Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Manipulation of BLPs

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Main case page (Talk) — Evidence (Talk) — Workshop (Talk) — Proposed decision (Talk)

Case clerk: NuclearWarfare (Talk)Drafting arbitrator: Newyorkbrad (Talk)

Case Opened on 22:47, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

Case Closed on 14:54, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Watchlist all case pages: 1, 2, 3, 4

Please do not edit this page directly unless you are either 1) an Arbitrator, 2) an Arbitration Clerk, or 3) adding yourself to this case. Statements on this page are original comments provided when the Committee was initially requested to Arbitrate this page (at Requests for arbitration), and serve as opening statements; as such, they should not be altered. Any evidence you wish to provide to the Arbitrators should go on the /Evidence subpage.

Arbitrators, the parties, and other editors may suggest proposed principles, findings, and remedies at /Workshop. That page may also be used for general comments on the evidence. Arbitrators will then vote on a final decision in the case at /Proposed decision.

Once the case is closed, editors may add to the #Log of blocks, bans, and restrictions as needed, but this page should not be edited otherwise. Please raise any questions at Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration#Requests for clarification, and report violations of remedies at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Arbitration enforcement.

Involved parties

Involved parties

Statement regarding scope

The purpose of this case is to examine partisan feuding/point-of-view pushing in BLPs (that is, the use of articles to enhance or diminish the reputation of individuals prominent in a particular area of conflict); to examine what practical steps can be taken to reduce polarised edit-warring and partisan feuding in BLPs; to examine the implications of search engine optimisation for Wikipedia; and to examine the relevant conduct guidelines.

Preliminary decisions

Motion to open the case

The Committee, having considered the statements made in the current request, will:

a. accept "Cirt and Jayen466" as a case, with User:Cirt and User:Jayen466 as the only parties, to examine personal the conduct of each party and interpersonal conduct issues concerning the two parties;
b. accept "Feuding and BLPs" as a separate case, with all named parties other than Cirt and Jayen466 as parties, to examine meta behavioural issues and reconcile the applicable principles;
c. decline without prejudice to refiling fresh requests on better focused grounds no earlier than 30 days from the date of this motion passing any other matter raised herein.
  1. Let's get this moving ...  Roger Davies talk 19:13, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
    I've tweaked the scope slightly to make it clearer, using strikethrough and underscore. Please revert if you want this as a separate motion.  Roger Davies talk 16:48, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
  2. SirFozzie (talk) 19:28, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
  3. Righto. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 19:36, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
  4. Kirill [talk] [prof] 20:43, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
  5. Mailer Diablo 21:15, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
  6. I may end up recusing from the first case, but I think this is the right way to carve them up. Cool Hand Luke 22:16, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
  7. Jclemens (talk) 22:36, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
  8. The Cavalry (Message me) 22:43, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
  9. Dubitante support. I am frankly uncertain whether the best move here is to accept this request as one or more cases, or to decline the request as filed with a motion providing guidance going forward and authorizing a more narrowly scoped request in a couple of weeks if problems continue despite that guidance. However, given the majority's view that much of the request for arbitration should be accepted, this appears to be a reasonable procedural path forward. Newyorkbrad (talk) 03:48, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
  10. Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:21, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
  11. I agree that large cases tend to drag on too long, so splitting them makes sense. In this instance, there doesn't appear to be a neater way of splitting the cases, so I'll go along with this. At the moment, my thoughts are that I wouldn't have to recuse from the first case, but would have to recuse from the second. PhilKnight (talk) 14:10, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Motion regarding a publicly readable mailing list

Temporary injunction (none)

Final decision


Biographies of living persons

1) Articles relating to living individuals continue to be among the most sensitive content on Wikipedia. As the English Wikipedia remains one of the most prominent and visited websites in the world, a Wikipedia article about an individual will often be among the highest-ranking results in any search for information about that individual. The contents of these articles may directly affect their subjects' lives, reputations, and well-being. Therefore, while all Wikipedia articles should be factually accurate, be based upon reliable sources, and be written from a neutral point of view, it is especially important that content relating to living persons must adhere to these standards.

Passed 12 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Standards for biographical articles

2) Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons (the "BLP policy") is a fundamental policy requiring, among other things, that all biographical articles must be kept free of unsourced negative or controversial content, unsupported rumors and gossip, defamatory material, undue weight given to minor incidents or to matters irrelevant to the subject's notability, and unwarranted violations of personal privacy.

Passed 12 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Application of the BLP policy

3) There is widespread agreement in the Wikipedia community regarding the importance of the BLP policy. The policy has been adopted and since its inception repeatedly expanded and strengthened by the community. In addition, this Committee has reaffirmed the values expressed through that policy in a series of decisions and motions, and fundamental norms concerning biographical articles have been emphasized in a resolution of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.

Passed 12 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Enforcement of the BLP policy

4) Despite the core values underlying the BLP policy, disagreements frequently arise regarding how the policy applies in specific instances. Some such disagreements arise from clear violations of the policy that must be corrected immediately, but others arise from good-faith editorial disagreements concerning the reliability of sources, the desirability of addressing a particular topic and with what weight, and in some cases whether a particular individual should be the subject of an article at all. A dedicated noticeboard has been established to bring disputes about the content of BLPs to community attention for discussion and, where warranted, appropriate action. Disputes concerning alleged BLP violations are also subject to Wikipedia's established methods of dispute resolution, culminating in mediation and where other dispute-resolution methods are insufficient, arbitration before this Committee.

