Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Advisory Council on Project Development



I've created this page so that people can express their views about the formation by eight members of the Arbitration Committee of the Wikipedia:Advisory Council on Project Development. Those involved in voting it through were Cool Hand Luke, Coren, FloNight, John Vandenberg, Kirill Lokshin, Rlevse, Roger Davies, and Wizardman. [1] Previous discussion here.

The advisory council describes itself as "an advisory body to the Arbitration Committee and to the community. It considers various issues facing the project and develops ideas, proposals, and recommendations for improving it; and serves as a forum for the sharing of best practices among the different areas within the project." [2]

Membership is by invitation only. It has a current membership of 18, including Kirill Lokshin and Casliber of the ArbCom. See here for the membership. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 17:00, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Just to note that Kirill has now resigned from both ACPD and the arbcom. The link above has the up to date list of members. the wub "?!" 18:38, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by SlimVirgin[edit]

My concern about this committee is that it's an example of the Arbitration Committee overreaching itself. The ArbCom is a dispute-resolution body. It does not lead Wikipedia, and I believe the overwhelming majority of Wikipedians do not want to be led by it. Indeed, one of the key points of the last ArbCom election is that voters wanted to see an end to the Committee assuming too much authority. It has the right to request advice from anyone as it sees fit, but it should be done informally. The formal creation of such a far-reaching Advisory Council needs community-wide input before being established, and its membership ought to be elected. As such, the current Council ought to be abandoned, and the matter opened up for community debate. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 17:00, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this proposal[edit]

  1. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 17:00, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Agree with SlimVirgin (no, really) – this looks like a step backwards whichever way one looks at it. If it works, it's an unaccountable, unelected Wikipedia version of the House of Lords; if it doesn't work, it's a powerless talking-shop which is going to end up syphoning off the time of some of our most productive writers. Either way, it represents a power grab by Arbcom into the field of general content guidelines, which up to now have been determined by the community, not by a Wikimedia Congress of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies. – iridescent 17:12, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Exactly. ArbCom is not a policy-making body and therefore has no need for a think-tank. --Philcha (talk) 17:22, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Agree with SlimVirgin. Ironholds (talk) 17:22, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Agree.—Kww(talk) 17:23, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Agree. Such a body should be independent and certainly Arbcom members should not be able to vote themselves into such a position. I see the time approaching when the community sets some limits on the power of the Arbcom that serves it. – Toon 17:30, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
    Agree generally, from what I've seen (I'd say it looks more like the kind of House of Lords Labour would like than the current mix). Invite only is a huge problem. I should add I hugely respect several of those editors, though I'm surprised by one, and I'm willing to be convinced this is a "good thing". I thought it best to give my initial comments before looking at the membership so not to be swayed. If membership is opened, but with an admin type level (officer branch), it would seem better. Verbal chat 17:31, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Agree. Exclusive clubs, even when appointed by AC, go against the spirit of WP. We are all volunteers here, we all donate our time, we all deserve an equal chance, equal input and equal vote. Crum375 (talk) 17:34, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Agree. The Arbitration Committee surely has the right to seek advice from any Wikipedians it wishes - subject only to Foundation policy and the community's ability to shape the Committee. The committee does not have the right to establish a privileged and elevated body of formal advisors without community approval. Gavia immer (talk) 17:48, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. Per Iridescent and Philcha. The current system may be broken in some people's eyes, but if you want a committee to help lead policy development, then get a consensus among the community for that. This advisory council is not authorized by the ArbCom's original remit, and so must be further authorized by the community. NW (Talk) 17:58, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. ArbCom's role is dispute resolution. It is elected to that role by the community. The Advisory Council is not elected, and should have no special role in dispute resolution. If ArbCom wants power beyond dispute resolution, it should talk to the community. If a group like this is to be set up, there's no reason it should be under the aegis of ArbCom, nor any reason why it should be appointed by them. --MoreThings (talk) 18:05, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. In theory I probably like the idea of a group like this, and I have great respect for a number of the editors who have been "invited," but, my god, what a horrible way to implement it. The reaction already being expressed here should have been entirely predictable since this is not the kind of thing that ArbCom, Jimbo, and a few select editors can set up without expecting a backlash from the community for lack of consultation. I think we would likely see pretty strong support for something along these lines, but SV is absolutely right that it "needs community-wide input before being established." I'll admit to being a bit flummoxed as to how the smart folks who put this together could possibly have thought otherwise. --Bigtimepeace | talk | contribs 18:27, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. I think that without the affirmation of the community as a whole, there will be little faith, and no teeth in anything that this group would try to undertake. — Ched :  ?  18:35, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. Agree. Nothing wrong with the core idea, but there should have been more transparency in the formation of the group, and the community should have been given a chance to opine on this. This smells strongly of the "Established Editors", which collapsed spectacularly from community backlash. I think that ArbCom is overstepping the their authority. Any "think tank" should be agreed on, developed, and authorized by the community. Also agree with comments by Iridescent and Philcha. Dabomb87 (talk) 18:45, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. This looks like an attempt to build a bureaucratic governance structure from the top without any discussion, in a community that has always insisted on discussing everything while resisting both bureaucracy and doing things from the top. In other words, a non-starter and an amazingly bad idea that should be abandoned post-haste.  Sandstein  18:48, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. There is a designated channel for policy and infrastructure suggestions already, which all editors can use - the village pump. Admittedly, WP:VP might not work as well as it ought - but it would be better to explore reforming and streamlining WP:VP, rather than rely on small advisory groups which the community may not feel representative without electoral input. Knepflerle (talk) 19:24, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. What purpose does this serve which an open (i.e. not self-selecting) wikiproject (like, say, the sadly-stalled WP:PROJPOL) wouldn't? And how does this not violate WP:CABAL? Just wrong, so very wrong. Frankly I'd consider de-selecting every ArbCom member who had the bad sense to get involved with this. Rd232 talk 19:30, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  17. Agree. This is more of a legislative function, and if the community needs something like this then it should be created and selected with greater input from the community.   Will Beback  talk  19:35, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  18. Strongly agree. Everyking (talk) 20:02, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  19. Let the community create this committee. Don't impose it upon us. --maclean 20:06, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  20. Agree. Wikipedia badly needs a Constitution and a Bill of Rights. This looks more like a Star Chamber. Groomtech (talk) 21:00, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  21. If Arbcom wants an Advisory Council, presenting a fait accompli with appointments made behind closed doors not the way to go about it. Discussion of the role and membership of such a body should take place on-wiki before it is created. Separation of powers is an important principle. For instance, if this Request for Comment proves inconclusive, where can we now go for independent arbitration? It shows incredible ill-judgement that ArbCom appears not to have appreciated this issue. Geometry guy 21:13, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  22. Strongly agree. Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy, ArbCom has no permission from the "governed" to expand their role from that of a judiciary to that of an executive, nor do they have permission to set up a leislature. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 21:14, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  23. Was created without substantial consensus. The RfC on self-electing groups also suggests its mode of composition is flawed. --Cybercobra (talk) 21:33, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  24. Endorse, Nakon 21:47, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  25. Agreed. — Aitias // discussion 21:55, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  26. Seems like a poorly thought out idea. --Malleus Fatuorum 22:13, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  27. Protonk (talk) 22:42, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  28. Per: "Exclusive clubs, even when appointed by AC, go against the spirit of WP. We are all volunteers here, we all donate our time, we all deserve an equal chance, equal input and equal vote." by Crum375 (talk · contribs) and "ArbCom is not a policy-making body and therefore has no need for a think-tank." by Philcha (talk · contribs). --Falcorian (talk) 22:52, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  29. Endorse. Durova275 23:11, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  30. -Atmoz (talk) 23:41, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
    KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 00:13, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  31. Endorse Sounds like ArbCom members have too much time on their hands.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:34, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  32. Wholeheartedly endorse. I'm not opposed to an advisory body more generally, but it needs to come from the community. I also agree with everything Steve (Bainer) and Vassyana wrote and I'm astonished others went blazing ahead despite their (correct, IMHO) positions. We elected the arbs to, you know, arbitrate and some seem to have forgotten that or, perhaps, never understood what it means. When I was deciding how to vote, I was considering the candidate's dispute resolution skills, not their ability to govern this project. These are different skill sets and I'm sure the community would have elected different people if we thought we were electing governors, politicians or anything other than arbitrators. Meanwhile, we still have arb cases sitting around for months and frighteningly broad fishing net remedies. I've never been particularly critical of the ArbCom in the past but I've rapidly become one of your fiercest critics. Please either do what you were elected to do (dispute resolution) and if you're more interested in politics and governance, by all means, pursue as a member of this community, and don't try to shoehorn ArbCom into some kind of governance body. Sarah 00:56, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  33. Agreed. ArbCom is not an elected government, it is a dispute resolution body which is by necessity limited. Orderinchaos 01:33, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  34. Agreed, if Wikipedia does need a group like this, it should be developed from the community and open to elections, and not by invitation only. However I am also saddened that two arbitrators involved in this seem to feel this is worth resigning over. I ask those that two arbitrators reconsider, and don't consider the rejection of this proposal to be equated with a rejection of them as people or of their work as arbitrators. It would be a shame to lose them over this... no to drama 03:08, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  35. Endorse. Such an advisory body needs to be created some other way. Abductive (talk) 03:54, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  36. Endorse This idea should have been discussed by the community before it was given the go-ahead. I also object to the fact that the community had no say on the council's members. ThemFromSpace 05:37, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  37. Prodego talk 05:39, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    General comment: I am one of the arbitrators who voted for the advisory council. I did not so do because I wished to create a structure of governance under ArbCom control (I don't). I supported because there is an aching void in Wikipedia for a forum for brainstorming and reflective discussion that is not crisis-driven and is not within the polarised crucible of support/oppose discussions. The easiest way to achieve this is to set up a group, with no powers whatsover, drawn widely, and leave it to go its own way and find its own directions. Any proposals would either sink or swim on their individual merits in community discusion. This is entirely consistent with the principle of boldness that informs Wiki evolution. Of course, other ways exist to set this up, and we might if we tried find as many counter-proposals here as there are days in the year, but that does not mean either the idea of the council or the approach is a bad one and it certainly does not justify either all the criticisms or all the mischaracterisations expressed here.  Roger Davies talk 08:00, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  38. Agree with every single word Slim wrote above. Tony (talk) 08:30, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  39. Agree, and concur with Sarah's additional comments. --Stephen 09:56, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  40. Not sure - something is better than nothing, and this seems like something. Agree there should be a separation of powers. Peter Damian (talk) 10:13, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  41. --CrohnieGalTalk 10:16, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  42. Absolutely agree There are precious few governments in the world where leaders or leadership/enforcement bodies enjoy the latitude to decide for themselves what will be the scope of their authority, how they will exercise it, and when. These forms of government have historically proven to be exceedingly unpopular with their citizens. As with governments, to private clubs (and everything between), leaders should govern with the consent of the governed—Wikipedia is no exception. Greg L (talk) 15:21, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  43. Strongly Agree The Advisory Council is already violating its statement of purpose. Members are supposed to be “not otherwise involved in its (Arbcom’s) work”, yet there are members of ArbCom on the Advisory Council. In effect the Advisory Council ends up looking like an attempt by ArbCom to add additional non-elected members to ArbCom. Looking at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Self electing groups, I fully agree with the statement “Any group of editors on Wikipedia that elects its own membership and has its own goals and objectives is fundementally against the open and collaborative spirit of Wikipedia, and is contrary to our five pillars, most importantly, what the Wikipedia community is not.” Members of the Advisory Committee should be familiar with that discussion, nearly 1/3 of them participated, with some saying they opposed self-elected groups. Edward321 (talk) 19:33, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  44. endorse JoshuaZ (talk) 19:42, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  45. Endorse - Every day this place gets a little weirder, and not in a way that's any fun. Tom Harrison Talk 19:49, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  46. Stifle (talk) 20:53, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  47. William M. Connolley (talk) 21:10, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  48. What the hell is this crap. --- RockMFR 21:44, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  49. Terrible idea. AniMatedraw 21:52, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  50. per RockMFR. Vyvyan Basterd (talk) 22:43, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  51. This is a very bad idea at every imaginable level. Pastor Theo (talk) 22:50, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  52. Oh, where to start on this? One of the best good ideas I've seen that were really bad ideas. First, there's a new page which I'm not allowed to edit? Sorry, I'm the "anyone" in "anyone can edit" - you better have a good policy reason to remove my posts, ArbCom is a dispute resolution body comprised of elected members of the community doesn't really cut it. Second, how does a body of appointed members spring forth cut from whole cloth? (And why wasn't I included, that would solve the problem ;) Third, this is doomed to failure, after the first two or three times this earnest body produces its recommendations and finds them ignored, the members will drift away with just a little more bitterness because "they didn't listen to us!". I can produce more concerns on request. Franamax (talk) 23:01, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  53. Agree, particularly per Sarah above. There are evidently serious problems with Wikipedia's current governance, but this proposal would not be a good way forward. In a universe where this would be a valid proposal, Dick Cheney would be the next President of the United States[3]. Arbcom should try first to get at least moderately good at the job they were elected to do before attempting to subsume further authority in this community. This proposal displays unbelievable levels of hubris and shows a lack of awareness that is breathtaking. --John (talk) 23:23, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  54. I think a council is an idea we should consider, but a council hand picked by a group that's sole purpose is arbitrating disputes? I can't believe they thought this was a good idea. --Tango (talk) 23:39, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  55. Agree, in general, and especially with Geometry guy and with all the points Sarah brings up. —Mattisse (Talk) 23:50, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  56. Agree Goes well beyond the scope of ArbCom's remit. AndrewRT(Talk)(WMUK) 00:46, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  57. Endorse - ArbCom does not need an advisory council on project development, because it does not have the authority to control the development of the project. As a free-standing council with an elected membership and a clear role, I think that it would be a great idea. However, in this form, it will just become another exclusive club.--Danaman5 (talk) 05:04, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  58. Endorse Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 11:12, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  59. Agreed, per SlimVirgin, Sandstein, Philcha and most people above: Arbcom doesn't have the authority to create a group with defacto power, only the community does. It's a good idea but the scope, power and members of the group need to be generated from discussion within the community. Ha! (talk) 12:28, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  60. Endorse Seems incredibly hypocritical on the part of certain invitees...Modernist (talk) 12:44, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  61. Endorse, although it's sad that a few respected editors have taken the backlash against this process to indicate their supposed incompetence (it does not). Dabomb87 (talk) 14:38, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  62. Endorse Completely unacceptable that ArbCom would create a group like this, without community input, let alone elections. The Seeker 4 Talk 16:34, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  63. Endorse wholeheartedly. This is way outside of what ArbCom is set up to do. ^demon[omg plz] 17:27, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  64. Endorse - Such a council might work, but the way this has been handled is a PR disaster. Better to start over from scratch with more input. Garion96 (talk) 17:38, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  65. Endorse As others have pointed out, the ArbCom must needs to limit itself to being the final arbiter of disputes on Wikipedia -- nothing more. If they find they have copious amounts of time on their hands, they are welcome to participate in policy discussions -- or even make edits that improve the content of Wikipedia. (Now there's an idea!) -- llywrch (talk) 18:05, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  66. Agree. Without the community's input, it seems even more clandestine. The fact that the council's membership is by invitation only, furthers this appearance. Open it up to the community for discussion and for membership. - ALLSTRecho wuz here 18:07, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  67. Endorse Whether such a committee is something we need or not, it's far beyond ArbCom's purview to create. keɪɑtɪk flʌfi (talk) 19:40, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  68. Per #Statement by Jennavecia below, apparently most of the people who are supporting this are ... the people who were selected and the people who selected them. Hm. I think the comment above about separation of powers is on the money; to the extent that ArbCom has power and influence, they can only share some of their own, not create new institutions. Although I don't pay close attention to ArbCom, they generally seem like reasonable people doing a hard job to me, and if they want to appoint any group to assist them in any way, they should go right ahead. But respect is earned, not bestowed. appointed ... so let's see if they've got the right stuff. One clear downside: the precedent of forming a committee of Really Smart People We Trust A Lot is terrible; if this committee works out, we'll get an endless parade of New Committees That Are So Much Smarter Than You. - Dank (push to talk) 01:24, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  69. Werdna • talk 09:26, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  70. --Hammersoft (talk) 12:45, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  71. Endorse Even if such a group is needed, this is not the right way to set it up. Gandalf61 (talk) 14:40, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  72. Strong support—the ArbCom serves the community, and their decisions must be the result of general community consensus. The fact that the ArbCom did not ask community input on this step makes me automatically oppose it (in principle), ignoring for a second all the practical problems this committee could/would create. —Ynhockey (Talk) 21:31, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  73. Concur with Slim on this one. Not that problems don't exist, but that ArbCom is typically at the root of them. Ameriquedialectics 23:26, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  74. Agree ArbCom is a disciplinary body. ArbCom is not a policy-making body. It shouldn't act like one, and it shouldn't appoint an "advisory committee" on policy. --John Nagle (talk) 04:01, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  75. Either this group has some sort of authority, in which case it needs to be killed promptly and perhaps recreated via community processes, or it has no authority, in which case it seems pretty pointless to me (and a potential source of control-creep later on). Bryan Derksen (talk) 07:52, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  76. Endorse --Ecemaml (talk) 08:28, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  77. Endorse --JohnnyB256 (talk) 12:17, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  78. Endorse - AdjustShift (talk) 14:54, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  79. Endorse - This goes well beyond the ambit of ArbCom. Nothing raelly to add to previous statements to this effect. Shereth 17:16, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  80. Endorse Captain panda 20:19, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  81. Endorse - If individual ArbCom members wish to take personal advice from other editors they should feel free to do so, but I do not believe it is within their collective remit to form exclusive advisory body on project development. Rockpocket 01:40, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  82. Endorse Arbcom is acting beyond the role for which the members were appointed. MurfleMan (talk) 07:34, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  83. STRONGLY ENDORSE Having voted for many of the ArbCom members I have to assume this is a good-faith act. But I have to say: this is the worst idea in the history of Wikipedia. ArbCom is created with a very narrow brief, and that is as it should be. it is not a governing body. The simple fact is: the Advisory Council on Project Development has no status at Wikipedia. Any one of us can invite ten or fifteen people to form Advisory Council No. 2 (or No. 3 or No.4 etc.) on Project Development and it would have the same standing. ArbCom is not a governing body and has no standing to delegate anything. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:10, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  84. Endorse If anything, ArbCom should start functioning more as an Arbitration committee than it has in the past, and not just be a guilt-finding committee by ritual (no offense of any sort is intended by this). Perforce, this would mean that it not only should not be a "governing body", it then could not be one. Collect (talk) 13:32, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  85. Endorse This is an abysmal idea. No public notice, no indication of the criteria established before people were "invited," no list of "invitees." I've visited the user pages and checked the contributions of those who currently are members of this "council," and it seems it's just another heavily male and ALL WHITE clique. And this is somehow supposed to fix Wikipedia? And since when is the (failed) ArbCom the voice of Wikipedia? Jeeze. Same ol' same ol'. deeceevoice (talk) 18:20, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    (Threaded discussion moved to talk page.  Sandstein  18:16, 19 July 2009 (UTC))
  86. Endorse. Why not make themselves supreme leaders of the universe and have done with it. Alun (talk) 21:52, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  87. Endorse I'm not even that active as an editor recently, and this marks the second time this year I've been bitterly disappointed by what seems like extremely bad judgement from ArbCom members, either in part or in whole. Looking at the calendar, I think our "Dramaout" is just supposed to have started, so I'm gonna refrain from further comment right now, but I'll defintely be grumbling under my breath as I go seek out some more productive activity. Doc Tropics 03:40, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  88. Add me to the list of people disenchanted with Wikipedia governance. Like many others, I am in favour of a non-consensus based construct as a leadership entity, but I disagree with the process in constructing the Advisory Council as part of this entity -- and specifically with the decision made by the current ArbCom to delegate themselves as a governing body of sorts. That being said, I would be in favour of the current "Council" membership staying as an ad hoc group for the purposes of brainstorming a different model of governance (as they appear to be a particularly dedicated group with a broad range of interests on Wikipedia), with the understanding that they are reporting to the community and not to ArbCom -- Samir 06:09, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
  89. Endorse SilkTork *YES! 22:35, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
  90. Endorse --Nk (talk) 06:00, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
  91. Agree with SlimVirgin. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:55, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
  92. I do think that the ArbCom should not be a governing body so much as it should be the final step of dispute resolution, so the creation of this committee ultimately stretches the level of authority they perceive themselves as having over the community. But it's everybody's fault in such instances, because we all need to step up and decide together what we need to do to make a better Wikipedia. And my signing does not reflect on my overall positive opinion of this year's arbitrators, who I think are doing a great job at resolving some of Wikipedia's most turbulent issues. Master&Expert (Talk) 07:21, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
  93. Jesus Christ, what a depressing illustration of the arbcom being Wikipedia's Achilles Heel in terms of the iron law of oligarchy. Exterminate these popmpous apparatchik attempts at taking over the wiki, typically by "editors" who couldn't write an encyclopedic article to save their life, with prejudice. Keep Wikipedia free-as-in-freedom. --dab (𒁳) 07:57, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
  94. Agree with SlimVirgin. PhilKnight (talk) 16:14, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
  95. Endorse This 'model of ineffectual anarchy'--as one editor has described Wikipedia--has created the greatest source of (mostly accurate) information the world has ever seen. The number of editors has leveled off, but that's to be expected. Only a small percentage of internet users will be interested in actively contributing, but the number of readers is growing, and the number of articles is growing. I too have felt overwhelmed by the argumentative nature of discussions on various artilces' talk pages (e.g. Talk:Anarchism), but this process more or less works. Its failings are standard human failings that we all need to learn to live with. The failings of a Committee-ocracy will be those same failings, except amplified by the founder effect. If you want to see a mass flight of Wikipedians, you should endorse the Committee. If, as I hope, you don't want that, then please consider endorsing its dissolution. Nathan McKnight -- Aelffin (talk) 23:57, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
    Addendum The biggest problem, in my view is the growing opaqueness of the markup language. Newbies can't even figure you how to make a proper ref before their hard work gets deleted by a handful of overzealous deletionists. If you're worried about usership--as I am--this Committee proposal is not the solution. Making Wikipedia more open and less centralized is. Nathan McKnight -- Aelffin (talk) 00:03, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  96. Endorse BrianY (talk) 15:28, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
  97. I am dismayed by the proclivity of current arbitrators to expand their powers.  Skomorokh  22:02, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement[edit]

  1. There is widespread disquiet about this proposal, the way it has been put forward, and the motivations involved. Listing all the supporters in one place may give a misleading impression of consensus when the 23 other statements and their supporters (c. 200 endorsements but there are almost certainly duplications and I don't have time to check) are dispersed. Smoke, mirrors, Wikipolitics and Wikilawyering should be avoided, or minimised, if possible. NBeale (talk) 16:20, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Sorry, Slim, but I have to go with this at this point. Things are so fundamentally screwed at this point in time that something has to give or else the whole ship will collapse over time. rootology (C)(T) 16:49, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
    Rootology makes it clear on her user page that she believes that Wikipedia is disfunctional by design. If you feel that way, you do not have to participate in Wikipedia. You want binding authority over the project - that is not wikipedia, that is Encyclopedia Brittanica or you can try to rekindle Nupedia (that was an experiment - in centralized governance - that really DID fail!!). If those are the systems you prefer, go and work for them. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:03, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. One of the main reasons for pursuing this at this juncture was the concern that building it from the ground up would lead to endless discussions before any group actually materialised. The group is not a negative and does not influence the editing community in any way. I might not be as dramatic as root but I do see concerns (for example) in the falling off of new editors joining the project, plus BLP concerns that might have considerable short- and long-term implications for the project and warrant some form of discussion and investigation. Presuming some organized review occurs for these in the next six months, is anyone really thinking these are a net negative and should be discounted or erased? No. Casliber (talk · contribs) 22:13, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. This "initiative" seems to be an attempt to discredit Arbcom--an Arbcom that banned SV from the wiki for six months, please remember. --Eric Barbour (talk) 08:45, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
    (Threaded discussion moved to talk page.  Sandstein  18:19, 19 July 2009 (UTC))
  5. Per Root, Cas and Eric. As a note, apparently there has been edit warring over removal of opposings. Strongly suggest that not continue (because it's petty, and because it can be circumvented by someone creating a "statement" that says "I oppose the statement by person X", which people can then "support"... that's just busywork but has exactly the same effect). ++Lar: t/c 15:10, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. The short statement of opposition to this idea (which, by the by, contains considerably less evidence of forethought and effort than the proposal itself) boils down to: They didn't ask us, and we didn't get a chance to vote on who gets in. What seems to have been misunderstood, though, is that no action is proposed to follow directly from any advice issued by this group - whether this advice is directed at ArbCom or the community. It isn't intended to make sweeping changes by fiat, only to come up with ideas to some of our problems that have the imprimatur of a diverse and well respected group of people before they can be shot down by the wider community. For a council that is designed to do nothing but discuss, it's certainly drawn a lot of fire on relatively weak grounds - it makes me wonder if there aren't more significant motives in opposition that just haven't been expressed. Nathan T 18:19, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. The usefulness of some committee like this is great; I see extremely little danger in it. -- Noroton (talk) 20:31, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. No. A community derived advisory council is an excellent idea, but it's composition, agenda, and raison d'etre will likely be very different from this one. The "problem" with the community derived agenda is that it reflects the status quo, and is extremely unlikely to contribute anything radical or even vaguely slightly different than that which exists. The group assembled will likely generate a lot of different ideas, and some of them may bear further investigation and discussion. There is neither any reason why any (um, most, in fairness) interest group shouldn't form an advisory group and ArbCom is just one of them. The only problem I would have would be if some such group existed outside of wiki space, but exerted influence without accountability - something I do not see as happening here. LessHeard vanU (talk) 21:06, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
    wouldn't the same positive effect be accomplished by encouraging editors to form voluntaristic "councils" to discuss different issues and to generate proposals for new policies or guidelines? Sure, some such councils will as you suggest simply endorse mechanisms that you think are failing. But others would not. The openness is the genious of Wikipedia. Let people form as many councils as they like, and let anyone join any council, and some of them will come up with brilliant ideas, much better than any committee by design will. I appreciate your point but I fail to see how a member-by-invitation council will help. Slrubenstein | Talk 00:24, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. The absolute worst that could come from this is nothing, and the potential positive outcomes far outweigh the concerns listed above. Kevin (talk) 01:35, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. No, this is not a a power grab, it a move to sort the toxic disputation nature of enwiki. I'm disappointed to see a few editors I respect up in the rong section. In case some have not noticed, the huge cluster-fuck discussions are rather more than continuous, they're overlapping and amount to an endless squabble. This is an effort at dispute resolution, and the next initiative will be an case with a 50kg warhammer in the remedies section. Jack Merridew 08:44, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. As Rootology said. Lara 15:06, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. The founding of the council is legitimate, this RFC is iligitimate. It is not for the mob to interpet the law to suit their personal wants of the moment. The Arbcom should issue a unanimous statement of support and until the next Arbcom elections,in December, the comminity has no option but to put up and shut up. The community elected the Arbcom to make decisions on their behalf. If they did not like it then the December ArbCom elections are the time to make that known. As a result of this maliciously brought RFC, in future, everytime some agitant does not like an ArbCom or wishes to seek revenge through disruption they will launch a similar RFC or something similar. The mob canot determine law contrary to the law or there is anarchy. December is the time to challenge this legitamately founded council. The community may discuss changes to constitution and policy, as I strongly advocate, but to challenge a sitting ArbCom's authority, no. Giano (talk) 22:53, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. There are too many admins/ pressure groups/ wikilawyers/ WP:Owners of articles/ self-appointed guardians/ that are overeaching themselves. I will be able to elect in Arbcom members, but unlike the overeachers listed, I can also vote them out. I feel Rootology's points are persuasive. Þjóðólfr (talk) 09:37, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. Strong Oppose. The hypocrisy of certain Wikipedians is astounding. It is exceeded only by their paranoia and lust for petty power.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:09, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. Per NBeale, Casliber and Nathan, and my own comments elsewhere on this page. the wub "?!" 08:58, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. I believe that the writer of this statement massively misunderstood the group, and is opposed to something that was never proposed, and thus that their statement (and much of commentary throughout the RfC), demonstrates the lack of knowledge of those commenting rather than commentary on what was actually proposed. GRBerry 17:22, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by User:CIreland[edit]

From Wikipedia:Advisory Council on Project Development:

anything it [the advisory council] recommends must achieve consensus normally, as any other proposal would, before it can be implemented.

