been introduced during the evidence phase or discussed yet, I think it would normally be omitted due to not being raised in a timely manner or the case would need to be extended so it could be examined properly. Misconduct during a case is different because the evidence is already part of the case and because sometimes it can occur after the evidence section is already closed. I think that ideally, though, there would have been an evidence section created for it (which would have alerted MVBW that that aspect of their conduct during the case was a problem and was being examined), and if it had to be added late then the case would have been extended a bit or things would be reopened briefly for that part alone. But I can understand arbs not wanting to extend the case over something like that. ArbCom certainly can resolve things that weren't previously discussed from orbit with no warning during the decision phase, I suppose (the other phases are there to guide them, not some as sort of guaranteed right of response) but I'm not sure that it's ideal. --Aquillion (talk) 00:23, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As someone who found the evidence summary useful and understood it as "this is the stuff we will focus on" (ditto for the Questions/Requests from Arbitrators section of analysis), I think the summaries regarding Levivich and MVBW should have been expanded, and those editors should have been allowed to post a rebuttal during Phase 2. I know I was asking to "speed things up", but now I feel a bit guilty that perhaps my request to do so resulted in worse experience for others. Ideally, maybe their "cases" should have been split into one or two sparate, smaller proceedings (one looking at VM-Levivich interactions, and one at MVBW behavior?), although this would create more procedural workload for the Committee. In the end, our procedures to handle stuff evolve and generally improve (two steps forward, one step back?), just like our content does. This was a complex case with a record(?) number of parties (or at least close to, I am sure). We need to consider, for the future, how to better handle the issues raised here (including, seriously looking into a system through which subcases can be split off and run at their own speed), which, IMHO, relate to an issue I raised before - the communication between the Committee and the parties need improvement. I am still mulling on that, and maybe I'll write another mini-essay, or such, although I think much of that is related to the tiny mini-essay I wrote a while back ("Advocates needed". The system failed some editors, for example, by not having anyone in authority tell MVBW to consider (refactor/limit...) his talk page behavior until it was too late. Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 02:46, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not a record. Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Manipulation of BLPs had more parties. And that's just one I stumbled across a while back. * Pppery * it has begun... 03:40, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Pppery: I'll see your manipulation of BLPs and raise you 27 at Gamergate -- Euryalus (talk) 12:05, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Small fry. 45 at WP:ARBSCI. Andreas JN466 18:30, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Remedy 6.3 is currently spelt with 'with-out', which is very unusual. Banedon (talk) 01:33, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
FYI, The Jerusalem Post published an article about this case, with the quote “There’s no problem with falsifying the past; just be nice about it.” Animal lover |666| 05:49, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
An other quote from the same person: “This is the seventh-most viewed site in the world, yet the safeguards Wikipedia has in place for battling disinformation are scarily ineffective. If it’s true for the history of the Holocaust, it is probably true for other cases we have yet to discover. With ChatGPT amplifying Wikipedia on an unprecedented scale, this new failure is all the more worrying.” Animal lover |666| 05:51, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The article seems to put too much trust in Klein and Grabowski's understanding of Wikipedia processes. We absolutely have processes for battling disinformation, and most coverage has said that we're one of the best sites in the world for that - eg. [6][7][8]. If someone believes there's a concerted effort to push a fringe perspective, for instance, they could go to WP:FRINGEN and put together an RFC clearly establishing that perspective as fringe, which would greatly simplify answering it in the future; if someone believes specific sources are unreliable and yet are being pushed repeatedly, there's always WP:RSN. And of course there's WP:NPOVN for general neutrality issues. But AFAIK nobody involved in the dispute has even attempted any large-scale resolution at those places (because, I think, most editors recognize that it's not so clear-cut and that producing the evidence necessary for something like that wouldn't be possible.) --Aquillion (talk) 06:53, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If a likely-false statement is sourced to a text, written in a difficult language with few speakers on English Wikipedia by a largely-unnotabme author, and this statement supports the national claims of the language's country (where making opisite claims is actually illegal), how can the community at large judge the claim and the source? The discussion is likely to be dominated by speakers of this language, who - as a group - have a COI in favor of this statement, so it will stay. Get a concensus that it's false, they will wait a few months and try again. Animal lover |666| 08:32, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Mhm. The other side of the coin: Wikipedia:Systemic bias, Racial bias on Wikipedia... and WP:AGF. Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 09:16, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To take up Aquillion's point about placing too much trust in G&W's article, as though it represented 'scholarship' or the high ground of neutral academic work in that field. It doesn't. To the contrary the paper is wholly out of whack with the detached self-awareness and methodological cautiousness which informs history even in that topic area.: it represents one partisan (and very traditionalist) approach to the issue of Polish and Jewish relations. Scholarship has long recognized two 'camps' here 'Jewish' and (pro)Polish, each with internal disagreements, and each subject to changes in paradigm over decades. And familiarity with, say,
