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A request for arbitration is the last step of dispute resolution for conduct disputes on Wikipedia. The Arbitration Committee considers requests to open new cases and review previous decisions. The entire process is governed by the arbitration policy. For information about requesting arbitration, and how cases are accepted and dealt with, please see guide to arbitration.

Please make your request in the appropriate section:


Requests for arbitration


Initiated by Casprings (talk) at 17:22, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

Involved parties

Confirmation that all parties are aware of the request
Confirmation that other steps in dispute resolution have been tried

Statement by Casprings

During an WP:RFC/U, there was significant disagreement regarding the behavior of Arzel and other editors who took part in the WP:RFC/U. The pages in the WP:RFC/U largely relate to American Politics in general and not the Tea Party Movement, which there has been an Arbitration case on.

In the dispute, some editors believe that Arzel acts on the belief that Wikipedia reflects a "liberal bias". He thinks that mainstream media and academic writing reflect this bias and tries to correct that, by balancing "liberal" views with "conservative" ones. However, that is contrary to the policy of neutrality, which requires views to be presented "in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources." Many editors believe that he has shown WP:Battleground behavior in correcting these perceived biases.

On the other hand, some editors feel that the RFC itself is an example of battleground behavior. They believe the RFC is supported by numerous left-leaning editors due to their objections to the right-leaning editor disagreeing with edits they make that largely favor their left-leaning views. They argue that there is a group of partisan editors objecting to another editor impeding their efforts to make Wikipedia articles more partisan.

I request the Committee look at this dispute and help to resolve it. This could include sanctions on either side of the dispute, interaction bans or other remedies.

@Seraphimblade I would give two reasons why this requires a full Arbitration. The first is the topics of the pages covered in the RFC relate to American Politics, not a sub-category. While it was a quick look at the pages linked in the RFC, I did not see any pages that directly involved The Tea Party Movement. Second, this is a dispute that is persistent and will not be solved by the parties involved. If one looks at the discussion involving a suggested close, this has been the state of the dispute for years now. This seems to be the type of dispute that the arbitration committee was designed to look at.

@Robert McClenon : The dispute is more complicated than between two editors. The original title of this was WP:RFC/U on Arzel not the user himself. If, there is use of battleground behavior by editors to go after Arzel, that should be looked at. Likewise, if there is battleground behavior to protect Arzel, that should be looked at. If one looks at the WP:RFC/U, it is clearly divided into two camps. This is more complicated than you imply.

@Robert McClenon I am trying to be neutral in describing the dispute. I am also trying not to suggest solutions. I would assume one would want to look at the dispute first and then find solutions.

@SalvioI don't grasp that this is not "ripe". The basic framework of the dispute has a long history. Arzel's conduct has been questioned in the past and one group of editors has an issue and the other group defends him. For example,1, 2,3, 4,5 . Many of the same editors (including myself), have took part in these previous disputes. This is long-term and is more than simply the editors conduct. If it was the editors conduct, one could just suggest a topic ban. However, if the community is divided into two groups over the conduct, that becomes difficult.

@Salvio I don't really care. You guys are the experts on this. That said, a question and one point. First, how effective has it been for the tea party movement? Next, doing it to all of American politics seems a little broad to me. It is really, Articles that are currently politically controversial in the United States . These articles draw alot of editors, many of which push a POV. I would admit that is why I first came to Wikipedia. I think I have tried to improve, but that is what got me here.

@User:Worm That Turned as I said above, you are the experts. However, if I were to think of two reasons, they would be as follows. Aren't the vast majority of American Politics article reasonable safe from edit warring? Free Soil Party will be free from edit warring, for the most part. Plus, Arzel wasn't really a part of the Tea Party Movement case, that I can find. He got grouped in, but not not sanctioned.

Statement by Goethean

AGK's statement is puzzling, as Arzel was an involved party to the Tea Party Movement case, but avoided sanctions. Arzel undoubtedly sees that outcome as vindicating his behavior.

Outside View by Robert McClenon

I don't have a clue what Casprings is asking the ArbCom to do. The ArbCom has the power to ban Arzel. I don't think that is in order. I disagree with Arzel and think that he is a biased right-wing editor, but he is no more biased than some other right-wing editors. The ArbCom has the power to impose topic bans or interaction bans on Arzel. In the RFC, I didn't see any identification of any particular editing restrictions that would be appropriate. I agree with AGK and disagree with Goethean as to the Tea Party Movement. Arzel was not sanctioned, but the area was put under discretionary sanctions, so that if Arzel blanks any sources that he dislikes (possibly because they criticize the TPM), he can be sanctioned. It is true that Arzel's controversial edits have gone beyond the TPM to American politics in general, but Casprings doesn't propose a remedy. I would ask the ArbCom to delay a decision on whether to accept or decline for two or three days and give Casprings a chance to explain exactly what he or she is asking the ArbCom to do about or to Arzel. Robert McClenon (talk) 02:57, 4 April 2014 (UTC)


Based on the most recent statement by Casprings, it appears that the real problem is the Casprings and Arzel do not like each other. If any action is to be taken, it should be an interaction ban. I disagree with Arzel's view that biased sources should not be used at all. They can be used as to reliable content by filtering out their bias. Because he has a habit of deleting such information, the purpose of the user conduct RFC, Arzel is a biased right-wing editor, but he is no more biased than other biased editors who are allowed to edit. Wikipedia can deal with editors like Arzel by discussing and reverting their deletions. Robert McClenon (talk) 11:45, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

If there were a more effective ArbCom, I would recommend that this case be taken for the purpose of an interaction ban. I do not think that the "community" at the noticeboards does well at dealing with such conflicts. However, it appears that the current ArbCom does not do well at dealing with contentious areas (which is its purpose) either. I do not want to see this case further delay the adjudication of real issues such as gun control or Austrian economics, or any such real future areas. Due to the inability of the ArbCom to deal with cases in a timely manner, declining this case is the least undesirable action. Robert McClenon (talk) 11:45, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Further Update

I still don't understand what Casprings wants. He or she is clearly more optimistic about the ability of the current ArbCom to deal with a poorly stated case, in which the filing party gives very little clue as to why a case is required, than I do. I concur with User:Collect that an interaction ban would be in order. If the ArbCom had a record of timely action in 2014, I would suggest that the ArbCom do this by motion. As it is, I still recommend a decline. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:45, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by Arzel

Since this has been repeated a number of times now by Casprings, perhaps they can provide some links showing me trying to balance out liberal sources with conservative sources. I have stated several times that I don't think clearly biased sources should be used at all. I have tried to keep the articles I have been involved with largely free of partisan sniping. Hell, I have recently been trying to keep rumors out of Scarlett Johansson's bio and she is hardly a conservative. As for the TPM, I am really not seeing the connection there as I have not made an edit to that article for several months. I am getting a little tired of this.

@Salvio, I am not sure why this discussion of discretionary sanctions of Tea Party is even a part of this. For one I was not sanctioned and two I have not even edited the page since the sanctions went into effect. I effectively sanctioned myself from that page. Maybe you should just ask Casprings exactly what they are hoping to achieve. Arzel (talk) 03:34, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

@The Admins voting for a case. Exactly what are you planning on arbitrating? What is your objective? Arzel (talk) 14:22, 15 April 2014 (UTC)


I don't think this is what Casprings is after, and I am not even sure it is necessary. I haven't initiated any contact with Casprings in several months. I think my only interaction with them has been via the drama boards where they initiated contact with me. However, I will voluntarily pledge to continue to not initiate any contact with them, I can't promise that they won't continue to initiate contact with me though. Arzel (talk) 03:36, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by Collect

If one uses an analogy of fruit ripening to the concept of a case for arbitration ripening, this case is barely at the pollination stage. It appears far more likely to benefit the community and to reduce drama board usage to IBAN Arzel and Casprings at this point, and the TPM bit has naught to do with their apparent grating on each other. An IBAN should be worded in a neutral manner, making no assignment of blame, but simply to facilitate more orderly discussions either editor. Collect (talk) 21:26, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

@Salvio: The issue has absolutely naught to do with "American Politics," it has to do with two specific editors who should know better. If one suspects the issue is political, the exact same types of editors are found on all political, sexual, religious, philosophical and economic articles, with parallels in each and every category.