This requirement for proposals also "achieving consensus normally" presumably also includes the implementation and continued existence of the council. If it does not (why would it not?), it logically ought to.

Editors endorsing this proposal[edit]

  1. CIreland (talk) 17:32, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Yes, one would think. Though the second paragraph of this comment suggests that, while the community could shut down the advisory council, the ArbCom can still go talk to all of these people and get advice from them. That strikes me as more than a little bit of a contradiction and makes it all the more important to endorse CIreland's point here. --Bigtimepeace | talk | contribs 20:58, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Very good observation. Durova275 23:21, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Orderinchaos 05:39, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Logical. Bryan Derksen (talk) 07:54, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. --Cybercobra (talk) 04:11, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Edward321 (talk) 04:45, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by User:Kww[edit]

I'm further concerned that even if people find a need to have such a body, the "invitation-only" nature of it amounts to a self-sorting selection that will take certain points of view and make them take importance beyond their prominence. The first thing I noted was the presence of both Casliber and DGG both on the council, with no one that I would classify as an ardent exclusionist to balance their extreme inclusionist views. I could be comfortable with that if I felt that these issues would never come before this council, but I can't find a specific charter that lets me believe that is true. It isn't just inclusionism/exclusionism either: it's highly unlikely that anyone that strongly disagrees with members of this council on any topic will ever be invited to join the council.—Kww(talk) 17:36, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this proposal[edit]

  1. Obviously.—Kww(talk) 17:36, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Yes, generally speaking “invitation-only” appears to be problematic. — Aitias // discussion 22:00, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Yes. I trust both DGG and Cas to moderate their views on inclusion and be very self aware about it, just as I trust implicitly their ability to understand that they may be on one side of the average. However this puts a great deal of weight on David's shoulders should some EnC 3 style issue come up. Protonk (talk) 22:47, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Endorse. Although both Casliber and DGG have my highest respect, both personally and as Wikipedians, it is important to include a variety of wikiphilosophies in anything that aspires to be consensus decision making. Durova275 23:14, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Agree Arbcom should stick to resolving disputes. It should not be involved in policy. This does that. Through the back door, but it does it.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:32, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Yes. I think the key to anything like this is the membership need to be elected by the community not appointed from on high. The idea that a small group of people would privately conceive the group, then select and appoint the membership of this group, without so much as a word of discussion with the community, is counter to Wikipedia culture and I'm really astounded they thought they could pull this off without a big stink from the community (and slightly impressed by the sheer Chutzpah). Sarah 01:30, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Agreed with most of the above views. I am seriously not seeing any balance in the membership, although I respect four or five of the nominees. To be frankly honest, ArbCom is struggling at the present to maintain the confidence and support of the wider Wiki community due to some recent decisions which show a lack of due consideration and consistency, exudes far too much confidence in its own abilities when seriously questioned, and doesn't at this stage have in my view the moral authority to impose solutions on problems it doesn't understand. Orderinchaos 01:44, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. I too oppose the invitation only nature of the group. --Falcorian (talk) 03:24, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. Stifle (talk) 20:54, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Agree - the deletionist/inclusionist is only one example of the lack of balance. I believe that ArbCom is genuinely unaware of the narrow scope of its selections on a number of important spectrums. —Mattisse (Talk) 22:34, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. Agree I'm still amazed at the hypocrisy...Modernist (talk) 12:52, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. Endorse, strongly. Hypocrisy indeed. Vyvyan Basterd (talk) 05:24, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. --Hammersoft (talk) 12:46, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. I see how this can become a huge problem in the long term, even if everyone involved is just acting in good faith. --Enric Naval (talk) 20:41, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. Endorse When has there ever been a wikiproject that was by invitation only? Ever? Membership in ArbCom is limited to elections, but this decision was made in part through community discussion. I thought Wikipedia is the encyclopedia anyone can edit at any time. This includes Wikiprojects. I frankly think anyone endorsing this statement should simply appoint themselves to this new wikiproject and begin participating on their project pages. Isn't that the Wikipedia spirit? To create a wikiproject that some, indeed many, are not allowed to edit at any time is a betrayal of Wikipedia. Slrubenstein | Talk 00:20, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. Aye. Alun (talk) 21:54, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  17. Endorse Doc Tropics 03:52, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  18. Endorse SilkTork *YES! 22:37, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement[edit]

  1. Things are so fundamentally screwed at this point in time that something has to give or else the whole ship will collapse over time. rootology (C)(T) 16:51, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
    Rootology makes it clear on her user page that she believes that Wikipedia is disfunctional by design. If you feel that way, you do not have to participate in Wikipedia. You want binding authority over the project - that is not wikipedia, that is Encyclopedia Brittanica or try to restart Nupedia (that was an experiment - in centralized governance - that really DID fail!!). If those are the systems you prefer, go and work for them. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:03, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Oh god does literally everything in the world have to be interpreted through the lens of the interminable notability wars? --JayHenry (talk) 02:39, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Arbcom members, whatever their inclusionism/exclusionism tendancies, have been voted in and can be voted out. If more exclusionists are needed, vote in more exclusionist Arbcom members and then more exclusionists will recieve the invitation. Þjóðólfr (talk) 09:56, 19 July 2009 (UTC)


Although DGG is indeed an ardent inclusionist, and I find myself on opposite sides of him most of the time, he does appear to have the encyclopedia's best interests at heart, and his arguments are usually based on solid reasoning, although not always convincing (IMNSHO). Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 20:53, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

And please see my deletion log ; and, at AfD, my balance is 3:1, not 100:1. Like most people, I'm an inclusionist on some things only. I'm a mergist on fictional characters, and a deletionist on local institutions. In any case, my thoughts are that we would not be serving as a replacement for either EnC3, or for a possible content decision board. The fiction question is one for the community. How to settle long-standing questions in general might be a matter for the committee to discuss. I feel no weight resting on me at all, except to be imaginative, as we have no power to actually do anything. I would not have accepted being on an appointed board that had power over either content or policy. DGG (talk) 22:54, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
If only all inclusionists were like DGG. Abductive (talk) 03:56, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Indeed. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 19:20, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
I support this council and may offer a view to this effect. If there are concerns about too many inclusionists, someone please deposit my invitation here. I promise to not swear a whole lot and can also offer insights into the sockpuppet subculture. While I do not agree with DGG and Casliber on some inclusion issues, they are smart people who have the project's best interests at heart.
Cheers, Jack MerridewSockpuppet, First Class 05:44, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
I would like to be clear that I was not questioning either's integrity, simply observing that they represent one end of the spectrum without being counterbalanced.—Kww(talk) 14:25, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Understood. DGG (talk) 20:49, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
David Fuchs is someone who often votes on the deletion side at AfDs, BTW. Casliber (talk · contribs) 21:16, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
If we're going to classify everybody, I would fall into the "believes that if it doesn't meet GNG it should be merged/deleted" category most times, yes. But I'm not sure that we particularly have to worry about "balance" in this regard, simply because then it becomes a game of "do we have enough non UK/US/AU people, do we have enough non-admins, do we have enough females, et al" that we can't really ever settle. --Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs (talk) 02:47, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I think it's impossible to ever build a sufficiently balanced standing committee that is balanced on all things for all people. I don't have any objections to the idea of Arbcom building ad-hoc committees to study various issues, my objection is to a perpetual committee that grows only by its own choice. The committee that is balanced over BLP practices may not be balanced over issues of non-free content, and neither of those may be balanced over notability issues. As Kirill said, no one can keep arbcom from asking advice. All I ask is that they examine the issue before them, and make a specific decision about who to gain advice from on each topic.—Kww(talk) 04:18, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
@all; While a few of the folks invited to this council are unknown to me, I have little doubt of their integrity; they were, after all, invited by folks with a peck of clues. This isn't about keeping or deleting crappy articles ( ever notice how that's the sort usually at AfD? ;) — it's about developing the project — which rather needs a bit of work. fyi, offer's still open, although I want Root to get back in the saddle. I do have the appropriate enemies. Cheers, Jack Merridew 09:18, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by User:Moni3[edit]

I believe the confusion, questions, and negativity that are spawning from this is borne from lack of clarity and scope. I believe there is value in this idea, but without defined parameters regarding its purpose, how its run, its effects, and its reception, it logically leads to this RfC. The ArbCom Noticeboard announcement may have been premature until these issues are clarified, either by whoever proposed it, or the members who have accepted their invitations. --Moni3 (talk) 17:37, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this view[edit]

  1. Agree. When I first saw this proposal, my thought was that Arbcom had put the cart well before the horse. They've decided to establish a formal bureaucratic group, but they haven't quite worked out what it's going to do yet. Apparently it was just very important to have such a tranche of Arbcom-approved people around in case they should be needed. If there is an actual specific purpose to be accomplished here, Arbcom could answer many objections by stating it plainly; if not, well, we generally don't do privilege for its own sake. Gavia immer (talk) 18:02, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Ched :  ?  18:56, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Dabomb87 (talk) 19:03, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Wikipedia_talk:Arbitration_Committee/Noticeboard#What_is_this_Council_for.3F --Philcha (talk) 20:40, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. In line with many of my concerns. Sometimes, the wiki urge to omg-start-right-now should be constrained.--Tznkai (talk) 20:48, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 20:54, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. --JN466 21:38, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. True - the announcement did come out early, and many of us arbs were unsure (as seen by the voting), and hopefully this RfC can be steered in the direction of constructive discussion. Casliber (talk · contribs) 21:50, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. I agree. It's too vague and I'm not sure those appointed to it can have been entirely certain about what it will do. I can see the need for a sort of 'think tank' with no executive powers, separate from Arbcom, and only Arbcom could possibly have the ability to create it, but I think the priority in setting it up is to settle on its role and duties before naming the members. Sam Blacketer (talk) 23:08, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Endorse with reservation: would replace premature with inappropriate. Durova275 23:16, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. Endorse in much the same terms as Durova. Orderinchaos 02:13, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. olderwiser 02:29, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. Agree - I think we need to work to get some clarity, but I'm holding back from saying 'immediately' - this needs to be considered, we'd also like the community view. (I'll add something below to illicit that). --Joopercoopers (talk) 11:53, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. Agreed: the lack of clarity and scope (evolved from the community, rather than ArbCom) will allow those members of the group with the motivation to use it as a blank cheque for their own personal power aspirations. Ha! (talk) 12:28, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    Hm. Well, I was asked to serve on this committee and you couldn't fill a thimble with my personal power aspirations. --Moni3 (talk) 12:43, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    Apologies, I wasn't referring to you personally (or even current members of the group, necessarily). To clarify: Agree with your statement that negativity spawning from this is borne from the lack of clarity, scope and defined parameters regarding its purpose. Further comment: One of the reasons those things are required is that, without those things, the group as a whole or individuals within it will end up defining their own remit; with results ranging from ineffectiveness to megalomania (although "doing an amazing job" would also be a possibility in that range). Ha! (talk) 14:15, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. Endorse. The idea of such a committee has merit, and it could be seen as logically making sense that the people who would be involved in its creation might be the ArbCom. But I do think that it might have been better if there had been a bit more public discussion before the fact. The downside, of course, is that it might never have been created through that system, with the expected delays over phrasing, etc. John Carter (talk) 14:09, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. rootology (C)(T) 16:52, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  17. Enric Naval (talk) 21:00, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  18. Per Durova. There's a long version, but the short version is: I do support the idea of people being able to form committees to tackle these problems, I could easily support the individuals involved in another committee at another time, and I don't consider this episode something worth resigning an ArbCom seat over, it's not that big a deal. - Dank (push to talk) 02:19, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  19. Endorse with reservation per Durova. Doc Tropics 03:58, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Jennavecia[edit]

This project is nothing if not broken, and there's no improvement in sight. This seems like a good opportunity for focused discussion by established editors with different focuses and experiences on the project. The possibility to see some viable proposals for change to then present to the community seems like something worth going for. What's the worst that can happen? Great ideas get presented to the community and shot-down in no consensus? Well, that's the best we can achieve right now, so we might as well hope for the best and see how it goes. لennavecia 19:00, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. In spades. Especially the bit about the project being broken and no solutions in sight. One has to wonder why so many people are opposed to finding solutions. → ROUX  19:51, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Steven Walling (talk) 20:26, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Yes. Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 20:32, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. ArbCom doesn't have the authority, Nobody does really; SlimVirgin is right about that. This committee was designed in the hope that some group will be responsible for finding solutions. If it fails, we're no worse off than we are now. It's not intended to be a legislative body, but a thinktank for improving our processes. Cool Hand Luke 21:08, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. It's a discussion committee tasked with coming up with ideas, which wouldn't apply unless project-wide consensus was reached. Sounds like a good try to me. Don't like it? Create your own committee -- it will have just as much authority as this one. -- ArglebargleIV (talk) 21:34, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
    Well, last time someone tried that, this happened. And the time before that, this happened. See a pattern? – iridescent 21:55, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
    It has a unique ear with ArbCom and can influence that body's decision making, and its membership is personally selected by ArbCom with no input from the community. It's a farce, basically. Orderinchaos 02:14, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Yeah. This is going to go down in flames for the same reason that something like it (I'd prefer the editors were elected) is needed. The consensus model has not scaled, and we're incapable of making hard decisions. Ideas for how to fix it are coming up frequently (CENT has two right now, I think) and never gaining consensus. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 21:45, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. This was/is the idea, a starting point for some focussed discussion. I can see the benefits, and ultimately feel they outweigh concerns outlined elsewhere on this page. Casliber (talk · contribs) 21:48, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Exactly. We are all basically bogged down in a myriad of individual issues, and we need some method of broader discussion. In practice, a relatively small group does this best. DGG (talk) 23:09, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. Essentially what has happened is that we've been asked to get together and talk. Any group of Wikipedians can get together and talk. The issue is whether anyone will listen to what we have to say. If we come up with good ideas we will have the eyes of the community on us. If we don't come up with anything good, at least we tried. -- SamuelWantman 00:34, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs (talk) 01:51, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. --R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 02:03, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. olderwiser 02:27, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. Doesn't it say “discussion is encouraged” around here somewhere? It used to and still may if some anybody hasn't gotten away with editing that out. Large-scale discussion does not work; see any one of many examples on teh wiki for proof of that. Cheers, Jack Merridew 05:55, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. Kevin (talk) 08:12, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. 'Established editors' went down in flames but there could surely be a way of allowing 'the community' to choose such a group. For example, a process of selection of suitable candidates by a smaller group who would then make recommendations for community approval. My experience of RfA suggests that most people do not take the time or trouble to do the necessary background research. Peter Damian (talk) 10:17, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. the wub "?!" 11:26, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  17. Giano (talk) 11:35, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  18. --Joopercoopers (talk) 11:51, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  19. --Malcolmxl5 (talk) 12:36, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  20. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:50, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  21. endorse as written. ++Lar: t/c 15:11, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  22. --JN466 18:35, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  23. Kusma (talk) 09:21, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  24. Modernist (talk) 13:03, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  25. John Carter (talk) 14:06, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  26. Without question. Thekohser 15:29, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  27. Agree, but I would like to see a larger committee. Possibly open to all who would want to join. I have been involved in enough committees outside of Wikipedia to know that even though you may get a lot of volunteers to sign up, very few actually show up to do any work.- Josette (talk) 20:21, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  28. As Jennavecia says, the project is broken, and we must face up to that. I'd also like to associate myself with the remarks here of Cool Hand Luke: Getting advice from a committee surely could not hurt the project. GreenGourd (talk) 00:14, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  29. Not endorsing the first sentence about the project being broken, but support the rest. (Project governance is certainly broken, not that this will fix it, but it might help.) -- Noroton (talk) 02:05, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  30. Also not endorsing the broken project part. (The rear tire may have a slow leak and not all the gears are in sync, but the bike is rideable) Lets take it into the shop for a tune-up. What can it hurt?--Buster7 (talk) 02:12, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  31. It's not broken at all... and it's no harm if messrs. Wales and Lokshin engage in some private negotiations. No big deal. What's all that noise about, just another mailing list? NVO (talk) 13:25, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  32. rootology (C)(T) 16:52, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  33. Meetare Shappy Cunkelfratz! 18:06, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  34. Enric Naval (talk) 21:01, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  35. Agree, Huldra (talk)
  36. Yeah. LessHeard vanU (talk) 21:08, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  37. Too right. Abolish the arbcom altogether. Replace it with ad hoc committees drawn randomly from a pool of experienced editors. Why do we need an arbcom? Most experienced editors could easily judge the merits or otherwise of a dispute. We don't need a pseudo-government.Alun (talk) 22:00, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  38. I'm not keen on the "project is broken" phrase, but support the rest of Laura's comment. Majoreditor (talk) 02:55, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  39. Þjóðólfr (talk) 17:06, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  40. Specifically endorsing the phrase "project is broken". The editors of this site don't work together well enough to be a functioning project. GRBerry 17:26, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement[edit]

  1. I don't think it was necessarily a good idea to add "oppose" comments on this RfC, but clearly that is going on, and as such I'm going to add one here, for a very specific reason (though I do disagree with Jennavecia's statement pretty much in full). A number of proponents of the "council" have said (repeatedly, on multiple pages) that much of the opposition to this come from editors with a grudge against ArbCom, or from people who are green with envy over not being named to the committee, or both. I find that to be highly inappropriate - and extremely unhelpful - for obvious reasons. I'm sure all the above endorsements to Jennavecia's statement were added very much in good faith, and I respect this particular viewpoint even though I disagree with it. As we evaluate this RfC, however, it's worth pointing out what could be construed as a conflict of interest for some of the above supporters of Jenna's statement. By my count seven of those supporting are themselves on the committee, and thus it essentially goes without saying that they support the group (in a sense I think this is somewhat, but not fully, akin to voting "support" in one's own RfA). Similarly two arbitrators who supported the initial proposal have supported this statement. So as of now, LessHeard having recorded the most recent support as I write this, exactly 25% of those supporting Jenna's statement (including Jenna herself) either created the committee or are serving on it. Of course they have every right to comment here, and as I said I'm utterly convinced that they are doing so in good faith, but the fact that they are actually members or instigators of the group under discussion should be considered when thinking about the consensus on this RfC. --Bigtimepeace | talk | contribs 21:54, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    Assume good faith is not a reason to stick your head in the sand; there's evidence to the contrary, for those who have been longstanding members and know "the score", as it were. I assert unequivocally that this RfC was not started in the interest of community, but rather for selfish interests. That doesn't mean that I brand everyone who disagrees with me a fool, or acting on similar motivations. --Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs (talk) 22:12, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    OK, I'll bite. I didn't create this RFC, but I was the first person to comment on it other than the creator, started the thread immediately below this, and one of your Council's members has called me a "coffee table conspiracist" for so doing, so I assume I'm included as one of those who started it. Which "selfish interests" am I supposed to be acting in? – iridescent 22:24, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    Wasn't referring to you, Iridescent. Like I said, I'm not trying to smear anyone opposed to the council; among that body are many editors I respect deeply or have worked with in the past. But we assume good faith until there is evidence not to, and for some of those users, they've exhausted any good faith I had for them a long time ago. --Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs (talk) 22:36, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    How many of the 80-plus editors who have signed on to the original statement exhausted your good faith long ago, and why does their presence on this RfC justify ignoring the entire endeavor? --Bigtimepeace | talk | contribs 08:58, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
    Because I think that we should be given a chance to see if it will work or not, and that's more important than misplaced notions of expansion of power. --Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs (talk) 11:31, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Disagree I have been here a long time and I do not see any basis for claims that the project is broken. if the project is broken, it was broken when it ws first founded, because i have not seen any problem here that was not here in 2001, when i joined (there is really only one problem here, and JHK summed it up when she quit in August 2002!!![4].) Wikipedia has not yet attracted a large and diverse enough group of experts; many editors are not very good at research; we attract trolls. All of this was true eight years ago. You wanna know what? The problem is not that Wikipedia is broken, the problem is that it is working. When you create an encyclopedia "that anyone can edit at any time" you will attract vandals and trolls and POV pushers, and we just have to trust in the community itself to undo the damage caused by them. When the encyclopedia is on the web, it is, at least at first, going to attract a disproportionate number of geeks, computer-science experts, and then physical and life sciences experts... this disproportionate expertese leads to uneven coverage of topics. But frankly, as we have grown we have gotten better. This encyclopedia has an excellent article on evolution, on race, on Jesus - three controversial topics, yet three relatively stable and highly informative articles. I do not see how the encyclopedia is broken. I do see some troubling matters - concerns of ArbCom abusing authority, concerns bout some editors wishing to create unnecessary hierarchies. dedicated members can thwart most of this. Anyway, no one has yet convinced me that Wikipedia has any problem that it did not have when it was formed, or that any problem is worse now than when it was formed. Slrubenstein | Talk 00:34, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    Endorse Slrubenstein's Disagree SilkTork *YES! 22:45, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
    Noting also my later comments on the fallacy of saying WP is a failure, as all of its "failings" were predictable from the start. Collect (talk) 13:06, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Agree to disagree I agree with Slrubensteins rationale for disagreeing. The only thing that seems to be broken is some wikipedians' spirits, which now cause them to look for authoritarian ways of making the project more easily malleabel to their ideas of what a prject should look like. Democratic anarchy is not bad - it is the foundations of this project.·Maunus·ƛ· 14:54, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Disagree As Slrubenstein says, the project is not broken. There are issues, there are problems, and some of them are significant, but by-and-large they are being solved. And not by Arbcom either. The problems we face are being solved by the editors in the trenches doing the actual work. Mostly we get by because on the whole there are more reasonable editors dedicated to the project and its principals than there are retards, assholes and trolls. Mostly. Doc Tropics 04:08, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Disagree per Doc Tropics. The sky is not falling, the project is not (yet) failing in any significant way. --Cybercobra (talk) 04:16, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Disagree The project is not broken by any stretch - large sections of it work just fine. I don't think an "advisory council" composed of Wikipedians can achieve anything meaningful - our definition of "expert" is a bit distorted by our lack of them. And I think the present ArbCom and its mix of intransigence and incompetence (which I note is not universal to its members, but doesn't have to be given majority rules) is doing more to "break" Wikipedia than many of the other problems we face, and it trying to extend its wings further would be a disaster. Orderinchaos 07:04, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Iridescent[edit]

The statement that "The Advisory Council also advises the Committee directly, providing it with feedback and ideas from a cross-section of the community that's not otherwise involved in its work", quite aside from the hypocrisy of "not involved with Arbcom" being used to describe a group containing two Arbcom members, implies that despite any protestations to the contrary, this is the de facto creation of a group of hotline-to-the-president Power Users, with no prior discussion of the merits and disadvantages of such a sudden change to a hierarchical model of management and of Arbcom's expansion from a dispute-resolution committee into the Wikipedia Politburo. Even if this is a good proposal, the fact that it's been forced through as a fait accompli with no consultation, discussion or elections, and with serious problems in representation (where are the bot writers? the FAR reviewers? anyone under 18? anyone from outside the North America/UK/Australia en-wiki heartland?) has poisoned the well from the start, and no proposals emanating from this body in its current state, regardless of their merit, are likely to be taken seriously. This is a step backwards, as even good ideas will be tainted by having come from this source but bad ideas will have the spurious legitimacy of being presented direct to Arbcom.

And the "screw what you peasants think, we'll do what we like" mentality embodied by "the community can shut down the "think tank" aspects (i.e. by dissolving the body's public gathering) but it can't prevent ArbCom from coming to the people in the group for advice without shutting down ArbCom itself" represents the mentality of the old, top-down Arbcom at its absolute worst. – iridescent 19:45, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. Strongly. Everyking (talk) 20:00, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. I understand this idea was developed with the best of intentions, benevolent, benign, sincere, honest. But legitimacy is paramount. The Community Committee should come from the community, not imposed on the community by ArbCom. --maclean 20:05, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. As maclean said (20:05, 11 July 2009), "The Community Committee should come from the community, not imposed on the community by ArbCom" --Philcha (talk) 20:43, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Expresses the key concerns very well. --Bigtimepeace | talk | contribs 20:48, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Wow, the quote provided above is shocking, and a little frightening. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 20:56, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Agree. We really need to find out ways to reduce bureaucracy and increase openness and transparency. This proposal goes backwards on both fronts. Crum375 (talk) 21:05, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Dabomb87 (talk) 21:06, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  8.  Sandstein  21:13, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. "...the fact that it's been forced through as a fait accompli with no consultation...has poisoned the well from the start". Yes. Geometry guy 21:15, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. --Cybercobra (talk) 21:31, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. There are serious problems that aren't currently being addressed, but this isn't the way. --Malleus Fatuorum 22:10, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. This does seem like an attempt to establish that some editors would be more equal than othersChed :  ?  22:28, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. Endorse. Durova275 23:16, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
    KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 00:20, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. Agreed. Will become the home of favored editors. Horrible idea.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:26, 12 July 2009 (UTC)--Wehwalt (talk) 00:26, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    • Comment any editor active in the group will probably find themselves somewhat less active elsewhere-- I look on Kiril and Cas as basically liaisons. My idea of the proper relationship between myself and arbcom is to stay as far away from them as possible & I do not think my intended role here will affect that. It is unavoidably true that we cannot prevent arb com members from discussing and consulting as they please. Better that some of it at least be in the open. People who ask me questions do not necessarily get the answers they hope for. DGG (talk) 23:20, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. Orderinchaos 01:35, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. Ottava Rima (talk) 02:05, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  17. Endorse. Sarah 02:20, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  18. Wow... That's quite a quote. --Falcorian (talk) 03:22, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  19. Endorse. Abductive (talk) 04:08, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  20. Agree, but I'm very upset that this has led to the resignation of a skilled, hard-working arb. Tony (talk) 08:36, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    Two resignations so far actually: Rlevse has also gone.  Roger Davies talk 08:40, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  21. Agreed. It's a glass room with a steel door. Those inside are attempting to affect our future, and we have no voice. That might have been ok if we'd had some say in putting them there, but we didn't.--MoreThings (talk) 12:47, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  22. Agree. The ArbCom was elected as a dispute-resolution body. If we want a good-governance think-tank, we need to elect one separately, and its role should be to advise the community, not the ArbCom. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:24, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  23. Edward321 (talk) 19:47, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  24. Endorse JoshuaZ (talk) 19:50, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  25. Stifle (talk) 20:55, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  26. Agree I hope that ArbCom is not so invested in this idea that they cannot quickly drop it. It does not seem to warrant an resignation. —Mattisse (Talk) 22:44, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  27. This just an patronage outlet for arbcom members to reward friends and in doing so increase the power of the institution. Yes, a few "populist" anti-establishment members of the chattering wiki classes can be brought in for credibility, but Arbcom members can already seek advice from anyone they like without the soft couches and 30 year old scotch of a gentleman's club. There is already a healthy class of chattering users who do advising and think-tanking; the only new thing this proposal introduces is the power for ArbCom members to confer extra status on users in their interest. Wikipedia:Advisory Council on Project Development is another step in the evolutionary path taking ArbCom from being a group of reactive dispute solvers to being wikipedia's proactive interventionist patronage-orientated government. The reassuring line about community consensus is hollow if you know anything about how such processes work in practice, as all arbcom members do. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 11:07, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  28. Agree - A group or groups of discussion 'thinktanks' are needed, clearly, however the elitist spin on this one is deeply hypocritical from the get go; Orwellian in my opinion...Modernist (talk) 13:11, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  29. Endorse Yep. It concerns me that ArbCom are not apparently so big on a) establishing consensus before starting something so far out of their remit and b)following the community consensus that's forming right here. keɪɑtɪk flʌfi (talk) 19:44, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  30. Absolutely. – Toon 19:47, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  31. Endorse. This council has no mandate from the community and the proposal should be tagged as rejected. Vyvyan Basterd (talk) 05:14, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  32. --Hammersoft (talk) 12:51, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  33. Support. —Ynhockey (Talk) 00:09, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  34. Support.--JohnnyB256 (talk) 15:11, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  35. Captain panda 20:23, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  36. endorse Slrubenstein | Talk 00:37, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  37. Endorse Though I assume ArbCom thought it was doing the right thing, and the problem is the effect, not the intent. Collect (talk) 13:36, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  38. Exactly, this a project built on openness - this committee has become exactly the opposite. And here's yet another point that should have been mentioned long before: if WP needs an advisory committee why should it only be comprised of wikipedia editors rather than objective outsiders? Even if we take a slightly different view of what a committee should be if we were going to collect a committee of the best in their feilds why limit ourselves to those already here within the community (no business would do that)?
    Fundamentally, the current shape and function of this 'Advisory Committee' just doesn't work as a part of an open wikimedia community. Where are the criteria and standards which we're applied to those invited? Where are the terms of reference for the Committee in its relationship with editors? Where is the evidence that this is the best idea to fix even some of the projects problems? Where was the consensus for this?--Cailil talk 18:58, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    ArbCom has stated in several places (no, I'm not digging through thousands of diffs) that they wish to invite non-enwiki people to participate in this. → ROUX  19:07, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    In that case two things:
    1) ArbCom shouldn't be the ones doing the inviting. Either the community or the Board/Office should do that. The ArbCom don't have more privileges than the rest of us editors and they should not act like they do. Choosing people for a policy development group is not the kind of power that people who are duely elected (and in my case) trusted as arbiters of discipline and dispute resolution. We don't let the judges legislate and we don't let legislators judge.
    That's the first problem. 2) Secondly we the community need to know why/how those invited get invited. What are the criteria? Who decides on them?
    BTW if all of this could be cleared up I wouldn't be so opposed to a committee in principle - but its current form and the lack of transparency in appointments are huge hurdles--Cailil talk 22:52, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  39. Absolutely. Did we really expect change from ArbCom after the last election? It is a broken committee and we need to put it out of our misery. Alun (talk) 22:02, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  40. Endorse; well said. Among other things, I'd feel a lot more comfortable if an organization created in this manner and with this intent were to call itself a "Private Policy Discussion Club". Lose the Sheriff's badge, amigos. Factchecker atyourservice (talk) 22:18, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  41. Endorse, strongly. Doc Tropics 04:14, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  42. MZMcBride (talk) 08:38, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  43. Endorse. The proposed group needs openness and diversity. Binksternet (talk) 15:22, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
  44. Amen.  Skomorokh  22:07, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement[edit]