might have helped to clarify the dangers of taking as a point of 'scholarly' departure that particular paper's arraignment of the evidence, and the overall picture. Mendelsohn and Ury's background overview (1930s down to 2018) of the fraught nature of themes, and the infra-academic histories of dispute in this topic area amount to just 29 pages in all, rather than the huge length over months of churning arguments which, necessarily, wikipedia must produce when addressing such challenges to its legitimacy. Perhaps in the future we should evaluate the quality of an external polemic about our credibility before ending up chained to the grindstone of cross-checking several thousand diffs simply because someone out there waves a red flag in public. Editors here have enough time wasted negotiating articles without this order of trivial distraction. The 'bull' metaphor is cogent.Nishidani (talk) 11:57, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • If a likely-false statement is sourced to a text... Someone deliberately misrepresenting a source is an extremely serious form of misconduct, and if you could prove that someone has repeatedly said that sources say things they clearly don't, that then it should be easy enough to get them topic-banned or worse, without having to go through RfAr. Unless I missed it there was little effort to even attempt to prove that in this ArbCom case. And in the modern day language isn't the barrier it once was - machine translation is far from perfect, but when someone asserts that a source says something, a machine translation is usually enough to get a general sense of whether that assertion is plausible or not, at least to the point of knowing whether it's worth challenging them or raising the issue at a larger forum. Now, concerns about the laws in specific countries influencing sources are another matter, and are worth raising on WP:RSN (I know there's been significant discussion about China there in that regard.) Most editors are not going to be willing to exclude an entire country unconditionally for systematic bias reasons, but we can absolutely take such laws into account when weighing sources and deciding whether to attribute them. --Aquillion (talk) 18:38, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(where making opisite claims is actually illegal), that's not true, please strikethrough this misleading information. Marcelus (talk) 12:15, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A part of the problem is inevitable....people will want to tilt an article in a prominent encyclopedia. The other part is is very easy to tilt an article if you are wiki-saavy and wiki-clever. The latter can be improved with changes in policies. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 17:54, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sort of. One thing we have to always remember is that our policies require eyes and hands to follow and enforce them; the more people there are working on an article, the less likely it is to become unbalanced or to develop other problems. (This is something that IIRC there is actual academic research supporting.) So the way to solve problems is to call attention to them, raise the profile of articles that have problems in noticeboards, and so on. The other thing we have to keep in mind is that disputes on Wikipedia often reflect unsettled disputes in the real world, which means we're never going to completely settle them just by hashing stuff out here. People who feel strongly about those disputes and who don't agree with what we would call the consensus of reliable sources are always going to feel that articles on those subjects "tilted" and will always arrive to try to "fix" them. While the most egregious WP:NOTHERE or WP:TEND editors can be removed, ultimately that can't be solved using policies or sanctions, both because even if the people challenging our articles are wrong there's just going to be endless more of them and because Cromwell's rule requires that we do consider the possibility we're wrong - sometimes our articles are tilted. And in cases that don't involve obviously WP:FRINGE views, figuring out whether complaints are valid (and who is trying to "tilt" an article as opposed to who is trying ot "fix" it) is intractable. Even academics knowledgeable about the subject won't necessarily be able to do it - after all, as we've seen, they have opinions and biases themselves. --Aquillion (talk) 03:19, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hmm; remarkable lack of knowledge about how Wikipedia works -for a Wikipedian, IMO; Huldra (talk) 23:55, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

All these articles (well, they're all the same article with different headlines) say, "Those ideas are baked into Polish law, which since 2018 has criminalized accusing Poland of complicity with the Nazi regime." Surely Klein knows that after international protests against this stupid law the Polish government backtracked within months and decriminalised the matter again (people can still potentially be sued in Poland for claiming that Poland was responsible for the Holocaust, but all the criminal sanctions were dropped and it is now a civil rather than a criminal matter). (BBC report. The Polish ‘Holocaust Law’ revisited. Also see Amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance#Subsequent amendment.)
