This page is for discussing the contents of Wiki Community/Accusations.

Proposals for future accusations pertaining to those listed on the Wiki Community/Accusations page... If you do not agree with the proposals, add your own, let's come up with something that, while not being unchanging and unalterable, will at least allow a sense of equality and fairness for all.

Proposal I

Transferal, not removal, of accusation from the page it is on for discussion by the community to avoid potential for undue harm to the individual/business until the issue can be validated or invalidated. The discussion should remain as neutral as possible since all editors are tired of fighting over personal opinions. If the accusation is validated, it is placed back on the main page, where it will remain. If invalidated, the accusation is to be removed permanently from the Wiki.

Any who use the discussion to argue for the sake of argument, insult either the accuser or the accused, or in any other way use the Wiki as a weapon will have any further comment removed from the discussion and not be included in the issue at hand.

If the issue is overly argumentative, the accusation remains in the "/talk" page in locked mode for a period of 48-72 hours to allow a forced "cool-down" for all parties involved, to be revisited once tempers and opinions can be returned to a neutral state.

If no resolution can be found for the accusation one way or the other to either validate the accusation or invalidate it, the accusation is to be placed back on the main page, in abbreviated form, with a footnote stating it is an unsubstantiated accusation.

Proposal II

Accusation is moved to /talk page, comments section added, and locked pending communication with or from the author of the complaint. The accused is allowed a response time in the same manner. After this grace period (to be determined by consensus) it enters discussion on whether it is to be returned to the main entry page.

Polling system used to determine community approval/denial. Set timetable for polling.

After polling is completed, accusation is either placed back on main entry or removed altogether.

These are just a proposals and were made in light of past discussions, as well as recent ones, that have only led to negative outcomes for all involved. What say you editors? Any input in this is more than welcome. We need to figure out a way to deal with these things in a neutral fashion in order to maintain the integrity of the Wiki. I know I am not alone in this feeling and we all need to find a common ground to deal with these issue as they arise.

Alternate: Directed conflict resolution. I tried to create a "non-Talk, just work" page at Friendly Cab/Talk, although it was poorly self policed... it devolved into discussion beyond the specific content, and random rants about the first amendment. One thing that might be useful is setting an arbitrary time to snapshot the poll and make changes based on that. The time can be pushed back if new proposals are made. I'm thinking three days, as that would cover weekends and weekdays. -jw

Proposal III

Regardless of the level of identity that an accuser has, or their willingness to stand behind their words, why not allow for serious accusations to be moved from the subject page to the user page of the person who left them? Their accusation stands, and in moving it an editor can add links to the page about the subject of their accusation. The subject of their accusations however doesn't have to have the accusation sit there on the page. In many cases I feel that these accusations say more about the person making them than they do about the subject of their accusation. The same technique can be used to deal with wildly off topic non-spam comments as well. This could be used for claims of food poisoning through some of the more serious claims we've seen. It could even be possible to create some new wording for adding a link from the subject page, above the comment macro, to the user page or pages of people who have had their accusations moved to their user pages. It also allows for patterns to be established like in the yoga case. True it can be argued that this denies access to the page the comment was left on by the commenter... and so should be used sparingly, and probably is not an action that should be taken by anyone with a vested interest in the subject of the page the comment was left on.


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2011-03-21 18:59:03   Something like what you are proposing sounds reasonable to me. If the software now allows it, I'd suggest some procedure for voting after a few days. Its a little cumbersome right now. Some version of Roberts Rules regarding motions/discussion/voting can give order to an otherwise chaotic process. That isn't as onerous as it sounds. You just agree that you're only going to discuss one motion at a time, allow amendments, and not change the topic until that has been resolved. Somebody is going to object to this idea, but Roberts Rules exist precisely for situations like this. —DonShor

  • Agreed Don...—PeteB
  • I think this would be very useable IF something like the above proposal were to pass.