  1. Things are so fundamentally screwed at this point in time that something has to give or else the whole ship will collapse over time. rootology (C)(T) 16:53, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
    Rootology makes it clear on her user page that she believes that Wikipedia is disfunctional by design. If you feel that way, you do not have to participate in Wikipedia. You want binding authority over the project - that is not wikipedia, that is Encyclopedia Brittanica or try to restart Nupedia (that was an experiment - in centralized governance - that really DID fail!!). If those are the systems you prefer, go and work for them. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:05, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Wait, what? You're all so riled up at the concept that arbcom might *seek advice* from other people? That seems like a positive thing. To have it out in the open like this is even more positive. the wub "?!" 08:58, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
    Why create a council? What prevented them from seeking advice from others before? Also, why does ArbCom need advice? Isn't it big enough? If it is too small, isn't the solution to expand ArbCom? Slrubenstein | Talk 00:40, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Per Root and Wub. ++Lar: t/c 15:34, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Per the wub. How does a group of people discussing problems in order to offer advice constitute a change to a hierarchical system of management? Perhaps it should have been made more clear that ArbCom wasn't intending to act on this advice with a list of decrees, but I would have thought that would be assumed. I'm having a difficult time understanding the depth of the outrage this proposal has drawn; are folks upset at being excluded? Worried that this "council" will become a de facto governing body? As to the "threat" that ArbCom will simply compose this group without asking permission, I have to ask whose permission is required? If a group of 10 or 20 people get together and decide to discuss things with each other on a project page or user page, who needs to OK that in advance? Which policy allows other people to stop them? What prevents them from creating a (no public archive) mailing list to hammer away at problems? The answers are: no one's, no one, none, nothing. Nathan T 18:13, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Arbcom is not trying to screw peasants, just trying to solve problems. Agree with the proposal having many problems. --Enric Naval (talk) 04:39, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. The peasants and their torches and pitchforks does accurately capture a lot of enwiki's problems; see this page and the passel of pages associated with it. The metaphor is about irrational thinking and rash actions; ever seen those on this project? Such an approach gets things wrong. We can do better, but we have to stop the unruly from hijacking every discussion and attempt at — what was the term? — Oh, right, “Project Development”. The English Wikipedia has been toxic for years. Time for teh project to grow up.
    Jack Merridew 09:39, 16 July 2009 (UTC) (who lives rather far from the en-wiki heartland;)

Statement by Steven Walling[edit]

The crux of the concerns thus far elicited seem to revolve around two points:

  1. Concern: The Arbitration Committee's scope is strictly limited to dispute resolution, and does not in any way include strategic planning or community leadership of any kind, regardless of how such work is organized.
    Response: The Council is independent of the Arbitration Commitee in every meaningful sense, despite being called together by Committee members. The group does not "report" to ArbCom in at all, and is simply another volunteer group formed on an ad hoc basis. To say that the Council expands ArbCom's scope at all is to assign to it more importance than it gives itself. Unlike ArbCom, the Council has no authority whatsoever. No conclusion it reaches or proposal it makes is binding in any fashion, and any Wikipedian is completely free to contradict it, act in opposition to it, or even simply ignore it. It is, in short, a discussion and idea generation group initiated from within but not run by or instilled with the powers of the Arbiration Committee.
  2. Concern: An invitation-only think tank of veteran Wikipedians is a cabal created without community input, and ought to be opened up to election.
    Response: An election is the democratic function whereby a group chooses their representatives and invests them with authority. Since the Council has no authority and does not purport to represent Wikipedians or Wikipedia, an election would be a waste of time, and would give the Council an artificial image of influence. What's more, there is no reason why the Council couldn't be opened up to membership by anyone in the future. Speaking for myself, there are those either invited to the Council or currently participating in it who would like to see open membership, in order to make the group more useful to the community.

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. Think of it as a wikiproject with a more abstract scope than most. Ideas emerging from ACPD discussion still need to achieve community consensus in the normal fashion, but having the project encourages the development of well-reasoned ideas considering the broader impact of any actions. If the Council diverges too far from community norms, becomes insular and arrogant, or fails to produce workable ideas, they will be ignored and reviled. If they display incisive thinking, clarity of purpose, and effective communication, they will ... well still be ignored and reviled by some, but may contribute to the long-term viability of this encyclopedia nonetheless. - 2/0 (cont.) 18:02, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Endorse. The council, despite protestantions to the contrary, has no official status, and by definition only serves in an advisory capacity at best to the ArbCom. John Carter (talk) 14:13, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Tis true, as far as I can see after a week mulling this over. GRBerry 17:29, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement[edit]

  1. I'll oppose this even though I've reached the same basic conclusion, since I think it raises some of the interesting issues. To speak "constitutionally," however, it would seem that the legitimacy of this group is least questionable in its role to advise ArbCom. I can't see anyone disputing ArbCom's ability to appoint a purely advisory panel, while if they did, the available remedy would presumably be to vote in a new ArbCom. This is one anti-judicial aspect of ArbCom, that it is voted in by the community for defined terms so that this option is available (to the extent that the community is entitled to vote, at least). I can't ignore: 1.) obviously ArbCom has interests here beyond receiving advice, and 2.) if it is only an arm of ArbCom then presumably it should be a subpage of WP:Arbitration. However, the remedy to the first would remain the community's ability to vote, while the remedy to the second is basically a matter of red tape (the community could insist on moving the page, though the effect would go against the suggested need for a more independent group; I'm not sure a move would matter). At the end of the day, I think creative attempts at more focused and productive discussion are welcome, and the approach here about as sensitive as possible in an unprecedented style of project. Mackan79 (talk) 07:31, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Concern 2 is completely wrong. The concern is not that it should be elected. The concern is that it should never have been created in the first place, and then stuffed with yes man. Alun (talk) 22:08, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Re response to question 1 - isn't that what they originally said about the Bot Approvals Group which started off as a few well meaning volunteers with programming experience? Orderinchaos 07:05, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Bigtimepeace[edit]

There is one particular aspect of this group which I think needs to be addressed head-on apart from the question of whether we like this or not. Kirill has pointed out here that "We [the creators of this group] have tried to make it very explicit that the role of this body is not to decide, but only to discuss and develop ideas for improving the project..." (emphasis added). That sounds good, but in reality I don't think anyone could seriously claim that that's how things would work. A group of already "powerful" (loathe as I am to use that term) and well-known editors advising ArbCom is going to end up making decisions (or at the very least pushing the community in a certain direction), even if only "unofficially." We need to acknowledge that at the outset.

Similarly, the statement at WP:ACPD that "The Advisory Council is not authorized or intended to interfere with normal community discussion in any way; anything it recommends must achieve consensus normally, as any other proposal would, before it can be implemented..." strikes me as hopelessly naive, to be perfectly blunt. The claim that a group constituted by ArbCom to advise them (consisting of a couple of committee members and a number of admins) which brings a proposal to the community will not interfere with "normal community discussion" is inaccurate on the face. Such a thing has never existed before, and the response to proposals from the group (responses which could be very positive or very negative or anywhere in between) will be anything but "normal" for reasons that should be incredibly obvious. Again, let's acknowledge that right now.

Maybe all of that's a good thing, and one could think that and still agree with what I'm saying here. My point is that we can't pretend this is "no big deal"—that's it's just a little think tank with no particular decision-making power and which does not depart from existing community norms all that much. It likely will have some de facto decision making power and is a departure from existing norms in that the community has never in its history discussed a governance proposal which originated from an official body made up of people that ArbCom thinks are smart and helpful (because presumably that would happen at some point). We can debate whether that makes it a good or bad idea as currently constituted, but let's not downplay the fact that this is in fact a "big deal." --Bigtimepeace | talk | contribs 20:43, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. If it didn't interfere in someway with normal processes it would be pointless. Normal processes have flaws the council is intended to correct. It may not be able to override community consensus, and the council may well be restrained in their actions, but if they don't interfere with the normal ways we do things, its pointless. Maybe there is more good than bad, and I wouldn't mind this thing dying in a fire and then rising again without any pretensions of formality with the same group of people sitting down to talk shop over tea.--Tznkai (talk) 21:33, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Durova275 23:17, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Contend ArbCom has no power to create bodies that do anything but assist in dispute resolution, its core function.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:30, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Orderinchaos 01:36, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Sarah 02:24, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. The proposal is unconstitutional. Remove the word "Advisory", and it is no longer thus, in which case it would better have been launched by users in their capacity as normal editors. Tony (talk) 14:38, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Edward321 (talk) 19:49, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. JoshuaZ (talk) 19:50, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. Agree. And the fact they are pretending otherwise is disturbing William M. Connolley (talk) 21:10, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. This is indeed a "big deal". This proposal creates a new class of editor. Inevitably, discussions on editor behaviour will now contain the phrase "...member of the Advisory Council...". Plus the big red phone sitting on the desk, now we will have advice to run-of-the-mill editors to take their issue over to the advisory council and beseech the members thereof. This subverts the existing processes for change. Whether good or bad, this is a big change to our model of governance and should be considered as such. Franamax (talk) 22:41, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. --Wehwalt (talk) 23:58, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. SusanLesch (talk) 03:00, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. Agreed: claims that the group will have no power are naive and unrealistic. Ha! (talk) 12:28, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. Agree. most of the groups assertions of 'benign study' sadly sounds like Newspeak ...Modernist (talk) 13:18, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. Agree There is double-talk here, but the bottom line is a shift away from an encyclopedia that anyone can edit at any time, to an attempt to create hierarchy and centralized authority. Well, if that is what you want, send your resume to Encyclopedia Brittanica and ask for a job there. or go back to playing Dungeons and Dragons. Slrubenstein | Talk 00:44, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. Agreed this is a big deal. The ArbCom already indicates what policy should (and how it should) be reformed within its rulings, and in its current form that makes sense. However a group of people who are at least perceived to be more powerful/valuable than the rest of us is totally contrary to the standards of the community that I joined 2 years ago--Cailil talk 18:30, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  17. Agreed. And given not just what Arbcom has done, but how they have handled the community reaction thus far, Orwellian comparisons are inevitable. Doc Tropics 04:22, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  18. Agree. It would be very influential de facto despite what its charter claims de jure. --Cybercobra (talk) 04:23, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  19. Agree. History has many examples of informal groups of advisers growing into powerful institutions. --Philcha (talk) 05:45, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement[edit]

  1. Things are so fundamentally screwed at this point in time that something has to give or else the whole ship will collapse over time. And to be honest, sometimes a positive change begins with either a broken egg, in the form a good breakfast meal, or a lone man standing before a crushing tank. rootology (C)(T) 16:54, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Question on scale of WP by Casliber[edit]

The key question I had during the genesis of the idea is this - has the size and scale of wikipedia meant that simple community consensus is unable to result in beneficial changes as the project evolves. (This was polled recently but I can't forthe life of me remember where it was/is - a link'd be great!) I think everyone who has commented on this page needs to note yea or nay to this to see how we proceed.

Yes, scale is too big for changes to be effected by consensus only, and some organised group is necessary[edit]

  1. Definitely. My objections are to having the ArbCom try to take on this role without the remit, and the creation of a bureaucracy meant to speak for the community without the community's input or approval. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 22:28, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Self-evidently. Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 22:32, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Such groups already exist but on the basis of community delegated authority with community based selection, not on the basis of "by invitation". Moreover, the dichotomy presented here by Casliber tellingly misses all the contentious issues raised by the existence of this new group. CIreland (talk) 22:39, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Yes, but (as previously mentioned) not a self-appointed clique of you and your buddies. Sorry if that sounds blunt, but that is what this looks like. There are any number of autoconfirmation-style ways to create a group like this without the free-for-all that would result from open-to-everyone, but avoiding the popularity contest element of elections, if you think that's necessary, although I can't see why some of you seem so afraid of open elections. (5,000 non-minor mainspace edits? Two years presence on Wikipedia? Anyone who's written two GAs or FAs higher or written a bot that's been approved? Secret WMF-trustee style ballots, to avoid it turning into RFA-style shouting matches, with all candidates scoring over 50% passing?) Personally, I think it would make sense to fragment the project into cells (pour yourself a stiff drink and read this thread and the one immediately below if you really want my views on the future direction of Wikipedia governance), but that's neither here nor there as it would never be approved in the current climate. As an interim measure, advisory councils are a good start, but they need to have legitimacy from the outset or they'll become Diet Coke versions of the Wikipedia Review, filled with people grumbling about assorted problems but without the credibility to get anything changed. – iridescent 22:47, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. This is blindingly self-evident. → ROUX  22:50, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. The nature of Wikipedia is very decentralized. Discussion and consensus is accomplished everyday through a decentralized network of conversations (ie. Requests for comments, Noticeboards, etc.). Community consensus is centralized by nature (but there is nothing "simple" about community consensus). --maclean 23:04, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Per Roux, with the additional observation that the key problem in our case of 'boiling frog syndrome' is that it is almost impossible, and certainly very slow, for any policy or practice to be changed even when it is acknowledged that it needs change. (Note that frogs apparently do actually jump out of water that is slowly getting hotter, rather than stay in until they are boiled alive Sam Blacketer (talk) 23:26, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Yep - but with the comment that the solution may not be removing community involvment in consensus, if that's the concern. Just that the 200kb discussions that take 3 hours to read, really aren't an effective way to make or discuss change. I'd like to look at different ways of doing that whilst keeping the process open and accountable. --Joopercoopers (talk) 23:31, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
    Question for anyone: is this question referring to a possible voted legislature who makes decisions where consensus tried to do so now? Or something else? --Moni3 (talk) 23:35, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
    No, it was more of a think-tank as described elsewhere. Maybe to look at what can't be decided by consensus. Sorry if not clear. Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:39, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. For me the eye-opening event was a discussion at WT:NOT that challenged the validity of NOTGAMEGUIDE, which is something of a bedrock principle for the Video Games project. The structure of en.Wikipedia is such that WikiProjects have a relatively easy time coming to consensus and forming ad hoc guidelines within itself, but it's extremely difficult to affect any change at the level of, say, WP:FICTION, a subject area with a long and sordid history at ArbComm. Nifboy (talk) 00:38, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. The discussion about flagged revs is particularly illuminating in this regard. It was Jimbo who, in the end, I believe, asked for flagged revs to be turned on. We are lacking a process that allows the community to make large-scale decisions like that one in which there is going to be lots of disagreement and high participation. Anyone want to help develop such a process? :) Awadewit (talk) 00:44, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. Yes, but it should take the form of a community-elected body that will present proposals to the community as referendums. Everyking (talk) 01:00, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. Support Everyking's suggestion. What we need is a body with transparent proceedings that can present proposals to the community in a "vote yes for X, vote no for X, vote something else for X" sort of format. Ironholds (talk) 01:04, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. A big reason why consensus doesn't work here in Wikiland is because there is no real consensus on what exactly constitutes consensus. So what consensus is varies depending on where you go and who happens to be running it today. This is made even more unnecessarily complicated by the existence of such outdated, authoritarian artifacts as Voting is evil, Polls are evil and WPISNOT:Democracy. But regardless, I support this new animal, provided it lives on-Wiki with openness and transparency.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 01:52, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. olderwiser 02:31, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. Clearly. لenna vecia 04:00, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. Yes. At some point committees are necessary, even in a direct democracy. DGG (talk) 05:31, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  17. Yes. I agree that a body like this may be useful; I just don't like the way that this particular one came about. If such a body is to exist, it should be independent of ArbCom. Not that I disaprove of ArbCom. I appreciate what they do within the scope of dispute resolution, however this is outside of their jurisdiction. But if this same basic idea were to be seperated from arbcom and open to free elections, I could support it. no to drama 06:01, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  18. Duh. This has been well understood since ancient Athens. *All* of teh wiki's core problems relate to poor scalability. Cheers, Jack Merridew 06:22, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  19. Stating the obvious. Kevin (talk) 08:00, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  20. I'm really tempted to use a diagram to illustrate this. MER-C 09:20, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  21. Yes. Obviously. In my RL world most things are done by committee or working groups - very painful and far from ideal, but something is better than nothing. Peter Damian (talk) 10:14, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  22. I have said as much for at least a year. — Carl (CBM · talk) 11:09, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  23. --Malcolmxl5 (talk) 12:42, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  24. IMO, consensus is the issue facing the community. But, to address it, we don't need an all-singing, all-dancing committee empowered to pronounce on everything under the sun. We need to look at finding alternatives to the currently damaged decision-making mechanism, and to move forward with whatever structure results from that.--MoreThings (talk) 13:41, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  25. Regrettably, it looks that way. The community fails to implement needful things supported by broad majorities on a regular basis. ++Lar: t/c 17:57, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  26. Yes, until we have mind uploading and unlimited time and patience, some discerner of the enlightened self interest is desirable for a smoothly running project. - 2/0 (cont.) 18:08, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  27. Frankly, about 20% will disagree with anything, and with just a little more opposition, the majority is repeatedly disenfranchised. We need a better way to make decisions. It was unclear whether this thinktank would have ever led to a better process, but repeating the mantra of "consensus" is not the answer. Cool Hand Luke 20:03, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  28. This has been the case for a long time now, that is why we rarely use consensus for anything other than basic content decisions. We use votes with a requirement for a supermajority, that is not consensus. The sooner we accept that we have already moved beyond consensus-based decision making the sooner we can work out precisely what kind of decision making we actually want. --Tango (talk) 00:40, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  29. SusanLesch (talk) 02:59, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  30. Kusma (talk) 09:21, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  31. The real issue is how does the community give needed input, express needed changes, to an elitist group that stiff arms outside input from the outset?..Modernist (talk) 13:32, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  32. Endorse. In response to Modernist, I seem to remember that the discussion page was already indicated as a point for non-members to make comments. Granted, that setup might give some the impression that this body does function like, and presumably have similar power, to ArbCom, but I don't think that was at all the intention. Some sort of way to perhaps limit the size of discussion on the main project or issue page does seem required, else it becomes unreadably long for anyone, and I can and do reasonably think that members would probably provide a link to a talk page comment they think particularly relevant. And, certainly, individual members could create separate subpages, either of the council page/talkpage or of their own pages, to receive input from interested community members. I don't think that problem is one that is likely to not be addressed almost immediately upon the group becoming active. John Carter (talk) 14:20, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    John, at the risk of being boring - the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I am aware of the request to use the Talk page for the rest of the communities input, and precisely as you suggest only talk page comments they think particularly relevant will be addressed, and there is the rub...Modernist (talk) 14:48, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  33. One of my favorite sayings is, "The masses are asses." Oh, and Casliber misspelled "beneficial". -- Thekohser 15:38, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  34. I have strong reservations regarding the applicability, reliability, and wisdom of the current consensus system. --Moni3 (talk) 15:43, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  35. Absolutely correct, and put more bluntly here. rootology (C)(T) 23:28, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  36. Indeed. GreenGourd (talk) 00:15, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  37. the road to hell is paved with good intentions -- since Wikipedia governance is hell, a nicely paved road leading into it is necessarily also leading out of it. Nobody's forced to take the route. -- Noroton (talk) 02:20, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  38. Blindingly obvious. While there is much good here, governance and overarching issues bog down into the consensus mire. Peripitus (Talk) 03:54, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  39. LessHeard vanU (talk) 21:12, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  40. Me too. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 03:02, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  41. I've only been here since 2006; I don't recall a time that we ever actually used consensus for decision making on a large scale or significant issue. Consensus works for small groups, it is not a viable or useful model for Wikipedia. Given sockpuppetry, voting isn't exactly problem free either though. GRBerry 17:35, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Yes, process needs tweaking[edit]

  1. I agree that the current consensus process can be stubborn and frustrating. However, I don't want to prejudge the answer to that by saying a "group" is needed to fix it. Especially not a powerless advisory body. The inability to resolve conflicts that many people see as important, and the endless repititions of certain policy disputes are fundamentally a failure of process. One solution is to create a legislative body to make the hard choices for us, but that's only one solution, and it limits the power of the majority of editors. An alternative, and one I'd like to see considered, is to change the process by which major policy decisions are considered. I'd like to see a centralized forum created for discussing and disposing of contentious policy issues. And I think it necessary that we move in the direction of voting (or !voting, if you insist) on many of these issues that can't be resolved even after extended discussion. We already do this quite a bit in practice, but we call them straw polls, often consider them non-binding and scatter them throughout the site. Binding polls at a centralized forum, have the potential to overcome the limitations of parochial interests and provide closure to many problematic issues. To the extent that a "group" is needed to help move us forward, I would say that the right group is not a legislature or an advisory council but rather a cross between clerks and Wikipedia Bureaucrats. People whose job it is to organize discussions, to structure and oversee polling when necessary, and in borderline cases to interpret the results of those polls. Personally, I think the community's problem is not that we lack good ideas, but rather that we have a decision making process that paralyzes us, and that is what we most need to reform in my opinion. Dragons flight (talk) 01:01, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    I didn't think that the above was implying the advisory group was the solution. The idea, I think, is for the advisory group to generate ideas such as the ones you are listing and present them to the community. Awadewit (talk) 02:04, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    I don't think it's the job of an advisory group to generate proposals on anything when they have the mind, instead they investigate issues they are asked to investigate (and 'project development' is way too general, see my proposal for elaboration), then publish their findings and advises. A group of volunteer clerks to help in facilitating consensus could be useful, but anyone could do that, with a central page like WP:Coordination, as base. As for the process you suggest, I proposed something similar, community cases. Cenarium (talk) 14:47, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
  1. Strong endorse! You nailed it once again my friend!--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 02:00, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. I am somewhere in the middle of Dragons flight's and Protonk's opinions. I can't say I agree with either of them entirely, but they speak to my views more clearly than anyone else's opinions in this section. NW (Talk) 03:32, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Problems are primarily a function of our ad-hoc system of discussion and decision. There's way too much volume to use a system that is not structured on a technical level. Would be improved by incremental technical improvements, such as Extension:LiquidThreads and greater use of Extension:SecurePoll for discussing and deciding on matters. — Werdna • talk 09:30, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. I agree that consensus, as currently practiced, is extremely difficult, or possibly impossible, to attain for certain high-level Wikipedia decisions. The way consensus is found for macro-level decisions needs tweaking or we might need to fall back on some form of democracy in some cases. But I don't think the committee, in its current incarnation, with the way it was formed, is the right way to spur such change. --Cybercobra (talk) 04:43, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. The community is capable of attaining consensus, even on the most general and divisive issues, as we have done for flagged revisions, and in many other cases. Consensus-based decision making can still work, but it should be facilitated. That's why I propose community cases, a form of enhanced, organized RFC. As for advisory groups, they could be useful, but they should be appointed specifically for a special case, not so broad as "project development", see my proposal below. Cenarium (talk) 14:47, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

No, consensus and discussion are continuing to work to a satisfactory level[edit]

  1. WP:PLAGIARISM made it from proposal to guideline this May with over 80% support. Durova275 23:20, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. The Council is just another mode of discussion, and decision-making power would still rest with the community consensus. If anyone thinks our current deliberative process is broken at the core, then the Council isn't going to fix that. I for one have never seen evidence that Wikipedia is fundamentally broken. Frustrating and ineffectual at times? Surely. Irreparably damaged as a governance model? No. Steven Walling (talk) 23:37, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Quite possibly we need someone to write a practical guide to getting results from Wikipedia's formal and informal consensus-building processes - but it absolutely is possible to get reasonable results from those processes with a little effort. Gavia immer (talk) 23:48, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. No...and I saw this with a great deal of reservation. I'm tempted to say yes because I watched the community simply make the wrong decision about PLOT and FICT over and over again. But I think that temptation should be resisted. We see large changes like flagged revisions seeing little consensus, and this infuriates us, because it appears as though FR are necessary for wikipedia to become a functioning resource. But I don't think that the folks who oppose FR feel the same way, just as I imagine the folks who feel differently about PLOT and FICT don't bemoan the outcomes of those RfCs. Wikipedia has some paralysis, even some paralysis beyond what might be expected for its scale. Wikipedia has some dysfunction as regards authority (maybe feature, not bug?). I also think the fundamental Hayekian principle behind Wikipedia is a little misguided. But these don't convince me that a creature like this commission is necessary or sufficient (though I don't think the proponents are suggesting that it is sufficient) to solve those problems. We are straight-jacketed by arbcom's mandate to steer clear of content. We do have a dispute resolution system that doesn't resolve disputes. The consensus model does break down when external interests are at stake or discussions are proxies for boundary maintenance among community members. But I don't think scale alone causes the traditional methods of consensus and DR to fail occasionally. Protonk (talk) 02:10, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Ottava Rima (talk) 02:11, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Per Protonk. I don't see "bigger" as a reason that consensus can't work - rather the opposite I would think. I agree that there are things that can, and should, be improved; but I'd rather see that done on a community level rather than have it dictated from above. — Ched :  ?  04:43, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. It takes effort and requires that the present situation be identified as a problem, but that is not a bad thing. I suspect that the main issue is that in many specific areas there is no consensus that the existing situation is not right/broken. If there is no consensus that a specific area is broken then of course it is going to be difficult/impossible to get consensus to change it, as those who disagree that there is a major problem will not support a change. Get consensus that there is a problem first, then discuss how to change it - again I suspect that many of those who think consensus is failing all have different areas/reasons for thinking it is failing and would not agree on which areas/policies need to change significantly. Davewild (talk) 07:14, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Achieving Consensus is a cornerstone in the basic foundation of Wikipedia. As a member of the common mob I would suggest we never give up our voice!--Buster7 (talk) 02:23, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. The encyclopedia is still being written, yes? If various pet projects don't achieve consensus, then maybe that's just because of their merits, or the lack thereof. The issues that matter to the actual encyclopedia, such as the licencing change, the flagged revisions trial or the question of date autoformatting/linking seem to achieve consensus just fine.  Sandstein  09:01, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Still not sinking.... Enric Naval (talk) 04:42, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. The answer would be "Yes" if this were an actual community that had to make decisions concernin the allocation of a budget. But we are not. We are volunteers writing an encyclopedia. The whole point of Wikipedia - the gamble of Wikipedia - is that, unlike what Encyclopedia Brittanica proposes, a great encyclopedia can be written without any editorial leadership or centralized authority. Wikipedia says that it is possible for anyone to edit at any time and if this is open to everyone, the cummulitive effect will be a great encyclopedia. Maybe Jimbo is wrong, in which case you should apply for a job at Encyclopedia Brittanica. But so far I am betting on Jimbo. We have ArbCom for interpersonal disputes, and a range of policies to guide the writing of content. So far it works pretty well. Of course the wiki nature means that it is easy to vandalize and easy for a troll to have his or he way for a while, but the Wikipedia gamble is that other editors will eventually drive vandals and trolls away. But this is an endless cycle. people who think Wikipedia is broken are just ignorant, they do not know that Wikipedia has always had to live with these problems. And over time we have always, eventually, dealt with them. it doesn't matter whether there are 100 wikipedians or 100 million. We will always attract vandals and trolls, and always have POV conflicts. But thanks to policies like NPOV and DE, we eventually solve our problems. I see no need for any kind of governance in orde to write an on-line encyclopedia. if you do, go over to Larry Sanger's Nu-pedia, that is the project for you. Slrubenstein | Talk 00:55, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. Agree with Sluribenstein above.·Maunus·ƛ· 14:58, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. Slrubenstein has expressed my thoughts exactly. We seem to muddle through on our own well enough. Doc Tropics 04:29, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. Agreed with Slrubenstein. Orderinchaos 07:09, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. Slrubenstein for president! The success of Wikipedia is the community involvement. Yes that also means at times that change can be slow - but I'd rather have that small and safe flaw, than to reduce the community to a workforce under the direction of a party whose views will be (however well intentioned) those of a limited membership. The community governs itself, and does it very well. People electing themselves as governors over me when I am happy and making progress (albeit slowly at times) seems inappropriate. The strength of the community is the range of views and the lack of a hierarchy which means that discussion is entered into to settle disputes rather than a detached decision from a pseudo-authority figure. Where an individual is unwilling to enter into or respond to discussion is where we need ArbCom - not anywhere else. SilkTork *YES! 23:02, 20 July 2009 (UTC)


