The Wikipedia Ombudsman

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The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Wikipedia Romania (Ronline)
Hi to all!

I'd just like to let you know that I have proposed the structure of a
Wikipedia Ombudsman, that would deal with any complaints leading from admin
action and ArbCom cases. I think in recent times there has been a
significant growth in the number of users who have either left the project
or felt very badly treated due to administrator actions and ArbCom rulings.
I'm not trying to blame either the administrator function - I'm an admin
myself - or the ArbCom; however, I think an Ombudsman is necessary to deal
in an effective and fair way with all of the complaints. To compound this, I
think the transparency and accountability of some admin and ArbCom actions
is quite unacceptable, IMO. The Ombudsman structure would seek to redress
this in a neutral and fair way, to ensure more decentralisation and
stability for the community (remember: alienation breeds conflict).

So, please take a read of the Ombudsman proposal, at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Ombudsman

Please make any comments on the talk page and feel free to add any main
points to the project page.

Thanks,

Ronline
2006. Hea energia aasta.
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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Charles Matthews
"Wikipedia Romania (Ronline)" wrote

>I'd just like to let you know that I have proposed the structure of a
Wikipedia Ombudsman, that would deal with any complaints leading from admin
action and ArbCom cases.

Might be the way to go.  Obvious issues - how to stop this being an
appellate court by another name (the legalism of the English Wikipedia is
becoming quite frantic); workload; and finding anyone suitable willing to
act.

Charles


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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Jay Converse
In reply to this post by Wikipedia Romania (Ronline)
On 1/7/06, Wikipedia Romania (Ronline) <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Hi to all!
>
> I'd just like to let you know that I have proposed the structure of a
> Wikipedia Ombudsman, that would deal with any complaints leading from
> admin
> action and ArbCom cases. I think in recent times there has been a
> significant growth in the number of users who have either left the project
> or felt very badly treated due to administrator actions and ArbCom
> rulings.
> I'm not trying to blame either the administrator function - I'm an admin
> myself - or the ArbCom; however, I think an Ombudsman is necessary to deal
> in an effective and fair way with all of the complaints. To compound this,
> I
> think the transparency and accountability of some admin and ArbCom actions
> is quite unacceptable, IMO. The Ombudsman structure would seek to redress
> this in a neutral and fair way, to ensure more decentralisation and
> stability for the community (remember: alienation breeds conflict).
>
> So, please take a read of the Ombudsman proposal, at:
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Ombudsman
>
> Please make any comments on the talk page and feel free to add any main
> points to the project page.
>
> Thanks,
>
> Ronline
> 2006. Hea energia aasta.
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> http://mail.wikipedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>

I like this idea, but this sounds more to me like a PR spindoctor for the
ArbCom than anything else.  I don't know if we need more officials right
now, we're already pretty sticky in the beauracracy.

--
I'm not stupid, just selectively ignorant.
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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Nick Boalch
In reply to this post by Wikipedia Romania (Ronline)
Wikipedia Romania (Ronline) wrote:
> I'd just like to let you know that I have proposed the structure of a
> Wikipedia Ombudsman, that would deal with any complaints leading from admin
> action and ArbCom cases.

What happens when people complain about the Ombudsman?

I think we should be avoiding bureacracy creep.

Cheers,

N.

--
Nicholas Boalch
School of Modern Languages & Cultures       Tel: +44 (0) 191 334 3456
University of Durham                        Fax: +44 (0) 191 334 3421
New Elvet, Durham DH1 3JT, UK               WWW: http://nick.frejol.org/

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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Tony Sidaway-3
In reply to this post by Wikipedia Romania (Ronline)
Honestly sounds like an attempt to subsume or parallel functions that
already rest with Jimbo Wales.  I also have serious concerns about
adding yet more bureaucratic positions to Wikipedia.
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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Charles Matthews
"Tony Sidaway" wrote

>Honestly sounds like an attempt to subsume or parallel functions that
already rest with Jimbo Wales.

Well, yes, Jimbo would now have the power to review what the ArbCom does (as
nobody can deny). He is de facto the Ombudsman around the English Wikipedia.
If he wanted to devolve some responsibility to a trusted person, that would
sound OK to me.  It's not as if Jimbo has no further calls on his time, and
can put hours into reviewing diffs without any impact on those other
matters.