So what these articles describe hasn't been the case for five years. Andreas JN466 11:57, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also: perhaps our article is not up to date, but there is no indication this law has ever been used... (I could be wrong, and in that case, I invite interested editors to update the relevant article - which interestingly doesn't even have a pl wiki equivalent). Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 12:21, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd be surprised if it ever had been used. The BBC article says, When it was signed by Polish President Andrzej Duda in February there were immediate objections, and he then referred the measures to the Constitutional Tribunal, in effect putting the law on hold. Five months later the law was history. Andreas JN466 13:28, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also at least some of the managed to somewhat connect it to the recent small controversy over Noa Kirel words after her Eurovision performance, which I must admit admirable case of mental gymnastic. Marcelus (talk) 12:22, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
About Klein having a "remarkable lack of knowledge about how" we do things, I think it's remarkable because, in fact, she clearly does have that knowledge, which is evident from her years of experience teaching classes through WikiEd. The community should not fool ourselves, nor shortchange her intelligence, by assuming that she simply doesn't know about these things. She knows perfectly well, but she disagrees with it. As she seems to see it, she has bigger fish to fry. It's the same as with her not participating as a named party in the case, and then complaining publicly that ArbCom should have asked for input from historians. She knows what the polices and guidelines say, and she even understands how the inside baseball of Wikipedia is conducted. But she has an agenda, and for Wikipedia that comes with no small amount of WP:RGW. And more broadly, Wikipedia serves her as a useful foil, one that may very well advance her academic career. And, as I've already said repeatedly, the Wikipedia community needs to get used to the fact that more and more ambitious academics (well, actually, that's the only kind of academic) are going to try to use us this way, and we need to learn not to overreact when they do. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:51, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There's also the slim possibility that Klein, a trained professional in Jewish history and the digital humanities, might have a genuine interest in improving the coverage of Jewish history in the world's biggest digital educational resource. Even to the point of suggesting—shock horror—that we could change the way that Wikipedia works. – Joe (talk) 13:45, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And there's the not-so-slim possibility that she has an option available to her of working with us, through our existing mechanisms for discussing changes in the way we do things, to achieve that goal. I'm sure she does have a genuine interest in improving our coverage of that topic. But she does not get to declare for us, unilaterally, what those improvements will be. The way she has been going about it, she is simply a primary source who complains that we don't treat her as a secondary or tertiary source, and ignores ArbCom's invitation to take part in this case. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:24, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, this is the other side of the problem I described above. The flip side of "improving Wikipedia coverage of a topic" is that it often amounts to "make Wikipedia's articles on this topic say what I believe is the truth." An argument that we should change or ignore central policies and procedures in order to present an article on a controversial topic in a particular way requires exceedingly strong evidence that the current way is fundimentially wrong, even coming from an expert. Nobody has really made that case convincingly; in fact, to the extent that it was discussed, a major point was that there are mainstream, respected academics who disagree with Klein on the key points that she believes need to be presented essentially one-sidedly. Obviously Klein thinks those academics are dumb and wrong and should be disregarded (and perhaps even that they are, or should be, fringe) but that's not something we can just assume on the say-so of a single scholar. The question of eg. whether Richard C. Lukas is fringe isn't some obscure complex thing that Wikipedia has no policies or procedures to address; it's a straightforward question of the sort we answer all the time, which we have well-established procedures to address. In fact, you can see people using our usual ways to address that question above. The problem isn't that our procedures have broken down, the problem is that (at least in that example) Klein and those agree with her have simply failed to make their case. (Although, perhaps it hasn't been approached in a systematic manner yet - I encouraged everyone involved to take such things to WP:FRINGEN if they haven't already, and still think that would be a good idea. Most of the underlying content / sourcing questions here are simple up-down questions that we have well-established procedures to address, which makes me leery when people argue we should bypass them and just WP:IAR to implement their preferred version.) --Aquillion (talk) 15:03, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Perhaps one should take to RSN Klein's belief as asserted in her book that Primo Levi won the Nobel Prize to discover if it is a fringe view or not? After all, her area of expertise is Italian Jewish history, and she is reliably published.Nishidani (talk) 16:21, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Joe Roe: Isn't it as much Polish history as it is Jewish history – and German history, for that matter?