  • When communities grow too large for town meetings, the standard solution is representative democracy. --Philcha (talk) 22:44, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
To ClIreland - I do realise this, and did have misgivings about the group's formation, but also recognised the need for this. What I am trying to do now is a step-by-step breakdown so we can all be on the same page. This RfC is not helpful if it is a polemic, but if we can clarify what there is consensus on, we can work a way forward through this. Casliber (talk · contribs) 22:48, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
In reply to Philca: And with that comes a need for good governance, separation of powers, avoidance of conflict of interest, voters being allowed to elect people to positions of power, and knowing exactly who they're electing, all the things that are missing from this Council. We voted last time for ArbCom members who would turn their back on the old style of governance we had, with ArbCom assuming powers it didn't have and presiding arrogantly over the community, yet this idea, and the way it was put together, seems to be very much part of that old style. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 22:53, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
All of which is true. Not wanting to pre-judge things, I would not be surprised if the sort of thing Pilcha or SV want is what we talk about or recommend. Unfortunately, in practice, most -- possibly all-- volunteer communities are controlled formally or informally by a small in-group, and such elections as there are tend to be shams, because only the in-group gets itself organized. The usual real world solution is a split. We have already had one, and the existence of Citizendium has had positive effects on Wikipedia DGG (talk) 23:27, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
fwiw, I was hoping the advisory council would include someone who has significant experience with both Wikipedia and Citizendium. I spent a few hours looking for acceptable persons with this experience, and nominated two of them. The split cant be undone, as there are some intractable differences, however cross-pollination would be beneficial. John Vandenberg (chat) 15:59, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Disclosure: I am a member of the Editorial Council there, username DavidGoodman--though not very active. I expect to be more so now that the licenses are compatible. DGG (talk) 19:38, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
As for the example of the Plagiarism guideline, it was imho a principle already well accepted in Wikipedia , that just needed to be formally accepted. It's been discussed in one way or another for years. DGG (talk) 05:49, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Indeed, it was treated as a variation of copyvio, but wasn't particularly well enforced without the guidance of an actual guideline on the subject, so the creation and elevation of it is a positive thing. Wiki is in my view largely based on academic principles of writing (although a specialised kind as it disallows original research and synthesis) and those with a non-academic mindset/background do need that in black and white so they can work in an informed and academically honest manner (something it's easy to not do with the best of intentions - almost every first year undergraduate stuffs it up at least once). Orderinchaos 21:04, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  • If this question/poll is related to this particular group then it presupposes that the group has power, which is contrary to multiple assurances that it doesn't. If it's not related to this particular group then the question needs to be asked elsewhere. In other words, one can't have one's cake and eat it too. Ha! (talk) 12:28, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Slim's comments..a thinktank elected by the community - large enough to reflect the size and scope of wikipedia; and small enough to accomplish something and ascertain proposals for change is front and center on the agenda...Modernist (talk) 13:44, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Philcha, we are not a town. We are a bunch of anonymous volunteers contributing to an encyclopedia. What you say is true of towns, and as soon as Wikipedia is responsible for plowing the snow, collecting the garbage, delivering the mail, and educating my kids, I will agree with you abour the need for a government. But we are not a town and do not need a government. We are writing an encyclopedia. All we need is volunteers who can do research, and policies to guide them and guess what, we have both. Slrubenstein | Talk 00:58, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  • I feel like a woman trying to offer comfort by saying this, but size doesn't matter. Really. Our core principals are actually simple, and every edit made is either in keeping with those principals, or it is isn't; that's part of the reason that the Plagiarism guideline passed so neatly, it was obviously and fully in keeping with our core principals. It doesn't matter how many editors we have on the project, the principals remain the same. Doc Tropics 04:37, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Comment regarding the constitutional problem[edit]

Further to Slim's comment above: This initiative cannot be seen as anything but an attempt to expand ArbCom's scope into the "House of Commons" role; to appoint and be advised by a body with a broad scope that would almost certainly include governance and content assumes that ArbCom has authority in those areas.

The odd thing is that this initiative comes just at the time when ArbCom's constitution (policy) is about to be changed to restrict ArbCom's scope. Take a look at the existing policy, which contains quite a bit of wriggle-room for exceeding the original conception of a judicial body that deals solely with behavioural matters: the wriggle-room is coloured. Compare this against the draft new policy, which removes the generalities, the exceptions, the vagueness.



The Committee reserve the right to hear or not hear any dispute, at their discretion. The following are general guidelines which will apply to most cases, but the Committee may make exceptions.

  1. The Committee will hear disputes that have been referred to Arbitration by the Mediation Committee.
  2. Where a dispute has not gone through mediation, or the earlier steps in the dispute resolution process, the Arbitrators may refer the dispute to the Mediation Committee if it believes mediation is likely to help.
  3. The Committee will occasionally request advice from Jimbo Wales on whether to hear a particular dispute.
  4. The Committee will primarily investigate interpersonal disputes.
  5. The Committee will hear or not hear disputes according to the wishes of the community, where there is a consensus.
  6. The Committee will not hear disputes where they have not been requested to rule.
  7. The Committee has no jurisdiction over official actions of the Wikimedia Foundation.


Duties and responsibilities

The Arbitration Committee of the English Wikipedia has the following duties and responsibilities:

  1. To act as a binding decision-maker for disputes concerning the conduct of Wikipedia editors;[1]
  2. To consider appeals[2] from blocked, banned, or otherwise restricted users;
  3. To deal summarily with urgent or emergency matters—for example, blatant abuse of administrator or other privileges, and threatening or malicious conduct—that presents a danger[3] to the project or its contributors;
  4. To deal with issues that are unsuitable for public discussion because of privacy or similar concerns; and
  5. To appoint[4] those functionaries granted access to privileged information, including the holders of the CheckUser and Oversight privileges

I welcome this removal of policy incentives for ArbCom to exceed its role as a judge of editors' behaviour. The Date Delinking Case, for example, contained motions that clearly went beyond behavioural matters, seeking to instruct the community on how the terms "must" and "should" are to be defined in the style guides, and making declarations on the status of developers. Fortunately, these motions failed, but under the new policy, would have been struck down before the arbs voted on them. The existing policy allows such extensions into what would be regarded as the normal realm of a government.

I believe the community should support this aspect of the new draft policy, and in a similar vein insist that the Advisory Council not be constituted as advising ArbCom. There's a fundamental constitutional problem here, quite apart from the likelihood that Kirill's expectation of a "high signal-to-noise ratio" will not be born out, given the size and diversity of the membership. Let's face it, in a wiki, politics is for the people, however they may bumble through with their squabbling and noise and the typical failure of initiatives to gain traction. IMO, arguments above that the size of the project makes representative government necessary fly in the face of the very advantages of an online wiki project: it allows many people to participate in decision-making. Tony (talk) 09:39, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

The proposed changes to the Arbcom policy changes are an important aspect of this, so I am glad you raised it here. Please consider the combined effect of:
a) the proposed Arbcom policy changes that you have highlighted above, and
b) this advisory council.
The two are complementary changes which result in an Arbcom which has a reduced scope, and a new group established with the high hopes that it will step in to partially fill the vacuum. The design of this new group is intended to ensure it doesn't end up like Arbcom, as it is not based on private communications and enforcible decisions. Also, if the community doesn't find this council to be useful, they can disregard it, however Arbcom will still have a reduced scope if the proposed arbitration policy changes come into effect.
Anyone who thinks that this group of people will be subservient to the arbitration committee is insulting the people that have been selected. I am sure we could have selected a better nucleus of people, if given more time and community involvement, however the arbitration committee has gone out of its way to include a set of people who have different worldviews, including some who been ardently anti-Arbcom in order to prevent the council becoming an Arbcom sidekick. And this group will only survive if finds a way to expand or renew its membership without becoming a "self-selecting group". Maybe this group will only make one recommendation: a replacement for itself.
Perhaps we should have called it an "Interim Advisory Council..", as it was not the intention of the committee for it's membership or structure to become set in stone; there were many internal comments by arbitrators that it would likely need to reform itself within the first twelve months. This is similar in spirit to how we set up the audit subcommittee with a pre-determined membership, but our decision made it explicit that the community had to take ownership of the process of selecting replacements.
As an example of how this council may be able to counter-balance arbcom, I suggested to arbcom that this council should oversee the ongoing reforms of the arbitration policy. I don't like the arbitration committee being the caretaker of the policy which constrains itself, and believe a council like this will be more suited to coordinate changes to the arbitration policy. The arbitration committee should continue to improve our own internal processes, but the scope should be managed by the community.
Another reason for a council of this sort is to avoid another date delinking case. Or failing that, if one does happen (WP:FICT is likely to be the next one, but BLP/Flagged Revs may also rapidly turn into a bitter mess), and if this council does have some runs on the board, the arbitration committee could refer the matter to this council to be worked through as a "project" rather than the arbitration committee attempting to solely address the user conduct while leaving the underlying problem unsolved.
John Vandenberg (chat) 07:21, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
John, I am delighted that my understanding of this change was correct—the proper definition of ArbCom's scope (a more restrained one) in the draft new policy. For the sake of community input, I believe it might have been better for all of the changes to have been supported by a summary that made explicit the strategy behind them; I only noticed this major change a few days ago while comparing the existing and proposed policy documents, and I do believe no one outside the Committee has been aware of it until now.
If "Advisory" is taken out of the name of the new body, and it is cast as independent of ArbCom (i.e., not advising it, but perhaps examining what it wants to as well as matters of procedure, constitution and content that are referred to it by ArbCom), it begins to present less of a constitutional problem per se. But I am still nervous about its ability to do anything but repeat all of the foibles—the squabbling, the circle-treading, the ultimate inaction—of much community discussion, except in a more concentrated, high-profile forum. There is, of course, a precedent for the establishment of authority, although it is rooted in the early days when the project was relatively innocent: the FAC process, with Raul as Director; in turn, more recently, Raul has anointed the FAC Delegates (his assistants), and the community-elected inaugural FLC directorate, both of which have proved highly successful. But no one elected Raul in the first place. It has turned out well, but it was a gamble. Tony (talk) 14:07, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I think you have identified the biggest problem: Communication of the vision or strategy behind the reforms. The message isnt always clear because the committee has been building it in an ad-hoc fashion, as time allows and needs dictate. The core of the problem is that we started off this year with 15 visions, and we only learn where those overlap gradually when proposals are made. The difficulty of obtaining consensus within the committee has often meant that some proposals take forever to make it out the door (such as the the arbcom policy reform), while others are quickly passed and sometimes arrive half-baked.
The "Advisory" aspect is quite crucial in my opinion (the concept rather than the name), however I think some people have read too much into it "advising Arbcom". My understanding is that this council will provide advice on large problems that face the community. There will be times when this advice is needed in a timely manner by Arbcom, but hopefully this council will be delivering advice that the community picks up, thereby solving problems before arbitration is required. If the arbitration committee does take advice from this council, it will be in lieu of a) soliciting advice privately, or b) trying to make sense of responses given to a public request.
I agree that this council needs to break free from ArbCom, and that this will be a difficult road in the current climate. John Vandenberg (chat) 18:24, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Question on arb presence on ACPD by Casliber[edit]

We discussed this on the arb mailing list. This shouldn't be too had to nut out. I saw my place as a content contributor, wikiprojects person and also a liaison with the arbitration committee. Do people see this combination as a net positive (eg. global view) or net negative (eg. COI) on such a committee as the ACPD? I was initially in favour of the ACPD as deciding whether there should be any arbs on the group. I am happy to work with consensus on this. Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:43, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Net positive[edit]

  1. If it is supposed to be an advisory body to Arbcom, it make sense to have at least one member there to field questions and give background. If that position is one without say, voting rights within the council, then that might be a way to achieve the function without the worry. But, if the council is supposed to be representative of the community and include various constituent groups, arbcom would naturally be part of that and so a vote makes sense by extension. --Joopercoopers (talk) 23:52, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. (nods at Joopers)--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 01:38, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. If this is going to go ahead, I personally believe you would be a very solid person to have there and you would have my confidence. (I still believe it shouldn't go ahead, however.) Orderinchaos 01:40, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. I'm indifferent to the presence or absence of arbitrators on the council though having arbitrators (in their private capacity) involved would result in more informed feedback to ArbCom. I cannot see this as a net negative.  Roger Davies talk 08:06, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. I'm also indifferent to the presence of one or two arbs on the council, as long as the council is not advising ArbCom. ArbCom is not GovCom: it is a magistracy, not a broad-scope governing body. Tony (talk) 11:50, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Not a problem, and a net positive, so long as the council is a mere think tank without executive powers, which presents ideas on how to solve intractable problems to the community for approval. That's what it is and is meant to be, as far as I understand. JN466 15:58, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Not the end of the world like some are making it out to be, so I'd lean in this direction for a section to sign, but it's better to have clearer separation of power, positioning, and the use of either power or positioning. rootology (C)(T) 16:56, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Net negative[edit]

  1. At the risk of validating objectionable premises by replying at all, yes. Durova275 00:14, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. "Weak net negative". Nothing against you or Kyrill personally, but I think having serving arbs on a council like this opens a can of worms. What happens when a policy approved by the council is challenged and goes to arbitration? When the council is discussing an issue and you have the unfair advantage of knowing how the rest of the arbs will vote on it? Besides, if this ends up making (or recommending) policy decisions, your presence may have a chilling effect, as people may feel that your side is bound to win. We already have this problem in any contentious area – just look at the inevitable flurry whenever Jimmy Wales decides to opine on something. While the old hands can and do argue with the powers-that-be, plenty of newer or less active editors feel that it's somehow inappropriate to disagree with those in a position of authority. – iridescent 00:18, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. I think it arguably depends (could I hedge my bets any more!), but as currently conceived ArbCom member presence is likely a net negative, if only in the realm of public perception (which is not a small deal, obviously). If the remit of this group comes from ArbCom and if the group is supposed to advise yet be independent of ArbCom, then I think it inadvisable for there to be ArbCom members on it, simply because there would be the perception (rightly or wrongly) that it was the ArbCom's "pet committee" (to quote a famous musical). However if we, taking on board the obvious objections to this whole proposal here in the RfC, say that the remit of the Advisory Council ultimately comes from the community—i.e. if we hash out the specifics and come to some rough agreement about what something like this would look like—then having a couple of ArbCom members probably makes sense. If the Advisory Council is essentially answerable to/at the service of the project as a whole, unwieldy as that may seem and be, I think there would be less objection to arbs sitting on it. I do think we are putting the cart before the horse somewhat in even asking this question, as there is clearly significant objection to this entire endeavor as currently laid out and I think we need to deal with the larger issues first. --Bigtimepeace | talk | contribs 00:25, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Clearly the involvement with and presence of Arbitrators on the Council is a net negative in the eyes of the community. If it's truly to be a community-sanctioned body to develop ideas for the project, it should come from a broader swathe on contributors, and less from judicial-type bodies like ArbCom. Steven Walling (talk) 00:57, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Arbs should be cordially invited to contribute comments or suggestions on the talk page but there is little to gain by having one more voice on the official page. The presence of an Arb will alter the internal dynamics and question the degree of the council's independence — that's a lot to sacrifice so one person can have a little more power. --maclean 02:33, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. ArbCom appears unclear as to the role of an ArbCom member. Casliber says, "I saw my place as a content contributor, wikiprojects person and also a liaison with the arbitration committee." This is in conflict with the statement by John Vanderberg[5] "This group is not going to act as a liaison between the community and the arbitration committee." —Mattisse (Talk) 18:59, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    That is incorrect. My statement is that the council as a whole would not be a liason between the community and the committee. Cas is saying that he sees his role on council consisting of liaising between the council and the committee. I can see some value in having arbcom members on the council, but I can also see the benefit of excluding arbitration committee members in order that they are more distinct. John Vandenberg (chat) 08:17, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. This is clearly a net negative. When ArbCom is selecting its own advisors that's already a COI. When they're selecting them from their own membership, that also blatantly violates the Advisory Council's statement of purpose. Edward321 (talk) 19:59, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Net negative: ArbCom advising ArbCom seems both illogical and against the purported aim of the group. Ha! (talk) 12:28, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. Nothing personal about Cas or Krill as I believe both to be fine gentlemen but, yes, an overlap or blending of membership is, in my most honest opinion, a net negative. And honestly, having ArbCom members on their own advisory group seems like circular nonsense to me which would likely have a degrading, undermining effect for reasons mentioned above by Iri and Bigtimepeace. I don't have a problem with ArbCom taking advice from whoever they so desire for arbitration and dispute resolution purposes, but this is obviously much more than that. Sarah 13:35, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Net negative: Just because the arbs got elected to solve intractable disputes doesn't mean its ok or beneficial for wikipedia for such persons to establish another hierarchy of networkers and flatterers, independent of the community and dependent on them, to lord it over wikipedia's core users. They should stick to their role, and if the community decides it needs to give badges to some chatterers then the community can do it. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 00:23, 14 July 2009 (UTC)


PS: I want people to be honest, as we are trying to forge something and move forward and I want to see how big a sticking point this is. My access will be on and off all day as I have some RL chores to attend to :( Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:44, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

  • I think representing all walks of Wikipedians is a good idea, though the inclusion of an ArbCom member might be blurring some lines a bit much, as the group is meant to be advisory. While 'separation of powers' may be overstating the issue slightly, it's the closest relevant phrase to describe it. The makeup of the rest of the committee is what's concerning; as it stands, the current membership of the committee is something like 85% administrators... a group that makes up 10% of the active editors. I think the problems with that are relatively obvious. → ROUX  23:50, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
We hadn't consciously intended that. We were more looking for people that had been around and had extensive experience in certain areas. Anyway, question is how to proceed really...Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:59, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
Never meant to imply it was intentional. That it was unintentional is arguably worse, and may be evidence that this was brought out before due time. → ROUX  00:33, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

I'd like to know what ArbCom members think they can learn from me, or anyone else they might seek or hear advice from. Before this proposal, I had not assumed my opinion was needed nor wanted. --Moni3 (talk) 00:17, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

I know the feeling. RlevseTalk 00:37, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement By RDH (Ghost In The Machine)[edit]

This RFC is an exercise premature overreaction. The advisory council is at best a small step in the right direction towards an ArbCom that is more responsive to the concerns of the contributors. It is at worst an exercise in the Mostly harmless. Let's give it time...see how, and if, it works, THEN start throwing rocks or praise accordingly. If it is done with transparency, then there is no danger of it mutating into a Kitchen Cabinet. That would be an improvement over the unofficial, off-wiki, Smoke-filled rooms and backdoor channels which have been so often gamed and abused in the past.

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs (talk) 01:49, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Steven Walling (talk) 01:53, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. I tend to agree with this, it is a shame this RfC is happening so quickly, but hopefully we can find some common ground. Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:34, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. olderwiser 02:38, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. → ROUX  02:48, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Are we really a community so conservative to even try this toothless wonder? Rather than strangle us at birth, please tell us the problems and we'll try and fix them--Joopercoopers (talk) 03:30, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    If it is not toothless, it is dangerous. If it is toothless, it is useless. I don't see why we need to "experiment" in this way, especially given this push has not come from the community. Orderinchaos 03:33, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    It is toothless, but not useless - the community will decide whatever 'proposals' might arise from it. Getting some clarity of intent before the usual 100s of kb of discussion seems like a good procedural idea to me. --Joopercoopers (talk) 03:43, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    This is fundamental misunderstanding of the council's nature. It's always better to jaw, jaw rather than war, war, and you don't need teeth to jaw :)  Roger Davies talk 08:11, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    I stand by what I said above, that even trying this in its current form is a net negative. Because it seems pretty clear that it's going to be widely seen as illegitimate ("I'm not sure if any sort of binding consensus will come out of the RfC, and I fully intend on ignoring it, really" speaks volumes), any good ideas you come up with are going to be tainted by their source (in exactly the same way that a good idea suggested by Greg Kohs would likely be disregarded by many regardless of merit). Any bad ideas you come up with – and the last 24 hours have demonstrated that the most well-meaning committee can come up with bad ideas – will meanwhile be given a spurious legitimacy by virtue of having come from what will be broadly perceived as Jimbo's Illuminati. Nice to see that the (so far) 43 people opposed to this are being dismissed by you as "1) personal political reasons; 2) philosophical reasons; 3) the 'new thing' would minimize their 'power'", though – that makes me feel all warm inside. – iridescent 12:52, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    Don't use my words to try and smear everyone else, please. I'm sorry that 24 hours isn't enough for the restoration of the Kingdom, but some things take time. And this RfC was way too early to help matters rather than dividing discussion. Take to talk if you disagree. --Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs (talk) 13:32, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. لennavecia 04:02, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 04:13, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 04:56, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Advice and consultation is not useless. DGG (talk) 05:27, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. Let's not step on those who are trying to improve things. Kevin (talk) 08:04, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. I also think this RFC is premature. The 2009 ArbCom is the most radically reform-minded ever and this discussion has already precipitated two resignations from it, with perhaps more to follow.  Roger Davies talk 08:11, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. It's better and far more honest than the secret bodies, upon which such as SlimVirgin have served in the past. Giano (talk) 09:59, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. Sam Blacketer (talk) 10:20, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. The RfC is premature, but it springs naturally from a badly thought-out and badly-presented idea. Quite how the ArbCom members involved in it thought that presenting a fait accompli like this to the community - especially when it was utterly unclear what the actual purpose and scope of the Council is - was a good idea completely baffles me. I am equally surprised that none of the 18 members who accepted positions raised any red flags either - if indeed they were informed that this is how it would be presented. It is a shame, as the actual membership of this putative body is a pretty good one, if somewhat admin-heavy. However, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater; Everyking's proposal in the section above is a good starting point, and would hopefully address most of the concerns about transparency and scope of those that have posted in the opening section. Black Kite 10:58, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. I believe that arbcom has the prerogative to set up whatever internal committees they wish. — Carl (CBM · talk) 11:12, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  17. the wub "?!" 11:25, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  18. --Malcolmxl5 (talk) 12:44, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  19. I can't believe some of the opposition to this, actually. Arbcom has the prerogative to take counsel from whoever it wishes, in whatever form and manner it wishes, whenever it wishes. Such input is not binding on ArbCom or anyone else. Nor is it governance. There has been much criticism of ArbCom for NOT listening... when it sets up something structured (and please look again at the names on the list... some very competent people on there) it's greeted with howls. There is no pleasing a mob, is there? Wikipedia may well be terminally ungovernable. Sign me disgusted... ++Lar: t/c 15:09, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    Lar, ArbCom is meant to serve the community as a wholke. Don't you think it should consider the advice of any member of the community (consider, not necessarily follow)? Slrubenstein | Talk 01:03, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    Make a statement on a request for arbitration, throw in some evidence for an ongoing case or even help draft decisions in the workshop. E-mail the arbs as a whole (it's by the way) or individually. Or just use good old fashioned talk pages. Then complain that the ArbCom doesn't consider advice from the community. the wub "?!" 09:13, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
    Huh? What are you talking about? Slrubenstein | Talk 09:53, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
    There is another angle to the democracy issue. The arbitration committee are representatives democratically elected by the community, right? It is not generally considered undemocratic if a democratically elected body appoints specialists to advise them, is it? Many democratically elected bodies, up to and including national governments, employ think thanks or consultancy firms composed of people selected meritocratically, for their insight and expertise. This council here is actually holding its deliberations in public, with an opportunity for others to make an input on a talk page, unlike the think tanks our governments employ, or the back channels used in WP to date. JN466 18:28, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  20. This is right. I for one hope that the council comes up with more representative ways to get things done around here. This project may some day deserve harsh criticism, but it's just an experiment right now. Cool Hand Luke 19:38, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  21. Yep. One of several steps made by the the 2009 ArbCom toward reducing or eliminating the Arbitration Committee's role in in governing the project. People who are painting it otherwise are very far off the mark. FloNight♥♥♥ 19:48, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    Comment If the critics are off the mark, then perhaps the supporters should do a better job of explaining. Nothing in the page on the Advisory Council gives any indication that this will reduce or eliminate ArbCom's role. I recommend supporters provide clear explanations for why they believe this Council will reduce or eliminate ArbCom's role, why they believed it was a good idea to not discuss it with the general community, what the qualifications are for being selected for the Council, why they though it was a good idea to ignore forming concensus at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Self electing groups, and why they thought it was a good idea to repeatly violate the Council's purpose statement by putting multiple members of ArbCom on the Council. Edward321 (talk) 20:45, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    The reason that the RFC is premature is because that we were in the process of launching the ACPD when the RFC was started. The Committee knew that the ideas about the new Council would need to be explained. We were just getting started. FloNight♥♥♥ 21:50, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    The RFC came 38 hours after the APCD was announced at ArbCom, 27 hours after the APCD members were publicly informed. Obviously, the APCD and potential members were discussed before that. If ArbCom realized that the ACPD needed to be explained, that seems ample time for ArbCom and/or the ACPD to have prepared an explanation. It would still be helpful if the questions I asked were answered. Edward321 (talk) 22:33, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    To my mind the RFC was started prematurely. Very soon after the ACPD was announced and before most of the Community had time to know that it existed and before the Committee had a chance to answer the questions that were coming in. If you look on the Notice Board, members of the Committee were answering questions. You need to remember that we are volunteers with full lives outside of Wikipedia. We live in half a dozen time zones around the world. We also had other Committee work to complete simultaneously. Thus my support of the statement in this section. You can disagree if you want. But it is my perspective.
    To answer a few of your question. Currently, ArbCom IS tasked with doing some types of work that fall outside of dispute resolution. Member of the Committee do not think that this needs to remain the same. But unfortunately, the Community has been lagging behind in filling the gap with stable alternatives that have good Community consensus. For example, selecting the people that have special access tools such as Oversight and Checkuser. The members of the Committee also have the tools. As well, ArbCom is responsible for monitoring these users use of the tools. Many members of the 2009 Committee want to move away from this model, so we started an Audit Subcommittee that includes three members of the Community. We started the process after the Community had several failed attempts to get something off the ground. In a few weeks, ArbCom will be holding the second cycle of Community election to select people to use the tools. At this time, the Committee is still completely responsible for running the elections. I think that ACPD could discuss alternative ways to hold the elections that would still meet the requirements of the Foundation for selecting users, allow vetting of the users for significant problems in their editing history, and allow for Community voting, and certification of the results by a election committee. Because the process that Wikipedia English is using is working pretty well, there has not been loads of support for altering the process from the Community. But since the task of selecting the people with special access is not part of dispute resolution, then it makes sense to examine this tradition to see if alternative scenarios will give as good or better results. In my opinion, this type of policy change discussion needs to happen after participants have time to do research into the issues. The ACPD could do the background research, make several alternative proposals, and offer them to the Community to review. Unfortunately, in the past, new Community proposals stall because there was not enough preparatory work done. Also, the several alternative that may be proposed are not offered in a way that lets one or the other gain full Community consensus.
    Since the Community seems uncertain about how to get think tanks started, the Committee decided to jump start the process. I think that once the ball gets rolling, then the Community will see the value in changing the way that policy and processes are altered, and a new improved form of ACPD will happen. More later. Off line for the night. FloNight♥♥♥ 01:34, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    Flo, no-one is questioning the fact that Arbs have actual lives outside of Wikipedia, and live in different timezones. The question here is that you guys already knew that, and unleashed this proposal as a fait accompli. You really can't object to community backlash on this, switch the shoes and imagine your own reaction from the position of a non-privileged editor. Franamax (talk) 02:27, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    It's a fait accompli for something utterly innocuous. It's a talk shop not a government in waiting. This really is being blown up out of all proportion.  Roger Davies talk 08:53, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  22. Strongly Endorse. I am in total agreement with this statement. John Carter (talk) 14:23, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  23. Especially the part about responsiveness and transparency. - 2/0 (cont.) 14:35, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  24. — Coren (talk) 16:00, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  25. Premature exasperation. -- Noroton (talk) 02:32, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  26. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:18, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  27. I'm concerned that this RFC is a bad example of Wikipolitics and Wikilawyering. Why shouldn't ArbCom appoint some advisers? NBeale (talk) 12:25, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  28. Agreed, NVO (talk) 14:03, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  29. rootology (C)(T) 16:57, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  30. Totally agree, as others have noted above: this is blown out of proportion, IMHO, Huldra (talk) 01:39, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  31. the community should give this a test run to see how it works. --Enric Naval (talk) 04:45, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  32. ya; I'll go furthur — this RFC was disruptive. Jack Merridew 10:12, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    Usually I hesitate to use the word disruptive on here. Too often in the past that term has been used by authoritarian elements as a justification to squash discussions they don't want to take place. But this RFC has, clearly, gone beyond the point of being merely disruptive and has become destructive! I urge it be closed as no consensus, before it causes any further unneeded casualties and ill-feelings.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 12:36, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  33. BirgitteSB 18:46, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  34. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 19:35, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  35. -- SamuelWantman 20:07, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  36. GRBerry 17:37, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
  37. Yes. Better than the "unofficial, off-wiki, smoke-filled rooms and backdoor channels" used until now, and doubtless used again if this initiative were allowed to fail. It seems some people prefer the old way. Neither the arbitration committee nor this council have any power to "govern the project" unless it be the power to come up with good, practicable ideas which the community can then adopt or reject at its discretion, based on the ideas' merits. Analogies of "power users" with a "hotline to the president" are totally inappropriate, given that the arbitration committee does not have executive powers to govern the project, and will not gain them through the formation of this think tank, either. By all means, Durova, SlimVirgin & Co., go on the barricades if there is any sign of this body or the arbitration committee unilaterally appropriating governance authority – I would join you under such circumstances, and am confident that the community would win that battle hands down – but this is not the time for it. I believe this is about something else, with the potential to change WP culture for the better. Give it a chance. JN466 16:48, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
  38. Clayoquot (talk | contribs) 03:39, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
  39. Let the Council get started before taking shots at it. This whole page, with its 100s of kb, is an attempt to criticize and condemn something that has not yet occurred. (It is analogous to a wife tellng her husband not to buy tissue because he would buy the wrong color box.) There are indications that the RfC was started and is being pushed by editors who have personal issues with ArbCom and/or some of its members.
At its worst the Council will have as much effect as the WikiProject Council. At its best the Council may bring about some change for the good.
JimCubb (talk) 21:41, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement[edit]

