Things Fall Apart

22 July 2008

I've been looking at background discussion on Wikipedia, and it seems to be doing a fair job of tearing itself to shreds.

There is a set of intertangled disputes involving two camps. The Request for Arbitration to which I earlier linked seems to be illustrative; it's certainly not the only example. See also Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents/Tony Sidaway and the resulting request for more arbitration. [(2008:07/24) I have up-dated the previous link.]

The requests for arbitration between these camps don't seem to be producing actual arbitration, even when the Arbitration Committee had earlier agreed to take a case. The Arbitration Committee is beginning to be hammered for failing to reach any decisions in that case to which I earlier linked. One member of the Arbitration Committee is trying to get the others to agree to just dismiss the case, but the Committee isn't even deciding to flee from responsibility. (There are grumblings that the Arbitration Committee should be abolished if it does flee.)

Now, as to that case, I'm not sufficiently informed to condemn all of the parties, nor to exonerate any of the parties, but I am sufficiently informed to identify the behavior of some of the parties as egregious. And those parties all happen to be in one of those two camps, which camp has strongly allied itself with Jimmy Donal Wales — that's right, the Jimbo Wales who provided the funding that launched Wikipedia, the Jimbo Wales who reserved the general right to over-turn any decision of the Arbitration Committee.

If the Arbitration Committee fails to come down on those parties hard, then those parties are going to become even more out-of-hand, and the committee will lose a lot of respect all-around (though one camp may prize them as fine toad-eaters). On the other hand, if the Arbitration Committee does come down on those parties, then they may alienate Jimbo Wales, who may even over-rule their decisions or so weaken the measures taken that they become not so much meaningless as ironic.


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