|Main case page (Talk) — Evidence (Talk) — Workshop (Talk) — Proposed decision (Talk)|
Case Opened on 14:24, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
Case Closed on 06:29, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
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Requests for comment
- A huge amount of discussion - including 23 archives - and probably amounting to half a million words
- Attempt at mediation 1
- Attempt at mediation 2
- Closure of compromise request
- ANI request on Ludwigs2
Statement by Eraserhead1
It is with reluctance that I bring this case here. I originally made some comments on the Muhammad Images page back in April to June 2010 to try and get some level of compromise - this was challenged by the editors on the page and I backed off. In November after finding out about the RFC on NOTCENSORED I realised that the issue at Muhammad was still being discussed and unresolved. Additionally no compromise has been implemented in the past 2.5 years - there is no difference to the number of controversial unveiled and figurative images since 1st August 2009 and today. It also appears that this topic has been discussed on its own talk page since early 2007 - so it looks to have been an issue since then. (To expand the number of such images on 31 December 2006 seems to be 3 and 2 respectively, given the article sizes (80k vs 135k now) that relates to 5 and 3 images respectively in the current article)
In mid-November Resolute made a compromise proposal which seemed good to me and looked to break the logjam. Unfortunately the discussion was filibustered by a number of editors who refused to engage with the process of compromise (1, 2). This even involved significant pieces of misdirection (1, 2, 3) and poor faith editing (1, 2, 3, last part of 4).
- Response to statement by Mathsci
Actually I opened the thread at WP:AN and it failed and seems to have become an attempt to topic ban just one of the users who has actually signed up to the compromise proposal - which is totally unfair. And you haven't really got the users who have refused to compromise since I started editing the page any closer to actually being prepared to go along with the compromise.
Additionally if you think an earlier stage of dispute resolution could be attempted to resolve the conduct issues at Talk:Muhammad/images then go and do it. I honestly don't see any other option but to file this.
In reply to your second comment, I don't believe this is a content issue. The content issues can easily be resolved by the community productively once the disruptive editors are prevented from continuing to be disruptive. Obviously only a relatively small number of the parties of this request have had conduct issues - but who those editors are can be covered by the evidence presented to the committee, but I wanted to include everyone who was recently involved in the discussion.
Additionally there may well be value in having the solution locked down by the committee once we have agreed a way forward - as was done in the abortion arbitration case (and the less recent Ireland arbitration case). Some people will come in after the community comes to an agreement and complain about any solution - which is likely to lead to large quantities for further discussion which we can hopefully avoid.
@Mathsci, I've added the three editors you've suggested as parties and notified them.
- Response to statement by Anthonyhcole
If we can resolve the conduct issues surrounding the difficult cases it should be possible for the community to resolve the easy cases as well with some policy changes. Additionally if we can solve the conduct issues with this difficult case it will be surely be easier to solve other difficult cases (possibly such as suicide) with lower levels of dispute resolution without having to reach the stage of this committee.
- Response to SirFozzie
I think a binding RFC for the content side of things sounds like the way to solve it. In the longer term Hans has suggested taking Muhammad to become a Featured article, and that should sort out the image problem forever - but to get FA status (and actually GA status which the article currently holds) the article needs to be stable, and given the image discussion it isn't stable.
With regards to conduct issues, how can we resolve any dispute when some editors refuse to compromise over the matter? I'd much rather have resolved this using mediation or one of our other dispute resolution tools, but there was significant refusal to engage with those processes.
- Response to Risker
I haven't really considered the controversial content resolution in enough detail to make any comments on it - I got involved with this case on an individual basis to try and bring it towards some kind of sensible conclusion.
- Response to Jclemens
I think your comment about too much advocacy being an issue is spot on. I think its really hard to know where the line is and I'm sure I stray over it from time to time.
