The Arbitration Committee is the ultimate dispute resolution method.
Although disputes usually arise from a disagreement between two opposing
views on how articles should read, the Arbitration
Committee explicitly refuses to directly rule on which view should be
adopted. Statistical analyses suggest that the committee ignores the
content of disputes and focuses on the way disputes are conducted
instead, functioning not so much to resolve disputes and make peace
between conflicting editors, but to weed out problematic editors while
allowing potentially productive editors back in to participate.
Therefore, the committee does not directly decide how content should be,
although it sometimes condemns content changes when it deems the new
content violates Wikipedia policies (for example, by being biased). Its
remedies include cautions and probations (used in 63.2% of cases) and
banning editors from articles (43.3%), subject matters (23.4%) or
Wikipedia (15.7%). Complete bans from Wikipedia are largely limited to
instances of impersonation and anti-social behavior. When conduct is not
impersonation or anti-social, but rather anti-consensus or violating
editing policies, warnings tend to be issued.
One privacy concern in the case of Wikipedia is the right of a private
citizen to remain private; to remain a "private citizen" rather than a
"public figure" in the eyes of the law. It is somewhat of a battle
between the right to be anonymous in cyberspace and the right to be
anonymous in real life ("meatspace"). Wikipedia Watch argues that
"Wikipedia is a potential menace to anyone who values privacy" and that
"a greater degree of accountability in the Wikipedia structure" would be
"the very first step toward resolving the privacy problem." A
particular problem occurs in the case of an individual who is relatively
unimportant and for whom there exists a Wikipedia page against their
In January 2006, a German court ordered the German Wikipedia shut down
within Germany because it stated the full name of Boris Floricic, aka
"Tron", a deceased hacker who was formerly with the Chaos Computer Club.
More specifically, the court ordered that the URL within the German .de
domain (http://www.wikipedia.de/) may no longer redirect to the
encyclopedia's servers in Florida at http://de.wikipedia.org although
German readers were still able to use the US-based URL directly, and
there was virtually no loss of access on their part. The court order
arose out of a lawsuit filed by Floricic's parents, demanding that their
son's surname be removed from Wikipedia. On February 9, 2006, the
injunction against Wikimedia Deutschland was overturned, with the court
rejecting the notion that Tron's right to privacy or that of his parents
were being violated. The plaintiffs appealed to the Berlin state
court, but were refused in May 2006.
Main article: Community of Wikipedia
Wikimania, an annual conference for users of Wikipedia and other projects
operated by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Wikipedia's community has been described as "cult-like," although not
always with entirely negative connotations, and criticized for
failing to accommodate inexperienced users. The project's preference
for cohesiveness, even if it requires compromise that includes disregard
of credentials, has been referred to as "anti-elitism".
The Wikipedia community has established "a bureaucracy of sorts",
including "a clear power structure that gives volunteer administrators
the authority to exercise editorial control." Editors in
good standing in the community can run for one of many levels of
volunteer stewardship; this begins with "administrator," a
group of privileged users who have the ability to delete pages, lock
articles from being changed in case of vandalism or editorial disputes,
and block users from editing. Despite the name, administrators do not
enjoy any special privilege in decision-making; instead they are mostly
limited to making edits that have project-wide effects and thus are
disallowed to ordinary editors, and to block users making disruptive
edits (such as vandalism).