Wikipedia arbitration committee/Pedophilia userbox wheel war

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This is a provisional page for combining various threads relating to a "learning project" case study of a Wikipedia Arbitration Committee decision.


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Editing of pages at Wikipedia related to pedophilia has been a controversial issue for several years. This learning project attempts to adopt a "case study" approach to exploring this controversy. The issues explored here provide a good case study for self-governance of a wiki project. How do wiki collaborators maximize participation in a wiki community while avoiding forms of participation that disrupt the mission of the project?

Arbitration Committee Case

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One of the Arbitration Committee's findings in the Pedophilia userbox wheel war was: "users should refrain from creating user pages likely to bring the project into disrepute. The pedophile userbox (and the like) falls into this category. Note that this should not be construed to bar reasonable criticism of the project". (source)

Related ArbCom ruling/procedure March 2007.

Am I doing something wrong

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This thread was originally posted at the Colloquium. It was moved here afterwards by McCormack.

I am afraid to be blocked here, considering JWSchmdit's comments on my talk page. He didn't threat to block me, but he seems to think that I am abusing this project. I would like to know your opinion on this. I want to be sure that I will not be blocked, and I want to know whether you also think that the arbitration committee of the Wikipedia in English has implicit jurisdiction here. Please respond on my talk page. I have been unfairly blocked on Wikipedia, and no one can do anything, because the ArbCom is censoring the conversations. That's why I started posting about this here. If you recognize the authority of the ArbCom over Wikiversity, then I will be blocked here as well. I think the ArbCom is a dictatorship, and it would be terrible for Wikiversity if they had authority over it. a.z. 18:23, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