I have suggested in the past at UT:Jimbo that "silly season" edits are a major problem on Wikipedia, with such "major scandals" as traveling with a dog in a protected dog carrier on the roof of a car getting major play on Wikipedia with multiple articles, or having a major Baptist minister being labeled a "homophobe" because he supports the official teachings of that church.

If I recall correctly, the aim of Wikipedia is to produce an actual encyclopedia, not a collection of political, economic, sexual and religious tracts taking aim at anyone who is "wrong" whether they be Palestinians or Israelis, Ukrainians or Russians, Libertarians or Authoritarians, Argentines or British, Labour or Tory, and so on.

If the ArbCom ever decides to do something of real substance they should officially state that any editor who appears to be promoting any specific point of view about a topic in a manner designed to denigrate the topic should be subject to sanctions, for, in practice, it is the "show the world how evil this person or group is, or this topic is" mentality which has caused many problems on the project (looking back at most ArbCom cases, this is what I suggest should be one of the core principles and would have been applicable in many). If this means we do not actually "show how evil that man or group or topic is" then so be it. Collect (talk) 14:55, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

@WTT: As I noted, the issue is unrelated to the TPM case completely -- it is an interaction problem between two editors, and thus should be dealt with as such. If the area is "broadened" then it would end up being "all contentious articles, broadly construed" in the long run. Cheers. Collect (talk) 13:43, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by North8000

I think blameless disengagement between the two would be in order. Beyond an iban because it appears that other normally exempted venues have also been the arenas. North8000 (talk) 10:15, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by NE Ent

I don't see there being a case here. The fact that some editors on Wikipedia don't like other editors is neither new nor exceptional, nor is it required for folks to collaborate. The filer tried to make the case at the RFC/U and failed to get a clear consensus.

I am disappointed the phrasing of the first two committee declines seem to assume misconduct on the part of Arzel in stating they should be dealt with by enforcement of existing discretionary sanctions. NE Ent 11:38, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

A case would preferable to expanding DS's scope. NE Ent 11:17, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
Note the RFC has now been closed. NE Ent 02:07, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by MrX

I am listed as a party to this case, presumably because I created the RFC/U. At the heart of this case is a user's editing conduct and interactions with other editors which are well documented in his editing history, with specific examples listed at the RFC/U. I reject any theory that this case is about some people not liking other people; people simply taking sides in a political dispute; or personal biases.

As far as I understand, this is exactly the type of case that should be arbitrated. This is a user conduct issue at its core. All other avenues of resolution have failed and the community is deadlocked, leading us to this venue of last resort. The case is broader than TPM because it encompasses American politics, biographies, Fox News, global warming, civil rights, football, reality TV, etc. I don't see how AE can address these long term issues that fall outside of the scope of the TPM case.- MrX 18:27, 5 April 2014 (UTC)


Edit Warring
  1. Revert 1, Revert 2
Personal attacks/incivility/assumptions of bad faith
  1. March 5, 2014: "Give me a break. You add a WP:RECENT blurb using Rachel Maddow as a source. It is quite clear what you both are trying to do. Please stop using WP to push your political view."
  2. March 5, 2014: "Nothing like another chance to push your anti-Ryan POV."
  3. March 26, 2014: "You are clearly incapable of looking at this from an objective point of view."
  4. March 27, 2014: "So go live your own life, stop worrying about hers."
  5. March 30, 2014: "I would have thought that an Admin would be more objective, but I know that not to be the case."
  6. April 2, 2014: " I don't have time to deal with your POV pushing right now and apparently a certain Admin lets his bias show rather than follow WP policies."

- MrX 16:15, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

Comment by Cube Lurker

Placing the entire spectrum of US politics on discretionary sanctions may sound good, but I fear it could turn into a nightmare. Politics seeps into nearly all areas of life, and the number of articles that broadly construed touch on politics is incredibly large. To throw 50% of the encyclolpedia into WP:AE over this disagreement is killing a fly with a cluster bomb.--Cube lurker (talk) 14:29, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Clerk notes

This area is used for notes by the clerks (including clerk recusals).

Arzel: Arbitrators' opinion on hearing this matter <5/1/0/2>

Vote key: (Accept/decline/recuse/other)

  • The complaints made at the RFC relate to Arzel's conduct on pages the committee have already arbitrated. Remedies from our earlier decision can therefore be used if Arzel's conduct is continually and significantly disruptive: the complainant should simply request at WP:AE that Arzel be topic-banned under the discretionary sanctions of Tea Party movement. In my judgement, we do not require an arbitration case to recover old ground. Decline. AGK [•] 22:14, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
  • As for the conduct on pages not under the scope of Tea Party movement, I do not agree it requires an arbitration case. There simply isn't anything there that the community can't resolve and that requires a full committee hearing. AGK [•] 21:02, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
  • NE Ent, I made no such assumption, nor should my vote be read as though I did. AGK [•] 21:07, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I would like to see statements as to why this requires a full arbitration case rather than requests for enforcement of the discretionary sanctions already put in place from the Tea Party Movement case. Seraphimblade Talk to me 07:14, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
    • Thanks for those who clarified. It does look like this goes farther. Accept. Seraphimblade Talk to me 19:55, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
  • A note that I have seen and am actively reviewing presented evidence regarding this matter. NativeForeigner Talk 09:19, 8 April 2014 (UTC)
  • This looks messy. Still thinking about it, but in this case taking the case may actually minimize disruption. NativeForeigner Talk 06:51, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I would also note that I have not been ignoring this request, I just don't have much to say about it yet. Beeblebrox (talk) 18:44, 8 April 2014 (UTC)
I've just spent some time reviewing this, in particular the last RFC/U, which clearly failed to resolve anything. There seems to be broad agreement that there is a problem, but there is significant disagreement regarding whose behavior is more problematic. That strongly suggests that, despite the name of this case request, there is more than one editor behaving in a manner that is not desirable, and that the community has tried and failed to resolve the situation. I am not at all convinced that all areas where disruption is occurring are under the area defined in the Tea Party case. I am therefore minded to Accept this request, though I am still open to the possibility of motions explicitly expanding the Tea Party discretionary sanctions into these other topic areas. Beeblebrox (talk) 18:42, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I'm still on the fence, although I'm currently leaning towards voting decline as not ripe for arbitration; I'll wait for more statements, however, before making up my mind. Salvio Let's talk about it! 11:46, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
    • Question for everyone: would the extension of discretionary sanctions to the topic of American politics be considered enough or would you prefer a case? Salvio Let's talk about it! 09:32, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I can see that the Tea Party discretionary sanctions are not sufficient here, but since the topic is so similar and there are a number of familiar faces, I would prefer to just extend the discretionary sanctions. Could any of the parties explain to me why that would be a poor idea? WormTT(talk) 09:20, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
    • I think a key question is, what would we extend them to? Newyorkbrad (talk) 18:49, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
      • Indeed, Collect and Cube Lurker have put it rather well. WormTT(talk) 07:15, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
    • I'm persuaded that we should accept a case. WormTT(talk) 07:20, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Could the editors supporting a case identify specific problematic edits made by Arzel in recent weeks? Thanks, Newyorkbrad (talk) 00:50, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Accept There appears to be issues with Arzel's conduct outside of the tea party case, where it would be covered under DS, and the RfC suggests that behavior of other parties should be appraised as well. DS over such a broad area would be more likely to do harm than good. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 16:48, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

Requests for clarification and amendment

Amendment request: Rich Farmbrough

Initiated by Rich Farmbrough, 04:22, 13 April 2014 (UTC).

Case affected 
Rich Farmbrough arbitration case (t) (ev / t) (w / t) (pd / t)
Clauses to which an amendment is requested
  1. Remedy 2
  2. Motion 2
List of users affected by or involved in this amendment
Confirmation that the above users are aware of this request
Information about amendment request
  • Strike motion 2
  • Modify Remedy 2

Statement by Rich Farmbrough

The previous arbitration case defined an automaton tool in principle 3.1

An automation tool is a technology designed to facilitate making multiple similar edits that would be unduly time-consuming or tedious for a human editor to perform manually.

A "remedy" was passed (Remedy 2)

Rich Farmbrough is indefinitely prohibited from using any automation whatsoever on Wikipedia....

Presumably, since the drafting arbitrator had defined "automation tool", and since the initial complaint was that automation tools had been used in a way that caused issues disruption, by making multiple similar edits, automation tools is what is meant here. The actual wording is overboard and unenforceable.