2011-03-21 19:22:22   This proposal is COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE right now. Without getting to the merits of the proposal, we're still dealing with Village Cab/Talk. We should resolve the current issue before coming up with some more general guidelines. —WilliamLewis

  • This has a much broader scope than just the Village Cab debacle. It has happened time and time again throughout wiki history and something needs to be done about it as a community. While the Village Cab incident is the most recent, I, for one, am growing extremely tired of the soft debate leads to heated Wiki brawl way things have been handled up to date. We need something that makes it fair for all parties involved, accused, accuser and the editing community as a whole... Something neutral and something which both maintains the integrity of the Wiki as a whole and does not alienate anyone participating in a positive manner.— Wes
    • This proposal looks awfully specific to the current situation. —wl
      • I know it does, because it is still ongoing, but it is not the first time it has happened and we need to figure out something better. Anything is better than just fighting amongst ourselves to get resolution on these types of things. — Wes

2011-03-21 19:35:24   I don't like the notion of calling on the Wiki community to decide whether a user is trustworthy. The idea of a "mock trial" means that 1) Anyone who isn't willing to put in the time to defend their comment (or doesn't check back on the wiki for a while, so doesn't see that they're on trial) loses the right to post serious problems with businesses; and 2) anyone who gets voted down is essentially being told they aren't trustworthy by the wiki community. It's a great way to not only lose individual editors, but also to create an atmosphere of elitism in which anyone who's not a regular editor with a good reputation has no voice.

And that's not even touching on the massive range of practical issues with the notion of a "trial". —TomGarberson

  • It's not a trial per se, just a means to an end. It would only occur on these much more serious accusations, those which seriously threaten the reputation of businesses and/or individuals. We need to come up with something and this is just one possible solution. We, as a community, need to figure something out for the future. What would you think would be a reasonable way to deal with these more serious types of allegations Tom?— Wes
  • Maybe the suggested outline by Wes works better if you just take that sentence (which I've italicized) out. —DonShor
    • I agree, using trial makes inappropriate insinuations I did not intend. Removed. — Wes

2011-03-21 20:56:26   What do you mean by "validated"? Is the wiki going to decide the truth of accusations people post? —WilliamLewis

  • Well, as defined "to give official sanction, confirmation, or approval to", it would be a consensus reached by the community based numerous factors. Some of these factors, I'm sure, would include editing history, inappropriate activity by either party in the past and other things which we could discuss and come to a consensus on. Yes, I am aware this would all require time on all of our parts to discuss all the details and work it out, but I feel it is important to begin doing so. — Wes-P

2011-03-21 21:01:35   I did a few, ranging from the silly (Tom's user page) to the fairly serious (Pizza Guys/Talk). It's all a bit tongue in cheek, but they are examples of how this might go. Anybody care to spar as a test to see if this is really a good idea? I have a strong feeling that this is REALLY inviting wiki lawyers into play for every single character, plus it's going to create an elite set of "people who watch RC determine everything", but I'm kind of curious as to what it would look like in practice. —JabberWokky

  • Oh, fewmits. I do believe that I have indeed discovered another issue with this whole voting thing. I have decided to not support this method, as there is another issue that arises. Or at least to deal with such issues starts to exapnd into serious changes to the concept of participation and would introduce a vetting process that creates multiple classes of wiki users, a la that Wikipedia project. Oh, bother! —PeteB
    • There are already multiple classes of Wiki users. I would urge you to compare this proposal, and any refinements, to the existing system and consider the costs and benefits of each. —DonShor
      • Uh, Don, that was me using a fake account. Which was the point. Peter didn't post that. (Sorry for the confusion!) The software is quite vulnerable to such spoof attacks if you know how to do it. Wikipedia has a complex system of rules to prevent this kind of thing that is actually killing them due to the higher and higher bar to actually contribute. Their bad edits are going up, and they are losing dedicated editors due to the over legalistic systems in place. ⁓ʝ⍵
        • It is disconcerting to know that users can log in under other users' accounts. But the fact that a senior editor with administrative privileges did it suggests to me that it isn't likely to be a serious problem in implementing any proposal that emerges here. Many conflicts would not make it to the vote or poll stage. If the point you are making is that the ballot box might get stuffed, my reply is that you and the other admin's would probably be the ones to resolve that issue. —DonShor
          • It doesn't require any admin access. Anybody can do it. You can do it easily (as soon as I did it, a couple people IMed and emailed me who quickly figured it out). If it required admin access, I wouldn't have demonstrated it, as it would be pointless. As for me "and the other admin's"... it's not like people have super powers with an admin account. I can lock a page, lock a user out of this one single wiki, grant access to delete events, and upload site graphics. That's roughly it when it comes to special control, and there's nothing in there that gives any more information about the wiki or the users. It's not like there's some magic panel of information that's being hidden: you see exactly what I see when it comes to content. You and everybody else have the exact same tools to find bad behavior that any admin does. There's nothing held back in terms of information or special reports. I view the wiki using the same tools that somebody who created an account this evening has access to. The same tools and view that you have. -jw
    • Agreed. The proposal is merely that, a proposal. We may not choose to use it as worded, might make changes or come up with a different proposal altogether as a community. Something needs to be done. What would you recommend Pete?
      • Flaming puppies. Ones wearing flame job pyjamas, imported from India. Also, this is not Pete. That's the problem. The system is REALLY vulnerable to spoofing to any normal user, and is no longer being maintained. —NotPete, but a fair imitation
      • And back to me... I'm not sure that the problem warrants a complex solution. How many seriously disputed accusations are there per year? (And that's a genuine question) -jw
        • it shouldn't be complex, although we tend to make it so. And you present another issue, that of the multiple Identity.. ugh. — Wes

