Harassment consultation 2015/Ideas/Unfettered right of reply
What is the problem you're trying to solve?
One of the three clauses of the Magna Carta that is still in force in England today is the right of the accused to cross-examine his accuser. Case Law in both the United Kingdom and in the United States has extened this right to apply in private clubs and organisations. On the English Wikipedia, Arbcom hearings grant this right by giving all respondents their own space in the hearing with named editors being allowed 1000 words and unnamed editors 500 words. In contrast, the administrators noticeboard (en:WP:ANI) sticks rigidly to the principal of "decision by consensus" which can become a vehicle of mob justice, a situation that is often exploited (as in my case) by bullies and trolls. During the ANI that ultimately triggered my indefinite block, when I claimed that I was the action I had just taken was to prevent en:WP:Canvassing by my accusor triggering "Mob justice", an administrator told me "Maybe "mob rule" does equal WP:CONSENSUS ...". Now imagine if that statement was read out in court or published in the press?
Another tactic used by trolls is to claim that as soon as their victim uses "legal language" (for example "X made a libellous statement against me"), that he is making a legal threat and they try to get him blocked or banned under en:WP: No legal threats. If the victim tries to explain that he was not making a legal threat per se, he gets shouted down by a mob of "legal illiterates" [my terminology]. When I found myself in that position, I was unable to use the tactic that one editor (a Nobel laureate) was forced to use when confronted with such accusers – he threatened to go to the press and within hours his block was lifted.
A few months ago I tried to get an Arbcom hearing on the allegation that I had been hounded out of the English Wikipedia as a result of en:WP:DEPE by certain editors. I was told that Arbcom would not listen to me until I had been readmitted as an editor in good standing, something that I cannot do because anything that I write is misrepresented by those very editors. At this juncture, it might be appropriate to point out that under British legislation introduced in 2003, a British-based troll who drives another editor out of Wikipedia could face a six month jail sentence. Furthermore, I understand that under the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861 an English-based Wikipedia administrator or arbiter who behaves recklessly in dealing with a legitimate claim of harassment brought under the 2003 legislation could themselves be jailed for up to six months. (English Law and Scottish Law might be different in the 1861 Act).
What is your solution?
In order to mitigate against these, I suggest the following reforms:
- The dispute resolution process on the Administrator's noticeboard (en:WP:ANI) should be overhauled, using the Arbcom dispute resolution process as a model.
- Administrators need to be made aware of the potential seriousness of en:WP: Canvassing. In particular they should be educated that improper canvassing during an ANI, like en:WP:BLP, can land Wikimedia in legal trouble.
- The page en:WP: No legal threats needs to be revised to emphasise that using "legal language" is not a legal threat in itself.
- Discuss this idea at: Talk:Harassment consultation 2015/Ideas/Unfettered right of reply
- Return to the Consultation main page