This is pretty much the point made here by another scholar responding to Engel's criticism of Lukas. With two million of their people systematically murdered (the first victims in the German death camps were Polish gentiles, not Jews), millions deported as slaves, and unrealised German plans for the complete annihilation of their nation, surely the Poles have a right to write about their own people's suffering.
Here is a summary of school kids' skewed perceptions of the Holocaust, from – this is the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, part of IOE, University College London’s Faculty of Education and Society. Their website states that "for eight years in a row, IOE has been rated number one in the world for Education in the QS World University Rankings". The same statement is also in our article, UCL Institute of Education. Here are the current 2022 ranking, they're just above Harvard University. So this is what they are saying (my emphases):
While Jews, Roma and Sinti, gay men and the disabled were all mentioned by large numbers of students as victims of the Nazis, some other groups were rarely mentioned. We can only speculate on why these groups appear to have all but ‘disappeared from view’, but it seems likely that they are considered somehow less ‘relevant’ to contemporary social issues. Many schools are rightly concerned with homophobia, for example, or the attitudes of society today towards disabled people; perhaps other groups persecuted and murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators have less ‘purchase’ on many teachers’ and students’ concerns with modern British society. Whatever the reason, the outcome is that the murder of up to 15,000 gay men appears to receive a lot of attention in the school classroom, whereas the murder of 3.3 million Soviet POWs seems to be forgotten, and the Nazi genocide of Poles (in which at least 1.8 million non-Jewish Poles were murdered) is barely mentioned. The persecution of political opponents also appears largely overlooked, even though the first concentration camps targeted these victims, and an understanding of this initial period of terror is important in understanding the later development of Nazi violence and genocide. It may be that an over-emphasis on the ‘lessons of the Holocaust’, leads to a particular focus on groups that feel ‘relevant’ to today’s issues, but that this leads – unwittingly – to both a distortion of the past and the forgetting of millions of victims.
So much about "distortion". Andreas JN466 16:32, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Indeed, and what is curious that that report is ostensibly a synthesis of the far more detailed study by Stuart Foster, Alice Pettigrew, Andy Pearce, Rebecca Hale Adrian Burgess, Paul Salmons, Ruth-Anne Lenga, 'What do students know and understand about the Holocaust? Evidence from English secondary schools Centre for Holocaust Education, University College London 2016 ISBN 978-0-9933711-0-3, but the point made in the précis of results (p.8) which you cite, is, as far as I can see, absent in the original 2016 paper, which only mentions very briefly (pp.65,135) that students show almost no awareness of Polish and Soviet victims, and does not mention specifically that the Holocaust had some 5.1 million Slavic victims. The answer to the puzzle is that there are two schools, one that defines the holocaust as exclusive, referring only to Jewish victims (dominant) and the inclusivist school, which extends the definition to every people or group subject to racial murder in WW2 (p.9). The figures for both are approximately the same. And this exclusivist bias arguably inflects the G&K polemic.Nishidani (talk) 17:39, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Holocaust was the genocide of European Jews during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews across German-occupied Europe, around two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population. The murders were carried out primarily in mass shootings and by poison gas in extermination camps, chiefly Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor, and Chełmno in occupied Poland.