2011-03-21 21:52:09   I gotta agree with Tom and JW on this. —OliviaY

2011-03-21 21:52:38   By the way, are we going to do this same vetting and fact checking for positive reviews? —JabberWokky

  • We already do, to an extent. We check IP's to see if it is a sockpuppet account to bump popular opinion and have, in the past removed them. We do the same for negatives and for business to business comments. — Wes-P
    • I also remember how an early interaction went involving myself. I was called, I was emailed and spoke to several individuals to help them not only decide the validity of any statements I made but to also find a neutral way to handle the issue at that time. That issue would have dropped much sooner had it not escalated into the other party basically beginning a Wiki "I'm the victim" war. It was resolved only through community involvement, not by one user making an accusation or two users arguing back and forth... It was the community as a whole. — Wes
      • I would peg that case as the number two worst conflict on the wiki. (The Empire being the worst). -jw

2011-03-21 22:12:07   I just thought of the biggest issue with all this. The problem here had nothing to do with a method of resolution — it didn't even have ANYthing to do with the community. The only aspect here was getting in touch with the author to clarify things. Almost all of the kerfluffle occurred while we were waiting for her to weigh in. Even with a clear set of guidelines or even strict rules, the big problem was people hypothesizing and speculating before she showed up, and how it turned into a ball of non-content oriented debate. —JabberWokky

2011-03-21 23:16:36   An additional problem with both of these proposals is that they fall apart if "the accuser" or "the accused" aren't a part of the conversation. Look at the Village Taxi case—the accused and the victim are both unidentified, the accuser dropped out of the conversation (having been ripped apart before she even joined back into it, as JW pointed out), and David isn't even one of those parties, despite being the one most affected by the comment. It all comes back to the whole case-by-case thing that we've run into before. As soon as you try to formalize a process, you find a situation where the process doesn't work.

They also overlook the root question: are we talking about judging the truth of the matter asserted (which is what seems to be proposed in #1), or simply trying to figure out whether the commenter believes his/her comment to be true?

If it's the second option there, IMO it comes down to an evaluation based on various factors (I don't remember which talk page I brought some of these up on previously and I'm too lazy to go through my edit history... if anyone remembers, lemme know). Some possible factors (termed "indicia of reliability" in hearsay evidence issues in the courtroom, obviously adapted to the wiki context):

  • Accountability and/or identity... the two are pretty closely related
  • Corroboration
  • Follow-up, answering of questions posed by other editors
  • Apparent intent of the editor
  • Amount of detail
  • Filing of an official report - this one's rare, but if a police report or complaint to a business contains substantially similar details, that's a very strong indication of reliability.

If we wanted to take that approach, I'm sure we could come up with a useful, non-exhaustive list for reference in future cases. The thing is, it would need to be understood that the wiki doesn't work on precedent. As is quite obvious, looking at the Village Taxi discussion. As I noted elsewhere, in previous cases like this, folks wanting to see an accusation removed (Don, for example, although I don't mean to pick on you) have said that they'd accept the comment as long as the person who left it would come back and stand behind it. Here, Ashley did exactly that, but it's not adequate. And that's fine—that's appropriate, given the nature of the wiki, of accusations, and of the community decision-making process. It's a fluid thing. That certainly has its downsides, but I think it's necessary.

If you try to add rigidity into the, you either need to create a firm hierarchy to make the decisions or build a set of rules. And speaking from professional experience, it's virtually impossible to create a set of transparent rules that doesn't invite rules lawyering and, ultimately, the potential for abuse. It's also exceptionally difficult to craft rules that actually cover all the eventualities. That's why the court system is so effing huge. I don't think I've ever heard a figure for just how much case law there is out there, but it's got to be many, many millions of pages—most of it interpreting interpretations of interpretations of the rules.