  1. So we should just sit around and wait until such a time as things people are afraid will happen, actually happen? When this "policy advisory committee" issues a recommendation for a particular governance action, which gets endorsed by the ArbCom even though neither body has the right to make such recommendations, nor to enforce them? Is the ArbCom so afraid of the community that not only do they present these undemocratic actions as Star Chamber faits accomplis, but are unwilling to listen to the community when we object? The ArbCom presented this as having already occurred with no community input, nor even warning that it was going to happen, and now we should lie back and take it? Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 19:32, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    Or, y'know, you could assume some good faith that when they state their motives for why they created this, they're telling the truth. → ROUX  19:38, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    The road to hell is often paved with the best of intentions. Badger Drink (talk) 07:24, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    So is the road out of hell. -- Noroton (talk) 02:30, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
    As I have said elsewhere, I have a great deal of respect for many of the admins who supported this council. I just find the action wrongheaded, and can't see that it could possibly be of any practical use at this point in time, where so many people oppose its very existence in the current format. And I do not oppose the goals, I oppose the implementation. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 22:06, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    To WTWAG - do you really think that a different group is going to come up with a radically different view of what areas are troubled areas on wikipedia? if not, can you see the benefit of watchnig and advising, until such time as it becomes more community-led/chosen? Casliber (talk · contribs) 03:32, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    (I replied here but Cas has proposed this exact question as a separate proposal, so I relocated it there :) Orderinchaos 21:16, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    It doesn't matter if a different group comes up with a different view or not. What matters is the ArbCom coming up with this body despite having no authority to do so. And apparent lack of consensus from the community. But it appears that the ArbCom will bull through and do what they want despite objections. And it's ironic, isn't it, that members of the new "advisory council" are already making personal attacks against the opposition. This is how the community is served? Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 23:30, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. OPPOSE every wiki-project has been open to anyone who wanted to participate in it. This one is not. This not only sets a dangerous precedent, it betrays a core principle of Wikipedia, its openness. I have no problem with the membership of ArbCom being limited. If ArbCom feels its membership is too small, then lets discuss increasing its size. But what right does ArbCom have to create a restricted Wikiproject? ArbCom exists to resolve conflicts among editors involving personal behavior policies. How does that justify its creating new wikiprojects? Slrubenstein | Talk 01:07, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    What right?! The same right that others have used in creating sooper sekret off-Wiki mailing lists and IRC channels with highly selective memberships for the purpose of gaming WP's processes to their own advantages. Your open, wiki ideal was subverted long ago in practice, and not by the current ArbCom nor by the members of the Advisory think tank!--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:07, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    I agree with you that sooper sekret off-Wiki mailing lists and IRC channels with highly selective memberships were and are dangerous. That is why I think institutionalizing them is wrong. Creating a project council will not solve the transparency problem, they will certainly communicate off-wiki; all it does is give them a privileged position to do so. ArbCom already does so which I find acceptable as long as ArbCom has a relatively narrow brief. Let's keep it that way. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:01, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    I wonder what drives the view that project administration should maintain exactly the same kind of egalitarianism as content development. The existence of ArbCom itself, and the concept of administrators, has generally accepted that project administration needs some structure, the influence of which we then try not to let upset equal standing when it comes to content development. Then there's the development of the software itself, which so far as I'm aware we editors don't control at all. I can see why someone would want this group to be organized differently (reversing the roles of ArbCom and an appointed group would make sense on some levels), but it's hard to see how having a limited panel is by itself anti-Wikipedian. Mackan79 (talk) 07:29, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
    There is nothing inherant in the "concept" of administrators is somehow contrary to egaitraianism. You may not have been around when administrators were first created, buddy boy, but I was. First they were called sysops, systems operators. They have certain abilities, like protecting pages, but admins were never supposed to use these powers based on their own personal views. Admins are servants of the community. If the community wants a page protected, they order the admin to do it. If the community wants someone banned, they tell the admin to make it so. Admins are public servants - servants. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:02, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
    Then why limit administrator rights to just some? You seem to say that consensus is all it takes. I have been around long enough to hear Jimbo consistently describe his role as facilitating the implementation of consensus, rather than to act against it. Like him or not, the point is that large and unlimited groups (like don't generally exist at individual articles) will not necessarily have an easy time developing and realizing specific proposals.
  1. As it happens I do recall an early policy discussion where we were both involved that may have colored my later views. Amid a content dispute, a long term editor had changed WP:Summary style (absurdly, and profoundly in contravention of the Wiki concept) to state that anyone editing a "summary section" needed first to make such change in the "main article," before editing the "summary section."[6] So we started, with a false edit summary,[7] to win a content dispute.[8] I did have some initial success,[9] though this quickly swung when two editors who often supported the first editor (and had never edited this page), including the initiator of this RfC, then came to support his change.[10][11] Not deterred, I was soon supported by another uninvolved editor.[12] The final straw, to be perfectly honest, was indeed your very dramatic entrance including particularly your second post here (gems include "It seems to me that your wish to work on edits to an article summary and then export that work to the main article is a huge demonstration of bad faith, bad faith in the editors working on the main article."). The statement may amuse for a number of reasons ("If you want to edit an article do so right now. But make sure you are editing the correct article."), but should at least perhaps suggest to you why some question whether other types of discussion could prove useful. The absurd policy statement, followed nowhere, incidentally still stands.[13] Mackan79 (talk) 12:22, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  1. FloNight accidentally showed why this is a big deal (19:48, 12 July 2009): "One of several steps made by the the 2009 ArbCom toward reducing or eliminating the Arbitration Committee's role in in governing the project." In other words some functions will be transferred from the elected ArbCom to the unelected Advisory Council. --Philcha (talk) 05:58, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

Statement by User:JoshuaZ[edit]

There have been many valid concerns laid out above but I'd like to bring up another one: This "advisory council" contains not only non-admins but people who have actively failed to gain adminship. That means the community does not have a consensus of trust for those individuals. Selecting them in a non-transparent, undemocratic process is at best extremely rude to the community as a whole. It still unclear how anyone was selected for this committee. At minimum, explanation is needed for how this selection occurred. JoshuaZ (talk) 19:46, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Thinking about this more. Given the circumstances this really isn't that big a deal. Although it does make me unhappy and is another example of how this really wasn't well thought out. JoshuaZ (talk) 21:03, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this proposal[edit]


Could you provide links to the failed RFAs please. Giano (talk) 20:00, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Off the top of my head. The obvious one is Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Cla68 (the fact that I would probably support him if he ran for admin tomorrow and that there were serious problems with that RfA is really besides the point). JoshuaZ (talk) 20:15, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
(e/c) Yes, that RfA was basically not an RfA but an argument about Gary Weiss and Wikipedia Review, not to mention what we now know about one of the protagonists. To be honest, I can't really see how it's relevant anyway. Black Kite
Yes. Valid. After looking through the other candidates there aren't any other examples. Still, I'd feel much better if Cla68 ran for adminship first and then did this. The entire idea of the committee going over the community heads to the extent to include individuals that the community has actively said it didn't trust is pretty extreme. JoshuaZ (talk) 20:35, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for striking through. However, I am still confused - of whom exactly (you say individuals) has the community said "it didn't trust." I for one, think it is admirable that this council has members who are not Admins - what exactly is it about non-Admins that you have a problem with? Giano (talk) 21:32, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    • I don't have a problem with non-admins per se. The worry is that once someone has run for adminship and failed that's a statement that amounts to the community saying that they don't want someone to be a in a position of power. That's distinct from simply not running for adminship. It would indeed be a bit akin to my being put on this council. JoshuaZ (talk) 21:38, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

No, sorry, you are not answering my question - which "individuals" (you use the plural) is ut that the community has said it does not trust? Giano (talk) 21:48, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Only one. Note how I struck out my remarks and clarified right above that "After looking through the other candidates there aren't any other examples." JoshuaZ (talk) 21:55, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by User:Rootology[edit]

Wikipedia is functionally broken. Nothing ever gets done, and too many people are self-appointed politicians. Any positive changes require increasingly overwhelming and increasingly unlikely consensus due to persistent handfuls of users that scream all manner of nonsense from CREEP to BURO to ABCD as reasons to shut down any change. Some feel that it's not needed, whatever "it" is, but clearly "it" is needed or more and more people wouldn't be screaming for It. Our public reputation is in tatters, Jimbo Wales for whatever reason is now unwilling to put his foot down on even simple things (Where are our Flagged Revisions?), and the Arbcom tries to do one thing to facilitate simple discussion of possible changes--not even possible changes--and everyone goes mental, leading to the resignations of two Arbs.

This site is getting increasingly fucked by various degrees of irrelevant politics and pointless cults of personality, and I fear that unless we do have some sort of sweeping, perhaps militant action, things are going to increasingly spiral out of control and South year over year. If this is the reaction to the creation of a panel to look into our problems, we're simply fucked.

More verbosely here: User:Rootology/Wikipedia is broken and failing

Editors endorsing this proposal[edit]

  1. rootology (C)(T) 20:08, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. I'm not sure how you really feel about this, but I agree with it ;) → ROUX  20:12, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Pretty much, though I wouldn't have put it quite so strongly. Because I'm dry and boring. Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 20:26, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    comments removed to Wikipedia talk:Requests for comment/Advisory Council on Project Development#Statement by User:Rootology --Joopercoopers (talk) 22:04, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. I wouldn't say Wikipedia is functionally broken. The governance structure, absolutely. But Wikipedia continues to wander along, amoeba-like, assimilating good and bad information more or less indifferently, exhibiting little sense of overall direction, or, perhaps even attempting to move in multiple contradictory directions at the same time. olderwiser 20:53, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    I must say, Wikipedia as an information hungry but ultimately unintelligent ameoba is one of the best visualizations I have heard in a long time. Time to give Wikipedia:Wikipe-tan some competition? ;-) Dragons flight (talk) 21:07, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    So Rootology is proposing the solution to the problems he sees ("fucked by various degrees of irrelevant politics and pointless cults of personality") is a military coup? —Mattisse (Talk) 21:13, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    The power centers on this site (including Raul & FAs, BAG, AC, and Jimmy) are only there by the grace of the masses, so if that's how you want to interpret it, sure. rootology (C)(T) 21:17, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    If those were really the powers centers, wouldn't Raul and Sandy Georgia have been invited to join this council? Or perhaps they were, and declined the honor? Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 21:39, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. I want to sign it twice! —harej (talk) (cool!) 01:56, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Kudos for trying something bold and new; I proposed such committees/think tanks when I ran for ArbCom. I should also confess that if I disliked the members the ArbCom had invited, I would be much more upset about this sort of thing, but they are all very sensible and thoughtful people, which brings me to another point.... Durova and SV are whining about this invitation-only stuff, but not so long ago they were the dual queens of behind-the-scenes clubhousing (remember the wiki-stalking mailing list? Those were the days). This council's actions appear to be public, and they can be held accountable for their good or bad findings. Methinks if the council consisted of fewer members with whom SV had quarreled in the past, her objections would be less strenuous.--The Fat Man Who Never Came Back (talk) 13:45, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Once again Rootology gets to the root of the problem. I fear what we are headed for without more formal, democratic governance and guidance, is an Eternal September. It destroyed the Usenet and it will destroy Wikipedia just as surely.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 14:31, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Agree with Root. And if TFMWNCB had posted his agree as a separate view, I'd agree with that too. ++Lar: t/c 14:38, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. I would not put it quite so harshly - after all, articles are still being written and improved and this is one of the most-visited websites - but any decision that could legitimately claim broad consensus across active editors is TL;DR. - 2/0 (cont.) 14:54, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Correct but the statement is attacking a strawman. CIreland (talk) 15:05, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. Agree. It's also very difficult to see how the level of fuckedness can be reduced without some internal crisis, or some serious external encouragement. Kevin (talk) 02:30, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. Agree with all of it. Strongly. Harshly. Should've been sprinkled with more swear words. -- Noroton (talk) 02:36, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. "Thank You, Sir. May I have Another!", Also thanks to Editor:FatMan, the historian, for the insightful reminders.--Buster7 (talk) 02:47, 14 July 2009 (UTC)#
  14. Strongly. Cheers, Jack Merridew 10:28, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. Þjóðólfr (talk) 09:44, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. and also agree with TFMWNCB as to the facts of history and how they reflect on the current situation. GRBerry 17:40, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this proposal[edit]

  1. "Nothing ever gets done" lots of things still get done, although there are specific point failing and having problems. Trying to replace the whole system is a mistake since you will throw away also the things that made it grow in the first place. --Enric Naval (talk) 04:51, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. "Nothing ever gets done?" Dude, people are working on articles all the time. I mean, this really is the ONLY thing we are supposed to be doing, right? Researching and writing articles? just today one collaborator wrote a brilliant section on language and culture for the culture article - that is something getting done! Why do you bring up politics? Rootology, I think you have mistaken Wikipedia for a Dungeons and Dragons game. If you want to play Dungeons and Dragons, go ahead. But stick around here if you want to write encyclopedia articles. Not sure what to write? Check on at my user talk page and i will suggest to you five articles or sections of articles that need research and work. My guess is, if more people who wanted to be dungeonmasters left, and more Wikipedians focused on researching and writing articles, then the prestige of Wikipedia would continue to climb. And yes, i do see problems with the encyclopedia - but more politics will definitely not addrss those problems. Slrubenstein | Talk 01:12, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. I disagree to the highest degree. Wikipedia is not broken - wikipedia content grows everyday and articles improve at an astounding rate. Wikipedia has the best coverage on the entire web of all sorts of obscure but important content. Secondly even if wikipedia were broken introducing strong leadership would be the opposite of a solution. Wikipedias strength is that people can volunteer and add what they feel like when they feel like it - we are benefitting from peoples free time and their personal interests - this is the only reason wikipedia has as much content as it has. Introducing strong leadership a la Rootology would convert an idealistic volunteer project into its opposite - and would have no chance of succeeding. if I wanted to work writing for someone else I'd go to somewhere where I'd get paid. If we have a problem its too much leadership and bureaucracy! POV pushers I can handle, content disputes I can handle - but mobs of arrogant admins who think their tools grant them special importance and psychic powers I cannot. ·Maunus·ƛ· 15:06, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Disagree strongly. The growth of the body of knowledge found in the articles can't be denied. Plenty gets done. Binksternet (talk) 18:44, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. I would strongly disagree. On the whole, Wikipedia is succeeding. Don't panic chicken little, the sky still holds firm. --Cybercobra (talk) 04:46, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Strong Disagree, especially and particularly with the statement that "nothing ever gets done". I can assure you that, thanks to the efforts of ordinary people (we call them 'editors'), every single day new articles are added to the encyclopedia while existing articles are expanded and improved. Every single day, good articles are made better, vandalism is deleted, new references are added and bad references are removed. These activites are the one and only purpose of this project. And because millions of ordinary people have come here to write, improve, and maintain high-quality articles, every single day this encyclopedia gets better. Doc Tropics 05:02, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. I think it is possible to get confused by hanging too long around Wikipedia's most controversial areas, dispute resolution and WP space pages into thinking that Wikipedia is in fact broken, when large parts of it work very well. Ironically the bits which work best have the least level of bureaucracy, not the most. Orderinchaos 06:09, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. It's true that there are hundreds, maybe thousands or even millions of articles which have some issue of compliance with policy. But the problem is that one person's "policy problem" is another person's "not a policy problem." For instance, I think there's a synthesis problem in Cheeseburger. Someone else raised the issue on the original research noticeboard and it looks like nobody gives a damn enough to deal with it. Does this mean Wikipedia is "broken"? No. I just think that you have a large reader-edited website here that operates on "consensus," and the consensus of people looking at that noticeboard is that there is no problem. Similarly, it seems that the latest consensus is that this advisory committee should not exist. --JohnnyB256 (talk) 16:27, 25 July 2009 (UTC)


"Where are our flagged revisions?" - They are coming. The trial with 83% support has been approved by the WMF and will be implemented. However, whoever proposed the configuration either didn't know or didn't care that the existing flagged revision software was not designed to do that. So far no volunteer has stepped up to write the necessary changes and it hasn't become a high enough priority for any of the paid staff to spare the time to do so. Dragons flight (talk) 20:34, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Oh. Hmm. Interesting. Did not know that. Why don't we just accept one of the other simpler configurations then until that gets sorted out? JoshuaZ (talk) 21:56, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Fine, demonstrate that the community will accept one of the stock configurations, preferably while specifying exactly which configuration options to use. Dragons flight (talk) 23:13, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Pleasae open that discussion, explaining the alternatives for us. I think we need to try this to figure out whether it would work at all. DGG (talk) 02:26, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
A brief look at the implementation page history of the proposed configuration shows that the configuration has had considerable input from User:Voice of All, who is one of the authors of the FlaggedRevs extension. To say that Aaron neither knows nor cares is disingenuous at best. Kevin (talk) 11:55, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
That page wasn't even created until the approval poll was nearly complete. It's nice of VoA to contribute of course, and if he plans to finish it, even better. But as I said, the proposal that people voted on was apparently created by people who were either unaware of or undeterred by the fact that it would require software changes to implement. That's simply the reality. I'm not trying to make a judgment about whether that reality is good or bad. I brought it up simply because a number of people have been surprised that the poll didn't result in more immediate action. Dragons flight (talk) 12:23, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  • I totally don't get the "Wikipedia is functionally broken. Nothing ever gets done" type of argument. What do you mean by broken? We are a website dedicated to writing an encyclopedia. The encyclopedia is being written, at a rate of dozens of articles a day, vandals are being blocked, and the website still runs. As far as I am concerned, Wikipedia works just fine and the work that matters is being done. Maybe the solution to any perceived problems is less wikipoliticking and more content writing?  Sandstein  06:45, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Perhaps you are right. :)) It's early days, but for reference, the think tank's own tentative list of problem statements to work on is developing here. JN466 13:21, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  • It's mainly my view, as seen at User:Rootology/Wikipedia is broken and failing. Yes, content is getting made, but most of everything else is fundamentally broken. rootology (C)(T) 19:54, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Root, hopefully you know how much I appreciate your efforts, and admire the things you've done. There have been a LOT of "proposals" and discussions lately on things that could be changed for the better. From the separation of Jimbo and ArbCom, to the Civility poll, to "The future", to "Paid editing" ... well, let's just say there have been a LOT of those kinds of discussions lately. It's easy for frustration creep in, when things don't change overnight. Please don't let that cloud your judgment of the the good things that WP has going for it as well. The very fact that we have these discussions, out in the open, speaks volumes. We're growing as a community, maturing as a project - and just like a living breathing person, sometimes we need to look for "new clothes" when the old ones don't fit anymore. It's not always best to just "buy what's on sale", sometimes it helps to shop around a bit. Just a thought. — Ched :  ?  21:11, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  • As far as I am concerned, Wikipedia works just fine and the work that matters is being done. No, editors are just fine until they get run over by POV pushers or officious enforcers who congregate at obscure noticeboards or trolls or the admins who blindly support any of these perps. No, Wikipedia isn't working well at all when that happens, and it happens too often. We don't do such a hot job of protecting people who have BLP articles, either, and anybody can see more nasty embarassments coming when the next scandal of that type pops up in the news media, yet again. This is what I can think of off the top of my head, but I'm sure there's more. -- Noroton (talk) 03:22, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

I don't feel I can endorse this statement as a whole. Wikipedia has its problems, but I don't yet see it as functionally broken. Also Jimbo "putting his foot down" or "militant action" are probably the last things we need. The issues facing Wikipedia are varied and complicated, we need rushed reactions even less than we need the permanent deadlock of whole community discussion. This think tank approach seems to strike a good balance.

I would strongly endorse The Fat Man's comment though. the wub "?!" 10:06, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

  • While I largely agree that we need to do something - an invitation only ArbCom centred think-tank is not a good idea. I accept what Rootology says because as a project our disciplinary system is broken. But there is another solution. We have a number of very obvious and very serious problems (eg ideologically driven editing & tendentious editing) which we basically tolerate. We need to start remembering that this is a web-community and that we need to ban certain people and we need them to stay banned. Just because we throw someone out doesn't mean we're not the encyclopedia that anyone can edit - it just means that terms and conditions apply.--Cailil talk 18:43, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Hypothetical re. Clarity and Scope[edit]

If magic pixie dust was sprinkled over objections relating to the roll-out, legitimacy, elections and other complaints, ie. if it was a perfectly representative advisory body to 'the community' rather than 'arbcom', in what way does the community see a group like this being helpful or unhelpful? --Joopercoopers (talk) 21:48, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing the hypothetical endorsement thought experiment[edit]


See #Question_on_scale_of_WP_by_Casliber. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 21:37, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Question on selection of personnel and impact on their views of by Casliber[edit]

Okay everyone - do we really think that a group of editors elected by the community to be part of some form of think-tank to examine which areas of the 'pedia may be troubled or not working, would come up with a radically different view of what is wrong on the 'pedia? Do we think that the people on the ACPD thus far are non-approachable to the point they will ignore views from concerned editors?