Statement by Mathsci
This seems to be a meritless request by Eraserhead1. I have barely been involved in these discussions, except to unearth images (and associated text) from various museums and academic sources. The issue over the use of images seems to be in the process of being resolved on the article talk page, although that will require some waiting accompanied by considerable patience. There have been some very minor conduct problems, but at present I do not feel these rise to the level of being examined by WP:ANI, let alone ArbCom (I refer specifically to Tarc and Ludwigs2). A compromise decision on how images might be used in this particular article was proposed by Resolute and that seems gradually to be gathering general agreement. There has been a superficial level of bickering on the page, but, looking beyond that, parties who appeared to disagree a month or two ago now seem to be in agreement (amazingly!). Resolute has suggested that things could become more normal if the two users I mentioned stayed out of discussions, but at the moment I have no view on that (Resolute opened a thread on WP:AN). Since at this stage things seem to have quietened down, I cannot see any way ArbCom can really help here. Mathsci (talk) 10:28, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- @ Eraserhead1: this is primarily a content dispute. I'm willing to comment from a distance on a talk subpage of this single article, but have no wish to become involved in interminable arguments. I see progress happening through the usual channels. Perhaps some users are arguing at cross purposes, but I cannot see any way that ArbCom can speed up the rate at which these decisions are made. Nor I do see any really major conduct issues. I am commenting there while editing elsewhere. I am trying to help form a consensus, based on previous editing experience. I think all but three or four of those listed agree in principle with some version of Resolute's proposal. Nobody listed wishes to remove all images. Perhaps there are some who believe that images can be added without due regard for context or secondary sources, but I hope they can be persuaded otherwise. That is, however, a content issue, so outside the remit of ArbCom. Personally having that page on article probation with an uninvolved administrator overlooking discussions might be a way of solving minor conduct problems. I should add that, although I might suggest sources, images or even possible specific content, I have no intention of editing the article. Mathsci (talk) 12:41, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- The discussions have involved more people than Eraserhead1 has listed. Recent contributors that have been omitted include Amatulic, RobertMfromLi and Tivanir2. Here is a list. Mathsci (talk) 13:42, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- Comment: The last request for arbitration on image issues was made only six weeks ago. However I note that when Jclemens rejected that case, he wrote, "ArbCom is not a shortcut for the RfC process, but a remedy to remove users from the topic when poor behavior is making it fail." That matches Sir Fozzie's proposal to divide this between conduct problems and identifying a binding process for deciding on images. Mathsci (talk) 15:44, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- Further comment: The problems with the interminable and often circular arguments have re-emerged in some of the more recent statements. The idea of long term bullying of outside editors in discussions, through WP:IDHT, unreasonable or belittling responses, is apparent. Even when perfectly civil, if this kind of behaviour is repeated ad nauseam, it has the effect of driving editors away and stifling sensible policy-based discussion.
- I also fully agree that a solution decided by a small number of editors, even with apparent consensus, needs to be ratified by the community in order to attain any stability. With more sensitive articles like this, Risker could undoubtedly explain whether anything could possibly be put in place so that, the first time an article like this appears on the screen, guidance is discreetly provided for any viewers who might have strong objections to images (eg advice about the image filter?). Mathsci (talk) 21:25, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
Roger Davies questionnaire - please click for answers
Statement by Anthonyhcole
The existing mechanisms for determining appropriate use of images of Muhammad at Muhammad aren't working. Although there are relatively minor but very irritating behaviour problems from all points of view, the underlying issue is, in my opinion, a procedural one. Can you suggest a way forward?
No one engaged in the present dispute, that has been raging for forty days and forty nights, has a problem with images of Muhammad illustrating Depictions of Muhammad or relevant sections of Muhammad, such as Muhammad#Islamic depictions of Muhammad or Muhammad#Non-western views. I think two main objections have been raised about the way these controversial images are being used in other sections of Muhammad:
- Follow the sources. Jayen466 and others are asserting that (i) because our sources on Muhammad rarely use figurative depictions, even to illustrate biographical events, we would be breaching WP:NPOV to use many such images, and (ii) because such images are vanishingly rare in Islamic tradition, to use many of them in our article may mislead the reader on that point.
- Avoid creating gratuitous offense. Ludwigs and others, including me, object to what we see as the frivolous use of images known to be offensive to many of our readers in sections where they add nothing relevant to the readers' understanding, such as the image decorating Muhammad#Childhood and early life, that was painted 700 years after the death of the prophet, in another culture, and that tells the reader nothing whatever about the event depicted.
The first position (that we should use controversial images the way our sources do) is a novel and elegant rule of thumb which I would like to see the community adopt for all controversial image use, because it takes the assessment of good taste and respect for the readership out of the hands of whatever editors happen to cluster around a given article at a given time, would do no harm, would save masses of time and would stop us looking like a bunch of offensive dolts.
Jayen's proposal, to be guided by our sources' handling of controversial images, is foundering on its novelty: to the best of my knowledge, though sensible editors have been doing that instinctively all along, it's never been said in so many words. Defense of using controversial images frivolously mainly falls under "we don't take any notice of whether we offend our readers. WP:NOTCENSORED."
Jayen has come up with a neat formulation that would have obviated all the lost time at Muhammad, Pregnancy and soon-to-erupt-again Suicide.
I don't want sanctions or diktats. You're arbitrators because you're deemed to have a clue. I don't, wrt how to proceed. Can you see a way forward here?
Some editors assert that we should not weigh an image's offensiveness against its educational value, and others that it is not possible to do so, practically. On the first point, I think we should take offensiveness into account when an image is of trivial or no educational value. It needlessly disaffects the reader. I will explain why that's a bad thing if you want, but the people I'm speaking to will already know that, and I've given up trying to make myself understood on this point by the remainder. The Foundation resolution of May 2011 enjoins us to do so. Ludwigs2 started an RfC on this point. The debate was vigorous and for me, and others involved I think, useful, but nothing like consensus emerged.