 >I also have serious concerns about
adding yet more bureaucratic positions to Wikipedia.

Ah, but your bureaucrat may be my useful and committed person taking some of
the strain of matching WP's ideal and practice.  And vice versa, I suppose.

Charles


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RE: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Peter Mackay
In reply to this post by Tony Sidaway-3
> From: [hidden email]
> [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Tony Sidaway
 
> Honestly sounds like an attempt to subsume or parallel
> functions that already rest with Jimbo Wales.  I also have
> serious concerns about adding yet more bureaucratic positions
> to Wikipedia.

So you wouldn't be happy to volunteer for the position and take some of the
workload off Jimbo?

Peter, not sticking his hand up, neither


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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Sam Korn
On 1/8/06, Peter Mackay <[hidden email]> wrote:
> So you wouldn't be happy to volunteer for the position and take some of the
> workload off Jimbo?

The main trouble is that Jimbo does have some kind of monarchical
authority, that no appointed ombudsman could have.  Especially as the
community would demand an election.

--
Sam
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RE: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Peter Mackay
> From: [hidden email]
> [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Sam Korn
 
> On 1/8/06, Peter Mackay <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > So you wouldn't be happy to volunteer for the position and
> take some
> > of the workload off Jimbo?
>
> The main trouble is that Jimbo does have some kind of
> monarchical authority, that no appointed ombudsman could
> have.  Especially as the community would demand an election.

So you wouldn't be happy to volunteer for the position and take some
of the workload off Jimbo?

Pete, now even more curious


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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Sam Korn
On 1/8/06, Peter Mackay <[hidden email]> wrote:
> So you wouldn't be happy to volunteer for the position and take some
> of the workload off Jimbo?

Take some of the workload off Jimbo, yes.  Take the crap that would
come with the position, no.

--
Sam
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RE: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Peter Mackay

> From: [hidden email]
> [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Sam Korn
> Sent: Monday, 9 January 2006 10:45
> To: English Wikipedia
> Subject: Re: [WikiEN-l] The Wikipedia Ombudsman
>
> On 1/8/06, Peter Mackay <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > So you wouldn't be happy to volunteer for the position and
> take some
> > of the workload off Jimbo?
>
> Take some of the workload off Jimbo, yes.  Take the crap that
> would come with the position, no.

<grin> good point!</grin>

Food for thought, though. Just how much crap does Jimbo get, just for being
who he is? My guess is that it's a lot.

Peter


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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Wikipedia Romania (Ronline)
>
> I like this idea, but this sounds more to me like a PR spindoctor for the
> ArbCom than anything else.  I don't know if we need more officials right
> now, we're already pretty sticky in the beauracracy.
>

The Ombudsman should actually be quite "ArbCom sceptic" if you know what I
mean - he or she should in no way succumb to the ArbCom interests, since the
whole point of an Ombudsman is to act as a structure of appeal and review
for the ArbCom and to a lesser extent admins.

As to bureaucracy - I agree that the Ombudsman's role is already carried out
to an extent by Jimbo. However, I presume Jimbo is already overloaded with
work, and that he simply doesn't have the time to investigate and report on
cases in depth. It is pretty unreasonable to expect him to be an ombudsman
and last-step-of-appeals person, and do all of the other work he does in
terms of the Wikimedia Foundation, and promotion, etc.

I guess many people would like to take on the function of the ombudsman, at
least those of us who are committed to justice on Wikipedia in the light of
recent admin and ArbCom action.

Food for thought, though. Just how much crap does Jimbo get, just for being
> who he is? My guess is that it's a lot.
>

Yes, I suppose it's a lot. That's why I don't think he should deal with
cases that sometimes may seem quite trivial in the greater scheme of
Wikipedia, but may be very important to particular users or the community.

Ronline
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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Fred Bauder
Actually I think you kind of have this backwards. Usually an appeal  
is from a decision made by a specialized group to a larger group  
which represents broader community opinion. You have an appeal from a  
pretty large group to one person. How about appeals being to the  
administrators as a group? If there really is a consensus perhaps  
some way could be found to express it.