For this reason I request that:

Request 1

The text of the first sentence of remedy 2 be forthwith changed to:

Rich Farmbrough is indefinitely prohibited from using any automation tool whatsoever on Wikipedia to make multiple similar edits.

Request 2

A, hopefully unintended, side effect of is my inability to archive my talk page, (possibly) to create lists of articles for people to work on and make other perfectly innocuous changes. Therefore I request the following to be added to Remedy 2.

This shall not apply to pages in Rich Farmbrough's own User; And User talk: area.

I note that a similar request was turned down two years ago as being "too soon." I hope this no longer applies.

Request 3

Motion 2 (which has been described by arbitrators as "draconian") was introduced in somewhat heated circumstances. I had mis-clicked on a tool I was using to compile lists and prepare text and made two "automated edits". Much ABF followed, together with many unfounded accusations and threats to bring out the ban-hammer. Nonetheless, the existing remedies were quite sufficient for a one-month block to be enacted. Given this the imposition of an additional editing restriction, especially one as broad reaching as this seems pointless.

Motion 2 has been subject to much abuse, resulting in a years bock over an edit that added references to a page, but caused an error due to the wholly manual omission of a "/". It was even suggested that editing the page to insert the missing "/" constituted automated editing.

Neither this, nor the subsequent request for AE, nor any other complaint based on the Motion 2 have had anything to do with "making multiple similar edits" - the effect has been not to prevent disruption but to create disruption.

Moreover the Motion forbids such simple tasks as cutting and pasting, making even raising this request sanctioanble. I have given elsewhere examples of perfectly normal, not say essential, editing techniques which are banned by this Motion 2. I will repeat them here if requested.

So request 3 is:

Strike Motion 2

@Beeblebrox. I think you confuse me with someone else. With the possible exception of the series of edits correcting the my own spelling error "Vertebrate zoology" to "Vertebrate Zoology", for which I apologized profusely and was blocked for a month two years ago, no-one has even suggested that I have done the type of multiple edits that allegedly caused disruption.

You might also want to look at some of the other parts of the case. For example this edit was considered a reason to remove my admin bit. And yet you can "sigh" in your edit summary with no consequences.

All I am trying to achieve here, is to restore sanity to the editing restrictions, not to remove them, however flawed they are. I can see no way these requested changes can harm the project, even if the manifest WP:ABF were justified.

I would really appreciate being treated in a courteous manner, and have the issues addressed, rather than coded and not so coded insults.

However, I will make an additional effort to move the dialogue forward: Suggest, please, an editing task which I could take on which would not violate Motion 2?

All the best, Rich Farmbrough, 21:59, 13 April 2014 (UTC).

Statement by Pine

Without wading into the details of Rich's motion I am hoping Arbcom can come up with a solution that will eliminate the need for constant supervision of Rich's situation, and reduce the frequency of trips to arbitration and arbitration enforcement pages. I think the original sanctions were intended to prevent disruption but if they have become an obstacle to Rich being a non-disruptive contributor and are frequently discussed at great length on arbitration and arbitration enforcement pages then I think it's time for a change. --Pine 07:01, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

  • This is going to reveal that I haven't researched deeply into Rich's case beyond seeing how much text it has produced over the years, but wouldn't it be easy to have an arbitration remedy that prohibits disruptive automated editing, and leave the enforcement of that to the discretion of AE, ANI, and BASC? --Pine 07:12, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
  • WormTT's ideas are similar to what I have in mind after looking more at Rich's requests. ArbCom could specifically discuss using cut, copy, paste, replace, spellcheck, and replace all tools that don't involve bot work, and consider making an exception for Rich's userspace. Restrictions on other bot or automated activity outside of Rich's userspace would remain. Rich would need to be very careful that any automated work intended for his userspace doesn't leak into other areas. --Pine 01:59, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by {yet another user}

{Other editors are free to comment on this amendment as necessary. Comments here should be directed only at the above proposed amendment.}

Clerk notes

This section is for administrative notes by the clerks (including clerk recusals).

Arbitrator views and discussion

  • Here's what you are (deliberately?) not getting: The "too soon" response is not just meant to say that time needs to pass, it means that you need to spend some time where you are unblocked, actively editing, and not doing anything that could possibly be interpreted as violating or testing the boundaries of your current sanctions. So, yeah, still too soon for my taste. Beeblebrox (talk) 18:12, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Just thinking out loud here, what would be the downside of exempting Rich's own userspace from the restriction? (Actually, I can think of one myself: that Rich would create buggy articles in userspace and then port them to mainspace. Rich, can you assure us you wouldn't do that?) Newyorkbrad (talk) 02:54, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Speedily dismiss as essentially duplicating the clarification request. AGK [•] 10:16, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Rich's sanctions were put in place to stop the past issues whilst retaining the editor. They were draconian and understandably so, but they haven't worked. We've now got two options, give up and block indefinitely or clarify the sanctions so that they keep the problems from re-occurring, whilst also being something Rich can work within. I spent a while trying to think of how best to phrase it, but simply put this motion was pretty much the solution I would have come up with. It's clear what we are currently referring to as "automation":
    1) Numerous similar edits across multiple pages - i.e. traditional "bot" editing
    2) Non-trivial find and replace across a single page - i.e. any find and replace that would require regex involvement. Also, "find and replace all" will fall under this. Each replacement should be checked manually.
    3) Any other scripted manipulations of text, either directly performed on-wiki or performed off-wiki and moved on.
    We were never just looking at number 1, so I'd deny Rich's first request outright. Regarding the userspace exemption, this would instantly sort the below clarification request. It's not generally an unreasonable request and I would be amenable to it in the future - possibly after 6 months of good editing. The very existence of the clarification request below does not give me sufficient faith that it would not be abused at the moment, so I would deny Rich's second request for the time being. Finally, motion 2, per my previous comments - is not something I'd be willing to remove at the moment. WormTT(talk) 10:22, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  • By what measure, Dave, hasn't the restriction worked? The main page hasn't been tagged uncategorised recently; the boards aren't filled with people complaining; the bots aren't re-running to fix earlier errors (and introduce new ones). The lack of high-speed disruption looks pretty good to me,  Roger Davies talk 11:03, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
    We have two clarification requests, multiple emails and discussions in other fora regarding Rich within 3 weeks of his block expiring. That spells "something not right" to me. That said, I can't see any better solution. WormTT(talk) 11:09, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  • The notion that someone is only able to archive their talk page by running a custom bot beggars belief. In a nutshell, the issue here is that Rich appears incapable of being completely satisfied with anything unless he has automated it. Summarily dismiss,  Roger Davies talk 11:03, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
    • Hi, Pine. The lesson of Rich's history, I'm afraid, is that no matter how much care he is asked to exercise, this stuff will leak into user space. The problem, for me, with the search-and-replace that triggered this was that he made a search, without appreciating that it contained a wildcard, which had unintended consequences. He then saved without review. This typifies the problems of the past and is precisely the reason why this restriction is so strict.  Roger Davies talk 06:10, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
    • Not necessarily a "custom" bot; could Rich permissibly sign up for any of the archiving bots? Newyorkbrad (talk) 15:39, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
      • Frankly, Brad, signing up for third-party archiving has never been covered by this restriction. What Rich is asking for here is to run his own custom automated archiving. If anyone has the energy to find it, he has requested this before (and been denied).  Roger Davies talk 06:10, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
      • My own talk page has 32 archives, all of which I managed to create without any sort of automated tool. Beeblebrox (talk) 16:58, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Decline. T. Canens (talk) 16:59, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Decline, but allow Rich to use a bot to archive his talk page. I can't imagine how permitting him to do that could a. lead to disruption and b. be contentious. Salvio Let's talk about it! 17:23, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Yes. If Rich wants to use a bot such as Cluebot III to archive his talk page, then I say he should be allowed to do so. If he, on the other hand, wants to run his own bot for that purpose, then, no, that's not what I had in mind. Salvio Let's talk about it! 12:46, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

Clarification request: Rich Farmbrough

Initiated by Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) at 08:59, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Case or decision affected
Rich Farmbrough arbitration case (t) (ev / t) (w / t) (pd / t)
Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Rich Farmbrough#Rich Farmbrough prohibited from using automation
Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Rich Farmbrough#Modified by motion 2

List of any users involved or directly affected, and confirmation that all are aware of the request:

I've included the user who filed the request (Fram) as well as the admins who discussed it for notification purposes. I haven't included all users who commented, I'll leave that up to the arbs and clerks if they believe it necessary.