So... my lengthy ramble nearly concluded, I'll sum it up. I don't think trying to establish a fixed procedure is feasible for something like this—at least, I haven't seen a way I think would work. The wiki does not lend itself to that approach, and I think it would lead to either extensive rules lawyering or (at least the perception of) unfairness in many if not most cases. If we want to try to create a foundation to work from the next time something like this comes up, I think the best bet would be to take a look at what sort of factors are useful to consider for evaluating these cases for quick-reference, since it's bound to come down to arguing based on those points anyway. —TomGarberson

  • Ashley did exactly that, but it's not adequate Actually, in this case I would find that adequate; I think the comment with David's reply is reasonable, as I said to David. I'd suggest not getting hung up too much on details. Just set up a structure for dealing with accusation talk pages, and a suggested sequence. It's great to have guidelines, but every case is different. The gist of arguments here seems to be that any system will be impossible because you need to cover all eventualities. Please consider the present 'system' and how it doesn't work. How would the proposals above improve on that? If they wouldn't, what would? If your answer is that the current ad hoc, last-edit-stands system is preferable, I beg to differ. —DonShor
  • I agree. Wes-P
    • That's fine, but see what I said above. I don't think either of the proposals would be functional in this case, much less in most or all cases. The last possible thing we want to do is set ourselves up as arbiters of fact. And when you lay down a procedure and then don't follow it (instead reverting to the ad hoc approach), people are going to see the results as blatantly unfair every time. I'm not necessarily opposed to establishing a system for it, but it needs to be one that's genuinely tenable, and I haven't seen one yet that I think fits the bill. I haven't proposed an alternative for the same reasons. —tg

2011-03-24 21:30:13   I'm not convinced by either proposal. Clearly the current methods are prone to problems but I hardly feel a wiki jury or similar is a solution. Frankly, I'm at a loss as to what a good solution would be other than making every effort to make every effort to ensure the commenter and any other involved parties every opportunity to explain the who what when where why and how of the issue. If said parties won't engage... that's where I'm at a loss. —ARWENNHOLD

2011-03-24 21:51:48   Could a "suggested method for resolving conflicts" micro be developed to put at the site of a potential problem? A macro like the "new business owner page" for instance. It could go to a page with some rough guidelines as suggested above on this page. It wouldn't have to be officially endorsed I wouldn't think. I found setting up a talk page for my page very helpful, and actually quite satisfying in the end. And having on a page where my business wasn't affected during the debates made it much easier for me to stay calm, it is my complete livelihood after all. —Davidlm

  • Not a macro, but yeah... I have an idea that might work, plus it'll be able to be tweaked by the community (unlike a macro). And yes, wiki discussions detract from the actual subject — the entry about real Davis thing should always be respected and more importance placed on it than the debate, no matter what it is. Our little side conversations about what words should be there should never get in the way of the actual wiki. Although those of us who are regulars here probably type more in the talk and profile pages, it's good to keep perspective about what the wiki actually is comprised of. Front Page, not Recent Changes. -jw

2011-04-22 18:56:15   I feel I am with the consensus here, neither of these seem flexible enough to handle the majority of problems. I am not impressed by either, though the first gives the general feeling of what we do currently. —MasonMurray

I've kinda been working on something. Before I dive into it, though, I want to just float a general idea. The Wiki tries to be a resource for the community—ostensibly the whole community. In order to keep it welcoming for the whole community, are there times when fairness should factor into content? Is subjective truth (belief in what you're saying) enough? Or are there times when something firmly believed might be bad for the community the Wiki serves? Are there some issues that are better dealt with elsewhere? I'm sure there are a number of people who believe the answer is a flat out no, and I respect that. Just wanted to float it. If there seems to be some interest in the idea, we can get into the sticky issue of just what constitutes "fair." It seems like that could be an unnecessary time sink if the community doesn't like the base idea.

An added thought: if not fairness, is there some way we can frame discussions for accusations that's more relatable for new wikizens than "whatever the community decides"? For someone who's the subject of an accusation, coming here and trying to defend yourself in light of a host of people telling you that you've got no control over someone else's comments (but you're equal to everyone else on here! But don't you dare touch that comment until the Wiki has decided what's going to be done with it!), it's got to be pretty rough. Having a meaningful frame of reference—"fairness" or something else—could be a huge advantage.—TomGarberson

  • A vocabulary of expectations? A phrase that explains, "we're collaboratively trying to decide XYZ", where XYZ is one or more words that are common criteria? Something that gives a hint of how things might progress rather than having to learn about the wiki amid chaos? -jw

