UDWiki:Administration/Arbitration Guidelines

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Why arbitrate ?

Arbitration is a needed process in the Urban Dead Wiki to solve edit conflicts. When two or more users don't agree on how a page should be edited, a case in arbitration should be created, so an outside and neutral person can help solve the conflict.

Arbitration can be used to resolve simple edit conflicts on community pages. Since user and group talk pages belong to the user/group, they are free to remove any comments they might dislike from said pages, thus not requiring an arbitration case to resolve this problem.

In the event of a user repeatedly editing a page whose owner already asked (politely asked, preferentially) for the user to stop editing, an arbitration case can be created to obtain a restraining order of the first user to edit pages that belong to the second. This kind of arbitration should be avoided, and only used when all attempts to resolve this situation have failed. The arbitrator that rules in this case should be experienced in the Ways of the Wiki, and understand how far he can draw the line of non-interaction between the involved users.

In rare situations, arbitration is the best (or least bad) available option for personal disputes. However, one should think carefully about the downsides before taking this course of action. It is strongly recommended to try to informally iron out differences with other editors (even editors you dislike) by talking to them before you consider arbitration.

Often starting arbitration with someone is seen as an attack on them, and it's likely to further sour your relationship with them. Weigh up the pros and cons of other options such as talking with the person, gathering third opinions or even letting the issue slide before deciding to begin arbitration. Starting arbitration over a petty matter can make you look like a troublemaker. Bear in mind that the arbitrator may not see things in the same way as you do.

Can I Arbitrate?

Users who are willing to arbitrate usually add their name to the Current Arbitrators list, but in fact all users from the Urban Dead Wiki can arbitrate a case.

In order to arbitrate a case, it's advised that the user maintain an active stance of contributions of the wiki, being part of most decision-making discussions, in order to learn how the wiki works and how each case should be judged.

Arbitrators not only are active users, but neutral ones. A good arbitrator is neither in one side or another, but one that focuses on middle ground where all sides gain the most. Sometimes a neutral ground might not please the involved sides, but it's the one that must be used in order to avoid further conflict.

How to arbitrate

On the Arbitration page

  1. A user who has a problem on the wiki creates a case
  2. Name all users involved in the case
    • Both the person who started the case and the other involved users can name who else they want to be in the case
    • Other editors can add their names if they want to be a part of the case. (Not recommended)
  3. any user can volunteer to arbitrate the case
    • "I offer to arbitrate" should be enough to demonstrate interest to arbitrate the case
    • users are asked to refrain from further commenting on the case unless they are directly involved on it or asked a question
    • in the case of a user refusing another's offer to arbitrate, discuss on that user talk page, not in the arbitration case
  4. Between them, the involved users choose an arbitrator
    • The people in the case can choose any user of the wiki, be them listed in the Current Arbitrators list or not.
    • You can see how an arbitrator has conducted their previous cases at Category:Arbitration Cases.
    • If no arbitrator is agreed upon, one will be chosen by the administration team.
  5. Move the case to a sub-page of UDWiki:Administration/Arbitration
  6. Using the {{ArbitrationStatus}} template, keep track of the status of the arbitration case
  7. The arbitrator writes a short summary about the arbitration case
  8. Anyone can archive the case once a week has passed after it has reached a verdict
    • Cases which haven't reach an agreement in four weeks after its creation should be dismissed and moved to the archive by anyone

On the Arbitration case page

  1. Move all previous discussion from Arbitration to the page. Anyone can do this step.
  2. Categorize the page under Category:Arbitration Cases. Anyone can do this step.
  3. The arbitrator creates a header for each user involved, where which one will state their case
    • Start with the user who created the case, followed by all others in alphabetical order
  4. The arbitrator creates another header for each user involved, where which one will reply the state of the opposing parties.
  5. The arbitrator creates a header where the arbitrator will provide his ruling for the case
  6. Wait for all users' input.
  7. The arbitrator makes his Ruling.

Naming Convention and Filling the Template

  1. Naming Convention for the page
    1. The pattern is "{username|group|various} [and {username|group} [and ...]] vs {username|group|various} [and {username|group} [and ...]] [(n)]"
    2. The names in the left side are those who created and/or support the case
    3. Alternative nicks should be changed to the username
    4. no points after "vs"
    5. "vs" should be written in all-lowercase
    6. The only exception to this pattern is wikigate, as it's a special case.
  2. Filling the template
    1. keep all data as clean as possible
    2. Use the {{usr}} template to identify users (or any other means that accomplish the same task)
    3. do not add signature templates and/or signature add-ons (like talk and group links)
    4. if it's hard to find when a case was created/dismissed/ruled, use the first/last data available

Typical Rulings

Edit Conflict

Edit conflicts usually resolve the conflict by choosing which edit should be used in a page or none at all. The arbitrator will choose one of the edits, and all sides must comply with its ruling.

In the case of the arbitrator finding no edits appropriate for use in the disputed article (because both edits are POV or offensive against the conflicting side), it should create one that creates a common ground for all sides involved, in a NPOV fashion.

Seldom might the arbitrator choose that the losing side of the arbitration, or even all sides, refrain from editing the page for a specific amount of time. This kind of ruling should be avoided, and only used in the case of heated conflicts of interest between the sides involved.

Restraining Orders

Restraining orders are generally restrictions placed upon the users in the arbitration. It's good practice for the arbitrator to explain the reasoning behind the decision to help reassure the involved parties that the case was fair.

A particularly common ruling is that the two involved parties are to stay away from each other and not talk to or about each other. This is normally used when it's clear that one or more of the parties involved dislike the other and would likely antagonize them, but it can also be used as a precautionary measure. It tends to dampen down the conflict.

Sometimes the arbitrator will make a personal statement asking (but not commanding) the users to refrain from certain negative behaviours.

Arbitration Issues

The process of undergoing arbitration is of a positive nature. It seeks to resolve disputes and put an end to conflict. However, as with any tool, arbitration can be abused. Therefore, arbitrators should be aware of the potential for users to "game the system".

Censorship

One potential abuse of the arbitration process is censorship. In certain cases, one user will create an arbitration request as a way of censoring another user or group that they have a vendetta against. In these instances, the arbitration request is initiated in order to prevent the targeted user or group from editing any pages the accusing user has a vested interest in (because of the rule which says contested edits must be removed for the duration of the arbitration process). Such cases should be brought to the attention of the administration staff, which should be able to determine if the contested edits should or should not be removed for the duration of the arbitration case.


Analogies to Arbitration

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