Statement by Callanecc

Fram (talk · contribs) submitted an arbitration enforcement request regarding some recent edits by Rich Farmbrough (talk · contribs). I've copied the applicable contents of that request below so that they are recorded here with this request, I won't copy Rich's statement across in case he wishes to say something different in this context.

  1. 04:49 8 April 2014: whether the original page was created using automation may be hard to prove (although everything points in that direction as well). But this subsequent edit is clearly not manually made. Every instance of " (*" (an opening bracket preceded by a space, plus every character after that on the same line) has been removed, no matter if that was wanted or not. The result is that you get changes like:

And about ten further instances of the same pattern. Perhap others will see this as a manual edit nevertheless, but to me it certainly matches "For the purposes of this remedy, any edits that reasonably appear to be automated shall be assumed to be so.".

  1. 06:27 6 April 2014 This one is taken from the end of this document, pages 104-105 (or from a different site with the same information and formatting, his page lists no source); note how, in Rich's article, four companies have a name ending in (a); 79 TOTAL Deutschland GmbH(a), Germany, 191 TOTAL Petrochemicals & Refining S.A. / NV(a), Belgium, 192 TOTAL Petrochemicals & Refining USA Inc. (a), United States, and 207 TOTAL UK Limited (a), United Kingdom. These just happen to be the same four companies that have a "*" after their name in the original document, indicating a footnote for "multi-segment entities". It seems unlikely that Rich Farmbroug made the same typo four times, matching exactly these four "starred" companies, the only ones to have that extra bit.
User:Fram, Special:Permalink/603418882

The administrators discussing the enforcement request could not agree if using the find and replace function meets the criteria set down by the Committee and if it does what an appropriate sanction would be. Given the disagreement regarding this and considering the Committee's motion that further violations will likely lead to a site-ban I thought it was best to refer this to the Committee for appropriate action. I'll close the AE request with a message that I've referred the issue to here. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 08:59, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

@Beyond My Ken: It's not asking for it to be rescinded at all, it's asking if the Committee considers it to be a violation and if they do then asking them to take action. That's becasue the highest sanction AE can hand down (a one year block) has already been applied and hasn't worked, therefore it's the Committee's turn to decide whether to block again or enact the site-ban they threatened. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 12:08, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by John Vandenberg

I was just about to close this as a 'close call but not actionable', but I was too slow and was edit conflicted twice, so I will post my draft closure decision here.

Most of the other admins here believe this doesnt fit within the arbitration committees decision, for a variety of reasons. Only Sandstein sees it that way, but I dont think it is healthy for him to be the leading enforcement admin on the third AE regarding Rich in a row. Given the other input to this AE, I dont think this is worth a clarification request. If Rich is trying to see how much he can get away with, it wont be long before there will be more a actionable AE request. These diffs are different from previous two reported to AE, and the general thrust of prior editing problems. The first diff is userspace, which should be ignored unless it is disruptive due to side effect on other users, which hasnt been claimed here. The second diff is a list article created by Rich (articles of this type are often created offline by manipulating other datasets) and the very minor issues in the initial version are within acceptable levels given the size of the page. It would have been easy to miss those '(a)'s even in a close review of the wikitext. If Rich regularly leaves small bits of junk in new content pages, this would be actionable, but not for just one instance. Rich, if you are going to create articles in this manner, I strongly suggest that you first of all push the data elements into Wikidata, and extract the data from there to obtain your draft wikitext table to be incorporated into the new Wikipedia article. That will reduce errors like the one Fram found, as it separates data extraction from data reporting, and utilises Wikidatas datatypes to validate the data. John Vandenberg (chat) 09:04, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by Sandstein

Considering the surprisingly intense disagreement among administrators (and other users of unclear involvedness) responding to the AE request, I recommend that the Committee examine whether the restrictions imposed in Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Rich Farmbrough should continue to apply as written (in which case, in my view, Rich Farmbrough's apparent use of search-and-replace functionality violates the restrictions and should lead to an enforcement block), whether the site ban announced in the decision as a likely consequence of violations should be imposed, or whether the sanction should be modified or lifted.

I have not followed the original case and therefore express no opinion as to whether or to which degree the restrictions are (still) needed to prevent damage or disruption to the project.  Sandstein  10:58, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by DangerousPanda/EatsShootsAndLeaves

I do implore ArbComm to review this situation, determine if the supposed transgression was indeed a transgression, and if it was, cast your stones upon the transgressor in the manner that you see fit.

Let me start by saying that I do not believe that I have been one of Rich's supporters in the past.

Personally, I find the AE Enforcement filing to have been distasteful, inappropriate, and simply "someone looking for a reason - weak as it was - to get Rich booted". In that light, I would actually desire sanctions imposed that would prevent such divisive and inappropriate behaviour from ever happening again, be it WP:IBAN, blocks, whatever. No editor should be targetted so regularly, and for such small things.

I suppose the predecessor to that, however, will be determining if using Find...Replace is considered to be an "automated tool" to make "automated edits", in contravention of the meaning and spirit of RF's restrictions.

I don't want to sound like a wikilaywer, but you'll also have to define what "editing Wikipedia" means. Is it the action of clicking "save" once? Or, is it sitting down, reading, searching, referencing, typing, copying/pasting over an entire editing session. For example, I may make some edits, go to ANI, use CTRL-F and search for a specific report, make some comments, go elsewhere and make article edits ... is all of this considered to be "editing Wikipedia", or just the few times I clicked "save" - this is important, because if I have a restriction against using a so-called "automated tool", and you consider Find...Replace to be "automated", then so is using CTRL-F because it prevents me from having to manually scan a page of words using my own eyes. If CTRL-F is "automated", I'll bet you'll need to block Rich a dozen times a day.

You'd then have to define if Copy...Paste is also an automated tool? Always? Sometimes? Never? It depends? For example, if I go to the article on Trinidad and Tobago right now, select a small amount of text, copy it, open the article on Tobago and paste it in ... am I using an "automated tool" because it prevents me from having to type the words manually? If copy and paste between articles is verboten as automated in that case, what about when I go to the top of the page and highlight the entire URL of the page I'm looking at, then paste it into a new browser window ... was that a use of an automated tool while editing Wikipedia?

Define the differences? Is there a difference between an "automated tool" and an "editing tool", or an "automated process", or "automated edits".

So, yeah, I was a bit cheesed off last evening when I saw the AE Enforcement request as I considered it petty, wrong, and harassment. So please, clarify for everyone edits, editing, automated proccesses and editing tools. Then, you'll need to cast stones in one of 2 directions ... or both. ES&L 11:29, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

@Fram: I'm one of your more vocal opponents? No, I grew up many years ago and don't play that game. You dropped by my talkpage, became offensive, I shut it down, case closed. Grudges are something that children hold. So, to close you down once is not being "a vocal opponent". To be forced to restate the same thing to you every time you re-hash the same stupid "he hates me" thing, again, it doesn't make me a "vocal opponent". You're the one bringing it up again and again, not me - which forces me to say over and over again "no, wrong". ES&L 12:33, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Comment by Beyond My Ken

The ArbCom remedy in the Rich Farmbrough case is quite clear. It (Remedy 2) says:

Rich Farmbrough is indefinitely prohibited from using any automation whatsoever on Wikipedia. For the purposes of this remedy, any edits that reasonably appear to be automated shall be assumed to be so. (emphasis added)

While some of the admins at AE expressed surprise that search-and-replace would fall under this definition, there can actually be no argument that a software routine which makes edits as specified by a human editor is not a manual edit, but the use of automation. Search-and-replace is so familiar to us that we don't think of it that way, but this is nonetheless true.

So, given the clarity of the remedy, and the fact that search-and-replace is undeniably automation, what's being asked for here is, in fact, not really a clarification of the remedy, but the rescinding of it, because it seems "nonsensical" to some. Perhaps they are right, perhaps it is "nonsensical" -- but it is also abundantly clear, and has been already used to block Farmbrough for a year. There is no difference here, despite Farmbrough's attempt to Wikilawyer the remedy into submission by reference to a definition of automation used in a different part of the Committee's decision (Principle 3.1), which does not and cannot overide the clear definition of automation given in the remedy.