  • I don't think I agree with including fairness as a criterion, at least as I understand it to have arisen in this context. It seems to me that we are worried that some serious accusations are not fair to the accused. But whether it is fair or not to keep an accusation on a page depends in large part (imo) on whether the accusation is true or false. If the accusation is true, then in general it is best for the community (even, in some sense, the fairest course of action) that it remain. But if the accusation is false, then fairness dictates that it be removed. However, as I think we all agree, we are not in a position to judge the truth of accusations, and our judgments of whether the accusations are plausible seem to vary widely. So, unless I misunderstand what is meant by fairness in this context, or unless we can judge the fairness of an accusation without knowing its truth (again, I personally don't see how), I don't think fairness can be a factor in the decisions. Please correct me if I am misunderstanding. —CovertProfessor
    • I'm not sure what "fairness" in this context means. I do think that the wiki has repeatedly rejected extreme cases of rants or paranoid accusations, and think that it's at least worth considering the topic. I am pretty certain that it isn't up to us to judge the truth of a statement, but I'm not closing my ears to a well thought out criteria. We do collectively seem to have one at least slightly beyond "the person believes what they say". -jw
    • The idea behind fairness would be that even if it's true, the way it's presented and the impact it'll have because of that presentation (here on the wiki; possibly the way the accusation is made here; whatever else may factor in) is unfair. I'm reluctant to try to offer specifics, but let's imagine an account of conduct that could be horribly wrong or could be perfectly innocent depending on factors that are either unknown to the accuser or aren't stated here. Sex is probably the easiest example to work with— "Her hands were tied behind her and he was having sex with her. I couldn't see her face or hear anything either of them said." It could be an atrocious rape. It could be perfectly harmless, consensual sex. Putting it on the wiki could be ENORMOUSLY damaging to either individual even without stating any inferences about what was going on. Without getting into what else should happen with it, it's an incredibly unfair thing to have on the wiki even if it's 100% true with multiple witnesses. I would say that that does not belong on the wiki because it's grossly unfair, despite being completely true. There might be other reasons to take it off the wiki, and we might remove it anyway. I'm just saying that no matter what else is going on, I wouldn't be comfortable with that staying on the wiki because it's unfair. Obviously most cases aren't going to be so simple to evaluate, but we face that difficulty using the present, entirely ad hoc approach—just without really taking into account whether it's fair.
      • I guess I am still not getting it. It seems to me that we'd still be making judgments about the truth of the situation (what really happened). If it really was rape, then why should it be taken off the wiki? But again, we're not in a position to know whether it is rape or not. —CovertProfessor
        • It's content whose value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice (bonus points to anyone who knows what I'm paraphrasing without Google!). The damage it's going to do to the people involved is staggering. It could easily destroy their lives. If it's true, the rapist deserves that; the victim certainly doesn't. If it's untrue, if it was consensual, then by keeping that comment, the wiki has just gone a long way toward destroying the reputations of two people because someone might have done something bad. I can't imagine that being good content that belongs on the wiki. By contrast, the exact same information, if taken privately to the police, does no harm whatsoever to the individuals if an investigation quickly reveals that everything was consensual, and does the exact same good for the community if it turns out it was rape.1 I guess I'm looking at it from the perspective of its value to the community—potential benefit vs. probable harm, with a question of alternative means of obtaining that benefit sans harm. Where the benefit is substantially outweighed by the harm, I'd argue that it's bad for the Davis community and therefore is inappropriate content for the Wiki, which is ostensibly a resource for that same community. —tg
          • Let's leave the victim's name out of it, because I can't imagine any arguing that the victim should be named. So, let's suppose there is a rapist in our community. Why wouldn't it benefit the community to know the name of the rapist? And why would the harm of a false accusation outweigh the benefit of the community's knowing the name of the rapist? That it does so, much less "substantially outweighs," is not at all clear to me. Yes, all things being equal, such a thing should go to the police. And we know what can happen to people who make accusations of rape. "What were you wearing? How were you behaving? What time were you out? Seems like you kind of asked for it." Crap, there was a story in the New York Times recently where people were asking that about a 13 YEAR OLD GIRL. There are reasons that stuff doesn't get reported. The system doesn't always work, and life can be really difficult for the accuser. So, someone might think that the best way for the community to know about danger in their midst is to put it on the wiki. —cp

Anything further on this?

Sanitizing is fun!

What about anything here is sanitizing? Every single person involved in this discussion wants the wiki to be the best resource it can be for the Davis community. There are quite obviously differing opinions about how that can be achieved. Now you're just being offensive. —TomGarberson


1. At that point it's obviously newsworthy, and would undoubtedly be chronicled here—completely different from the root accusation.