Fred

On Jan 8, 2006, at 10:23 PM, Wikipedia Romania (Ronline) wrote:

>>
>> I like this idea, but this sounds more to me like a PR spindoctor  
>> for the
>> ArbCom than anything else.  I don't know if we need more officials  
>> right
>> now, we're already pretty sticky in the beauracracy.
>>
>>
>
> The Ombudsman should actually be quite "ArbCom sceptic" if you know  
> what I
> mean - he or she should in no way succumb to the ArbCom interests,  
> since the
> whole point of an Ombudsman is to act as a structure of appeal and  
> review
> for the ArbCom and to a lesser extent admins.
>
> As to bureaucracy - I agree that the Ombudsman's role is already  
> carried out
> to an extent by Jimbo. However, I presume Jimbo is already  
> overloaded with
> work, and that he simply doesn't have the time to investigate and  
> report on
> cases in depth. It is pretty unreasonable to expect him to be an  
> ombudsman
> and last-step-of-appeals person, and do all of the other work he  
> does in
> terms of the Wikimedia Foundation, and promotion, etc.
>
> I guess many people would like to take on the function of the  
> ombudsman, at
> least those of us who are committed to justice on Wikipedia in the  
> light of
> recent admin and ArbCom action.
>
> Food for thought, though. Just how much crap does Jimbo get, just  
> for being
>
>> who he is? My guess is that it's a lot.
>>
>>
>
> Yes, I suppose it's a lot. That's why I don't think he should deal  
> with
> cases that sometimes may seem quite trivial in the greater scheme of
> Wikipedia, but may be very important to particular users or the  
> community.
>
> Ronline
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> http://mail.wikipedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>

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RE: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Peter Mackay
> From: [hidden email]
> [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Fred Bauder
> Sent: Monday, 9 January 2006 17:06
> To: English Wikipedia
> Cc: Fred Bauder
> Subject: Re: [WikiEN-l] The Wikipedia Ombudsman
>
> Actually I think you kind of have this backwards. Usually an
> appeal is from a decision made by a specialized group to a
> larger group which represents broader community opinion. You
> have an appeal from a pretty large group to one person. How
> about appeals being to the administrators as a group? If
> there really is a consensus perhaps some way could be found
> to express it.

An [[ombudsman]] isn't a judge or a government bureaucrat. An ombudsman is
independent, not part of some appeals process or another knot of red tape.
Nor do they have any special powers. Instead the function of an ombudsman is
to investigate complaints and facilitate redress through existing channels.

Peter (Skyring)


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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Fred Bauder
"Fred Bauder" wrote


> Actually I think you kind of have this backwards. Usually an appeal  is
> from a decision made by a specialized group to a larger group  which
> represents broader community opinion. You have an appeal from a  pretty
> large group to one person. How about appeals being to the  administrators
> as a group? If there really is a consensus perhaps  some way could be
> found to express it.

Looking at the section at [[Ombudsman]] on how the UK Parliamentary
Commissioner works, in WP terms it would be something like this:

- investigation of 'unfairness'
- all applications must come through an admin
- no remedies offered, just the publication of a report.

Charles


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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Fred Bauder
In reply to this post by Peter Mackay
True, but he has it set up more as an appeals court. A ombudsman in  
the sense you set forth would be welcome. I wouldn't mind at all  
someone dropping me a note, saying "Hey, cool it, you're getting  
carried away [with whatever]." We all need feedback. We don't need a  
second-guessing czar. Things are hard enough the first time.

Fred

On Jan 8, 2006, at 11:22 PM, Peter Mackay wrote:

>> From: [hidden email]
>> [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Fred Bauder
>> Sent: Monday, 9 January 2006 17:06
>> To: English Wikipedia
>> Cc: Fred Bauder
>> Subject: Re: [WikiEN-l] The Wikipedia Ombudsman
>>
>> Actually I think you kind of have this backwards. Usually an
>> appeal is from a decision made by a specialized group to a
>> larger group which represents broader community opinion. You
>> have an appeal from a pretty large group to one person. How
>> about appeals being to the administrators as a group? If
>> there really is a consensus perhaps some way could be found
>> to express it.
>>
>
> An [[ombudsman]] isn't a judge or a government bureaucrat. An  
> ombudsman is
> independent, not part of some appeals process or another knot of  
> red tape.
> Nor do they have any special powers. Instead the function of an  
> ombudsman is
> to investigate complaints and facilitate redress through existing  
> channels.
>
> Peter (Skyring)
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> http://mail.wikipedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>

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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Sam Korn
On 1/9/06, Fred Bauder <[hidden email]> wrote:
> True, but he has it set up more as an appeals court. A ombudsman in
> the sense you set forth would be welcome. I wouldn't mind at all
> someone dropping me a note, saying "Hey, cool it, you're getting
> carried away [with whatever]." We all need feedback. We don't need a
> second-guessing czar. Things are hard enough the first time.