Yes, I think that is the better solution to the current selection[edit]

  1. Community input/ broader nominations and debate might produce a better expert committee, now that it seems a committee is called for...Modernist (talk) 18:29, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. S Marshall Talk/Cont 07:40, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Whether an elected think tank would come up with different views than the ACPD is absolutely irrelevant. The ACPD clearly suffers from several credibility problems. Different members of the ACPD and ArbCom do not agree on what the purpose of the ACPD is. We do not know the criteria used to select the members. There are obvious conflict of interest problems when this supposedly independent group was selected by the ArbCom. There is an even bigger COI when members of ArbCom are also members of the ACPD. When both of these contradict the original purpose statement of the ACPD saying it was to be an independent body, the very purpose statement lacks credibility.
  • And members of the ACPD are already blatantly ignoring views of concerned editors. Some have quite clearly said they will ignore concensus that opposes the existence of the ACPD. I’m still waiting for anyone from ACPD or ArbCom to address the questions I raised on 7/12 – Flonight is the only member to reply, and even then my concerns were not answered.
  • Only one member of the ACPD, Jooperscoopers, has thought the views of concerned editors were important enough to address on the ACPD forum. On 7/11 they suggested elections, saying “We are already taking some considerable flak for the rather arbitrary and unaccountable way we have been selected.” [14] Most of ACPD disagreed with the idea of elections. On 7/15 Jooperscoopers said “I'm still uneasy with ignoring the community in this way and the perception of our illegitimacy is becoming hard to ignore.” The only reply they received was “Again, my view is that the more illegitimate this Council is, the better.”
  • On 7/17 Jooperscoopers asked “Ok. Elections may not be the solution right now, let me rephrase the question - are we going to do anything now to attempt to allay the strong community objections that are being voiced? If we're just going to blithely ignore it, you can count me out. If I feel the urge, I might go through the RfC this weekend and quantify and categorise the objections to see what we're dealing with, I agree some is hyperbolic, but there is some substance there, burying our heads in the sand, ignoring public outcries and arrogantly proceeding in the face of strong objections is one of the things I've complained about in the past of others, and I don't feel I can join their ranks - this needs addressing in some way.”
  • It was not. On 7/19 Jooperscoopers added “I think the din of community outrage will make any meaningful work here difficult to accomplish unless this is dealt with. I'm going to mark myself as inactive until such time as we are ready to discuss it.”
  • The community is still waiting for the ACPD to stop ignoring the views of concerned editors and address the issues. Edward321 (talk) 14:18, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

Yes, I think there would be radically different priorities[edit]

  1. Cas, you're asking straw-man type questions here, which serves no purpose. I'll post here what I posted on your talk page. I can't guess what an elected group would differ on, because I have no idea what the people you invited think is wrong, and that is part of the problem. The point is that the ArbCom is acting beyond its remit. It was elected to resolve disputes, nothing more. In fact, this particular ArbCom was expressly elected as a backlash against the previous ArbCom appearing to assume too much authority. Good governance can't simply be a goal. It has to be a practice and a state of mind too. Here, now, we have a chance to show that we respect good governance, not only in principle, not only for the future, and not only when it's convenient. If such a think-tank is to exist, it needs to be entirely separated from the ArbCom, the candidates must say what they want to achieve, and then they must stand for election. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 03:57, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Per SlimVirgin: Even if the two groups came up with the exact same list, an elected group's priorities would be made known during the election process, which makes a radical difference. Nifboy (talk) 04:19, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. A think-tank's purpose is not simply to define problems. Its purpose to suggest solutions. Different groups of editors would propose radically different solutions to the same problem. You can't argue that this group of editors is as good as any other so we may as well stick with it. It's critically important who is on the panel. If the previous ArbCom were sitting instead of the current one, would it reach exactly the same decisions as you do? Besides, I don't think the discussion should move towards who should be on the council when we haven't yet agreed whether it should exist at all. I don't think it should. At least, not until it has been given very clear terms of reference--MoreThings (talk) 12:18, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. A properly constituted group with legitimacy to fulfil its own aims would either be more broadly representative, or bring in valuable external feedback, or both. (It's worth noting that in Australia, Constitutional Conventions convened to discuss questions of public importance usually include a mix of elected and appointed members, with the appointed minority providing particular representation hard to get with a democracy or particular viewpoints/expertise considered necessary to assist the determinations.) As CC's are also talking shops and their proposals are only considered, not necessarily implemented, by the govt of the day they are probably the best parallel in the real world to this innovation. Most of the names I see on there, I see on AN/I every second day - they have a very particular view of the Wikiworld which the great majority of volunteers have no stake in and their perception of issues may well be very different to a content editor or an expert in the field (as in, someone who advises on this stuff for companies and non-profits and the like with a degree in it.) Orderinchaos 21:12, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Agree with Slim and MoreThings. (though with all due respect to the appointed Councilors as established and experienced Wikimedians, I must admit I find it hard to believe the community would elect a Councilor who isn't active on this project and has barely made 500 edits in the last two years and I guess that's actually the point of these appointments - the community isn't smart enough to consider recommendations and appoint their own members so it's got to be imposed by people who apparently know better.) Sarah 00:50, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. I agree with SV that these are the wrong questions Cas. ArbCom is charged with dispute resolution, and that is it. Anything else is simply beyond their purvue as an elected body - they ain't got the authority. Doc Tropics 05:07, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

No, priorities would have a lot of overlap[edit]

  1. Casliber (talk · contribs) 03:44, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. In general terms, yes. → ROUX  03:56, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. They'd probably come up with fairly similar lists. As per my previous comments, the difference would be that ideas coming from a council seen as having some legitimacy (whether it be elected, a delegate from each active project, or even an open-to-everyone free for all) would be taken more seriously than those same ideas coming from a self-appointing clique. As currently constituted, this effectively creates an in-house version of Wikipedia Review, which again often comes up with good ideas that aren't taken seriously due to the source. – iridescent 10:55, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. The problems are fairly obvious to everyone. The solutions are not. Anyone can still offer solutions, but our current processes have not done all that well at solving some of the recurrent issues. DGG (talk) 02:10, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. What DGG said. By the way, when coming up with proposals is the farthest extent of the group's powers, democracy is not only irrelevant, it actually may be counterproductive. We don't have a democracy on Wikipedia, anyway. We have a mixed system of autocracy and anarchy, spiced with democracy when it comes to a few elections. Any proposals will fly or fall on their own perceived merits, and power is still largely in the hands of this incompetent, inefficient, unprofessional, amateurish, moronic, dysfunctional community consensus. Any help out of this hellocracy should be welcomed. -- Noroton (talk) 03:07, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. The current model is, largely, the creation of the majority, so a think tank elected by that majority is not going to offer anything much different - and that would be an exercise in pointlessness such that it may be considered as performance art. LessHeard vanU (talk) 21:24, 15 July 2009 (UTC)


I think many if not most of the problems here are fairly clear. So it wouldn't matter too much how the group was selected. But the value from a group like this would come from crafting solutions away from the noise that kind of discussion usually generates with lot's of people all talking at once. So in order to be effective (in proposing solutions) they should be elected/selected by the community in order to have some buy-in up front. As far as the current proposed membership and your second question, some of the current members attitudes are so bad that this idea is sunk before it had a chance to show any value at all. Some really poor choices were made when inviting editors to participate. There's a significant amount of venom, over the top rhetoric and disrespect already coming from some members of the group, enough that they are already way too polarizing to be of any use. RxS (talk) 04:07, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

I strongly object to Casliber's entire line of questioning, here and elsewhere. See framing (social sciences). This smells like the sort of politics that makes me dig in my heels. Durova277 04:34, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, this is a poor and suspect way to frame the issue. Everyking (talk) 06:15, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I think there's a framing problem here, but I'm not sure it's coming from Casliber, or at least not solely. ++Lar: t/c 14:36, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't like the questions either but Cas is acting in good faith. Orderinchaos 20:59, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Per SlimVirgin. I don't think it matters right now if a community's choice of editors would have radically different views, because that isn't the issue at stake. Many people's objections to this Advisory Group are not that they disapprove of such a committee at all, but rather they disagree with ArbCom's right to create it. Even if such a group chosen by the community would have to be elected (which I think, for things like these, might actually be somewhat of a bad idea), the community could do some sort of system where it elects independent electors for this group, or something like that. NW (Talk) 04:58, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Coming at this from a slightly different angle, what would the effect be of electing "members"? I suppose my reservation would be that this would elevate an informal talking shop to a formal status which was never really contemplated and which would probably politicise the thing far more than is necessary. The idea was only ever to act as a conduit for ideas, and to explore where they went. I supported the idea of inviting a core of editors simply as a way of giving it enough critical mass to be viable from the off. Of course, once it was set up and running, it could go into whatever direction it chose.  Roger Davies talk 07:02, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

The effect of electing members is to make it a popularity contest. Advisory boards work best when they have people willing to make difficult choices. ++Lar: t/c 03:25, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
That's also true. My basic issue with this is that some very poor choices were made when assembling the group. Don't know how to get around that. I think what I'd do is to call for volunteers and randomly assign them (via lottery) to 2 or 3 groups (maybe 5 or 6 members each) and let them bite off smaller chunks. Or maybe just one group that's filled by a lottery of interested editors. RxS (talk) 03:56, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
I may well have some names I didn't think are good choices... bet they're not the same as yours. It is possible that your "very poor choices" are my "brilliant contributors who will finally be heard" and vice versa. Just a thought. A lottery (for a jury) might be good for deciding cases, but I'm not sure it's good for an advisory board. Still, better than an election. ++Lar: t/c 12:02, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Well, the folks I have the biggest issue with have no problem being heard. It just seems to me that this is a good idea that'll be hamstrung by the selection of some pretty polarizing members. It's a lost opportunity that could have been rescued by a little more thought behind the selection process (and a little more work finding clueful contributors instead of high profile, obvious choices). But they can't actually break anything I guess. RxS (talk) 04:18, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Hey, it's Bastille Day! The French are burning their Renaults, again! Really, the ACPD idea (apart from exemplary bad bad bad publicity) looks like windowdressing the Royal Cabinet one day before the mob took it over. No, the site won't crash in a day, but IMO the negative message sent by the announcement is far worse then any short-term benefit. NVO (talk) 14:26, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree with Slim, these are strawman questions. Let's be honest about what is going on here. A few years ago jimbo appointed a task force to deal with the problems of on-and off-Wiki harassment. That task force ended up being ineffective, for a variety of reasons. Now Jimbo is using ArbCom as a screen to create another task force, but without brief. As far as i am concerned this task force will do even worse than the first one, because of who is one it and because of its vague brief. There are problems facing Wikipedia, and if Jimbo wants to create a task force to address them that is his perogative, but so far our experience with his task forces do not make us confident in his ability to manage this well. As far as i am concerned the one idea Jimbo has had that has worked was his most important idea: an encyclopedia anyone can edit at any time. I do not think the alternative to his appointed task forces is one elected by the community. I suggest members of the community be encouraged to create forums - essay-like spacs where interested people can gather, discuss problems of shared concern, and generate policy proposals. I wouldn't dictate the number of forums, the issues they address, or who whould be active at any given forum. Let them evolve naturally. When they generate policy proposals, schedule time for debate and publicize the hell out of them. I see no need for any more3 structured or durable governance than this, and i am convinced this process will generate better ideas than any appointed task force. Slrubenstein | Talk 01:22, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
So you mean continue with the fragmented, fractious, and utterly impotent situation we have now? Yes, that seems like an excellent idea; as long as we all yell EVERYTHING IS FINE RLY loud enough, everything will be. The power of positive thinking! → ROUX  01:28, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
You are doing the same thing Roux - you are stating that something is wrong without proof. We who say that wikipedia works, do so because we evaluate it in relation to its purpose: to create a world class encyclopedia. That is what we arw doing and it gets better every day. What is it that doesn't work? Its not easy enough for people without social skills to resolve their disputes? so what? That is a problem with the world not with wikipedia, and it is not detaining us from working towards becoming the number one information reference globally. ·Maunus·ƛ· 15:13, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors who refuse to serve upon the advisory panel created by ArbCom[edit]

An advisory think tank may be a good idea, but it was not workable for ArbCom to conceive it behind closed doors, hand pick a membership, and announce it as a done deal. That was not a legitimate way to establish a body whose mission includes governance. The editors who sign below pledge not to join it even if invited. We might consider serving on a similar body if established by the community, but not this one.

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. Durova277 04:51, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Everyking (talk) 06:13, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 11:17, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Orderinchaos 20:58, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Hammersoft (talk) 12:53, 14 July 2009 (UTC)


  • This statement implies that ArbCom is not part of the community. I would hope that it could be altered to suggest otherwise. Awadewit (talk) 05:15, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    • When contrasted with ArbCom, community means "non-ArbCom wikipedians". This is standard usage, paralleled in non-wiki world by "government and people". Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 11:17, 13 July 2009 (UTC
      • Except the ArbCom is really nothing like a government, which is why I have a problem with this. Moreover, to be clear that that ArbCom is a part of the community (which it is), I still think a rewording is order. Awadewit (talk) 12:06, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
        • It's not supposed to be like a government, though this proposal shows what ArbCom members think of that idea. At any rate, the point is linguistic convenience. As "community except 15 members" is too clumsy, "Community" is the obvious word to use and is natural usage. No need to make a big deal of it. :) Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 12:16, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  • This statement also says that the council's mission was governance. That is not the case and asserting it adds considerably more heat than light.  Roger Davies talk 06:56, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
      • 'Includes, not is. Durova277 14:18, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    • Roger, I have to disagree with you there – "considers various issues facing the project and develops ideas, proposals, and recommendations for improving it" (from the project page itself) clearly implies a governance role. – iridescent 10:58, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
      • That's one possible read of it I suppose but it's not the way I interpreted it when I read it, especially since it doesn't mention policy or guidelines. I saw it as helping brainstorm imaginative solutions to long term problems such as country naming disputes.  Roger Davies talk 11:26, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
        • It's hardly a perverse reading of it; among others at least two Arbcom members (who presumably were privy to the discussions which set this up) have taken it to mean precisely that ([15], [16]). – iridescent 11:34, 13 July 2009 (UTC))
            • All I can say is that it is not and was not my read of it, which is why I supported it. I would not have supported a motion that sneaked governance in by the back door.  Roger Davies talk 11:52, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
                • I'm not sure why this is considered "governance role", as all such proposals would be put before the entire community for approval or rejection. Since it would be the editors deciding what they wanted for themselves, it would be the editors governing themselves, not this group governing them. Awadewit (talk) 12:04, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
          • It's a fairly reasonable read of it. The text clearly envisages a position for arbcom that takes its role far beyond its original function of reactive dispute settlement (not that ArbCom has been confining itself to that). Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 11:43, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Not to be contrary, but quite genuinely, I want no part in an elected position and if asked to run for such a position would turn it down. Occasionally I have what I think are good ideas or more efficient ways to run something here or there. I have no problem passing along good ideas to people who are receptive to them, but it does not seem worth it to go through a charade such as what many RfAs turn into just to pass along what I think are good ideas. If this advisory committee morphs into a representative system of some kind, I won't be against it. I'm all for democracy where appropriate. One of my good ideas is to appoint a minority number of members who either refuse to run or clearly would epic fail an election, just so they can voice their opinion. --Moni3 (talk) 12:15, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Sidaway - where are you? Giano (talk) 11:39, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I'll summon him here posthaste.--The Fat Man Who Never Came Back (talk) 12:59, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors who would be honored to serve upon the advisory panel created by ArbCom[edit]

Sure! The opportunity to come up with new ideas to improve the project, and to help my fellow editors to have their concerns better heard at the same time in an open, frank and consequence-free environment, does not come often. I would gladly jump at the chance. Thanks for the invitation and count me in!

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 15:47, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Thekohser 16:56, 13 July 2009 (UTC). My formal request was already in their e-mail queue several days ago, and I bear no grudge against the Arbitration Committee for not having invited me in the first round of selection.
  3. Disclosure: I actually was asked by an Arb (not sure if this was a formal invitation or an attempt to gauge my interest before putting my name before other Arbs) after I started commenting on this stuff. I said I'd consider it. So I'm not saying that I'd definitely serve on this thing, but if I declined to it sure wouldn't be for the reasons Durova et al identify. Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 18:11, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Of course. Have indicated interest to ArbCom, though it looks likely this will not go through. → ROUX  18:18, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. My calming and reasonable nature will help the committee achieve great things. ChildofMidnight (talk) 20:09, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. I don't expect an invitation, and I'm not sure I'd be able to commit the time, but I think that any editor that deals with policy-oriented stuff (instead of focusing exclusively on the more important work, which you'll find in the main namespace) would be happy to help. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:20, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. I am probably far from being the ideal candidate for membership, but I would be more than happy to offer what input I could. John Carter (talk) 00:23, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Sure. Might end up involving a lot of typing, but the brainstorming would be fun, there'd be lots to learn about less familiar aspects of the project, and it seems like such a good idea to invest some brainpower into issues before there is an acute crisis. JN466 16:06, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Danaman5[edit]

I see a lot of statements here expressing concerns over how Arbcom unilaterally established this advisory council without consultation, and I agree with those concerns. However, let's not let our procedural objections stop us from considering the idea in principle. I think that there should be a full community discussion on this possibility. If most people believe that a think tank for solutions to project governance issues is a bad idea in any form, then the discussion will bear that out. However, if there is a way that this proposal can be separated from Arbcom and gain the community's support, it might have value after all.--Danaman5 (talk) 17:47, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. --Danaman5 (talk) 17:47, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Endorse, with the exception of everything in the last sentence before "it might have value". Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 18:12, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Per Steve Smith. → ROUX  18:18, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. I'm left wondering: Without "community support" ... how much of a community will there be left to govern. Many folks may not see this small sub-set of editors as any governing body right now; but, when an small elite group of people, (not chosen by, and unsupported by, the community as a whole), start "advising" how established policies and guidelines should be interpreted, defining agendas, and deciding what "our" project development should be - I'm sorry, the whole "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely" phrase jumps to the forefront of my thoughts. As Danman5 says, there may be legs for some type of "Council", but if they fail to listen to what the community is saying, I'm not going to have much faith in any "advice" they may have to offer. Long/short? ... Good idea, poorly implemented. — Ched :  ?  18:48, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. I don't see anyone ruling out the possibility of some advisory council getting created. In the words of Mae West "It's not what you do; it's how you do it." Durova277 20:51, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Endorse, noting my own stated position that such a body should contain expertise which is external to Wikimedia, which has the dual benefits of getting in advice for ArbCom and the community on project governance and development matters which is useful and best-practice, and at the same time distancing the new body from existing Wikipolitics and factions. The *idea* is fine, *this construction* of it is not, and I'd be sad to see the impetus for change killed by the death of a dumb/unconstitutional proposal. Orderinchaos 20:54, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. As I've said elsewhere, I don't have a problem with the idea of such a group per se but I object to it being forced on us by ArbCom. I would be most delighted if the architects of this Council would start a community discussion elsewhere so we can consider this in the normal way rather than trying to ram it through as a done deal. Sarah 01:09, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Yes - I will state (again) that I abstained from supporting the proposal for ACPD, and also that I feel the scaling issues mean there has to be some form of organized think-tanking. I also thank OIC for pointing out the (now blindingly-obvious) possibility of elected and appointed think-tank members. What I hope is that there is something ongoing from this, rather than nothing. Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:56, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. In general I like the think-tank/advisory council/whatever one might call it idea. I think there is too much objection to the ArbCom created group as it currently exists for it to be effective (though I'm pretty much fine with the current membership), however I think a communal discussion, possibly heavily clerked/circumscribed, could produce something similar and with a lot more support. That would be a good thing. --Bigtimepeace | talk | contribs 06:33, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. As I said above, there is no reason why any legitimate interest group cannot form an invited think tank - to operate transparently within WP space - and forward any derived ideas to whatever authority is capable of deliberating upon them. Too much is being made of the appearance of a possible/potential extension of ArbCom's powers by members of same putting the idea forward. LessHeard vanU (talk)

Statement by EricBarbour[edit]

This advisory committee may be a good idea. It may not be a good idea. I can't say for certain, and it really ought to be under more community scrutiny than it received when first proposed. Arbcom may or may not do good for Wikipedia with added control over governance. There still is no effective or reliable method of resolving disputes over content, and pointless, wasteful arguments continue to occur every day.

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. Endorse - as I said above, community discussion may still yield a valuable proposal.--Danaman5 (talk) 23:42, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 05:20, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Yes. → ROUX  16:58, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Tznkai[edit]

Good governance does matter, and it is a good thing in its own right, but right now there are hundreds of Wikipedians who are working hard, getting stuff done, who couldn't give a flip about what we navel gazers are doing here. Whatever this vocal segment of the community decides, lets try to keep these folks in mind, and do our best to stay out of their way.

Or maybe even help out.

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:45, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. --Buster7 (talk) 05:31, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Obviously worth saying, and it's also worth saying that, if we end up with something akin to a functional "advisory council," there should be a decent number of non-navel gazing types on it (most of the folks I see on it now tend to be somewhat to very active in community discussions which is fine, because of course we want those kind of folks there too). Any thinktank or council worth its salts should have editors from quiet corners of the 'pedia who've never dropped a comment on AN/I or at an ArbCom case. Indeed their perspectives and suggestions would likely be among the most valuable. Arguably it's folks like us, i.e. we the commenters in this RfC, who make governance and the like such a bloody mess in the first place. Don't listen to us! (me?) --Bigtimepeace | talk | contribs 06:44, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Well said. Davewild (talk) 06:53, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. I find all these "governance" discussions somewhat irritating. These issues are not half as important as the people who run around making elaborate constitutional proposals believe them to be. We're here to write an encyclopedia, and we need a minimum of governance in order to do so: a method of blocking disruptive people and a method of authoritative dispute resolution. We already have both. I'm not sure we need much more.  Sandstein  08:56, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Agreed, however...[edit]

  1. It is the hard working editors who most need to take a more active role in Wiki-politics. Otherwise it will continue to be dominated by bureaucrats, process wonks, wiki-lawyers, zealots, Jimbots, IRC fairies and, yes, worst of all, naval geezers navel gazers.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 09:06, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Peasants feel most comfortable when their lordships forget about their existence... and distrust (or outwardly resist) anything declared "for their own sake", be it enclosures or introduction of satanic tubers... The arbs had all the resources to consult whoever they wanted privately; there was absolutely no need to invoke "public good" and disturb the peasants... NVO (talk) 14:00, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by WhatamIdoing[edit]

I simply can't believe the number of people that are invoking WP:BURO here and elsewhere to complain about Arb Com's failure to follow the "ideal" process in proposing this. Perhaps those editors need to read the bit that says, "A procedural error made in posting anything, such as an idea or nomination, is not grounds for invalidating that post." So ArbCom made a "procedural error" in the proposal: Who cares?!

I also can't imagine how creating a page for people to publicly advise ArbCom is worse than our current system, in which individual ArbCom members are forced to ask for advice secretly (because there's simply no other way to do it). If ArbCom wants new ideas, or wants outside opinions from people they trust, then why not have that happen on a page that we can all watch, instead of in e-mail messages or in quiet little corners where nobody notices? This proposal creates more transparency, not less. It might not create enough transparency to satisfy some editors, but it is clearly better than what we have now and should be celebrated as a step in the right direction.

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:45, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Endorse, but whatwereyouthinking WhatamIdoing -- that common sense would have anything to do with an RfC? RfCs are part of the problem. The solution will lie in some kind of reforms that encourage sober deliberation in decision-making. -- Noroton (talk) 02:48, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:58, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Hear, hear. Process waonkery for the sake of process is foolish. → ROUX  05:18, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Per Roux, especially the amusing strikeout. Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 05:20, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Per Norton (except for the sober part)--Buster7 (talk) 05:35, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Ayep--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 08:32, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Absolutely. And if the objectors above think some kind of body like this but 'better' is what's needed, I wonder why wikipedia:Wikiproject High-Falutin' Kick-ass Advisory body to the Stars hasn't been created yet. Go for it - let's be judged on results, they will be democratically voted upon.--Joopercoopers (talk) 08:43, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. Word. What made me accept the invitation despite the closed membership was the opportunity to bring advisory work (not something I'd done before for ArbCom) in to the public eye. Steven Walling (talk) 08:50, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Public, on-wiki discussion is infinitely preferable to back channels and super-sekrit mailing lists. Though I realise some may disagree... the wub "?!" 09:15, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. olderwiser 11:31, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:20, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. --JN466 17:44, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. rootology (C)(T) 18:00, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. - Kevin (talk) 22:43, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. - 2/0 (cont.) 16:43, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  17. LessHeard vanU (talk) 21:46, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  18. Enric Naval (talk) 04:45, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  19. BirgitteSB 15:41, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Hammersoft: The editor is the highest Wikipedian[edit]

There is an increasing trend of belief that administrators, checkusers, oversighters, bureaucrats, arbitrators, rollbackers and more are all chain of command type positions, with increasing authority and respect. This undermines Wikipedia. The editor is the highest Wikipedian, and EVERYone is first an editor. Any additional responsibilities are just that; additional responsibilities. The additional responsibilities do not confer greater rights or authority. Even an ArbCom member has no independent authority greater than a beginning editor. Their authority comes through ArbCom, not themselves.

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. --Hammersoft (talk) 13:07, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Hear, hear. I'll add what SlimVirgin wrote here. Such endeavours have historically never turned out well. If it's revolution they want they're in for more than they bargained for if they continue to ignore the outcome of this RfC. Vyvyan Basterd (talk) 13:22, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Everyking (talk) 21:28, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Couldn't agree more. Orderinchaos 22:05, 14 July 2009 (UTC)~
  5. We are all still editors. Enric Naval (talk) 04:55, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Goes right to the point - couldn't agree more. Slrubenstein | Talk
  7. Endorse Succinct. Collect (talk) 13:42, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Exactly. Doc Tropics 05:15, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing the heart of the statement but think Hammersoft is conflating issues incorrectly[edit]

  1. Absolutely, every admin like me is of no more or less value than anyone else, ditto for every Arb, ditto for Jimmy Wales. Not one of us has an inch more content authority than any other editor. But this has nothing to do with the advisory group, who has no ability or authority... but to edit a page and come up with ideas that have no authority except that people can take them or leave them. rootology (C)(T) 20:56, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. per root. the group has no authority to enact rulings. Casliber (talk · contribs) 22:06, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. What rootology said. In fact the presence of non-admins on this group seems itself an endorsement of the heart of the statement. I would hope that one of the problems the group (or indeed, anyone else who wants to) considers is the widening gulf between admins and non-admins, and what can be done about it. the wub "?!" 08:45, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. In theory All animals are created equal. In practice some are more equal than others.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:36, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. From each, according to their talents... It is like arguing the precedence of the gearbox over the suspension - we simply want the vehicle to get us someplace. LessHeard vanU (talk) 21:52, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Hammersoft: Increasing bureaucracy[edit]

This ArbCom has been creating a considerable amount of bureaucracy. There's a new audit subcommittee, this advisory council, and a new ban appeal subcommittee. All of these are new with this ArbCom. The creation of bureaucracy without a strong, demonstrable need is an extremely strong negative. ArbCom should be prevented from creating additional bureaucracy without community input and consensus. ArbCom works at the behest of the community, not the other way around.

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. --Hammersoft (talk) 13:07, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement[edit]

  1. I dislike "oppose" statements in RfCs, but this deserves explicit rejection: ArbCom should be, and IMO must be, empowered to create whatever structures are necessary for it to get its real job done. The goal is "do the job", not "do the job, while every member is holding hands, moving in unison, duplicating each other's efforts, and never, ever specializing or using this 18th-century innovation called division of labor to produce the same outcome more efficiently." Their workload has increased. If they can assign a couple of people to Common Task X and a couple of people to Common Task Y, and get the same results with half the labor, then they should definitely do so. I add, for those interested in transparency, that ArbCom has, like any functional team, done exactly this for years: the recent innovation is merely formalizing it and telling the rest of us who usually takes the lead in which steps. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:50, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. The point is to do what it takes to get the job done. If that means having an extra process, who cares? The reactionary nature of people to anything new or different than the status quo is a problem on this site. rootology (C)(T) 20:57, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Per above. → ROUX  20:59, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Casliber (talk · contribs) 22:08, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 22:11, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. The new subcommittees are not new bureaucracy, but merely reorganizing the old bureaucracy so it works more smoothly. Which is the whole point of any bureaucracy-to help things run more smoothly. And this new advisory think tank is not even a bureaucracy at all, but an advisory group (that word is a big clue as to its function).--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:47, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Precisely so. Repeatable process is perceived as, and is fairer, or at least more consistent, than adhoc action. WP isn't a government, we don't have rights, and there is no guarantee of fairness, but nevertheless treating people with respect, and in an evenhanded way makes for a much more pleasant work environment. ++Lar: t/c 15:01, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Afraid I have to chime in here as well - the above statement is far too sweeping and essentially shackles ArbCom from executing the various responsibilities we have heaped upon them. The entire point of the Arbitration process is to take it just a little outside of standard consensus gauging systems - cases are decided by majority vote, not by consensus of committee and/or the wiki as a whole. Much of the additional structures created are in fact trying to bring ArbCom back to its core dispute resolution function. For example, the Audit Subcommittee (of which I am a member) is responsible for CU/OS oversight, lessening the responsibility ArbCom has over a userright that wasn't even in real use when the committee was created! Limited bureaucracies are sometimes needed - what we avoid is bureaucracy created for its own sake, not all semblance of formal structure. Its good to be a little suspicious and skeptical - but its also good to be willing to let what is necessary happen. --Tznkai (talk) 15:43, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. - Kevin (talk) 01:24, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. We need more structure, not less.—S Marshall Talk/Cont 17:48, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Davewild[edit]

A simple statement: Wikipedia is not failing.

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. Mainly to respond to the statement further up from Rootology that wikipedia is broken and failing. I do not accept this, as in my perspective the encyclopedia (the most important thing and what we are here for) is getting better not worse as time goes by. Wikipedia is not perfect by any means, but very few things are; while some articles can get worse for a period, the general trend is of improvement. The easiest way to make wikipedia fail is to make poor changes that drive editors to no longer want to contribute to wikipedia, and discourage new editors from starting to contribute. This is not a "no change is needed" view (my personal opinion has long been that flagged revisions are a good idea), but that there is no fundamental failure currently and we should not be basing things on the premise that wikipedia is failing. Davewild (talk) 18:38, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Per my comments elsewhere on this page.  Sandstein  09:42, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. I'm not here to save a failing project, but to deal with the inevitable transitions as the project has grown, and to find what is necessary to encourage it to grow further. Some parts of the project I think do not work very well, but the basic goal of writing encyclopedia articles does work, does continue, and is far from finished. DGG (talk) 06:17, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. It's don't believe Wikipedia itself is failing. Some of the processes of Wikipedia which either worked in the past or were less important when Wikipedia merited less attention seem to be noticeably failing now. I expect Wikipedia will adapt no matter what, but I think a focused effort will lead to solutions emerging sooner and with less damage to Wikipedia's reputation.BirgitteSB 15:37, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Agree 100%. There is not a single problem facing Wikipedia today (vandalism, trolling, uneven attention to topics, no mechanism to resolve content disputes) that did not exist in 2001 There is really only one problem, and JHK summed it up when she retired in August 2002!! [17].) The very idea of a wikipedia is a gamble that the more people who are empowere to edit at any time, the better the encyclopedia will be, is always a gamble because as long as we are a wiki, people will always be able to use Wikipedia to push a POV or spread slander. If we have any problem with public confidence, the only solution is to explain to them carefully what we all know: that chosing a wikipedia involves some advantages AND some disadvantages. All this aside, I have seen great articles emerge over the years, and i know more and more academics who use Wikipedia as a resource. Collaborating on an encyclopedia article on a controversial topic with a bunch of strangers takes infinite patience and skill at compromise, as well as time to do real research. Editors who are unskilled at research or compromise and impatient will of course see Wikipedia as a failure and seek "governance" to make up for their own flaws. I prefer to acknowledge all of my fellow editors as being as flawed as I am, but hopeful that with time we can work out good articles. I have seen this time and time again, so far from bing a failure i see Wikipedia as a grand success. Slrubenstein | Talk 01:33, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. per my own comments elsewhere, Slrubenstein's excellent summary here, and Cybercobra's wonderfully succint "the sky isn't falling". Doc Tropics 05:24, 19 July 2009 (UTC)


Wikipedia is both doing very well and failing. The majority of high quality content to individual articles, particularly ones not in the immediate spotlight, are written by a small minority. I'd venture to say probably under 100 editors. While the collaboration of copy editing and peer review is quite good and has been a helpful and growth-inducing experience for me, the actual formation of content in most articles is done by individuals. Because they have the same sources and perceptions to decide what's important and what's not, these individuals (myself included) are forming knowledge. This is not what I believe the purpose of Wikipedia to be, and as a result I have suspended my editing on certain topics.