As to the second point, impracticality; modeling our controversial image use on that of our sources is a practical method of arriving at a position of both not offending our readers and not sacrificing educational quality. Masem proposed a change to WP:NOTCENSORED along these lines here. It didn't generate many !votes, but the subsequent discussion changed my thinking on the idea. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 15:56, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- A number of editors below have said objections to the present use of controversial images are raised only by a minority of editors. This is not true. It's also been said that consensus is always against change in how we deal with controversial images. This is also not true. Dip into Talk:Muhammad/images anywhere, or look at the discussions linked to in the two preceding paragraphs. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 08:56, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
Statement by Hans Adler
I agree with Eraserhead1 that the persistent behavioural problems at Talk:Muhammad/images justify arbitration. My own approach would have been to try a big RfC first, but that would have been with the understanding that such an RfC would most likely result in additional material for arbitration rather than a resolution of the underlying question.
Wikipedia's processes are usually surprisingly good at getting objectively good outcomes. But for some reason fundamentalism about Wikipedia's supposed lack of censorship has become a mainstream position in our community. I have made a start at analysing the process which led to this at WT:NOT#The path to Wikipedia policy fundamentalism -- a case study. It started in 2004 with the simple observation that Wikipedia is not content-rated because our process of censoring articles by consensus is not fast and reliable enough. The wording evolved over the years, and today a large and vocal part of our community appears to believe that censorship by consensus is a despicable and explicitly forbidden practice. Of course this does not prevent these editors from participating in such censorship. For them, censorship is only the removal of material which others consider offensive.
The present conflict is structurally similar to the recent conflict at Talk:Pregnancy over a nude lead image. That case was resolved (by adopting precisely the compromise that I promoted from my first edit ) after a long, tedious process. To get this far, it took an intervention by Jimbo that went a bit too far , followed by implementation of the actual consensus . There were three main groups in this discussion: Editors who felt that a nude image was the most appropriate for the lead of the article, editors who felt that it was not, and editors who feel so strongly about censorship that they disrupted the discussion between the other two factions.
I believe that the Muhammad images conflict cannot be resolved in the same way. Jimbo has already given his opinion , but he will not get a chance to close an RfC to that effect in the near future. The pregnancy discussion was about a single image (keep it, move it or remove it), whereas commons:Category:Depictions of Muhammad contains 173 images that show Muhammad in a pictorial form. The complicated process of making an appropriate choice out of the 130 Muslim depictions, the 43 Western depictions and the many other, more culturally typical illustrations such as those in commons:Category:Calligraphy of Muhammad and commons:Category:Qur'an is continually being disrupted by maneuvres such as User:RobertMfromLI's inane proposal to respond to complaints of undue weight given to atypical illustrations – by an RfC that discusses each image in the article individually. And that's just on top of the tactics that were already on display in the pregnancy image discussions.
Another factor is that whereas most hardcore anti-censorship editors know and esteem a number of people in real life who do not approve of gratuitous nudity, only a small minority will have positive relations with Muslims. In fact, the continued insistence that only those who themselves reject Muhammad images are offended appears to confirm this. Our many Turkish readers, for example, are not all stupid. They can distinguish very well between the appropriateness of the images in depictions of Muhammad and the provocative nature of their deliberate overuse at the main Muhammad article.
If such an overuse occurs. The number of depictions of Muhammad on the article appears to fluctuate in the range from 5 to 7, with none in the lead. This may or may not be appropriate, but it is impossible to get a consensus on this matter of NPOV while the very attempt to find such a consensus is under attack. Hans Adler 13:18, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
PS: An 'objective' indication that 5–7 is too much is that before the huge attack on Wikipedia from some Sunnis in early 2008, it was 3–4 depictions, though in a slightly smaller article. Apparently the external threat has shifted our internal balance. Hans Adler 22:48, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
- What Arbcom can do here
- Clarify that, as a matter of policy, arguments cannot be automatically discounted just because they take into account religious sensibilities. (I am not making this up. )
- Clarify that NOTCENSORED cannot be used to prevent or disrupt nuanced NPOV/weighting discussions.
- Find measures that protect content discussions against attacks from anti-censorship fundamentalists.
Hans Adler's response to Jclemens
Yes, I agree. There is some massive IDHT going on among those who claim against all evidence that everything is clear, there is no problem here, nothing legitimately to be discussed, and that any attempt to find a lasting consensus is – you guessed it – IDHT behaviour. 16:07, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
Hans Adler's response to Risker
I don't think the WMF resolution should make a difference, because it basically just reaffirms that we are a project to build an encyclopedia, i.e. that our goal is to produce something similar to Britannica. But on our path to this goal we are constantly being distracted by literalist/fundamentalist/extremist readings of various policies and guidelines. Such as the editor who caused a great deal of disruption for months with his insistence that everything other than literal copying from sources is original research, the editor who kept insisting that because Wikipedia is not a dictionary we must not have a single article on a word, and the much more common cases of extreme inclusionism, extreme deletionism and extreme anti-censorship.
And when I say extreme anti-censorship, I mean it. I am for keeping the Virgin Killer image, and I am perfectly happy with the German Wikipedia's Vulva article on the main page. It is not a big problem when any individual item remains uncensored. The real problem is that our community has developed a moral panic about censorship. Hans Adler 19:46, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
Hans Adler's response to Franamax and Lankiveil
- "From the standpoint of those who find the images objectionable, the acceptable compromise is to have zero images. There can be no other acceptable endpoint [for them]."
