Arbitration Committee

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Arbitration Committee
Screenshot of the Arbitration Committee description page in 2009
Abbreviation Arbcom
Formation December 4, 2003 (2003-12-04)[1]
Region served
Website Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee

The Arbitration Committee of the English Wikipedia website (also known as ArbCom) is a panel of editors which decides the outcome of disputes between editors of the English Wikipedia.[2] The Committee was created by Jimmy Wales on December 4, 2003, as an extension of the decision-making power he had formerly held as owner of the site.[1][3] Acting as the court of last resort (described in the media variously as 'quasi-judicial' or a Wikipedian 'High/Supreme Court', though the Committee makes it clear that it is not, nor pretends to be, a court of law in the formal sense) for disputes among editors, the Committee may impose binding rulings and sanctions. It has decided several hundred cases in its history.[4] Members of the Committee are appointed by Wales following advisory elections; Wales generally chooses to appoint arbitrators who were among those who received the most votes.[5]

The Committee has been examined by academics researching dispute resolution, and also reported in public media in connection with various case decisions and Wikipedia-related controversies.[3][6][7]


In October 2003, as part of an etiquette discussion on Wikipedia, Alex T. Roshuk, then legal adviser to the Wikimedia Foundation, drafted a 1,300 word outline of mediation and arbitration. This outline evolved into the twin Mediation Committee and Arbitration Committee, formally announced by Jimmy Wales on December 4, 2003.[3][8] Over time the concept of an "Arbitration Committee" was adopted by other communities within the Wikimedia Foundation's hosted projects.

When initially founded, the Committee consisted of 12 arbitrators divided into three groups of four members each.[1][9] As of 2008, it had decided around 371 conduct cases, with remedies varying from warnings to bans.[10][11]

Attention and controversies[edit]

A statistical study published in the Emory Law Journal in 2010 indicated that the Committee has generally adhered to the principles of ignoring the content of user disputes and focusing on user conduct.[3] The same study also found that despite every case being assessed on its own merits, a correlation emerged between the types of conduct found to have occurred and the remedies and decisions imposed by the Committee.

In 2007, an arbitrator using the username Essjay resigned from the Committee after it was found that he had made false claims about his academic qualifications and professional experiences in a New York Times interview.[12][13][14] Also in 2007, the committee banned Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Carl Hewitt from editing the online encyclopedia.[15] In May 2009, an arbitrator who edited under the username Sam Blacketer resigned from the Committee after it became known that he had concealed his past editing in obtaining the role.[6]

In 2009, the Committee was brought to media attention as a result of its decision to ban "all IP addresses owned or operated by the Church of Scientology and its associates, broadly interpreted", as part of the fourth Scientology-related case.[4][16] Such an action had "little precedent"[4] in the eight-year history of Wikipedia and was reported on several major news services such as The New York Times, ABC News, and The Guardian.[4][16][17] Satirical news-show host Stephen Colbert ran a segment on The Colbert Report parodying the ban.[18]

In 2015, the Committee received attention for its ruling pertaining to Gamergate, in which one editor was banned from the site indefinitely and several others were banned from topics relating to Gamergate or gender.[19]

In June 2015, the committee removed advanced permissions from Richard Symonds, an activist for the Liberal Democrats.[20] Symonds had improperly blocked a Wikipedia account, and associated its edits with former Chairman of the Conservative Party Grant Shapps,[21] and leaking this to The Guardian.[20] Shapps denied ownership of the account, calling the allegations "categorically false and defamatory".[22] Symonds said in an interview that he stands by his actions.[23]

Arbitration Committees on sister projects[edit]

In 2004 an Arbitration Committee was founded on the French Wikipedia,[24] and in 2007, on the German[25] and Polish Wikipedias.[26]