When an event happens in real time, however, watching the construction of a well-cited article despite the edit conflicts is quite amazing. Although perhaps many readers come to get up on recent events, the bulk of material on Wikipedia is not current events. So community collaboration consists of unhelpful and unnecessary drive-by fact tagging, and demands that certain facts are inserted into articles and the stressful arguments that follow. Many editors function in a crisis and response type system, by swarming on an article and its talk pages, going through an edit war or nominated for AfD to improve it, to stop the leaks in a sinking boat, so to speak. Often single sentences or paragraphs are the center of these battles. Many editors do not display patience and fortitude enough to step back and reconstruct the article from the bottom up, and I notice that if information is not immediately available within a 10-second search on Google, further attempts are sometimes abandoned. A culture of intellectual laziness is associated with this atmosphere. I quite honestly believe that Wikipedia culture and its systems (consensus, dispute resolution, ANI, etc) are built upon solving or avoiding arguments that spiral out of control despite the fact that few editors bother to read multiple sources. Editors would rather argue for days on a fine point than go read about the whole topic and provide a variety of sources and views, like arguing over a broken window in a house collapsing over your head.

Ideally, in my opinion, editors should be using high quality content as a guide to create more high quality material. What is this, incrementalism or some kind of ism where quality theoretically increases in increments? I don't know how true this is. I do know that I often find articles shamefully lacking in quality and full of all kinds of nuttiness so I construct them myself. It is, however, impossible for a handful of editors to continue to do this. I wonder even if a graphic model could be made of how many FAs or GAs it takes before a single editor is overcome with maintenance problems and unable to branch out to tackle other topics. For high traffic articles, that number is very low, such as 5 articles or so. For more obscure topics, the number is higher. While individual ownership is not a right, the community has the responsibility to support high quality, and I don't find it widely done. Individually, I'm left alone to write what I want as long as I stick to GA and FA guidelines. It's something I enjoy doing, so that's pretty cool. Collectively, however, the effort to maintain articles is sorely lacking. --Moni3 (talk) 20:51, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Moni sums it up well, and my encounters of articles parallel hers - yes it isn't 'failing' as such and superficially continues to impress as a vibrant and thriving community with oodles of discussion. I agree that I frequently find precious little article development other than reverting, and many remain in a half-done state for years. Furthermore, there is some evidence of a fall-off in recruitment of editors, which should concern everyone. Many people only stick around for a certain period and we should be grateful for that, and not expect them to continue the input indefinitely. Other issues such as BLPs and legal issues, things may be fine....until they are not. I really don't know how real (or otherwise) the threat of legal action is, but I would greatly appreciate some evaluation of it rather than otherwise. Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:49, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks EricBarbour below, I only read the conclusion section but it was an interesting read. Has this dissertation been raised or discussed anywhere else on wikipedia before? I know the stagnation of new editors has been raised before but I would be interested in reading a discussion on this. My initial thought, and again the comments above reinforce this, was that I hope the foundation usability project produces results that will lead to more new editors being able to contribute. I also think it reinforces what I said above about not driving off our existing editors or discouraging new editors. Davewild (talk) 17:31, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
I do not think that credentials matter here - but the fact is, there is a tremendous overlap between those editors who are skilled at library research, and those who are pursuing or have academic degrees. And it is from this group that Wikipedia draws the authors of most of the best articles on scholarly topics. Yet these are people who have to be devoting their time to their own original research to advance in their careers. The point is this: given that Wikipedia depends entirely on voluntary labor, it is extraordinary htat it has so many great articles as it has! I think when one considers such realities Wikipedia clearly is a success. Now, is it perfect? No. We could use a mechanism for resolving ontent disputes. We need to attract more people from the social sciences and humanities. We need to educate many volunteer editors how to use the wb skillfully in research, and when they need to rely on real libraries. The project council is not going to help solve any of these problems. Lt's create open forums where editors can discuss such problems, and lets see if we can generate any proposals. in the meantime, for an encyclopedia that asks strangers to collaborate on writing articles, often on controverisal topics, without any compensation, I'd say Wikipedia is a smashing success. Slrubenstein | Talk 01:40, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement[edit]

  1. Obviously you haven't read this PhD dissertation, written by Jose Felipe Ortega, aka User:GlimmerPhoenix--the creator of the WikiXRay statistical analysis program. He used it to analyze raw XML dump files from Wikipedia right thru its history, from 2001 up to early 2008. He found that the arrival of new editor talent peaked out in 2007, and is now dropping slowly. Same goes for meaningful article edits. Bot editing is increasing, meanwhile. This is not a good thing for Wikipedia's future. Go and read it--it's tough sledding but very, very informative.--Eric Barbour (talk) 08:57, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
I read the article. It is extremely interesting. But my take on it is that the potential reasons for the drop off in new editors who remain active are not particularly issues that this ACPD committee will address. "Editor retention" is complex, I deduce from this dissertation. It also mentions the serious problem of a core number of editors are doing an increasing amount of work, and casual editors a lesser proportion, and if this trend continues, it will not be feasible to maintain a thriving Wikipedia due to human limitations in work load. Will this committee be addressing the needs of new editors and casual editors, or the needs of the small percentage of hardcore contributors? The English Wikipeida has the oldest editors (I'm not putting this elegantly), according to the dissertation. The future lies in attracting and retaining new editors and casual editors, not only catering primarily to the old hands. —Mattisse (Talk) 17:37, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
I've listed this issue, in all of this complexity, here as one we should take on. I think it is one of the most serious facing Wikipedia. Awadewit (talk) 22:15, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by John Carter[edit]

Some editors, including some very respected ones, seem to believe, perhaps correctly, that there is no need for the creation of a body such as this one, and have, understandably, objected to its creation in the way it was created. A number of other editors, some very respected, disagree with them, based on their comments above and elsewhere. If for no other reason than to quiet the misgivings of those who have perceived a problem, real or imagined, it does seem logical to create an entity which is at least seen by those individuals as being able to address that problem. If there is no problem, fine, the actions or proposals of the group may well not achieve any sort of consensus to become enacted. If there is a problem, they might be able to help create a way of addressing it. But, at the very least, even by simply existing the group seems to be likely to at least maybe help some of those who feel, perhaps irrationally, that wikipedia does have problems to think there is a group which can address them.
All prior attempts at creating similar groups in the past have been rejected. If the same means of proposing such a group were to have been used this time, the same result would probably have been gotten, specifically, the discussion would drag on for months and ultimately the proposed group would have been found to lack the consensus to be created. Knowing this, and the real or imaginary perceived problems of the project many editors see at this time, it probably makes sense, if for no other reason than to address the concerns of the maybe paranoid people who think wikipedia is failing, to create the group outright, without prior discussion and almost certain rejection on the basis of no consensus to create it.
If the individual members of the group screw up in some big way, it is hard if not impossible to imagine that they would not be reprimanded/punished for their actions. If the group itself were to be found to be incompetent or problematic, the foundation or the community would almost certainly be able to call for its dissolution. Particularly considering it is largely made up of some of the better, more level-headed people we have, the likelihood of some such mistake being made are not necessarily particularly good.
In summary, it looks like those individuals who have, rightly or wrongly, perceived the need for some such body now have one, although by its remit so far it cannot on its own enact any ideas it might have. That, basically, means it can't directly hurt anyone, or, for that matter, possibly/probably do anything on its own at all. And it seems to have been created in the only way, based on previous history, such a group could ever be created. While some may reasonably object to the way its existence was announced to a degree, there may have been no other way for it to be created. Even if it is just a placebo and there is nothing wrong, it may well be enough to reduce the number of complaints that there is and make the editors making such statements feel better about the project.

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. John Carter (talk) 20:09, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. rootology (C)(T) 20:21, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. → ROUX  20:43, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 21:39, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Sensible for the most part. RxS (talk) 02:47, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Casliber (talk · contribs) 03:37, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Mais Oui--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:53, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Other than not emphasising the nature of the transparency of this particular gathering, I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. LessHeard vanU (talk) 21:55, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. - Kevin (talk) 01:29, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. I also believe in freedom of assembly. All of these "no, editors are not allowed to talk about ideas with their own choice of editors; there must always be a representative from the King 'community' present" comments are reminding me why America's founders thought our Bill of Rights was important. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:13, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. --JN466 16:26, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. -- Quiddity (talk) 20:05, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement from roux[edit]

(This was intended as a support of John Carter's statement above, but ended up being far too long). Enough Chicken Littling. This council was formed to cut through the nonsense that is trying to get anything substantial done. The deadlocks are ridiculous, the vocal opposition from people who cannot even be bothered to read anything about what is going on is insane, and the general antipathy towards finding any sort of solution--as opposed to endless and fruitless wrangling over comma placement--is sounding the death knell of Wikipedia as it could and should be. To paraphrase someone on another website I belong to, "Hi! I'm from Wikipedia and I could over-argue a plate of beans!" I mean let's be serious here. Flagged Revisions, which has worked to excellent effect on dewiki, has been vocally opposed on enwiki for no other reason that I can see than that it represents change. A limited trial is coming.. except that the trial was decided by people who fundamentally do not understand how FR works, and will require software changes from volunteers who have other things to do with their time than to rewrite software at the behest of people don't know what they are talking about. That job is the province of developers in the corporate world.

This is emblematic of the problems site-wide in project administration and governance. Wikipedians, en masse, have an intense aversion to any sort of change. And anytime someone attempts change, they get castigated for it. This comes to mind; people actually opposed the candidate for trying something new instead of engaging the process on its merits. The vocal opposers here have done exactly the same thing. Instead of actually paying attention to what has been said, they have leapt forth, falling all over each other to be the first to demonstrate that they not only haven't read what has been said, but are actively ignoring what is being said in favour of reacting to their own preconceptions and furthering past grudges. This entire RFC is a perfect microcosm of exactly what is wrong with Wikipedia, and exactly why a focus group for examining problems is needed: a small and nimble discussion group can actually devote itself to examining problems, and more importantly finding actual solutions to propose to the community, without getting bogged down in the endless verbiage and nonsense that plague every discussion--particularly the endlessly recurring ones such as date delinking, Rorschach images, Muhammad images, etc--occurring on Wikipedia. → ROUX  20:43, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. As writer. → ROUX  20:43, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Maybe a bit more, well, emotive, than I would like, but I agree in substance. John Carter (talk) 21:30, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 21:39, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Yes - Casliber (talk · contribs) 03:36, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Oui encore.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:54, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Yes. ++Lar: t/c 14:34, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. I, too, have been a target of antipathy when instigating a process which I felt was for the betterment of the project, for what I perceived in a few cases as simply not wishing to contemplate any change in the status quo. LessHeard vanU (talk) 22:00, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Agree with John Carter's assessment of this. I would never have gotten this far down in an RFC if I were not a member of the council being discussed. When there is an RFC about a thorny issue, I usually stay far away, and I suspect there are lots of dedicated Wikipedians like me who do the same. There have to be better ways to get constructive input from the community. -- SamuelWantman 01:24, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. - Kevin (talk) 01:27, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Thank you — a statement with clue and passion that was worth reading. Cheers, Jack Merridew 10:56, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. DGG (talk) 06:09, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. Although I didn't read the background of RFA the FR assessment is in line with my own thoughts. BirgitteSB 15:28, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. --JN466 16:27, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. -- Quiddity (talk) 20:06, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors rejecting this statement[edit]

  1. No - good intentions, terrible means. Slrubenstein | Talk 01:44, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. No - I've got enough respect for most arbcom members that I'm willing to AGF good intentions, sure, but this was absolutely the wrong way to go about it. The frustrating thing is that some elements of the core concept are actually reasonable and probably useful, but the attempted implementation could hardly have been worse. Doc Tropics 05:38, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Alanyst[edit]

  1. I think the members of ArbCom who promoted this idea were trying in good faith to solve a problem, not trying to expand their powers.
  2. I think the proposed Council poses little risk of becoming an elite, privileged group, and has the potential to generate a lot of good ideas and discussion.
  3. I think the invitation towards various adversarial voices to sit on the council was a wise notion; I regard it to have been an effort to put aside personal squabbles in order to achieve a better diversity of views.
  4. I don't agree with the strong objections that have been voiced but I respect them and hope we can find a good and close alternative that promotes well-reasoned analysis of wiki-wide concerns and minimizes feelings of inequality or classism.
  5. My proposed alternative (first mentioned on this RfC's talk page, condensed here) is to establish a system of think-tanks -- not just one exclusive group, but any number of self-organizing and self-governing groups with their own chosen scope and membership -- that all have to meet some basic criteria (like making all their communications public on-wiki to avoid suspicions of cabalism). Such qualifying think-tanks would have an ArbCom liaison to aid in communicating ideas and recommendations between them. The roles of the think-tanks would be purely advisory, their influence determined by the merits of what they produce, and members of the think-tanks would enjoy no special prerogatives in content editing, project-space discussion, or dispute resolution processes. Originally, I suggested that ArbCom could charter these groups to ensure adherence to the minimum standards, but perhaps there's a way for this to be self-policing or else handled by the (aware and involved subset of the) community in general.

alanyst /talk/ 04:07, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. As writer. alanyst /talk/ 04:07, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Endorse 1 through 4 absolutely. Willing to give 5 a shot, though I suspect it wouldn't come to much. Steve Smith (talk) (formerly Sarcasticidealist) 04:14, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Per Steve, though the 'think tank' system will still need a group overseeing it. The parallel is WikiProjects with taskforces. Expanding slightly: one of the major concerns raised is that any such groups need to be (at least) arms length from Arbcom. I don't agree that this is necessary, but consensus is clear on the matter. An elected group with overall responsibility for managing thinktanks will help keep the 'separation of powers', as well as being able to steer each group and keep them on track, and then shut it down once a proposal has made it to the community-approval stage. → ROUX  04:32, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. While I am not convinced that these think-tanks should be "self-organizing and self-governing", the rest closely matches what I would like to see as the end result of this RFC. This is the only statement I will endorse. John Vandenberg (chat) 05:49, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Endorse 1 and 5. It would be a way out of this where everyone wins and noone loses. Orderinchaos 09:24, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. WRT fact finding, 5 is what I had in mind anyway. I did sort of envisage 'pods' of people investigating issues and graphing out issues. Casliber (talk · contribs) 12:29, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Endorse 5, only, in principle, but I'd have to see a specific proposal.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:38, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Endorse 1-4; 5 will almost certainly not be settled by this RfC, except perhaps to reinforce the rejection of a closed policy-making body vs. a purely idea-generating and advisory body. - 2/0 (cont.) 17:32, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. The controversy is overblown, as if the end of the world was known to be presaged by the creation of an advisory committee on Wikipedia. Why are we so worried about advice? What element of "power" is required to ask some people to get together to discuss problems? Without looking that closely, I bet WP:AGF is quoted or wikilinked more than a few times on this page - with no intentional irony, I'm sure. Nathan T 18:04, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Agree with all points. At this point, any outcome that has more discussion is a net positive. Kevin (talk) 01:26, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. at least the first 4 DGG (talk) 06:09, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. BirgitteSB 15:20, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Slrubenstein[edit]

According to Rootology and many others who support ArbCom's action, the "system" is so screwed up that it is failing and will collapse in on itself.

So what is the cause of this massive screw-up? I have another view.

The problem is simple. Jimbo (and by some accounts Larry Sanger) wished to create an Encyclopedia that anyone could edit at any time. The wiki technology means not only that masses of editors could create masses of articles, it also means that masses of editors can correct one another's mistakes. This is one of the few (if not only) attempts to create an open community on a global scale:

Jimbo wrote a Statement of principles in 2001. It is prominently linked from Wikipedia:Five pillars. This statement of principles posits, in part, that
Newcomers are always to be welcomed. There must be no cabal, there must be no elites, there must be no hierarchy or structure which gets in the way of this openness to newcomers. [A]ny measures instituted for security must address a compelling community interest, and must be narrowly tailored to achieve that objective and no other.... [R]ather than trust humans to correctly identify "regulars", we must use a simple, transparent, and open algorithm, so that people are automatically given full privileges once they have been around the community for a very short period of time.

The problem is, we now have millions of registered editors. We are not the small community of people working largely by consensus that we were in 2001. We are a project of many mini-communities and strangers. Consensus takes more work - and patience, the patience of months, not of minutes.

If you share Jimbo's vision, this is a success.

If you do not, it is a failure.

Let's be cystal clear about this: the fantsatic growth of Wikipedia is a "problem" only if you reject Jimbo's vision of a wikipedia that anyone can edit at any time, and that all people in the world can participate in.

Over time we have created policies to guide these strangers, and ArbCom, but always with some concern that too much structure would ruin Jimbo's idea. For those with faith in Jimbo's vision, even policies are at best descriptive not prescriptive. The ideal solution for any problem is for those editors working on an article to sort out a compromise among themselves thourgh the wiki technology.

So I think this comes down to a simple question: do you believe that wiki technology can make a functioning open society possible, or not.

If your answer is "not" then you will seek to create new structures to create more order here, to regulate people further. You see "wiki" as a problem. If this is your answer, you basically reject Jimbo's vision.

And this is not a function of scale, or the growth of Wikipedia - those who believe Wikipedia is collapsing and screwed up are not new. People were saying such things when there were only hundreds of editors. There is really only one problem, and JHK summed it up when she retired in August 2002[18].) The point is, a wiki process will always be sloppy). So there is nothing new about this problem, or these complaints.

If your answer is yes, then you will acknowledge the problems anarchy creates, but also appreciate its potential. You will resist further structure and regulation beyond the ability for people to propose new policies and have discussions over them, or create essays on what they see as problems and open up discussion - in contrast (but with respect) to Alanyst's proposal, anyone can form a "think tank" at any time and share the thoughts with everyone else (the problem is not people spontaneously forming think-tnks and then sharing thir views with others; the problem is when the one formal institution we have, ArbCom, oversteps its bounds, to create its own think tank as if its think tank has any special status over that of any other group of editors). If you answer yes, you trust in wiki not as a problem but as a solution, just a solution that unsettles those used to rigid structures..

My answer is yes. Let us grow to 100,000,000!! There will be more conflicts that will take longer to resolve. But let Wiki resolve most of them. Let new users propose new policies, write essays ... I see no need for any special fornmal commitees when we have Wiki, and anyone can do anything one wants, comfortble in the knowledge that when one makes a mistake, Wiki allows others to fix it. I do not believe this process will collapse. If it does, it means Jimbo's vision was wrong from the start. I however have faith in that vision. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:33, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

PS: I know many people will disagree with me in good faith. Believe it or not, I get your point, however much I respectfully disagree. But I have to say: if you feel this way, move to Larry Sanger's Nupedia and try to restart it (that was an experiment - in centralized governance - that really DID fail!!). He formed Nupedia largely because he shared many of your objections and concerns. The question is, should there be only one on-line encyclopedia? I see no problem with there being several, each informed by different premises and having different governing structures. If you want to be part of Wikipedia, then be part of Wilkipedia. But if you feel that the Wikipedia philosophy is wrong or has failed, do what Larry Sanger did: leave Wikipedia for a different kind of project. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:05, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

PPS: I am not saying that there are no problems at Wikipedia. I am however saying that the solution (eve if it involves creating new committees) has to involve greater transparency and participation by the community. This means creating committees only following community discussion, and chosing on membership rules (democratic elections or open memebership) through community discussion and vote. My current project, WP:Areas for Reform demonsrates how serious I am about addressing problems, and how committed I am to doing this through the open community. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:37, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this proposal[edit]

  1. Endorse Just as the discussion on remunerated services showed - WP is not "Paypedia" nor is it something where fundamental changes should be determined by other than a full consensus of those interested in the matter. Comment on "failure" below." Collect (talk) 14:06, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Endorse. I would go so far as to suggest to the ArbCom that they invite Slrubenstein to the ACPD as soon as possible - you need someone with his viewpoints to balance out the apocalyptic authoritarian viewpoints of people like Rootology, because left to rule they alone will cause the downfall of wikipedia.·Maunus·ƛ· 15:19, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    Thanks but no thanks - the only committees I would ever serve on would be ad hoc, membership-open, community generated ones! Slrubenstein | Talk 15:40, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Endorse. Wikipedia is not failing, and does not need to be fixed by a self-electing cabal. Those who wish to run Cabalpedia are free to start their own project, copying all the code and content from Wikipedia under the appropriate licenses. --FOo (talk) 02:15, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. I think you hit the nail of the head perfectly. Guettarda (talk) 02:34, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Endorse I was going to write up my own proposal, but Slrubenstein has done it so well it seems easier to endorse his and then arrange to steal the credit for it later on. Doc Tropics 05:51, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Endorse Although I'd note Jimbo now and Jimbo then seem to have had quite different ideas. Orderinchaos 10:28, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Endorse. Wikipedia isn't broken. It's just frustrating, as direct democracies are bound to be, but we have to keep our eye on the fruits of it, which are astonishing and humbling. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 22:10, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Endorse. It's clear that ArbCom has come to see itself (and to be seen by others) as Wikipedia's "government". But the point of ArbCom is to arbitrate disputes. It should stick to that. We don't need patronage here, and we don't need "think tanks", they are for policy makers, and ArbCom's job is not to make or to create a patronage group that will de facto make policy. Alun (talk) 19:31, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. Agreed. Davewild (talk) 07:09, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Endorse. Seems about right. Consensus is growing here that Arbcom can't/shouldn't appoint a committee like this any more than the U.S. Supreme Court can appoint an "advisory committee with no power" to discuss whether the U.S. is properly run. --JohnnyB256 (talk) 16:14, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement[edit]

  1. Believing in the mission of Wikipedia and the power of the wiki concept to address problems and create wonderful things as I do, I nevertheless realise that every problem is not a nail. Recognizing that does not mean I "reject Jimbo's vision" ++Lar: t/c 22:04, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. What Lar said. → ROUX  22:12, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. I refer you to the Questions Of Scale section by Casliber above. I still love the basic idea and promise of Wikipedia. But its governing institutions and processes have simply failed to scale. I've been saying this since 2006! Any community, once it reaches a certain size, begins to feel stresses and strains. See for yourself; put a bunch of mice together in a small cage (or ants if you prefer in a small jar) and watch the ensuing hilarity. I've seen it happen to easily dozens of online communities over the decades ranging in size from local BBSes, Fidonet mailing lists, Web-based message forums and the Usenet. This is a fundemental social dynamic. All the Wiki! Wiki! RahRahRahs! and Hail Jimbos! can't change it.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 10:51, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. The governing structures aren't perfect. Yet Wikipedia is probably the most used information resource in the world, one of the most reliable, and keeps getting more so on a daily basis. It's got a great engine, sorry about the paint job.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:58, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. That does nothing to address the issues. Wikipedia is breaking under the weight, basically. The model wasn't constructed to support a community this large, and it's giving out. Discussing issues and proposing changes—improvements—to the way we do things is not equal to moving away from the original vision. Lara 15:14, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Any project must be able to adapt when its scale and scope expand. Majoreditor (talk) 02:59, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. What Lar said. -- Noroton (talk) 04:15, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Expansion of comment by Collect[edit]

I noted several instances where the slowdown of WP expansion has been noted. When WP started, think of the available area for articles as being a football field where editors could pretty much throw a dart and be able to edit where the dart landed without intracting much with others. As the field fills up with darts, the probability of landing too close to another dart increases exponentially - right now there are very few areas where an editor has truly open space. WP has hit a maturity level as far as new articles is concerned - which explains why the number of non-notable articles is now increasing rapidly (if one wishes to make new articles there is an easy path -- subdivide what should be single articles. Lists of post offices in Ulan Bator can be made into an article on each post office and each postmaster, an article on "The Gnarfs" (putative TV series for the sake of discussion) gets subdivided into articles on every actor ever to appear, and every character ever to appear in it, and so forth.) One other aspect is unfortunately the nature of mature projects to develop additional bureaucracies. WP does not need to scale up any layers of bureaucracies, rather it needs to adhere more closely to the original slightly anarchic vision it was founded with. WP has not yet "failed" to be sure -- everything whoich has been called a failing can be explained in a simple and rational manner, and was predictable from the start. Collect (talk) 14:05, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Proposal To End This Madness[edit]

What has this RFC accomplished so far?

  • Two of the best members of the ArbCom have resigned.
  • Several long-serving admins have resigned or come close.
  • Several well-established editors have been blocked.
  • Flamewars and brushfires too numerous to count.
  • A very modest and mostly harmless attempt at reform has been effectively crippled if not crushed.

This RFC has gone beyond being merely disruptive, it has become destructive! Clearly nothing good will come by dragging this on further. Let's cut our losses and end this madness now before it inflicts more damage upon the community.