In general, Wikimedia Foundation wikis do not welcome anyone on a crusade to advocate illegal activities. Anyone who has been reprimanded for advocacy of an illegal activity at one project cannot reasonably expect to be able to step over to a sister project and "get away with" the same behavior that got them in trouble at the other wiki project. There are some types of wiki editing that are not welcome at any Wikimedia wiki project, so the point is, if an un-welcome pattern of wiki editing has first been encountered at Wikipedia, it is reasonable to think about the likelihood of it also not being welcome at other Wikimedia projects. Some of my comments on your talk page were intended to make sure that we keep these fundamental issues in mind. "he seems to think that I am abusing this project" <-- that's not what I'm thinking....better to say that I have been thinking about ways to explore the history of the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee without letting the exercise turn into anything non-constructive or disruptive. --JWSchmidt 18:55, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
I am not one in a crusade to advocate illegal activities. I am just a regular editor who was unfairly blocked. I hope that, if you ever think that I am being disruptive and intend to block me, the community will be able to say whether they agree with the block or not, and my talk page will not be protected if they use it to debate my block. a.z. 19:17, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
I have nothing against non-active pedophiles who just happen to be born that way. What i despise are edits like these. I can understand why the arbcom would block people like these and won't respond to any questions. Sorry A.Z., but you are going too far in my opinion.--Daanschr 21:37, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
I want to discuss and I could change my mind about that edit. I looked up in Google for adult-child sex, and that story about that writer was the third result I found. I never had the intention of being the sole writer of the entire article on adult-child sex. I wanted to read the article about adult-child sex, I looked for it, it wasn't there, so I suggested its creation and then created it as a stub. It could have been anything, it could have been "adult-child sex is sex between adults and children", but that would probably be speedily deleted. I understand this is a contentious topic. Perhaps I should have been more careful and I should have made an effort not to allow for the interpretation that I wanted to write a pro-pedophile article. Perhaps you should inquire me about that edit, and assume good faith, rather than arriving at conclusions before asking for explanations. Did what I just say made things clear to you? Do you still think that edit is unacceptable? a.z. 22:11, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
According to the person who blocked you, you were blocked for a pattern of editing, so I do not think it makes sense to try to examine any one edit in great detail. The reason you were blocked is not to be found in any one edit. --JWSchmidt 23:12, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
If the reason I was blocked was a collection of edits, then I think we should examine each of those edits. a.z. 00:04, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
In answer to your question, Arbcom does not rule or have jurisdiction here. Arbcom was created with a specific charter for Wikipedia before Wikiversity was established. Wikiversity is a WMF approved project and resides on its servers. I have no doubt that should Wikiversity prove incapable of governing itself effectively, the WMF will take what it views as appropriate action. AFAIK Wikiversity is in good repute with the WMF. I have not seen any rebukes implying that we are not doing well in the mind of the Board or its employees. Mirwin 04:45, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
While it's difficult to follow all of a.z.'s lengthy posts on this, I have a view derived from Wikiversity's general mission and goals. If it is WV's general mission and goals not to be a tertiary site only, but to include especially primary and secondary levels of education, then it follows that WV has a child-orientation that is greater-than-or-equal to that of Wikipedia (probably greater). The argument then splits two ways. (1) WV's child-protection policies should be proportionate to its child-orientation, so it's child-protection policies should be greater-than-or-equal to those of Wikipedia (certainly not less). (2) From a marketing perspective, WV has to garner recommendation from educational institutions and authorities, and the merest whisper that forms of tolerance were practiced at WV which were at odds with child protection would work to destroy WV's reputation in these circles very fast. The outcome of this argument is that if a.z. wishes to find another WikiMedia project, then Wikiversity is the very worst one he could have found unless he wishes to change his interests and politics to support our mission. We are, in part, a school, or at least an educational resource for schools, which means that there are a very few real-world topics that do not belong here. McCormack 05:39, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree with some of your reasoning. However, it makes no sense to me to practice censorship of scholarly discussion or pursuits as inappropriate for the young. We have no controls at this time over what content is served to who on which computer other than IP or account blocking. Parents and guardians must exercise final responsibility for oversight of their minor dependents. We cannot censor chemistry discussion because some teenager may inappropriately not follow published safety procedures. We cannot censor physics because some preschooler may decide to test gravity inappropriately at a local window or cliff. We cannot censor philosophy or history because some child may decide that force may not be morally or legally applied to them by their parents or local governments. This process of censorship, once started, has no end. Wikiversity would be reduced to an ineffective shell as various interested parties objected to various areas of human knowledge for various cultural, localized, or personal belief reasons. We can however take appropriate action if discussions seem to be headed in inappropriate directions. We can label mature discussion zones as such and advise minors to seek the judgement of their guardians regarding appropriateness of participation at that study/learning zone. We can place safety tips in mature discussion areas that point to recommended internet safety practices including notification of parents, local custodians, and/or local authorities if an inappropriate approach is suspected. This can then be sorted out by neutral 3rd parties. In short, I agree child protection should be a concern but I disagree that there are any real world topics that do not belong at Wikiversity. Most real world protections revolve around zonal control or restricted access to the materials. There is a large difference between learning about a subject and using that information in inappropriate ways. We also might advise parents or guardians that IP addresses or accounts may be blocked if they so request should they discover their minors using computers inappropriately. We might also formulate a policy of no sexual advertising at Wikiversity. Personally I find the idea of advertising personal sexual preference at Wikipedia a bit distasteful and inappropriate for an Encyclopedia site we expect some children will be using. I do not see that such advertising advances our learning goals here at Wikiversity so perhaps it should be pre-emptively banned by community consensus. Thank you for your insight McCormack. It has me thinking about ways to improve our Wikiversity. Mirwin 06:07, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your post, Mirwin. I agree that an extensive censorship of the kind you describe (deleting anything remotely harmful to children) would be excessive. There is a point at which parental responsibility and the child's own need to develop a sense of responsibility have to kick in. Generally the WikiMedia projects have a history of favouring free speech over protective censorship on most moral issues, and this culture is not one which we should lose. On the other hand, there are extremes. Sexual abuse of children is one of those extremes. Any tolerance of views in this respect would be very harmful to the Wikiversity project precisely because it is the most child-orientated of the Wikimedia projects. McCormack 06:30, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
Wikiversity is a much smaller organization than Wikipedia. Wikipedia has to deal with any kind of extremity in abundance. Which leads to inevitable conflicts. Wikiversity has an advantage on Wikipedia and that is that multiple articles can be made on the same subject. The fact that people are forced to communicate with eachother on the talk page of a single topic on Wikipedia increases the number of conflicts.
The case of the blocking of A.Z. is an example of something which is unavoidable on Wikiversity. A.Z. could theoretically create courses dedicated to examining wether children like to have sex with adults. Something which could be insulting to various users of Wikiversity. The blocking of A.Z. on Wikipedia is a strange one. A.Z. is partly blocked. He is allowed to edit on subjects, but is closely watched by censors who will remove any edit which could be dedicated to justify the ways of pedophiles. The nature of language is of prime concern here. Certain deeds doesn't need to be described in order to be advocated in words. Words can be used indirectly to lead to certain conclusions. I would be interested to examine the philosophical and psychological problems of this case. It would be impossible to prevend censorship. Censorship already happens in regard of vandalism on Wikiversity, for instance.--Daanschr 09:55, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
Wikversity is 3 to 5 years behind Wikiedia in development. If successful it will be a much larger project than Wikipedia. Consider a shelf full of encyclopedia texts against a library. Consider a library again an educational campus. Deleting vandalism is not "censorship". Enforcing locally that a controverisal subject be approached in an ethical and scholarly manner is not "censership". Choosing to discuss a matter most people view as mature material inappropriate for children in a more private area easily avoided by children is not w:censorship .... actually perhaps it is in the broadest sense. If so, it is one most or all societies practice while rearing their young and training them in local culture. Mirwin 19:29, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree with that.--Daanschr 21:28, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Wikiversity is for making learning and teaching content