As happened with the first jguk case, I think the community already
performs that role adequately.

--
Sam
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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Fred Bauder
In reply to this post by Charles Matthews
If someone with substantial authority is selected for this position,  
such a report will be, in effect, a decision.

Fred

On Jan 9, 2006, at 4:23 AM, charles matthews wrote:

> "Fred Bauder" wrote
>
>
>
>> Actually I think you kind of have this backwards. Usually an  
>> appeal  is from a decision made by a specialized group to a larger  
>> group  which represents broader community opinion. You have an  
>> appeal from a  pretty large group to one person. How about appeals  
>> being to the  administrators as a group? If there really is a  
>> consensus perhaps  some way could be found to express it.
>>
>
> Looking at the section at [[Ombudsman]] on how the UK Parliamentary  
> Commissioner works, in WP terms it would be something like this:
>
> - investigation of 'unfairness'
> - all applications must come through an admin
> - no remedies offered, just the publication of a report.
>
> Charles
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> http://mail.wikipedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>

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RE: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Peter Mackay
In reply to this post by Fred Bauder
> From: [hidden email]
> [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Fred Bauder
 
> True, but he has it set up more as an appeals court. A
> ombudsman in the sense you set forth would be welcome. I
> wouldn't mind at all someone dropping me a note, saying "Hey,
> cool it, you're getting carried away [with whatever]." We all
> need feedback. We don't need a second-guessing czar. Things
> are hard enough the first time.

OK, I didn't read the proposal. I don't think we need an appeals court that
isn't Jimbo. Not just yet, anyway. But I'd like to see an independent
person, possibly with a staff of helpers, review cases of perceived
injustice.

I'm not going to bring up old meals again, but I could certainly have used
someone like that a few months ago.

However, I don't think that there's much point in having an ombudsman,
because the community would want to elect him or her, and the end result
would be that the community would elect exactly the same sort of person that
they had elected to the ArbCom, resulting in an unsurprising groupthink.

I've just cast my eye over the voting process for the ArbCom and I have got
to say that it sucks. Every editor gets multiple votes, because they can
support or oppose every single candidate. That's like a single voter being
able to vote twice over in every voting district in the country. The end
result will be a remarkably uniformly thinking ArbCom that has the support
of a majority, while the minority will find that their views are
unrepresented.

To put it in party political terms, this is like having a Republican elected
in every single voting district (supposing the country to have a majority of
Republican voters), because any local differences will be smoothed out.

While I realise that WP is not a democracy, and we aren't quite at the stage
of organised factions or political parties, I cannot view such an situation
as leading to tranquility and stability.

Peter (Skyring)


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Re: The Wikipedia Ombudsman

Fred Bauder
I liked that as I was able to vote for a number of people, including  
some that have no chance at all of being elected. If we could only  
vote for a few people I would then have to engage in grim  
calculations, trying to be very careful when I really don't know all  
those people very well. I think I would probably make some mistaken  
votes in those circumstances and then have to live with them. Using  
this approach I was able to vote for a wide variety of candidates  
including some whose views differ from mine.

The thing is, the questions that we really have about arbitrators  
can't be answered abstractly. You know something when you see them in  
action in that role. It is very difficult to predict. Almost everyone  
who ran might be a good arbitrator. Or might be a good arbitrator for  
two weeks then we have to beg them to look at cases. One thing I did  
consider very negative, lengthy and wordy responses to questions. I  
can't stand written or oral filibusters.

Fred

On Jan 9, 2006, at 6:21 AM, Peter Mackay wrote:

> I've just cast my eye over the voting process for the ArbCom and I  
> have got
> to say that it sucks. Every editor gets multiple votes, because  
> they can
> support or oppose every single candidate. That's like a single  
> voter being
> able to vote twice over in every voting district in the country.  
> The end
> result will be a remarkably uniformly thinking ArbCom that has the  
> support
> of a majority, while the minority will find that their views are
> unrepresented.

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