  1. ^ a b c Wales, Jimmy (2003年12月4日). “[ WikiEN-l Wikiquette committee appointments]”. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 2009年6月9日閲覧。
  2. ^ Schiff, Stacy (2006年12月2日). “[ Know-alls]”. The Age. Fairfax Digital Network. 2009年6月15日閲覧。
  3. ^ a b c d Hoffman, David A.; Salil Mehra (2010). “Wikitruth Through Wikiorder” (Template:ISO639言語名). Emory Law Journal 59 (2010). SSRN 1354424. 
  4. ^ a b c d Cohen, Noam (2009年6月7日). “The Wars of Words on Wikipedia’s Outskirts”. The New York Times. オリジナルTemplate:ISO date/en時点によるアーカイブ。. 2009年6月9日閲覧。 
  5. ^ Broughton, John (2008). Wikipedia: The Missing Manual. O'Reilly Media. pp. 208–209. 
  6. ^ a b Welham, Jamie (2009年6月8日). “[ Wikipedia sentinel quits after 'sock-puppeting' scandal]”. The New Zealand Herald. APN Holdings NZ Limited. 2009年6月9日閲覧。
  7. ^ Moore, Matthew (2009年5月30日). “[ Church of Scientology members banned from editing Wikipedia]”. The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Ltd. Template:ISO date/en時点のオリジナルよりアーカイブ。2009年6月9日閲覧。
  8. ^ Roshuk, Alex T. (2008年). “[ Law office of Alex T. Roshuk]”. Template:ISO date/en時点のオリジナルよりアーカイブ。2009年6月14日閲覧。
  9. ^ Hyatt, Josh (2006年6月1日). “[ Secrets of Greatness: Great Teams]”. Fortune. Time Warner. 2009年6月15日閲覧。
  10. ^ Lamb, Gregory M. (2006年1月5日). “[ Online Wikipedia is not Britannica - but it's close]”. The Christian Science Monitor. 2009年6月15日閲覧。
  11. ^ Williams, Sam (2004年4月27日). “[ Everyone is an editor]”. Salon Media Group. 2009年6月9日閲覧。
  12. ^ Cohen, Noam (2007年3月12日). “After False Claim, Wikipedia to Check Degrees”. The New York Times. 2009年6月14日閲覧。 
  13. ^ Hafner, Katie (2006年6月17日). “Growing Wikipedia Refines Its 'Anyone Can Edit' Policy”. The New York Times. 2009年6月9日閲覧。 
  14. ^ Cohen, Noam (2007年3月5日). “A Contributor to Wikipedia Has His Fictional Side”. The New York Times. 2009年6月9日閲覧。 
  15. ^ Kleeman, Jenny (Template:ISO date/en). “[ Wikipedia ban for disruptive professor]”. The Guardian. Template:ISO date/en閲覧。
  16. ^ a b Fitzsimmons, Caitlin (2009年5月29日). “[ Wikipedia bans Church of Scientology from editing]”. The Guardian. Template:ISO date/en時点のオリジナルよりアーカイブ。2009年6月14日閲覧。
  17. ^ Heussner, Ki Mae (2009年5月29日). “[ Wikipedia Blocks Church of Scientology From Editing Entries]”. ABC News. Template:ISO date/en時点のオリジナルよりアーカイブ。2009年6月14日閲覧。
  18. ^ Colbert, Stephen (2009年6月4日). “[ Wikipedia Bans Scientologists] (Flash Player)”. Comedy Central. MTV Networks. 2009年6月14日閲覧。
  19. ^ Dewey, Caitlin (Template:ISO date/en). “[ Gamergate, Wikipedia and the limits of 'human knowledge']”. Washington Post. Template:ISO date/en閲覧。
  20. ^ a b “[ Censure for Grant Shapps' Wikipedia accuser - BBC News]” (Template:ISO date/en). Template:ISO date/en閲覧。
  21. ^ “[ Andy McSmith's Diary: Ed Balls and Jack Straw off the Labour peerage list]” (Template:ISO date/en). Template:ISO date/en閲覧。
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Florence Millerand, Serge Proulx, Julien Rueff (2010). Web Social: Mutation de la Communication (in French). PUQ. p. 66. 
  25. ^ Kleinz, Torsten (2007年4月30日). “[ Wikipedia sucht Schiedsrichter]” (German). Heise Online. Template:ISO date/en時点のオリジナルよりアーカイブ。2009年6月9日閲覧。
  26. ^ “[ Komitet arbitrażowy oraz mediatorzy w Wikipedii]” (Polish). Blog wikipedystyczny (2007年8月31日). 2012年2月1日閲覧。