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For the information of anyone who is upset by the issues raised here, on 23rd Dec. SB_Johnny issued a warning on the talk page of a.z. to desist from certain kinds of edit. Some custodians are also considering moving this thread out of the colloquium. We hope that this will end the matter. McCormack 16:12, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

That wasn't really a warning. It was just he threatening me and calling me a troll. Someone else besides me should probably warn him that this isn't constructive behavior. I didn't see anyone else upset besides SB Johnny, and see no reason why the matter should "end" by moving the thread to this rather unexpected location. a.z. 20:00, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
I suspect that most Wikiversity participants are adults, but we strive to make this a website that will become useful to children. It would disrupt our mission if Wikiversity became a place for pedophiles to congregate and discuss their sexuality. On the other hand, Wikiversity also strives to be a place that welcomes scholarly study of topics that are normally explored in college-level educational institutions, even if they are not welcome in an elementary school. In the "real world" the education of children and adults is generally physically split into distinct institutions. So how can Wikiversity provide learning resources for all ages without adult topics causing disruption? I think it is possible to quietly put topics for a mature audience on pages where they can be studied in a reflective and scholarly way. If I am wrong, if such topics spill over into our most visible pages and cause disruption, then our only option will be to totally ban such disruptive topics. --JWSchmidt 19:25, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
I think the relocation of this highly inflammatorily themed discussion (arbcom is evil and must be deposed, anyone should be able to discuss pedophilia or label themselves as such even if children are around) from the public Colloquium (which we use as a first introductory point of newcomers to the community) was highly appropriate. While I can sympathize that user a.z., and his recruited sympathizers, are frustrated with his personal ban; and that a few other Wikipedians are concerned about the secrecy surrounding some of the actions of their Arbcom; I do not find it reasonable or appropriate that they feel they must disrupt the normal functioning of Wikiversity to address their problems on Wikipedia. They have been advised and assisted by several people with getting a more neutral, and in my view useful, study of the issues involved started locally yet insist on inflammatory rhetoric and pointers to one of the most controversial subjects available to virtual internet communities. Sometimes the best way to address large problems is to first solve little ones surrounding the main issue and then readdress remaining issues in the context of the new environment. Mirwin 00:24, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
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