- "The crux of the problem is that a significant fraction of those involved in this discussion view any compromise as blasphemy; we are unlikely to get these people to agree to any solution short of wholesale removal of the images."
This is a good illustration of one of the problems here. Apart from the fact that to my knowledge there are currently no Muslims involved in the debate, as they have all been chased away, these claims are just a milder version of the claim that all Muslims are terrorists or support terrorism. It portrays (Sunni) Muslims as a homogeneous, extremist outgroup that uniformly follows binary logic. (For those who don't get it, imagine a discussion on the Chinese Wikipedia about a Jesus article visually dominated by mangas, Piss Christ type art and scans from a King James bible. In that context an editor might well make similar remarks about Christians.) "Us vs. them" feelings of this kind are deeply engrained in human nature, and if we make no effort to combat them, we will end up with deeply unfair treatment of topics related to certain outgroups. We try to be better than Britannica, but in that respect we tend to be worse. Hans Adler 08:58, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Hans Adler's response to Roger Davies
- "to what extent will you accept as binding the outcome of an RFC?"
- Fully binding subject to a prior consensus on the precise questions and organisation, and subject to an appeal to Arbcom in case of irregularities; for a period to be determined by prior consensus, the RfC or Arbcom.
- "given the very different constituencies likely to be viewing this article what is the line of 'least astonishment' most likely to be?"
- The term "principle of least astonishment" is slightly misleading. What the WMF actually asks for under this rubric is that "content [...] should be presented [...] in such a way as to respect their expectations of what any page or feature might contain." I think the key word here is "respect". Though we need not make use of the fact, I think we can respect our readers' expectations and still astonish them to some degree, i.e. without absolutely minimising the astonishment to the detriment of everything else. If we weight the offence taken by some readers with legitimate opposing concerns, we will arrive at an end result that will be inside the range of what can be found in professionally edited reliable sources. In addition to the intrinsic 'offending' quality of images, this weighting must take their number, placement and context into account.
The result may well be not far from what we have today. I seem to remember (but can't find in the history) a state of the Muhammad article in which it had more, and more obvious, depictions of him, and in more prominent positions; and of course the painting of Muhammad in hell didn't help either. It is much better now. At the moment, the article is not visually dominated by depictions of Muhammad, but since all depictions are more or less unrealistic historical artists' impressions, we need a reasonable balance between the various traditions including the common non-pictorial representations. (See my related "unequivocally, bullshit" thoughts here.)
- "what is the rationale for the assertion that the inclusion of images of Mohammed is per se educational?"
- I do not assert this, so I must play devil's advocate to answer this question. Some readers are not used to long texts and find their thoughts wandering off when they try to read them. They must be kept entertained with pictures, and an artist's impression of what the text is about is better for helping them to focus on the text than a relevant landscape or building photograph, which in turn is better than an abstract picture such as a calligraphy.
- "is there a useful distinction to be drawn between battleground conduct over matters of fact and similar behaviour about matters of opinion?"
- I don't see how the distinction between fact and opinion relates to the present case. I think the main problem is a series of disagreements about the fundamental rules for solving this conflict, and battleground behaviour over these: Is there a current, active consensus, making it disruptive IDHT behaviour to claim there is not and to try to find one? Can an editor who entered the discussion with the position that all images should be removed just because they are offensive thereafter be ignored because any other arguments he may present later-on are transparently attempts to rationalise censorship and as such automatically invalid? Is the argument that some readers get distracted by images they find offensive likewise tainted, whereas the argument that some readers are helped by artists' impressions is valid? Should strategic considerations of defending Wikipedia against censorship play a role? Can religious beliefs legitimately factor into NPOV deliberations? Is the Muhammad article just a biography because Wikipedia is a secular project, or is it also an article on religion?
For each of these questions I would have thought that as a matter of fact, not opinion, one of the answers is the obviously correct one. Yet I keep seeing accusations of bad faith for not accepting the opposite answer as correct. Hans Adler 19:03, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Statement by Tarc
Oh my, they are reaching for ArbCom again, are they? After that went so swimmingly the first time around? If there was ever a case to accept regarding this matter, it certainly wouldn't be on what Eraserhead claims is the problem, because that ain't it. The problem is a very small handful of editors trying to circumvent the policy of (WP:What Wikipedia is not via straw polls and Walls o' Text on a single article talk page...or in this case a sub-page of an article talk page, Talk:Muhammad/images. The discussions began there a few months ago, petered out, they* failed spectacularly when they brought the matter to WT:NOT as a broader cross-section of the community were around to chime in and shoot it down. For the last few weeks they have been back at Muhammad/images; same song, same record.