Given all this, the Committee should reaffirm its previous remedy and sanction Rich Farmbrough appropriately. BMK (talk) 11:51, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

  • As to what an "appropriate" sanction might be, reading the Arb comments to this point, I'd say that sentiment is leaning towards RF's actions being a clear violation of the remedy, but perhaps only a technical one, and that having taken place in his userspace mitigates the violation somewhat. Therefore, I suggest that the Committee impose a significant block - say for a month - with a clear notice to RF that any boundary-exploration anywhere on Wikipedia, with no exceptions, will result in an immediate site ban, enforceable at AE. I think that would be a loud and clear message to RF, who can then decide if he is interested in continuing to edit here under those conditions. BMK (talk) 12:03, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by Fram

EatsShootsandLeaves starts with "Let me start by saying that I do not believe that I have been one of Rich's supporters in the past.", but forgots to add that he is one of my more vocal opponents, having forbidden me to go to his talk page in the future, and concluding "Just when one thinks that someone is improving as a person AND as an editor - WHAM! - they fuck it up badly (✉→BWilkins←✎) 14:00, 25 June 2013 (UTC)" When one points out that one is an objective commentator, it may be more correct to indicate the position one has about both editors, certainly when he concludes "Then, you'll need to cast stones in one of 2 directions ... or both.", as if the possibility that no stones will be cast doesn't exist. As for the substance of his comments: the difference between his examples and what happened here is that the result is what counts; how you browse or read pages is of no consequence, how you find things is your business, but if someone chooses to replace hundreds of instances of "A" with "B" in one unsupervised go, including some "A"s that shouldn't have been replaced, then yes, that is automation as defined in the rstriction, and similar to the one that led to the previous year-long block. What message are you trying to send with wanting to silence the one person that did most of the legwork in establishing that there was a pattern of problematic editing in the first place, and who corrected hundreds of such edits after the case ended and it became obvious that no one else would? Fram (talk) 12:08, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

@EatsShootsandLeaves "close you down once" = told me not to come to your talk page again, with the clear wish that some other admin would block me if I did. "To be forced to restate the same thing to you every time you re-hash the same stupid "he hates me" thing, again, it doesn't make me a "vocal opponent".": let me count the ways: "restate", "same", "every time", "rehash", "same", and "again" in one sentence (and a few more in the next), wow, there must have been countless times I have made such "he hates me" statements. Shouldn't be too hard to find a few examples then. As far as I can remember, I raised the issue once before this. Please refresh my memory on all these other times. Fram (talk) 12:57, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

@Everyone who thinks I shouldn't be the one making these reports. While I can see your point, the problem is that the mantra some people use of "someone else will see it" isn't correct. As an example: I opened Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Rich Farmbrough in April 2012, and it closed on 15 May 2012. Lots of his edits (account and bots) were scrutinised at the time, but even so, a long series of errors (first made from his account as an unapproved bot test, then ran as an approved but buggy bot task) wasn't found until some weeks after the case closed (and then only accidentally, because I was checking edits made by another user, User:Jaguar), and then corrected. I started these corrections on 30 May 2012[1] and finished a few hundred error corrections later on 5 June 2012[2]. I have no interest in waiting until such things happens again, so I try to prevent this by checking early. It is not really logical that the "reward" for researching a case, bringing evidence, showing the harm done by the problems, convincing people through a long and laborious process (with lots of abuse from some people), and correcting the problems, is that one would not be allowed to follow up on it, to check that the problems don't start again, and even get threatened with an interaction ban by an admin (I thought that usually for an interaction ban, a series of problematic interactions should be established, not someone repeatedly but correctly pointing out problems with the edits by another user). Obviously, if the conclusion of the Arbs is that userspace edits, or single page edits, are not actionable under the restriction, then I will not bring such edits to AE again. But whether an edit is a violation is not dependent on who reports it. Fram (talk) 07:33, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Exasperation by NE Ent

Arbcom '12 messed this up. "Automation" is one of those words that we bandy about without thinking about too much -- it seems to have some sort of meaning so we're comfortable using it. It's a vague general nebulous concept, not something that is crisp and well understood. As an intentionally absurd argument, consider: on 4 April RF edited Poundworld, and since that time maybe 200 folks have viewed that page. Did RF make that edit 200 times -- no, it's automation! Or the text substitution of a {{u|NE Ent}} template is (or isn't), or the spell check built into the browser -- at one point Arbcom '12 members were arguing about whether that counted or not.

"may make reasonable inferences regarding the probable use of such tools on the basis of several factors, including the speed, number, timing, and consistency of the edits". Okay, so what if RF makes a series of 20 edits that are exactly 18 seconds apart? What if the 20 edits vary from 17 to 19 seconds, but are uniformly distributed instead of Gaussian -- or should "normal" editing be a Poisson distribution???

More ridiculous examples upon request.

The bottom line is that, despite Arbcom '12s good intentions, it is just inherently unreasonable to use "reasonably" in a remedy that references something as ill-defined as "automation." I think Arbcom '14 has to open this back up and provide a remedy that is clearly and unequivocally understood.

Note: I commented in the case pages under prior username Nobody Ent NE Ent 13:15, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

You're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a absurd land whose boundaries are that of inanity. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the Wikipedia Zone!
Back in 1985 I had an Okidata 92 dot matrix printer hooked up to a Commodore 64 and some word processing package I've forgotten the name of; I remember how incredibly cool it was to be able fix things before committing them to paper as the human powered typewriter I had been using did. I'm sure there was a search and replace function. That was 29 years ago. It had a search and replace function. It's 2014 folks. It's not that the restriction is trying to make RF "edit like a human," it's forbidding him to. (At least a human of the third millennia CE.) Only on Wikipedia would the archaic "type weird symbols into a html text box" be considered "using an editor." There is a real world out there folks, can we try to act like we're part of it, maybe?
If Rich's past wiki-transgressions are so heinous that he can't be trusted not to fall off the wagon and run a bot tomorrow if he uses spell-check etc. today, just end the farce already and site ban him.NE Ent 01:37, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by Ohconfucius

The devil lies in the detail. The Arbcom definition of automation cited above remains very subjective and leaves a lot to be desired. In truth, our notions of what constitutes automation evolves with the state of technology. My take is that in today's world, where we rely on computers to do routine and mundane things, performing calculations (instead of longhand or mental arithmetic) or copy–paste (instead of handwriting) is so off-the-scale in terms of what might reasonably be defined or considered "automation". Clicking on the undo button for a series of articles is equally not automation. The beginning of true automation lies somewhere between running a single regex and a 20-regex script over more than a small handful of articles. The edits brought here as examples look like one-off edit of one single and simple regex at worst. Poundworld is not an automated edit. Even if this were in mainspace, it's the product of a simple regex that I'd be inclined to dismiss as a piss-take. This extraction seems like something that can be manipulated with a spreadsheet or word processor. It seems so limited end of my definition that it would be unreasonable to consider it a breach. In addition, RF's editing seems not to have fallen foul of the "speed, number, timing, and consistency of the edits" criteria either. -- Ohc ¡digame! 15:40, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by uninvolved A Quest for Knowledge

I'll repeat what I said at AE:
I hadn't planned on commenting, but I am taken aback by the suggestion that Find and Replace searches aren't automated searches edits. As a software developer for the past 15+ years, I can say that using a text editor's search and replacement feature is absolutely an automated process and one that requires special attention to each and every edit. While I don't know the specifics of RF's ArbCom history, apparently this user has screwed this up so many times that the community has decided that they cannot be trusted to do this again. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 22:01, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by Rich Farmbrough

I have little to add to what has been said, at the moment.

I would just like to remind Arbitrators (or point out if they didn't already know it) that it is not pleasant having people impugn one's motives at the best of times.

All the best, Rich Farmbrough, 23:32, 9 April 2014 (UTC).

@Harry: "Write an article..." what are John Valentine Wistar Shaw and Cayley's Sextic, chopped liver? And what is chopped liver anyway? shades All the best, Rich Farmbrough, 01:39, 11 April 2014 (UTC).

@Roger: You ask:

"If you're able only to edit by typing into a box and pressing [save page], does editing Wikipedia have any long-term attraction at all for you?

Or, to put it another way, are you simply marking time here, until the moment when your bot privileges are restored?"