Editors endorsing this statement[edit]

  1. Enough!--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:25, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Yes. Regardless of what you think the original motives were for starting it, it's clearly not doing any good. End it before more damage is done. ++Lar: t/c 13:58, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. I agree, regarding the RfC specifically. I have not myself seen that the proposed Council has been in and of itself, destructive, so I am withholding judgement on whether or not to end it based on the comments so far. John Carter (talk) 14:07, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. End the disruption. This RFC serves as proof that Wikipedia is not a battleground is only a policy, not a reality. Jack Merridew 15:04, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Agreed. And note to Everyking: I support the council, but I support the clear consensus more. This should be closed per WP:SNOW, as it's highly unlikely anything will change. → ROUX  16:28, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Initially I considered leaving a !vote or two in this RfC, but all statements were extremist in one direction (sometimes using words such as overreach or hypocrisy ) or the other (denying it was a bad idea). Now it's WP:TLDR, and I am not going to wade through this RfC to find out if there is a statement pointing out that this was simply a good-faith bad idea. Hans Adler 10:10, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement[edit]

  1. I do not believe that thirty days have passed or that consensus has been reached yet. What I do see is a transparent discussion about Wikipedia governance. In this discussion many people, including RDH and Lar, have expressed support for the ACPD and a desire for a shift to some kind of binding governance at Wikipedia; this is fine. I also see many people expressing strong opposition to these views, which is fine too. I think it is unfortunate and sad that some editors cannot stand to see people disagree with them in public. And it seems to me that this is what is motivating this motion. To call it madness shows a failure to assume good faith on the part of people who just do not agree with you. What does it mean to call a request for people to comment on a change in Wikipedia governance "disruptive?" What is this discussion disrupting? Whom is it damaging? Is any disagreement with your views or aims "damaging disruption?" Creating a small, invitation-only council is not damaging or disruptive, but giving any editor the opportunity to comment is? Excuse me, but we have RfCs because we believe that providing space for all wikipedians to comment is a good thing. Let us give the time needed for people to express themselves. What is Wikipedia, but its own editors? Let them have their chance to comment!!! Slrubenstein | Talk 14:14, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    Then what wiki-euphemism would you prefer to use besides madness, to describe a community tearing itself apart over a trivial matter? Please spare me that tired old saw about AGF. It is too bad that your good faith, does not not extend to our democratically elected ArbCom.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:37, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. At this time it appears that editors are still weighing in. Short-circuiting process is, IMHO, not warranted. Collect (talk) 14:31, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    It's not short-circuiting process to try and close down one which has generated far more heat than light and is clearly going nowhere, and will only serve to create more bad blood and unneeded drama.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:37, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. I can understand why supporters of the council would be embarrassed by the consensus against their viewpoint, and it would certainly make things easier for the council if this RfC was closed and the council could proceed with business without being pestered by the community's opposition to it. However, on Wikipedia we respect consensus and the views of the community over the titles and powers invested in a tiny handful of users. Therefore, in keeping with Wikipedia's principles, I propose that we leave the RfC open and go close down the council instead. Everyking (talk) 15:48, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. (ACDP) "has been effectively crippled if not crushed". Not from where I'm looking. A week on, and its own failure to launch is what has crippled it. See my statement for more on how to properly take on board the feedback in this Rfc, rather than using it as an excuse. MickMacNee (talk) 16:44, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    And it has failed to launch due to all the bovine scat on the runway generated by this RFC. That's some catch that Catch 22! In retrospect, effectively crippled was the wrong term; strangled in its crib would be more apt.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:16, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
    More like a stillbirth if we have to use fetal analogies. MickMacNee (talk) 21:27, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
    Okay RDH, you are basically saying "it failed, because lots of people thought it was a bad idea." That is not a "catch-22," buddy boy, and it is how things are supposed to work here. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:27, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
    No, I'm saying logic and reading comprehension are our friends...we should embrace them. I'm also saying that it never got a chance to prove itself a bad idea or otherwise, because of all the objections. Comprenez...Zellweger?--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:32, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
    Yes, I understand that you disagree with those who object to the Council or the way it was established. I am just saying that this was not a "catch-22." I think your argument, that the objections are premature judgments, is a valid argument ... nevertheless, you seem to be in the minority. When I said "that is how thing are supposed to work" I was not referring to the reasonableness or unreasonableness of anyone's reasons, only to the fact that we had an open process in which anyone could participate, air their views, endorse or object to different peopl's views as they see fit. For me, everything follows from the principle whtat Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that anyone can edit at any time. Anyone can issue an RfC at any time. And anyone has the right to argue that it is premature. If most people agreed with you, this RfC would have ended many days ago when a consensus that the whole thing is premature might have emerged. That could have happened ... in this case it just didn't. That is the way an open, direct, deliberative democracy is supposed to work, n'est pa, Françoise? Slrubenstein | Talk 12:43, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
    Nice comeback ;-) However, I see no clear consensus forming here against nor for the ACPD. By which I mean the usual Wikipedian definition of a landslide or super majority. But it is a clear candidate to be WP:SNOWjobbed.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 14:26, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. But you're shooting the messenger. You can't lay responsibility for those events at the feet of the RFC. Those things would never have come about if a) ArbCom had stuck to dispute resolution, the role it was elected to or b) ArbCom had spoken to the community before launch or c) The members of ArbCom who support this idea had doffed their ArbCom garb before bringing it forward. The way to end it now is not to condemn the RFC, but to listen to the views of the community as expressed therein. --MoreThings (talk) 19:43, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    Agreed, indeed, points taken, others have said the same things, but how will dragging this mess out help fix any of that? BtW, 437 edits since March of this year...Is this your first RFC?--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:24, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
    Dragging it out won't fix it. Listening to the many editors who agree with proposal that the council be abandoned will. Yep, I'm a pleb, and proud of it. Even we plebs have the right to wag our plebeian tongues. I agree that writing content would be much more productive, but good faith input to these things also has some merit. It's not only the voices of the luminaries that should be heard.--MoreThings (talk) 12:41, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
    As a pleb, then, I'm curious as to why you feel the mighty Wikipedia would be so threatened by this small, mostly harmless think tank/sounding board. I can understand perfectly why the established elites and their cliques hate it-They see it as a threat to their sooper sekret off-wiki power channels and besides they were not invited. But the plebs should be welcoming it. If they have a clever idea or an issue or problem they feel should be addressed, then this little council gurentees they would have the eyes of several prominant Pats and even a couple of Arbs. At least let's give it a chance and see. Then if it should turn into just another closed, echo chamber, I'm with you; it would deserve some killing. Sadly, it looks like we won't know one way or another. But congrats on your first RFC.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:08, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
    The way it was initially created, I don't think it was a small and mostly harmless think-tank. If you read through the initial announcement on the ArbCom board you'll see my view. Why shouldn't we just stick with it as an impotent think-tank? Largely because it's an impotent think-tank. What's the point? How is it actually going to do anything? It's not having too few ideas that's the problem, it's having too many, with no means to choose between them. Anyhoo, I ended up running on a bit so I put my reply on talk --MoreThings (talk) 20:01, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
    Perhaps the talkpage is a better place for our discussion (imagine that), though I've been deliberately avoiding the place, because its heat to light ratio is even worse than here. I shall see you there, my good pleb.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:32, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. The only way to end the madness is to either close the council down or reconstitute it as a "group of members" independent of any "advisory" role. If we are to appoint advisors, they need to know what they are advising on, and have experience in the sorts of things ArbCom needs advice on. If it's governance, bring in governance experts. If it's consensus building, bring in psychologists and group mentors. Otherwise, even through the best intentions of those appointed, it will fail to generate new or useful ideas. Let's not pretend we can do this alone without outside help. Orderinchaos 06:46, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Well if it serves to curb the increasingly authoritarian style of the so called ArbCom then that is a good thing. This body, supposedly a dispute resolution committee, seems to see itself as Wikipedia's Executive Government. Now it is time for it to go, when it acts arbitrarily and decides to create patronage systems, it's members have overstepped. These RfCs are where the community gets it's say. Like typical authoritarians, whent he community doesn't agree with the executive, the instincts of the executive are to cut off debate quickly. That's shameful. Alun (talk) 08:55, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
    Err Sunshine, here's a newsflash I'm not an authoritarian. Quite the opposite, in fact I've been arguing, in vain, for greater democracy on here since the year of our Jimbo 2006. I was banned by the likes of Cyde for taking up for my friend, Karmafist, who was fighting for the same. Where were you then? Did it ever occur to you that the ArbCom is currently the only democratically elected decision making body we have?! If you really want to speak out against them maybe elections would be a better place for it.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:48, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
    Er, buddy boy, when you say ArbCom is the only elected body we have, you understand that that makes ArbCom a form of indirect democracy. The reason they are the only elected body we have is because the form of democracy we faor at Wikipedia is direct democracy. ArbCom appointing a council moves us quite far from pure deomocracy, from the direct democracy of Wikipedia we are fighting to maintain. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:11, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
    Wikipedia is not a democracy. the wub "?!" 08:42, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
    wub, please read carefully. The link you provide goes to a passage saying that Wikipedia is based on consensus and that the only voting is for ArbCom. The people who wrote that clearly mean "representative democracy" when they use the word "democracy." They do not mean "participatory democracy." In fact, their description of how Wikipedia should operate sounds just like a participatory democracy. It definitely does not support the idea of ArbCom devolving any powers to a committee it appoints! Slrubenstein | Talk 09:09, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. If it's "madness" to disagree with an important issue like this, through the established mechanisms on Wikipedia, then the Wiki is in serious trouble. --JohnnyB256 (talk) 16:08, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Got some bad news; It is in serious trouble[19]. BTW, this is the first post here in over a week. The madness may not have ended, but it does appear to have moved on.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 02:22, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't see the problem. High growth rates are not a really important issue imo. And why would wikipedia keep growing at the same rate anyway? And most importantly what about quality? ·Maunus·ƛ· 02:39, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Maunus[edit]

I do not necessarily oppose the creation of the Advisory Council. I think it is a good idea that gropus of wikipedians come together and discuss ways to improve and develop the project. But I am strongly against assigning anything more than suggestive power to such groups - all suggestions should be subject to decision by consensus. Now, this is exactly what it seems that the ArbCom is proposing should be the ground rules for the ACPD. Then my question is: why make it in this way? Why not simply encourage any and all groups of editors to go together and discuss such things in their user spaces and present their suggestins under the same proviso of decision by consensus? What other purpose does it serve that the Arbcom has a specially appointed council of their own choosing? My view is that all wikipedians have the same right to congregate and discuss improvements and to suggest such improvements in the appropriate fora. I don't see the point of having a special AbCom sanctioned council. This being said I cannot oppose the creation of the ACPD because as I have stated I belieave that all wikipedians have the rights to form councils and propose suggestions, so should the members of ArbCom and the current ACPD. But I would strongly urge that it be made explicit that the ACPD's suggestions and opinions are not apriori more important or valid than suggestions made by any other group of wikipedians. ·Maunus·ƛ· 15:33, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

We (ArbCom) share your opinion. Every idea will need to be implemented the same way as always. The hope is that the discussions will be different in the sense that they will be better researched and better informed because the group has people invited to talk to each other that generally do not join the same discussions (at least at the same time.) For example, getting content contributors in discussion with users that are involved with the technical side of contributing will help find better solutions to issues. People that have good knowledge and skills at with doing research can offer to develop quality information that can be used by other people when designing new policies and processes. Currently, when complicated ideas are suggested there is a rush of people that start !voting based on first impressions or anecdotal experience. I prefer that we move towards models for addressing complex issues by using the process that are usually used by large and thriving organizations. The intent is not to limit the involvement of anyone. But rather give everyone a better chance of having their ideas heard and implemented if they are the best one. Currently many ideas die on the vine from lack of nurturing. This think tank is intended to be a model of how good decision making takes place. FloNight♥♥♥ 15:49, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by MickMacNee[edit]

The ACPD is an initial failure but has potential, reboot[edit]

  • 1. Failure to launch. It is 7 days since the ACPD 'launched', and the launch appears to have been a failure, as the group does not currently have the support of a significant portion of the community.
  • 2. Failure to lead. Since it has been launched, the ACPD still seems to have no leadership, or any idea what is it for, despite numerous clear clarifications from arbitrators, and encouragement from users. The group is suffering from lack of leadership and purpose, and a recent incident suggest this forum suffers from some of the same problems that supposedly dogs full community discussion[citation needed]
  • 3. Failure to overcome. Follwing the launch, the ACPD has failed to capitalise on the actual support it has for just getting on with being a think tank, and neither has it satisfactoraly begun to fix what some people think is fundementally wrong with it. It is caught in the headlights. The group discussions and organisation so far, while at an extremely early stage, is not what you would expect from a focused think tank of experienced users.
  • 4 Reboot from first principles. An arbcom invite only think tank for the benefit of brainstorming problems and presenting proposals is not necessarily a bad thing, but the failures and mistakes launching this one have holed it below the waterline. Any proposal from the ACPD may be forever stained by its conception, so simply pressing on and hoping for the best is admirable, but most likely self-defeating. As a fresh start, a new group should be established building on the existing support for ACPD, but with clearer legitimacy and functional specification. As such, please see #Proposal - Wikipedia Think Tank (WP:TT) below.

Editors endorsing this statement (MickMacNee)[edit]

  1. Support - I think MMN's hit the nail on the head. Orderinchaos 06:38, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors opposing this statement (MickMacNee)[edit]

  1. Whether we have the support of the community is an entirely different matter, but the program hasn't been a failure, even with all the retirements, et al. We've had to slog through all the problems this RfC has created, but now we are drafting issue briefs which, if nothing else good comes from the program, should be a valuable source of information. The real world doesn't operate as some on the wiki seem to believe it does; people have real life and other onwiki commitments, so it's been slow-going, but this is akin to blaming Obama for not fixing the economy in a month of taking office. --Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs (talk) 15:10, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. oppose "An arbcom invite only think tank for the benefit of brainstorming problems and presenting proposals is not necessarily a bad thing" ... well, aside from the weasle words, I have to ask: proposals concerning what? ArbCom is an elected body to arbitrate disputes. That is the only decision it has to make. Why would it need a council on how to decide in personal behavior disputes? The ONLY people who should be influencing ArbCom decisions are ... people elected to ArbCom!! If ArbCom is saying that it is too small to get the job done, that it needs more members, fine!! But ArbCom does not have the right to appoint new members to advise them in their decisions New members to ArbCom muct be elected by the general community.

Editors neutral on this statement (MickMacNee)[edit]

Proposal - Wikipedia Think Tank (WP:TT)[edit]

Note:WP:TT is currently in use for something else, and does not go to any think tank proposal yet.

Based on my statement, specifically point 4, the ACPD will be disbanded, and the community will reconstitute it as the Wikipedia Think Tank (WP:TT), based on the first principles laid out below. These are based on, but are an enhancement of, the current ACPD, taking into account this Rfc and the progress of the ACPD in its first week.

Having Arbcom handling invites is as good a system as any given their community standing, but they were not appointed to make policy, so they should not be members of the think tank. Any form of community elected think tank brings its own big issues, and as such should be presented as a different proposal to this one. If people genuinely want an elected body instead of the ACPD, please do not support this proposal.

The ACPD was never conceived as a decision making body, and would have no power to change policy, so a simple indicative weight of support from the community is enough, rather than any more onerous idea of a counted consensus such as 60% or even 75% of a 'vote'.

  1. What it is:
    1. The group is called the Wikipedia Think Tank (WP:TT)
    2. The group is a think tank, nothing more, nothing less
    3. The group works for the communty, not arbcom
  2. What it is not:
    1. The group is not an elite/Wikipedia government/special friends club/bitching forum
    2. The group is not a community decision making body
    3. The group is not part of the dispute resolution process
    4. The group is not exempt from any community policies
  3. Why it is:
    1. The group exists to allow for focussed discussion on specific issues, clear of the problems of scale produced the much enlarged community model
    2. The group exists to formulate and present proposals to the community
    3. The group exists to bring together the often diverse views of the community, not force through unsupported proposals against consensus
  4. Setting up the membership:
    1. Arbitrators are not members of the think tank, input or direction from arbcom/arbitrators to the group must be through an approved method of the chairperson
    2. Each membership 'seat' is offered by invitation only, and only after a majority decision by arbcom
    3. The criteria used to invite members is published before invitations go out
    4. The status of an invitee is to be presumed private, unless or until accepted
    5. Self nominations are allowed, but they must also meet the published criteria, and are only accepted by arbcom majority vote
  5. Maintaining the group
    1. The membership will appoint an impartial chair, who will set the agenda as he/she sees fit
    2. The membership will appoint impartial clerks, who will ensure the agenda is adhered to, and the group functions as intended
    3. The membership numbers will be actively maintained between a minumum and maximum number of 'seats'
    4. Arbcom will ensure inactive members are removed to free up a 'seat'
    5. Arbcom will maintain the membership by invite, the membership shall not determine its own makeup (Note this Rfc)
  6. Periodic review
    1. The group will be subject to 6 monthly community Rfc for feedback

Strong support (WP:TT)[edit]

Weak support (WP:TT)[edit]

Neutral (WP:TT)[edit]

  1. I see this as an improvement on ACPD, but disagree with some aspects (mainly the level of bureaucracy implicit within it), although not sufficiently strongly as to oppose it. Orderinchaos 07:11, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. An official "think tank" is not a bad idea. I wouldn't even necessarily oppose a group that was more than merely "advisory." Clearly Wikipedia has some problems which are not being successfully addressed right now. But the ArbCom should have nothing to do with this body -- it shouldn't be creating it, it shouldn't be appointing it, and the body should not be "advisory" to the ArbCom. In fact, the ArbCom should not be doing anything other than deciding cases -- meaning, for example, that they should have nothing to do with oversighting and checkuser, either. Let's try some "separation of powers", with the ArbCom as the judicial branch, and nothing else. 6SJ7 (talk) 03:09, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Weak oppose (WP:TT)[edit]

  1. Weakly oppose. With a limited and restricted membership, any proposal along these lines will suffer from the same problems that beset Esperanza, in that it will become a "power users" group whether or not it's intended to. I could weakly support something like Peter's WP:AEE proposal provided it stuck to discussion and didn't get involved in bloc-voting (although as mentioned there, I think he sets the membership criteria way too high), but that's because it's open to everyone meeting an arbitrary set of criteria. An in-house version of the Rand Corporation, which is what an exclusive council would be perceived as, would be divisive ("why aren't I considered good enough to post on this page?"), stifle debate ("I don't agree with this, but I'd better not say so because all these Very Important Wikipedians disagree with me") and be too polarizing (as policy discussions would degenerate into shouting matches between those aligned with the Think Tank and VPP, each convinced that they have the greater legitimacy). The benefits (streamlining discussion, filtering out the ranting posts from the "my crank theory must be heard!" tendency, tighter focus) don't IMO outweigh these negatives. – iridescent 16:11, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. I think your idea for how a think tank should function are good, but your ideas for how to determine membership are bad. What does ArbCom have to do with this? What makes anyone think arbcom can pick better members than any other group of editors? It should either be a public vote or it should be open for all.·Maunus·ƛ· 18:30, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. There are some good ideas here, but it seems overly bureaucratic. Also I don't think ArbCom should be choosing the members indefinitely, just picking a few to bootstrap the group. the wub "?!" 08:54, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Strong oppose (WP:TT)[edit]

  1. Oppose Wikipedia as a whole is a think tank. I realize we will never get ALL of Wikipedia to discuss every problem facing the community, but neither do I think we can have one sinle commitee to deal with all problems. I suggest instead that any group of wikipedians are free to form their own ad-hoc group and write an essay on a specific problem and what they think is the source of the problem, and invite other Wikipedians to join in and edit the essay. if enough people participate, they can then procede to discuss solutions to the problem. While this is happening,other groups of Wikipedians would be free to start their own essays, on other problems, and again invite other members of the community to join in. This is basically the way we go about writing policies which has been extraordinarily successful. No one single group, just multiple, open, ad hoc groups, each dealing with that problem that most concerns them. When they agree on a proposal they can present it to the community (like a new policy) for an up/down vote. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:23, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. No, sorry. The entire point of the consensus from the community has been that ArbCom has no business selecting such a group. I disagree with that, but the consensus is clear. → ROUX  16:40, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Totally unconvinced that this has any merit whatsoever. Looks more like a way to give patronage to people. Alun (talk) 22:13, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. I would like to know what the criteria for inclusion on this "special committee" are, and what arbs voted for whom, pro and con. —Mattisse (Talk) 22:42, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    The selection criteria for WP:TT would be published as detailed above MickMacNee (talk) 23:06, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. See no point in trading one patronage cliquerie for another.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:20, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
    (Comment moved to "Neutral"; it's the same comment, but after re-reading the somewhat confusing proposal and the responses to it, I think my response will be misunderstood in this location. 6SJ7 (talk) 12:17, 21 July 2009 (UTC))
  6. Oppose All problems and solutions facing Wikipedia can be discussed here by all members of the community. Captain panda 05:17, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Oppose As problems arise, they are dealt with through ad hoc mechanisms already. --JohnnyB256 (talk) 16:11, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

Discussion of this proposal (WP:TT)[edit]

  • Please register all long comments and rebuttals to editors here for now. If this Rfc is closed early and WP:TT has promise I will spin out into a separate page. MickMacNee (talk) 15:53, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Carnildo[edit]

Meh. Who cares? Phrases like "much ado about nothing" and "running around like chickens with their heads cut off" come to mind. --Carnildo (talk) 05:11, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Stated with your usual eloquence :-) But I agree-Mehs! all around.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) (talk) 11:56, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Where do you stand vis-a-vis tempests and teapots? Badger Drink (talk) 08:21, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Orderinchaos[edit]

Any body or group with a genuinely advisory role should have on it, on principle, people capable of advising. In industry, if people want to sort out issues or find out how they can improve or approach "industry best practice", they do not appoint from amongst their own - they bring in experts from outside who know how the best practice works, who are appropriately qualified and experienced to offer quality recommendations, and they are fully detached and independent from any internal politics within the organisation in that they have no stake in the results (although they do have a stake in their own advice, in that if it works, they can point to it amongst other prospective clients as an example of their work).

Therefore I propose that we as the community (not ArbCom, whose role does not extend to these things) raise the funds through a transparent mechanism to employ outside experts to advise us on the things we need to do if we want to succeed, and for those steps and recommendations to be made available to anyone in good standing in the community who wishes to help Wikipedia get there. It may well be that those steps will not achieve consensus or agreement amongst us, and it may be that some are rapidly proceeded with, others bog down for years and others are vehemently opposed - that happens in real companies too. But at least we have the basis for moving forward in a collaborative and cooperative way, informed by industry best practice. It will assist us as well in arguing our case that we are acting professionally and responsibly in the wider world.

I realise this is a very radical departure from the way things are normally done here, but as someone once told me, "if you never ask, you'll never know" and I put the question on that basis. Orderinchaos 07:23, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this proposal[edit]


I think this is a thoughtful idea. Some people in academe have studied and presented or published on Wikipedia - they have methods and expertise that may well suit your proposal. The problem I have with your proposal is that the community is it seems divided between those people who would wish more centralized and hierarchical authority, and those who want a more anarchic and participatory open society. What kind of instructions would we give such a group of consultants, when there is this kind of division? I can too easily see us asking for research concerning antagonistic goals. I think things change if we take governance off the table. If we limit ourselves to smaller, more easily definable, yet still serious problems - retention of experts; BLP; on- and off-wiki harassment; making Wikipedia a more welcoming environment for a more diverse group of stakeholders ... then I think your idea has much merit. It might be worth hiring consultants to help with a few of these very narrowly defined problems before buying the next server! Slrubenstein | Talk 18:26, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

My experience with consultants is that while individually they're very bright, they often don't bring anything new to the table. The modus operandi that I've seen is to interview key players within an organisation and refine ideas gleaned from those people. A key difference between here and RL is that in RL there is an executive which can drive through any recommendations made by consultants. Here we can't do that. I feel it unlikely that consultants would offer anything radically different to ideas we've generated from within. We would find it difficult achieve the consensus necessary to implement their recommendations. --MoreThings (talk) 22:14, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

I have some reservations about this, primarily because such consultants would tend to be most likely to contact ongoing regular editors for information, as opposed to individuals who have withdrawn out of frustration. Unfortunately, I personally think contacting the latter would probably be more helpful in the long run than contacting the former. This is not to say that it is a bad idea, simply that it there are a few difficulties with using it in this system. Having said that, I wonder if it might be possible for the Foundation to offer academics and other experts some sort of tax benefit (in lieu of direct pay) for offering expert input in particularly intractable matters relative to their field when they are specifically requested to offer such input. One of our biggest problems in editing is the fact that we tend to lose experts in most fields comparatively quickly, and this might be one way to help counterbalance that tendency. John Carter (talk) 13:54, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

No it wouldn't, speaking as a former president of a small nonprofit. No different than volunteering your time and expertise to your place of worship.--Wehwalt (talk) 14:02, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for the comments/feedback on this - all good points. I personally think it's one of those things that is great in principle but may come undone in the doing - another point would be how we would choose such (a consultant/consultants) (or where from!) and what specific expertise or background they might have, and that in itself may be a battleground. Orderinchaos 17:23, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Statement of Miacek[edit]

More like a comment by me: Councils that Wikipedia needs are the ones that would include editors who have proven a few qualities necessary for writing an encyclopeda, e.g. having demonstrated expertise in the fields they are mostly contributing to, and having more objective, non-ideological approach to writing there.

Such a council should have nothing to do with the present admindom and arbitration committee, which are by and large random sets of people who have been able to grab enough votes - being most likely lackluster bureaucrats and conformists, who can get anyone's votes if necessary. it's knowledge and expertise that should matter in an encyclopedia, be it online or paper version. Wikipedia's rulings and alphabet salad more often than not contribute to disarray. --Miacek and his crime-fighting dog (woof!) 14:42, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Editors endorsing this proposal[edit]

  1. (ironically enough, as a member of said admindom, but I do agree) Orderinchaos 15:18, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Proposal by Cenarium[edit]

I propose that instead of creating one permanent advisory council 'on project development', the community appoints an advisory committee for one specific purpose when it feels the need. Advisory councils provide advises on issues they are asked to investigate, but in this case 'project development' is way too large a subject to be properly dealt with by an appointed body, and the wideness of it has plenty of negative consequences. First, it's difficult if not impossible for such a body to focus on one issue and not go in every direction, making it largely inefficient, unfocused, thus futile. It could try to organize its proceedings with an agenda (as done here); but, as pointed out by Drini, advisory councils don't create their agenda, their agenda is determined by those who appoint them, in our case the community or ArbCom; a self-determined agenda will also politicize the council, which is to avoid (see below). It also conflate the issues, with no assurance that a specific issue will be sufficiently looked into. Thus I think the subject to consider for an advisory council in our case should be more specific, for example, as those are frequently cited: flagged revisions, notability in fiction, speedy deletion, newcomers arrival, etc. Now, we could use a permanent advisory council, regularly refreshed somehow, to look into such issues when asked to by the community or ArbCom. I don't think it would be viable. First, as pointed out by Drini too, advisory councils are not, and should not be, elected, because it would introduce uniform and systemic bias, which would defeat the purpose of the advisory council, and politicize the deal and negatively affect the council's ability to provide findings or advises (what it is for) and its image (so the credit given to those). In this permanent council, with no election, it would be infeasible to establish a satisfactory (as elaborated below) rotation of members. Instead, I think the solution is to appoint a special committee for a specific issue. In our open, volunteering-based system, I am sure a non-specific council would not be efficient: members may not be interested in investigating a particular issue, so we would have shortage problems in involvement, POV problems could also arise since members would preferably look into issues they have a stronger POV in, and most of the other members won't get sufficiently involved in the issue. So it won't be neutral assessment in the end, which as far as possible, is a must. On the other hand, convening a special council for a special issue would assure a stronger and more varied participation and so a more neutral point of view, as interested persons of different POVs would join the council. We could call this process "Requests for advices"; the main problem would be how to appoint a special advisory council in a satisfactory way, but it should be possible, maybe using an endorsement system. Cenarium (talk) 02:51, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

Users supporting this proposal[edit]

  1. Cenarium (talk) 02:51, 24 July 2009 (UTC)


One issue that might arise is that groups take time to work up steam and get on the move, and typically go through a number of stages (even repeated cycles): forming; storming; norming; performing; reforming, and eventual dissolution. There's also the question of experience having to be acquired all over again to some extent when new groups form, though this would add to the experience of more folk in the longer term. Esowteric+Talk 18:55, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree we should try to preserve experience. I think this is possible in the dynamic approach I propose. To begin with, a user could serve on several advisory councils, simultaneously and successively, so they would acquire personal experience. For the first issue, while indeed groups take some time to get together to work, the existence of a clear objective for the council, predetermined by the community, should make it easier to focus and progress. I don't think there should be a unique standard for advisory councils, the mandate, objectives, scope and specifics if any of the council should be decided by the community prior to its constitution, it would of course heavily depend on the issue to consider. If it's a content dispute, a policy dispute, a process dispute, a long-term and divisive policy issue, etc. The question of how to make the appointments is central, and this may be through a system of volunteering with endorsement. That is, a user expresses interest in serving in a special advisory committee and says why their participation would be positive; and then, to be appointed, he/she should be endorsed. The question of who can endorse: I think they should be trusted and experienced members of the community, maybe arbitrators, bureaucrats, maybe additional users chosen by ArbCom. Of course, you can't endorse yourself.. It's still the 'brainstorming' stage of course, but here is a possible way to appoint special advisory councils:
  1. Proposal to create a special advisory council, description of the issue to be considered
  2. Initial discussion on whether to create the council (skipped if convened by ArbCom ?)
  3. If agreed to create one or convened by ArbCom, call to volunteers. One can nominate oneself. We should try to find users who could be useful in the council and invite them, those users who can endorse should pursue this goal too, invite users and offer them their endorsement.
  4. Continued endorsement of volunteers
  5. At the same time as 3 and 4, determination by the community of the scope, objectives, agenda and specifics of the council, all this is subject to evolution after the formation of the council. The community should also determine when the council is to be dissolved.
  6. When the minimal number of endorsed volunteers is reached (10?) and the above discussion has concluded, creation of the council
  7. The council investigates the issue; new members can continue to join the council as long as they are endorsed. They do what we asked them to do, which can include reaching out to knowledgeable persons in their investigation, find ways to resolve the dispute, facilitate the development of consensus, etc. All users are invited to comment.
  8. Prior to the scheduled dissolution, publication of the conclusions of the council. Acceptance of new members may be frozen in the final stage of drafting of the conclusion. If the community wishes it, it can reappoint the council immediately.
A general policy should govern the process, stating for example that advisory councils should act as facilitators. It is possible that a council will be appointed for an issue that had already been investigated by a previous council, or a similar one. In this case, the members of the previous council could be asked to or express their desire to be in the new council too, and they would very likely be endorsed again. Cenarium (talk) 00:40, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

Reminder to use the talk page for discussion[edit]

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