There were a huge number of other victims in World War II, but the Holocaust was a unique and specific episode within the war that does not refer to these other victims. The "debate" here is like the "debate" between intelligent design and evolution. Jehochman Talk 19:05, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
From the pdf Nishidani linked:
For the purposes of our discussion here, there are two significant axes along which opposing definitions of the Holocaust may divide. The first concerns the term’s inclusivity or otherwise as regards the identification of variously targeted victim groups. Again, as Chapter 1 has already detailed, most contemporary academic historians use the particular term ‘the Holocaust’ to refer exclusively to the targeting of European Jews (see, for example, Bauer 2002; Cesarani 2004; Hilberg 1993). Here, the experiences of other groups of people persecuted and in many cases murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators are recognised as critically important to an understanding of the Holocaust, but they are not themselves denoted by the use of this specific term. More inclusive definitions might use the term to reference the experiences of other groups, most commonly the Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), disabled people, Poles, Slavs, homosexuals, Jehovah’s witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, Black people and/or other political or minority ethnic groups (for an expanded discussion of variously articulated definitions of the Holocaust, see Niewyk and Nicosia 2000).
I would hope we can agree that this is a reasonable summary, by one of the most highly qualified academic bodies available to us. Andreas JN466 19:40, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
'but they are not themselves denoted by the use of this specific term.' Since Jehochman appears to misread that, it should be noted that the statement of the 2016 authors here refers to an editorial choice by the writers of that paper, and not an affirmation of a fact reflecting scholarly usage, so much as an historic convention that came to dominate for some time scholarly usage until recent times. Nishidani (talk) 20:36, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's a good definition. For clarity, Wikipedia should follow scholarly usage. We happen to have lots of articles about the other mass killings done by the Nazi. All of them are equally terrible! Aside from Jews (and occasionally overlapping), Nazi attrocities included "the killing of Romani people (Porajmos ), imprisonment and execution of homosexual men, euthanasia of the disabled (Aktion T4), execution of the Poles (Polish decrees), the execution of Soviet prisoners of war, murder of political opponents, and the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses." (see Names of the Holocaust). The Holocaust, as used in a scholarly context, is about Jews because the sheer number (6 million) and proportion (2/3 of European Jews) is so outrageous, but I agree that it should be presented in context of these other mass killings, some of which have their own specific names as indicated above. Jehochman Talk 19:52, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, that is completely wrong. I've supplied on my page some (only halfway through) of the evidence regarding the historical swings between exclusivist (only Jews) vs inclusivist approaches to the concept of a holocaust. The reason you give for semantic restriction to Jews is likewise unhistorical: 5.1 million Slavic victims and 5.1-5.7 million Jews. The term was used broadly once, then began to be used restrictively of Jews in the late 70s, as TV and films spread awareness of the events and Israel in particular lobbied heavily to that end, and, since that time, several major works (Moses, Kiernan, Snyder et al) have insisted on contextualizing it in a larger comparative perspective, over the last two decades. Scholarship is now tending towards the inclusivist apppoach. It is true that in percentive terms, 75% makes the Jews proportionately by far the group that suffered the most devastation, but to translate that into a 'qualitative' categorical difference (the much hallowed but conceptually void use of the word 'unique' to qualify the Holocaust and its Jewish victims) when the racist ideology and its technologies of extermination were applied to many groups begs too many questions, not least of which is the indelicacy of the subtextual drift of such a distinction ('we suffered more, ergo we are in a different category'), which by the way seems to underlie the G&K polemic.Nishidani (talk) 20:19, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This debate should really be happening either on Talk:The Holocaust, if people are suggesting changes to that specific article (it was just raised there recently); or on WP:FRINGEN, if people are asserting that the inclusivist perspective is WP:FRINGE. I would strongly urge people who feel that way to actually take the latter step, since it would hopefully move us towards settling one of the underlying disagreements in the topic area. (Remembering that of course a perspective can be the minority and not fringe.) Nothing is going to be settled on this page, but an extended discussion of sources at FRINGEN followed by, if necessary, an RFC could at least put one aspect of the dispute to rest and could help inform how we use the available sources going forwards, and on WP:FRINGEN there are plenty of outside voices who are experienced with the relevant policy and who would look at the available sources in order to weigh in. --Aquillion (talk) 00:01, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ignore by all means this final note, a WP:TLDR personal closure.