What we have are several editors who wish to remove images from Muhammad for a variety of stated rationales (the images are incidental, the images aren't really of Muhammad, the images cause offense, the images aren't prevalent in Muslim culture) which really all boil down to the "they cause offense" reason. Recall that in 2009 there was an anonymous petition (www.thepetitionsite.com/2/removal-of-the-pics-of-muhammad-from-wikipedia/) that got a bit of press (one, two, three. This was soundly and unequivocally rejected, the stand that the project also took regarding the Virgin Killer album cover, more at Internet Watch Foundation and Wikipedia.
Any editor has a right to initiate policy changes if they think it will better the project, but there are places to do this where the community as a whole has a chance to weigh in. A handful of editors, one of them extremely disruptively and tendentiously, do not have the right to declare consensus to do so based on TL;DR text in a talk sub-page.
*they: the primary antagonist in this affair is Ludwigs2, a name not unfamiliar to ArbCom. secondary is Eraserhead1, the filer of this Arbcom...a latecomer to the discussions but no less fervent than Ludwigs. There's also Jayen466, who won't drop the stick on this either, but at least is exemplary in terms of conduct and level-headedness in a contentious topic area. Moreso than most of us, really.
- Responses to questions posed
Regarding the Controversial Content Resolution, I believe the article as it stands at the moment is quite in line with what it calls for. We have historical images from a variety of sources that depict Muhammad. IMO any article is enhanced by using images if they are deemed appropriate and relevant to the subject matter. Some are nibbling around the edges of the "appropriate" part, but their point of view on the matter is a minority one. The other part of the resolution is "least astonishment", which IMO is a no-brainer here; someone goes to Muhammad, there is a reasonable expectation that there will be images of Muhammad. Tarc (talk) 18:16, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- Roger Davies:
- RfC acceptance - An RfC is the proverbial will of the people, I would accept any finding.
- Least astonishment - I addressed this above in the response to Risker, but what we have is the English Wikipedia's Muhammad article. A user going to this article should expect images of the subject
- per se educational - Well, how can they not be? This is a visual media that should made use of images whenever possible. The only difference between this and other articles on historical figures is that adherent's of this one's beliefs do not like images. We can't setup a special class just for Muhammad, a standard that other articles are not held to.
- Distinction, fact vs opinion battles - Possibly, yes. The Israel-Palestine fights are almost exclusively over opinion, and are essentially a spillover of real-life conflict as ideologues bring their fights here. Whether its Rachel Corrie or the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, editors there make use of Wikipedia policies and guides to see that there POV is the most visible. This debate is more fact-oriented as much of it revolves around interpretation and application of policy. There is a basic fundamental divide of how WP:NPOV applies here. Some feel NPOV is being violated by displaying images that the Islamic culture generally does not display, while others feel NPOV is being upheld by providing a Wikipedia article that does not favor a religious-based prohibition on image display. Conversely, the article does not display images purely to incite such religions. I do not have the exact name but there was once some sort of "Muhammad in Hell" image that was once present but was removed by consensus. Similarly, we'd never show an image from the Jyllands-Posten cartoon, as those would be inflammatory with no connection to Muhammad's biography
Statement by Alanscottwalker
- 1) This is a content dispute;
- 2) People should act professionally;
- 3) Like Mathsci, I agree no one should be here, and I should not. I have raised content issues;
- 4) The arbitrators should consider whether this is abuse of process, to intimidate. Consensus does not arise from intimidation.
Arbitrators: The history that Franamax links to was unknown to me. His first link is especially troubling. If there is something you can do re guidance, do it. It is now too late to settle it on talk. Alanscottwalker (talk) 04:21, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Response to Hans: In his response to Franamax, he gives an analogy to the Muhammad page that is over-the-top. Such rhetoric gives more heat than light. Some people find the current images offensive. Some people find them educationally useless (a position, I have hard time understanding - at least if you know something about the subject). Given our current policies, we are having a really tough time bridging the divide. Whether there are 0 or more than x number on the page, this issue will be with us (unless the world changes). Nonetheless, we have set ourselves the task of writing an online multi-media encyclopedia, unlike and without certain physical/financial restraints that others in other formats have, that anyone can edit (and anyone can read). The WF report speaks to the fact that we serve a pluralistic audience, and we aim the project at a pluralistic society, and it suggests the divide can be bridged technologically. I hope it's that easy. Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:02, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Response to Roger:
- 1) Yes;
- 2) Least astonishment for a pluralistic audience, tends inclusionist in the biography of a man;
- 3) I wouldn't put it that way. All images convey information, but it's a matter of context and what we say about them, as to whether they belong (current image policy about multi-media presentation speaks of preferring images that look like what they are suppose to represent, whether or not authentic).
- 4) I wouldn't rule that out.
Statement by Amatulic
The only concern that might possibly interest ArbCom here would be examination of behavior (related to WP:DEADHORSE and WP:TENDENTIOUS) that pervades the debates on the topic of Muhammad images. Other than that, this is a content dispute, in part arising from the WikiMedia Foundation's . ~Amatulić (talk) 15:40, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- Response to Roger Davies' questions
Q: to what extent will you accept as binding the outcome of an RFC?
- A: Full extent, naturally. That's what "binding" means, after all.
Q: given the very different constituencies likely to be viewing this article what is the line of "least astonishment" most likely to be?