Here are two completely different questions, both, if I may say so, rather confused. I think I made it clear in my email to the committee that I am mainly catching up on edits I wanted to make while I was blocked. And I think I also made it clear, that just because I ran bots and used tools, it did not mean that I was not a content creator - albeit overshadowed in my fields by people like Matt Crypto, Charles Matthews, MIcahel Hardy, Oleg Alexander, etc.. I do not like to sit comparing dozens of pairs of texts as if I were searching for V1 launch sites (perhaps an apt comparison). However I do like to see the encyclopaedia improved. I find it strange that people would fix an error without asking themselves "How widespread is this sort of problem" and "How can we prevent it happening" and "How can ewe fix it everywhere?" So does Wikipedia hold a long term attraction for me? Yes, if we are talking in the realms of a few years, I will continue to fix errors whether they are substantive such as this, or stylistic. I will even search them them out, so for example the previous mentioned error was discovered after finding a dubious statement supported by unreliable sources in one article, that was also present in about ten other articles. These statements are linked to the Jagged 85 case, which means they have been on Wikipedia for 6 years and are propagating across the Internet and print media, and back into other WP articles. (We do not have the manpower to deal with this sort of thing, despite tremendous efforts by some editors - kicking out someone who might make a contribution there seems crazy.)

Similarly I tagged some 3000 incorrect ISBNs in 2012, 2600 of them remain (and probably some have only had the tag removed) and another 3-4000 ISBN errors have been made since. As far as I know, no-one has made a concerted effort to fix these in my two years absence. I am most of the way through fixing the 24 Featured Articles, and have fixed about a dozen others, including some of the 100 odd Good Articles. In the process I have done the following:

  1. Edited by typing into a box and pressing [save page]
  2. Copied text from the edit window to use elsewhere
  3. Copied text from the page to use elsewhere
  4. Cut text by selecting it and pressing Ctrl-X
  5. Replaced text by selecting it and typing
  6. Pasted text from elsewhere
  7. Moved the caret by using the mouse
  8. Selected text using the control and arrow keys
  9. Used the scroll bar on the edit box

In the process of writing Cayley's sextic I also used the "Greek" gadget to insert π and θ (knowing full-well that there exits some combination of "alt" and numbers that will generate the symbol). I also cut-and-pasted the details of the references. And above, I cut and pasted the url of a diff.

So really the type of edit that is prohibited by the motion that is responding to my two mis-clicks in 2012 is pretty much inclusive of any serious editing. "But nobody would be such a jerk as to invoke the restriction for edits like this" I hear you cry. That, of course, is exactly what I thought. The purpose of this over-broad restriction, was to prevent what was seen as (perhaps reasonably) a work-around to previous restriction. In fact it provided another layer of "gotchas". I wonder if you can imagine what it is like working under these restrictions, and having people who don't know the facts say like "violation of all manner of BotOp, administrator, and consensus policies" or "apparently this user has screwed this up so many times".

The fact of the matter is, that, rightly or wrongly, the committee wanted to stop me using "automation tools", defined as "a technology designed to facilitate making multiple similar edits" - and this has resulted in me being blocked for a year over a single edit that provided references to an article, the only problem with that edit being a single character that was typed (or not typed, I forget) by hand. This was not, I believe the aim of the restriction.

So does editing Wikipedia hold any attraction? If people are going to edit cooperatively, then sure. If they are going to throw obstacles in my path for the sake of it, then not so much.

Am I marking time? Hardly! I think I have been pretty productive, I have in your area of interest, created at least stubs, or redirects for half the articles on this list. I have yet to attend to this problem with Elliot Roosevelt, and, have abandoned for now planned improvements to Carolingian Renaissance, because of the time I am spending on this, but please look at the work I have done in the last 2 weeks. It only scratches the surface, of course, but it is at least workmanlike, and an improvement. I also have spent some time at Teahouse and Help Desk, (which are the fora for being welcoming, rather than abrasive).

As to Fram's pathetic claim that he is forced to run around after me fixing my errors, I have always said that I will fix any errors brought to my attention. Fram reported three minor errors (two typos) on Jimbo Wales talk page, while I was blocked. Fixing them was the first thing I did when my block expired - Fram was happy to hunt for them to besmirch my name, but not to tell me about it. Similarly the Arb case was brought as a BLP issue - the world was about to implode because we were revealing who had had sock allegations made against them (this was debunked pretty quickly) my fourth edit was to address that issue. Although it was apparently vital enough that I should be whipped about town, have my rights removed etc. no-one was actually concerned enough to make sure that these details weren't exposed - except me. By their fruits shall ye know them.

All the best, Rich Farmbrough, 18:54, 11 April 2014 (UTC).

@Roger Davies 2: "The purpose is to permanently wean Rich off high speed edits with collateral damage to a slower considered style where every edit moves the article forward and requires no external intervention to fix." It would be interesting to see how either of the edits complained about contravene this purpose. Notably one is not to an article, and could never be an article, the other complaint is based on some crazy hypotheses that I would replace all occurrences of "(a)" with "*". RF 22:48, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

@T. Canens: No one has pointed out why these edits are "problematic". No one has pointed to any editing since the arb case that is problematic. Sure I worked on a lot of turtle articles, and using the same reference format as a colleague introduced a reference with a capitalisation error in it ("Vertebrate zoology" instead of "Vertebrate Zoology") into many of them. But it was correcting the error I was sanctioned for, not creating it.

Similarly the one year block which resulted from your previous "go ahead" to Sandstein was for adding references to an article. One. Article. Not for "making many similar edits to many articles" and certainly the only error there was a single character that was typed (or omitted, I forget which) by hand.

All the best, Rich Farmbrough, 22:58, 11 April 2014 (UTC).

A number of people have suggested that I am "testing my limits" or "pushing the envelope" - this simultaneously ascribes a level of both stupidity and bad faith that verges on bad faith and personal attacks - so much for claims to be "dispassionate".

Strange as it seems when I am editing my mind is not on "testing the limit" (which would be playing Russian roulette) or "not acting like a human" (which is a nasty turn of phrase), but helping people. I did not create Cayley's sextic out of some perverse desire to annoy ArbCom, but because it is an useful article. I did not clean up copy-violations such as Hidden Blade because I am "testing my limits", but because they break the law. I did not remove incorrect claims from articles as an act of defiance, but because they are misleading. I am not creating pages for Trinidad and Tobago portal to annoy other editors, but to be welcoming to Trinidadians and Tobagans. I am not working on [[Igbo] culture out of a sense of spite, but to redress systemic flaws in our coverage. I am not fixing ISBN numbers to... but you get the picture. Or I hope you do.

All the best, Rich Farmbrough, 03:27, 13 April 2014 (UTC).

@Roger Davies I do wish people would stop telling me what I am thinking. It is bad enough having them make inaccurate statements about my actions. It seems likely that I will continue to edit on this project in my own small way, in whatever ways the community and I agree are reasonable and desirable. I have just produced some code that will, I hope, assist another editor to fix 11,000 articles. Of course I published it off-wiki. And I have just produced for another editor a list of over 5,000 red-linked palaeontology articles, also published off-wiki, under CCBYSA3. I I have also helped editors gain massive speed-ups on their bots, and use semi-automated tools to make impossible tasks feasible. I don't really care, for myself, if I never run another bot on this project, there are other, just as important and much harder things that need doing. I do, however, care deeply about the following three things:

  1. That the project be as accurate, clear and wide ranging as possible
  2. That the project be a welcoming place, specifically to those with limited English, those with accessibility issues, those with mental health issues, and regardless of demographic.
  3. That the project not publish falsehoods about me. Perhaps this is rather shallow of me, and it should all be water off a ducks back, but that is how I feel.

It seems to me common sense, given the wide community support here, that the type of disruptive stalking that started the AE (and a host of other like actions before it) should be put a stop to once and for all, and that the Motion of May 2012 is long past its sell-by date, serves no useful purpose (if it ever did) and should be gracefully retired.

