VIEWS: 8 PAGES: 2 CATEGORY: Legal POSTED ON: 5/25/2012
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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. Privacy 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 wishes. 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. Community 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". Power structure 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). Contributors
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