- A: Because this is the English Wikipedia, the principle of "least astonishment" is most likely to be an expectation that a biography of a famous historical figure would include pictures of the subject, whether the subject be Muhammad or any other biography. The principle would be different with respect to Muhammad in a Muslim country, of course. The argument put forth by others that WP:DUE requires the images to reflect the proportions of images in reliable sources would violate the principle of least astonishment in that it violates the expectations of the average reader of this Wikipedia. Even with the images currently in the article, the talk page archives contain questions from readers about why there aren't more images, or why the lead image doesn't show Muhammad. Therefore, for these readers, the current state of the article already violates the principle of least astonishment by singling out the subject for special treatment with respect to Muslim sensitivities. Personally I think it's a good balance. No pictures of Muhammad are visible unless you scroll down the article, and even then, the depictions are few compared to the total number of images.
Q: what is the rationale for the assertion that the inclusion of images of Mohammed is per se educational?
- A: As in any biography of an historical figure, including examples of the variety of ways artists in different cultures and times have depicted the subject serves an educational purpose, imparting information, relevant to the topic, that cannot be easily imparted through prose. Illustrations of prose also serve an educational function by enhancing the reader's interest in the prose. Educational content also includes illustrations of significant events, in addition to illustrations of the biography subject.
Q: is there a useful distinction to be drawn between battleground conduct over matters of fact and similar behaviour about matters of opinion?
- A: I don't see how it's useful to draw such a distinction. Battleground behavior is battleground behavior, regardless over what matters the behavior occurs. ~Amatulić (talk) 23:07, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Statement by Johnbod
This is a content dispute, also with issues involving the application of policy. The factual and contextual issues are complex and poorly grasped by many of those involved. The use of images on the page has in fact changed significantly over time, but it is not forseeable that everyone will be satisfied. Arguments have got heated at times, and there are several editors involved who ramble on at great length, but I don't see that editor behaviour has been especially bad from the regulars rather than one-off ISPs (unusually, Sinebot is the largest contributor to the page). Several of the editors most prominently involved are essentially talk-page only editors, who wander from dispute to dispute without ever contributing to the encyclopedia as such. It might be useful for Arbcom to address this pattern of behaviour but otherwise I can't see how the dispute is a matter for Arbcom. Johnbod (talk) 16:34, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
Statement by Ludwigs2
Well, I feel obliged to point out the the Conduct/Content rubric is going to be almost impossible to apply. This isn't a content dispute turned sour, this is an intractable ideological divide over the nature and purpose of Wikipedia itself. Any decision you render is ultimately going to ripple out through the project and change the way we approach content, for good or ill.
Don't get me wrong, that's a good thing in principle: It's high time Wikipedia started to grow up as a community.
Otherwise I agree with Hans and Eraserhead, and don't feel a need to add to what they've said at this point. While I'm not anxious to sit through yet another endless litany of "It's all Ludwigs2's fault" (which has already started and will likely grow exponentially over time), I'll cope. C'est la vie! --Ludwigs2 17:35, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- R to Risker - WMF resolution
in response to your particular request about the WMF resolution:
I see the WMF resolution as more of a shift in emphasis than an actual policy change. What it is trying to get at is that the readership of various WMF projects are deeply multicultural and multinational, and that we have certain responsibilities towards them as editors. People tend to focus on the least astonishment principle (mostly because it's a catchy phrase, IMO), but I believe the most central idea is that the project is curated:
- "Wikimedia projects are curated and edited collections, according to certain principles: namely, we host only content that is both free and educational in nature."
This notion of 'curating' is at odds with the over-simplified, literal-minded interpretation of NOTCENSORED that is used by some editors. Curated material is chosen with care - that implies a certain degree of restraint and introspection that is not not akin to censorship (though it is often accused of being censorship). When you draw all of the affirmations of the resolution together
- "support access to information for all"
- "are curated and edited collections"
- "readers should have control over their experience"
- "content on Wikimedia projects should be presented to readers in such a way as to respect their expectations"
The overwhelming sense of the resolution is that we should curate the projects to be more sensitive to and respectful of the interests and desires of a broadly multicultural readership.
On Muhammad one finds a pervasive exclusionist/isolationist attitude prevailing, in which editors are blocked from editing the article simply because of their religious beliefs. The primary argument against removing the images, in fact, has always been that removing them would amount to capitulation to the beliefs of a group which is perceived as fanatical (which group that might be varies: some editors specifically single out Islam, others refer to religions in general). The upshot is that images which violate the mores and standards of a major world religion are held in the article by ghettoizing all opposition as extremists and invoking NOTCENSORED - basically a double-dose of disrespect by insisting on what they dislike and asserting they are fanatics for disliking it. That's bad enough, but worse is that there's no overriding reason for including these images in the first place except that they violate islamic tenets (again, some editors not wanting wikipedia to look like it is giving in to Islam). In essence, NOTCENSORED becomes a tool for censoring real-world mores and values that these editors disagree with.