Thank you for reading this, Rich Farmbrough, 04:07, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by Orlady (uninvolved)

I would like Arbcom to revise/clarify the restriction to allow use of copy-and-paste in user space. Rich's recent edits clearly did violate the restriction as worded, but it appears to me that the wording of the restriction went beyond the scope of what was called for in the Arbcom discussion. Using copy-and-paste tools in Wikipedia user space is indeed a violation of the restriction as worded, but I can't see how it does any harm. However, it harms Wikipedia's image (i.e., Wikipedia looks pretty foolish) if Wikipedia blocks or bans a productive contributor for that kind of edit. --Orlady (talk) 19:28, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by Olive (not involved)

The real question ought to be, in an environment that is not punitive, whether Rich knew he was trespassing on an Arb Com restriction. I don't see that he did in which case he should be warned that this too is a way in which he cannot edit, rather than punish for ignorance, especially when even the arbs do not agree on whether he trespassed his restrictions . How can you sanction someone for not knowing. If that is the WP environment than as a collaborative project this fails. Further the tone of some of the arbs, and I do respect the job arbs have to do, is less than civil or respectful. That an editor may have transgressed does not mean they deserve to be treated in a less than respectful manner.(Littleolive oil (talk) 19:36, 10 April 2014 (UTC))

Statement by Harry Mitchell

My first thought on seeing that this had come up again was "oh, for fuck's sake", which is still a fairly accurate summary of how I feel.

Fram: move on. You've been following Rich around for years, and if you subjected anybody to the sort of scrutiny you've been subjecting Rich to, you could find grounds to sanction them. I thoroughly endorse Beeblebrox's suggestion that you find something else to do. If Rich is a problem and continues to be so after this clarification request, others will pick up where you left off and, frankly, the complaints would have a lot more credibility if they weren't all made by the same person.

Rich: go and write an article or something. I'd love for you to keep participating in this project, but you do so on the terms of its community or not at all. It is difficult to imagine that community (or its representatives on ArbCom, think of them what you will) permitting you, at any time in the foreseeable future, to edit in a way that involves mass changes to multiple articles, such as with AWB and/or bots. I can see the argument that the current restriction is overly harsh or cumbersome, but you are not going to get it lifted by testing its boundaries, and even if you succeed in having it loosened, you will still not be permitted to make those sorts of edits. So I'm afraid your options for the time being are either to find something else to do which is permitted by your restrictions, or to find another way to fill your time. Don't just while away the time until you can get back to what you used to do, because (quite apart from the fact that you'll be waiting for many years at the very least) that's not healthy for you or for the project.

Arbs: I don't think there's much to be done for the time being. Either Rich will find something that he can work on without violating his restrictions, or he has no interest in contributing in a way that the community finds acceptable. Much as I hope it's the former, whatever the case, his intentions will soon become apparent. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 20:11, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by Johnuniq

Rich should not do a search-and-replace in an article to rearrange whitespace or anything else—just edit text that will benefit from editing, and leave bot-like cleanups for others.

However, no bot-like cleanup has occurred in this case, and there is no reason to prevent Rich from doing search-and-replace while preparing an article in user space. Sanctioning an editor for saving a bad user-page draft would be Kafkaesque. Johnuniq (talk) 23:29, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by Redrose64

As I understand it, Rich is being condemned for making edits that are "clearly not manually made"; to wit, using a regular expression search-and-replace.

If a logged-in user goes to Preferences → Editing, and enables both "Enable enhanced editing toolbar" and "Enable wizards for inserting links, tables as well as the search and replace function", they get the Vector toolbar search-replace button.png button when editing - it's close to the upper right corner of the edit window. This, when clicked, opens a dialog box for a search-and-replace function which handles regular expressions. It has buttons Find next Replace Replace all; the operation of these should be familiar to anybody who has used, for example, Windows Notepad. Automated process it may be; but then, so is the action that is triggered by clicking [edit], Show preview, or Save page - or by simply following a wikilink. These set in motion a number of SQL requests - they are automated processes.

I recall that Rich was required to blank his .js pages: I am not aware of any requirement that he should also disable features included within the standard MediaWiki interface. I think that it is unreasonable to expect Rich to use a subset of those standard facilities which are available to any logged-in editor. He may have been required to disable all gadgets - but the abovementioned search-and-replace function isn't a gadget.

The intent of the original judgement was surely to prevent Rich from making identical edits on multiple pages in a short time frame - edits that might violate, say, WP:AWB#Rules of use. The interpretation of this judgement has been twisted to the point that Rich cannot even make one edit to one page without it coming under scrutiny. No evidence has been provided that two or more pages have been subjected to identical edits. I would ask how Fram discovered the first edit given in evidence: it's in Rich's userspace (specifically, User:Rich Farmbrough/wanted/mathematicians), and is a page that has never been edited by Fram, so is not likely to be on Fram's watchlist. There are two ways that he can have become aware of that edit: either he is stalking Rich's edits, or was tipped off. I cannot say which of these actually occurred, but it does seem to me that certain parties are out for blood, which they intend to get by any means possible. If the edits that Rich made to a page in his own user space are not in accord with WP:USERSPACE, there are several available routes: (i) edit the page per WP:UP#On others' user pages; (ii) put it up for WP:CSD (see WP:UP#DELETE); (iii) take it to WP:MFD. There is no need to make a whole drama out of a non-issue.

Finally, I would like to point out that one of those complaining made this edit, to this very clarification request; notice that in the added paragraph, it includes the phrases "using a text editor's search and replacement feature ... requires special attention to each and every edit" and "this user has screwed this up so many times". I invite you all to observe what happened to the post immediately preceding the newly-added subsection. How did all those punctuation marks become altered to hash signs, if not by an inattentive screwed-up edit? --Redrose64 (talk) 23:16, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by Italick

The edit in discussion does not appear automated. In any case, it did not require copy, paste, and search. Instead of just looking at the diff and assuming that it is automation, I opened the original page for editing in a window. Then I saw that setting up the new version is merely a matter of deleting numbers and punctuation after each link in the list, and deleting some blank lines. Nothing fancy was needed to do that. Italick (talk) 09:59, 12 April 2014 (UTC)

I can see that the edit was automated (or more likely, just intended to look that way), and was a test of the vigilance over Rich Farmbrough's edits. If I was banished for a year over small stuff and had an editing restriction, I too might try to figure out if somebody was scouring over all of my edits in earnest, trying to find a reason to turn me in. Italick (talk) 03:49, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by uninvolved duckduckstop

well, here we are again. has arbcom learned yet that micromanaging editors is problematic? when will there be civility enforcement toward admins here? i see we have an admin who is blocked at bugzilla, acting the same way here. i have heard it said that editors are a dime a dozen, and replaceable. is this case a refutation? is anyone else fixing isbn's? is a high edit count rather a block me sign, since the error patrol has more to rake over the coals? when you ask if he is "marking time", is that a refutation of fresh start? when you ask why not just edit by typing, is that a refutation of all the tools and bots, most of which have unintended consequences? i note that bots that delete references are allowed to run, but heaven help the bot that adds a typo.

stop blaming the editor, and start fixing the system. if you don't like the editor's output, then give him the tools to reduce errors. this kind of zero defect thinking in this case, is profoundly incompetent. it leads to zero activity, and zero improvement.

and make no mistake, if you were to ever ask, why is there editor decline; this is a clarion call why. Duckduckstop (talk) 19:30, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by ErikHaugen

Isn't this just a "todo" list of sorts in his own userspace? What reasonable person would think curating a personal todo page could be a violation of the spirit of these restrictions? I'm pretty disappointed that some of you are voting for ~months-long blocks for this. Fram, I appreciate your diligence here, but I'm similarly disappointed that you wasted your time looking over his edits to his userspace; I'd echo the other calls here for you to take a step back. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 03:15, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

Statement by {other user}

Clerk notes

This area is used for notes by the clerks (including clerk recusals).