Aquillion. I agree (but as with this case, I for one have no intention of going there). My notes here only reflect a concern from the outset that this whole case made an assumption, unaware of a Eurocentric/ethnocentric bias which, at least in recent scholarship, is well known, but not reflected in our articles. Editors no doubt read the wiki Jewish-Polish articles and generally took their impressions from those, ignoring the by now extensive meta-critical literature which historicizes knowledge, and teases out the way approaches to any topic are time-bound and reflect a paradigm that might have a decades’ long life as authoritative, but which is always liable to perspectival shifts. Most historians have taken on board the implication of Hayden White's Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-century Europe to exercise a metacritical awareness that our otherwise necessary reliance on an ostensible RS 'co0nsensus' ignores, with notable effects on the quality of our articles.

Our articles as they now stand properly tend to reflect RS consensus and weight. At the same time the consensus, ergo our articles, echo the trend from the late 1970s to the early 2000s that restricts the holocaust refers specifically to Jews, and not to victims in the (numerically) other half (the paradigm that was in place from 1944 onwards). Solidarność and the fall of the Berlin wall finally allowed scholarship in the excluded Eastern European countries to enter into the arena of what was basically a research area dominated by the United States and Jewish scholarship. The G&K article clearly defends the traditional Western consensus, and reads the Polish material as mostly a nationalistic attempt to disrupt an achieved POV consensus by claiming victimhood status recognition in a holocaust industry which accepts the recent premise that the latter by definition can only include Jews (In another context Ian S. Lustick wrote Miltonically of a 'Paradigm Lost', and this happens all the time in scholarship)

One can understand the disgruntlement of both sides here: one feels ‘common sense’ or a ‘consensus’ is being ignored, and stands its exclusivist ground. The other side is intensely annoyed that the prevailing Western model is contemptuous of a stark fact, that of 5 million Polish dead, the 2 million ‘ethnic Poles’ killed by the Nazi machinery are historically a footnote, ‘beyond the pale’, even complicit 'bystanders' to the only real holocaust that counts, the 3 million Poles who were Jewish. As the UK study mentioned above shows, the impact of holocaust reportage and teaching is such that the 15,000 homosexual victims are fairly widely remembered as holocaust victims, while students remain almost totally unaware of the 5 million Poles and Russians who died as a result of Nazi ethnocidal policies. Slavic peoples don’t register as holocaust victims, and our holocaust article, with its selective bias, reflecting the bias of a short but intense phase in the scholarly paradigm, won’t get any help from Wikipedia in grasping that conceptually this split between ‘real victims’ (Jews) and the ‘collateral other(s)’ is known to be analytically awkward.

There was in short a Eurocentric defensiveness at the heart of the G&K polemic that is somewhat dated, since the inclusionist theory, which has as its own assumption that Raphael Lemkin’s thesis – that genocide is the master concept, and the holocaust a subset- which dominated down to the late 60s, is conceptually superior to the exclusivist model grounding a vast amount of scholarship for two decades because it avoids writing history in terms of ethnic priorities. The point was made decades ago by A. Dirk Moses if remembering the holocaust is to serve, as it rightly does, a moral purpose, the ethical lesson loses much of its force if the term is applied restrictively to one group victim, for it implies that our values become particularistic in that they must protectively focus on never allowing anti-Semitism to threaten Jews, rather than teaching that throughout history genocide has brushed or crushed peoples all over the world, and continues to do so, and the example of the holocaust must serve to inculcate that general principle, the defense of any people under threat of extinction or mass slaughter.Nishidani (talk) 12:54, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • I agree with Aquillion that we should try to resolve the scope of the Holocaust. Per their suggestion I have started a discussion at WP:FRINGEN [9]. Let's spare the arbitrators further comments. All good thoughts and sources can be presented at the noticeboard, and potentially at a subsequent RFC. Jehochman Talk 13:10, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As Horse's Eye Black notes there, since the view is not fringe, an eventual discussion could be more properly opened up at the WP:NPOV board. Nishidani (talk) 14:55, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I request arbitrators to look at this discussion Wikipedia:Fringe_theories/Noticeboard#Scope_of_the_Holocaust. If this is how its going to go so soon after the case, there can't be much hope for progress in the topic area. Jehochman Talk 16:32, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]