The WMF resolution (IMO) is telling us that this kind of anti-multicultural attitude is not functional or desirable for the projects. We are not here as editors to force the 'proper attitude' on our readership, but rather to curate the project for their benefit with broad respect for their desires and expectations. --Ludwigs2 18:36, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- cmt to PhilKnight
If you want to know the result of an RfC on this matter, please look at RfC's held at pregnancy and NOT - what will happen is that there will be support for removal but enough of a split for the image proponents to claim no consensus, and we will be right back to wrangling over it on the talk page. If you think I'm wrong, care to put up $100 on it? (eh, better make that 1000 yuan instead; roll with the times...)
As I've said, this is not a content or behavioral issue (except secondarily). This is an ideological dispute over whether or not Wikipedia has a responsibility to be respectful to our readership. Someone needs to make a decision on this and impose it on the project uniformly, because no one on the other side of the debate is ever going to willingly budge one single solid inch otherwise. Not ever. Do you think Tarc, FormerIP or Kww is suddenly going to say (after lo these many weeks): "Oh, I see what you mean; we should be a little more respectful of our readers!"? They may cave in out of exhaustion or boredom (as the people on my side might as well; not that that looks likely for any of us any time soon), but that won't solve the problem even a little bit; it will just lower the tension level until the next situation arises.
I will tell you frankly right now that I myself will never accept as legitimate any actions which are pointlessly and unprofitably rude to our readership. I can make compromises where there's a good rationale - I'd have been fine with the solution Mathsci, Jayen and Resolute worked out - but I draw the line at pointless crapulence. I simply will not stop trying to curb this kind of abuse on project unless (a) there is an unambiguous consensus among editors that we should indulge this kind of pointless crapulence (good luck with that), or (b) you guys in ArbCom make it clear that this is the way the project is going to be. Leave me to my own devices and I will continue to argue this point, since (and this is honestly how I see it) this is just one step in a long process of digging the project out of its own churlishly adolescent solipsism into adult cognition. You're going to have to tell me specifically that you don't want the project to be a better place in this particular way, otherwise it is a goal I will continue to pursue. --Ludwigs2 18:46, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
- r to Thurduulf
Indeed it does say it all. Just like you I am intent on doing what I think is best for the project, the difference being that I base what I think is best on rational and ethical considerations, and you base what you think is correct on vague and highly problematic assertions of 'consensus'. I use reason, you use peer pressure; wunnerful.
But you've missed the point. All I was trying to suggest is that neither you nor I are likely to give up on our ideals, and so this is not going to be resolved until someone stands up and authoritatively dictates that the project as a whole is going to go this way or that way. Leaving our editing ideals ambiguous does no good for anyone; it just fosters problematic debates and bad feelings. If ArbCom wants to tell me that we're going to be the Rude-N-Crude Encyclopeedia I'll live with it, but you're just some editor who has failed to demonstrate anything close to a good argument. Why should I be convinced by your opinion when you've done nothing whatsoever to justify it except assert baldly that everyone agrees with you? That would be silly. --Ludwigs2 19:25, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
- r to SirFozzie
If there is a decent, neutral, well-crafted RfC (those qualifiers only meant to suggest that it is not the kind of ugly mess that these things generally devolve to on talk pages), then obviously I will abide by it. I said as much (P3, Line2 - the line right after the one you're referring to). In case you haven't noticed my big bugaboo on project is the abuse of process for improper ends, and I am not about to start ignoring good process even if I don't like the outcome. Well-done process is legitimate by definition; that's the nature of process. And despite the voluminous opinions to the contrary this is all I've asked for all along.
If we can reach a fair, reasonable, clear consensus on this matter, that will be that, regardless of the outcome. Just please don't tell me that NOTCENSORED voids all discussion of the matter ab initio, because there's not enough ginger ale in the universe for me to swallow that. ok? --Ludwigs2 23:59, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
- r to Roger Davies
response to your questions.
- Binding rfc: I will accept any outcome that is the product of a valid rational procedure.
- Least astonishment: Least astonishment in a multicultural setting boils down to accountability: people are not 'astonished' by being exposed to things that violate their mores and standards per se, they are 'astonished' by being exposed to such for no apparent overriding reason. Where there is a clear and understandable reason for showing something controversial, readers will not like it any better but will understand and accept it; where there isn't, they will begin to be astonished.
- Really, this is common sense: If you are in bio class and the professor shows an image of a penis it's acceptable - whether or not you like seeing penises is irrelevant because it is recognizably appropriate and useful in context. If you are on the bus riding home and a stranger shows you a picture of a penis, it is astonishing. The absence of a justifying context forces one to wonder why this stranger is doing that, and that almost always yields a sense of threat and harassment. I have no problem with Wikipedia acting like a bio professor, but when Wikipedia starts acting like that guy on the bus?
- Rationale for images: I have been trying to get the advocates to provide a rationale since the beginning, without much success. The best rationale I can see from this discussion is that there is some art-historical significance: the images are notable because of their use in rare but significant historical contexts. In fact back at the end of October I offered a compromise position in which we would create a section in the article to discuss the art history of such images (that would have worked for me because it provided a clear rationale for inclusion of these images). The compromise was shot down by editors objecting to the idea that the images should be limited to a section discussing them.