Arbitrator views and discussion

  • I do not see the disputed edits as warranting any sanction. Newyorkbrad (talk) 14:51, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
  • The restriction is clear (and the edits in question constitute a violation) and it is also draconian. It would not have had to be that draconian if Rich hadn't continued to test the boundaries of his previous sanction. That said, although the disputed edits are indeed a violation, I'd say this is a case of de minimis non curat ArbCom. What worries me, however, is that Rich appears to be once again trying to test the boundaries of his restriction and to be doing so immediately after his previous block expired. So I'm really on the fence, but I think I'll probably go with a warning that further acts with the appearance of boundary testing will not be tolerated. Salvio Let's talk about it! 16:54, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Did Rich's edits violate the letter of the very explicit restrictions he is under? I think they did. Is there any benefit to the project in making a big deal out of him editing anything in his own userspace in this manner? Probably not.
  • Fram: I think you need to find something else to do with your on-wiki time. These prolonged interpersonal disputes reflect badly on all involved.
  • Rich: Stop testing the boundaries of the sanctions. You know this is what you did. You're a long term, highly prolific contributor to this project. We want you to stick around or you would already be banned, but if you insist on playing these little games it may come to that. Is it really so hard to just not make any kind of automated edits? You're better than this, at least I hope you are. Beeblebrox (talk) 21:04, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
  • As has already been agreed, I consider Rich to have breached his restriction. More to the point, I have little remaining patience for his refusal to abide by the direction that he edit like a human. Taking into account Rich's long record of skirting this automation restriction, I would now recommend sanctioning him. AGK [•] 21:47, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
  • @Duckduckstop: Your evaluation is deeply flawed. Instructing an editor as sweepingly as "do not make automated edits" is not micromanagement. It is an instruction that is essentially macro in scope. The problem is that Rich refuses to obey the restriction; I'm sure you would agree that ignoring this transgression is not something the committee can do. AGK [•] 21:49, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
  • The edits in question pretty clearly violated his restriction, and as such, I think a sanction would be reasonable here. GorillaWarfare (talk) 17:18, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
  • The restriction is draconian; it was meant to be. It reflects the committee's and the community's exasperation at Rich's (and his enablers') efforts to push the envelope in every direction possible.

    The intent is to give Rich a-fifth-or-sixth-absolutely-last-chance as an alternative to an indefinite site-ban. The spirit is to ensure that Rich's work comprises: click on [edit], type, then [save page]. The purpose is to permanently wean Rich off high speed edits with collateral damage to a slower considered style where every edit moves the article forward and requires no external intervention to fix.

    In this context, the edits here clearly breach the restriction and, coming so soon after a twelve-month block, are deeply disappointing.

    Now, Rich, I have a question for you:

    • "If you're able only to edit by typing into a box and pressing [save page], does editing Wikipedia have any long-term attraction at all for you? Or, to put it another way, are you simply marking time here, until the moment when your bot privileges are restored?"
    I would like you to be open about your aspirations as it will greatly inform my decision.  Roger Davies talk 05:02, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
    • Thanks, Rich. Your long posting really doesn't address my question; after all, you can keep yourself busy while marking time. Based on your email, and your postings elsewhere, it seems clear to me that you will not rest until you're back running bots all over the place, with all the attendant problems that has brought in the past. I am of the view that you now need to move on.  Roger Davies talk 10:55, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
      • Thanks, hi Rich. I don't need to be a mindreader as your comments and actions really do speak for themselves.  Roger Davies talk 06:20, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
    • Fram. I agree. Automated and semi-automated edits get little or no scrutiny unless the edits are glaringly stupid or seriously flawed. Even then, the volume is such that it's exceedingly difficult to pick everything up. Given the history here, there is no reason to wait for another "irregularity",  Roger Davies talk 09:14, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
  • It looks like Rich probably used an automated technique off-wiki and then copied the results on wiki... to his userspace. Yes, it's a violation but the idea of blocking Rich for a year for a userspace violation seems excessive to me, sanctions should be in proportion to the violation.
    In the general case though, Rich has been back for a short while and has been doing generally good work in that time. He appears to be primarily editing within his restrictions and it's a shame that these automated edits have been made. I'd be very interested to know his answer to Roger's question about the long term. WormTT(talk) 10:45, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I agree with several of my colleagues that this is a clear violation of the automation restriction as interpreted and amplified by the motion, and with Roger's explanation of the reasons behind this admittedly draconian restriction. At this point, I have difficulty imagining an editing restriction that would 1) allow Rich Farmbrough to edit, 2) prevent the problematic editing identified in the decision and yet 3) not be susceptible to the sort of envelope-pushing we have seen so far with this automation restriction. Unfortunately, I do not think we have many other options open to us. T. Canens (talk) 22:34, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Motion: Rich Farmbrough

For this motion there are 12 active arbitrators, not counting 2 who are inactive, so 7 support or oppose votes are a majority.
In order to resolve the enforcement request referred to us, the committee resolves that:
  1. Rich Farmbrough (talk · contribs) has violated his restriction against automated editing. That restriction clearly required he "make only completely manual edits".
  2. Accordingly, Rich Farmbrough is blocked for three months.
  3. Rich Farmbrough is warned that the committee is likely to take a severe view of further violations, and may consider replacing his automation restriction with a site ban.
  1. Proposed. If this violation had occurred outside his userspace, we would surely be site-banning him now: Rich has already had chance after chance. AGK [•] 10:15, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  2. It seems to me that the violation occurred in user space by accident rather than by design as Rich has not acknowledged that the edit breached his restriction. That said, the breach occurring in userspace provides some mitigation but not exoneration, especially coming so some after a twelve-month ban. The community does not expect the committee to reward intransigence so a block is an appropriate and proportionate response.  Roger Davies talk 11:10, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  3. T. Canens (talk) 16:59, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  4. GorillaWarfare (talk) 17:38, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  1. Personally, I think 1 month would be sufficient. 3 months also seems excessive for this userspace violation, especially given his other edits during the time period. Time away isn't really what's required here, it's enlightenment - I don't believe that spending the additional 2 months away would help Rich to "get it". Hopefully the final statement is what will get through to Rich. WormTT(talk) 10:29, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
    You have asked in another thread why Rich's restriction has not worked and voted here to not properly enforce after a violation. Are you deliberately undermining your own position? AGK [•] 14:09, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
    I don't believe so, the sanction should be in proportion to the action - 1 month is sufficient when combined with a statement that "even minor issues can lead to indefinite in the future". I would support this if the block was for 1 month. WormTT(talk) 14:13, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  2. In my view, and consistent with a majority of the AE administrators, the disputed edits do not warrant any sanction. Newyorkbrad (talk) 15:40, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  3. I do think Rich violated the restriction, and I do think he did so deliberately in order to test the limits of it. I don't think this solution will actually solve anything. Rich will either learn to stop testing the sanction's limits and be allowed to continue editing, or he will continue and we will have to show him the door. He's already waited put a year-long block. If we do this we've just kicked the can down the road without resolving the underlying issue. Rich: your test worked. Here are the results: no, there are no exemptions to your restrictions and if you even look like you are testing them again a site ban is the likely result. Today, three months from now, whenever. Pushing the boundaries and then asking if it was ok is exactly the wrong way to go about it. Beeblebrox (talk) 17:11, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  4. Salvio Let's talk about it! 17:21, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
Comments by arbitrators

Motion: Rich Farmbrough 2

For this motion there are 11 active arbitrators, not counting 2 who are inactive and 1 who has abstained or recused, so 6 support or oppose votes are a majority.
In order to resolve the enforcement request referred to us, the committee resolves that:
  1. Rich Farmbrough (talk · contribs) has violated his restriction against automated editing. That restriction clearly required he "make only completely manual edits".
  2. A request for an exemption for his own userspace may have been granted if it had been asked for before this violation, but since it was filed only afterward that request is denied and Rich is advised that there are no exemptions whatsoever to the restriction and he may not make any further requests of this nature for a minimum of six months.
  3. Accordingly, Rich Farmbrough is warned that the committee is likely to take a severe view of further violations, and may consider replacing his automation restriction with a site ban.
  1. Beeblebrox (talk) 17:15, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  2. Salvio Let's talk about it! 17:22, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  1. Opposing because I believe paragraph 2 is counterproductive; but this is certainly preferable to motion 1. Newyorkbrad (talk) 17:47, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  2. Salvio Let's talk about it! 18:02, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  3. I'm not 100% convinced we should turn down the userspace restriction and I certainly wouldn't turn it down because he did things in the wrong order. The second paragraph therefore does not reflect me feelings. WormTT(talk) 08:01, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
  4. T. Canens (talk) 22:15, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
  1. Far too weak, but I won't obstruct. AGK [•] 07:57, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Comments by arbitrators
  • Just a note that this is intended to be the official reply to both current requests here. Beeblebrox (talk) 17:46, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
  • If there is any appetite for it, it would be easy enough to post a third motion that omits the language the opposers are objecting to. Doing absolutely nothing doesn't strike me as a good move at this point. Beeblebrox (talk) 23:58, 15 April 2014 (UTC)


Requests for enforcement

Urartu TH

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