The Arbitration Committee (abbreviated ArbCom ) is the arbitration court of the English language Wikipedia . It is a body of elected users that decides on conflicts between users. The arbitral tribunal was created by Jimmy Wales on December 4, 2003 as an instance of the decision-making process that until then was formally the owner of the site. The arbitration tribunal, which acts as the last resort in disputes, can block users, establish facts and set guidelines for action. So far (as of 2015) it has dealt with several hundred procedures. Members of the arbitration tribunal are elected and appointed by Wales.
The arbitral tribunal has been the subject of scientific research into conflict resolution and has been mentioned in the media in connection with conflicts in and around Wikipedia.
In October 2003, Alex T. Roshuk, then legal advisor to Wikipedia, submitted a 1,300-word paper on mediation and arbitration. Based on the suggestions made in this paper, the Mediation Committee and the Arbitration Tribunal were established and presented to the wiki public on December 4, 2003 by Jimmy Wales. The concept of the arbitration tribunal has been adopted by other projects over time.
When it was founded, the arbitral tribunal consisted of 12 arbitrators, who were divided into three groups of four members each. By 2008 it had processed 371 cases in which measures ranging from warnings to dispositions to user blocks were issued. The number of cases brought to the Arbitration Committee has fallen sharply since its peak in 2006 (116 cases) and has been below 20 cases per year since 2010. There were five cases in 2016, and four in 2017.
Media perception and controversies
A statistical study published in the Emory Law Journal in 2010 concludes that the arbitral tribunal ignores the content of the disputes and focuses on the behavior of users. The same study also found that there was a correlation between the behavior of users, the decisions made by the arbitral tribunal and the instructions of the arbitral tribunal.
In 2007, a member of the arbitration tribunal named Essjay resigned after it became known that he had provided false information about his education and qualifications in an interview with the New York Times . Also in 2007, Carl Hewitt , professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology , was excluded from working in the online encyclopedia by the arbitration tribunal. In May 2009, arbitrator Sam Blacketer resigned after attempting to obscure his involvement in a case.
In 2009, the arbitration tribunal's decision to block all IP addresses operated or used by Scientology received widespread media attention. The decision made in the context of a litigation on conflicts in Scientology-related articles was not preceded by any precedent in the eight-year history of Wikimedia; it has been reported in media such as The New York Times , ABC News and The Guardian . The satirist Stephen Colbert addressed the decision in his program The Colbert Report .
Model effect for further speech outputs
In 2004 an arbitration tribunal was established in the French language Wikipedia . In 2007 arbitration tribunals were added in the German-language and Polish-language Wikipedia . As of 2018, arbitration tribunals also exist in the English version of the Wikinews project and in the following other language versions of Wikipedia: Czech, Finnish, Dutch, Persian, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and Hungarian. Arbitration tribunals in various other language versions of Wikipedia have since been dissolved or are inactive.
Similar to the Arbitration Committee, the arbitration tribunal of the German language Wikipedia also recorded a decrease in inquiries. The maximum was 38 requests in 2013; In 2016 and 2017 there were nine inquiries each.
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