Passed 12 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Conflicts of interest

5) According to Wikipedia:Conflict of interest guideline, "a Wikipedia conflict of interest is an incompatibility between the aim of Wikipedia, which is to produce a neutral, reliably sourced encyclopedia, and the aims of an individual editor.... Where advancing outside interests is more important to an editor than advancing the aims of Wikipedia, that editor stands in a conflict of interest." While editing with a conflict of interest is not prohibited, the guideline reflects best practice for editors having conflicting interests, intended to maximize the chance that all edits will reflect the required neutral point of view. Editors whose contributions are persistently or seriously non-neutral may, after appropriate warnings and guidance, be subject to editing restrictions or other appropriate sanctions; this applies whether the lack of neutrality results from a conflict of interest or not.

Passed 12 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Types of conflict of interest or bias

6) Conflicts or outside interests that may affect an editor's neutrality may be either positive or negative toward the subject of an article. Historically, Wikipedia's conflict-of-interest guideline has been invoked (and in some instances, has been overzealously or counterproductively invoked) most often against positive conflicts of interest, such as where an article is edited by its subject or someone closely associated with the subject. However, it can be at least as damaging where an article is edited primarily by persons who are avowed rivals or enemies of the subject, or who are involved in disputes with the subject originating outside Wikipedia. Thus, editors who have a strongly negative view regarding the subject of an article, just like editors with a strongly positive view of the subject, should be especially careful to edit that article neutrally if they choose to edit it at all.

Passed 12 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Manipulation of search engine results

7) It is an extremely serious abuse of Wikipedia to utilize editorial and structural features of the site—such as internal links, external links, and templates—in an attempt to inequitably or artificially manipulate search engine results. This is particularly so where the purpose is to disparage a living person.

Passed 10 to 2, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Role of the Arbitration Committee

8) It is not the role of the Arbitration Committee to resolve good-faith editorial disputes among editors. The Committee's role does extend to evaluating allegedly improper user conduct, which in serious cases may include persistent non-neutral editing or BLP violations, or a pattern of making unsupported allegations and personal attacks. In general, the Committee requires that earlier methods of dispute resolution have been attempted before a dispute will be accepted for arbitration.

Passed 12 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Findings of fact

Origin of the case

1) The original request for arbitration in this case was filed by ResidentAnthropologist and sought to address editing of biographical articles within the general topic of "cults" or "new religious movements" and related areas. The request focused most specifically on editing by Cirt and disputes between Cirt and Jayen466; the issues involving those editors are being addressed separately in Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Cirt and Jayen466. This case was opened separately "to examine meta behavioral issues and reconcile the applicable principles."

Passed 11 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Nature of the case

2) Some arbitrator comments from the outset of the case observed that the case as framed was likely to result in statements by the Committee regarding general principles, as opposed to findings and remedies directed against specific editors. In addition, the Committee voted in its motion accepting the case that to the extent issues were not addressed in either the Cirt-Jayen466 case or this case, such aspects of the request were "decline[d] without prejudice to refiling fresh requests on better focused grounds no earlier than 30 days from the date of this motion passing [with respect to] any other matter raised herein."

Passed 11 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Evidence in this case

3) The subject-matters of the evidence and workshop proposals in this case have been wide-ranging, including evidence of some troublesome edits and problematic interactions between editors, but not to a level that the Committee believes necessitates any findings or remedies against specific editors at the present time.

Passed 10 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)


Note: All remedies that refer to a period of time, for example to a ban of X months or a revert parole of Y months, are to run concurrently unless otherwise stated.

Editors reminded

1) Editors who edit biographies of living persons and other articles referring to living persons are reminded that all editing of these articles must comply with the biographies of living persons policy and with the principles set forth in this decision.

Passed 11 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Editors urged

2) Administrators and other experienced editors are urged to take a proactive approach in addressing violations and alleged violations of the BLP policy, and to watchlist the BLP noticeboard and participate in discussing and resolving issues raised on that noticeboard. Methods of resolving issues on the noticeboard include correcting clear violations of the BLP policy, working to bring about well-focused, knowledgeable participation in discussion of more borderline cases, and ensuring the final resolution of all BLP disputes complies with the BLP policy and takes account of the competing considerations that may apply to a given dispute.

Passed 11 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Parties urged

3) To the extent that parties to this case have been engaged in protracted disputes and quarrels with other parties, the feuding parties are urged to avoid any unnecessary interactions with each other, except to the extent necessary for legitimate purposes such as dispute resolution.

Passed 11 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Future dispute resolution

4) If disputes concerning editing of biographical articles by parties to this case persist after the case is closed, appropriate dispute resolution methods should be pursued. To the extent possible, such dispute resolution should be led and addressed by editors who have not previously been involved in the disputes, to maximize objectivity and bring a fresh perspective to the issues.

While the Committee hopes that the guidance provided in this decision and the Cirt-Jayen 466 decision will be sufficient to avoid any further protracted disputes between these parties, if a specific serious dispute persists and other means of dispute resolution do not resolve them, a new and specifically focused request for arbitration may be filed not less than 30 days from the date of this decision. Whether to accept any such case will be evaluated using the same criteria as for other cases, but if accepted, the Committee will seek to resolve the case on a prioritized basis.

Passed 11 to 0, 14:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Log of blocks, bans, and restrictions

Log any block, restriction, ban or extension under any remedy in this decision here. Minimum information includes name of administrator, date and time, what was done and the basis for doing it.

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