This research project examines the role taken up by arbitration mechanisms in the resolution of disputes arising on Wikipedia. The main objective of the project is to gather empirical data concerning the role and practices of the Arbitration Committee on the English Wikipedia. The Arbitration Committee is a binding dispute resolution panel of editors, used on several projects of the Wikimedia Foundation.
In order to identify the features of the disputes brought to the Arbitration Committee and the ways in which this organization solves disputes, the project comports two parts. The first part focuses on the collection of data based on the archives of the Arbitration Committee (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration/Index/Cases/All). Several key variables will be identified for each of the cases brought to the Arbitration Committee between 2004 and 2020 (such as the length, subject-matter and outcome of the dispute, the identity of the arbitrators, the nature of the principles they applied, etc...). The second part consists in a qualitative analysis of this dispute resolution method, based on a series of interviews with Wikipedia users, members of the Arbitration Committee and Wikimedia administrators.
The goal of the research is to gain a better understanding of the relation between the social norms that prevail on Wikipedia and the formal mechanism of dispute resolution provided by its Arbitration Committee.
The research team is composed of Florian Grisel, Associate Professor of Socio-Legal Studies (Oxford University), and Lise Demay, LL.B. candidate (King’s College London/Panthéon-Assas) and BA candidate (Applied Economics, Paris South XI). The initial stages of the project are funded through the King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship (KURF). The lead researcher welcomes any comments or ideas at florian.griselcsls.ox.ac.uk or the talk page.