- Fact vs. opinion battlegrounds: I'm not certain I understand what you're asking for. As I see it, there are the following contexts to be considered:
- disagreements over scientific findings and/or historical facts: Battleground behavior here is relatively clear to see and mostly covered by wp:FRINGE (though it's not always solely on the side of the Fringe advocates).
- disagreements over opinions in article content: Battleground behavior here is more entrenched and difficult to address, but can usually be handled by appropriate references to sources and application of NPOV.
- disagreements over interpretation of Wikipedia policy and principles: This is not really covered by wp:BATTLEGROUND. When editors stick to (what I can only describe as) policy fundamentalism in order to dominate article talk pages, there's not much recourse except to firmly and persistently work through the opposition to get to some sort of rational discussion. Before I'd made my first post the the talk page, the consensus process on talk:Muhammad was dead and buried (as you can tell by the HUGE banner at the top of that page listing out what will not under any circumstances be discussed). I tried to revive the consensus process there and failed; Is it battleground behavior for me to keep trying to revive it?
I'll addendum point four if you clarify what you're after. --Ludwigs2 16:11, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Statement by Resolute
When this was first raised here in October as a bid by Ludwigs to try and use ArbCom to win a content dispute, I pointed out that the primary issue was actually his own behaviour in that discussion. Of special importance from that first request was Ludwigs' habit of accusing anyone who disagreed with him of being a bigot. I mostly stopped tracking his edits after that point as it became tedious and repetitive, but I would also note that he has made it clear he expects to become a martyr for his cause. When he got nowhere on Talk:Muhammad/Images, he went to WT:NOT and started a giant RfC that also went nowhere. Jimbo's talk page was involved at one point, as was ANI and AN.
I realized that the only way forward was to cut him out of the picture. To that end, I approached Anthonyhcole for a one on one discussion looking for common ground, then expanded to include Jayen466 - they being the two most prominent advocates for the anti-images side whom I considered reasonable. The three of us achieved a rough agreement, and took it back to the Muhammad images talk page. Discussion was primarily civil, and while continued disagreements abounded, there was no harm in letting the discussions take place. I noted with some amusement that discussion had improved because Ludwigs was off fighting his war at WT:NOT. The moment he returned to the Muhammad discussion, things went to shit again, and the discussion quickly trainwrecked. And he returned posting the very same arguments that were rejected three months ago, six months ago, one year ago and two years ago.
I take issue with Eraserhead's assertion that other editors have "filibustered" or refused to compromise. For much of this debate Ludwigs, Tarc, others on both sides, including myself, have seemed more interested in yelling over top of each other - and it should be obvious whom I consider the root cause of this problem - but in terms of willingness to compromise, I absolutely respect the opinions of Tarc, FormerIP and others in their unwillingness to make significant changes to the image arrangement of the article. I hoped to broker a solution to this debate, but the article is already heavily compromised on its image use. On most other well developed historical articles, depictions, statues, paintings, etc. make up the majority of images; on this one, depictions make up a small minority. Other bios use a depiction as the lead image. This one uses calligraphy. Others have such images interspaced throughout, this one has most towards the bottom. We have also made note in the article's FAQ on how individuals can hide images on that article for themselves. I have no issue with their refusals. I also have little doubt that no matter what we do now, certain belligerents intend to return to this debate yet again to continue pushing for image removal.
TL;dr version: You might as well accept, because while you cannot resolve the content dispute, and you cannot change policy to do the same, you can look at the behavioural issues that are undermining the community's ability to settle on an acceptable solution. Resolute 17:44, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
@Risker - That foundation resolution was the basis by which Ludwigs began his latest campaign, specifically on the "principle of least astonishment". In my admittedly biased opinion, I would say it discussion leaned heavily towards rejection of that viewpoint. At its heart, this debate is boiled down to Ludwigs saying the resolution applies because he believes the images have no educational value. And he believes they have no educational value because they offend many Muslims. The other side, including myself, believes they do carry educational value, ergo, there is no issue between the use of such images and the board's resolution. Resolute 17:55, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- Response to Roger Davies
Given I very much doubt any RfC will ever show a consensus to remove the images, I have no issue with a binding one. I pity anyone who has to digest and close any such action, however. Especially if certain warriors are allowed to run amok throughout it. Additionally, if you wish to go that route, I would throw out all existing compromises. Let such an RfC weigh arguments from "no depictions at all" all the way up to "a large majority of images should be depictions", the latter of which would be in line with most well developed historical bios. The RfC should not be limited to something between no depictions and what exists today.
As you say, there are significantly different viewpoints on what constitutes "least astonishment", and I wish you lots of luck finding a definition everyone agrees with. That said, my opinion mirrors Tarc's closely. Wikipedia is a secular encyclopedia that has so many images in its repository it operates a separate project for images alone. Consequently, I do not believe anyone can legitimately claim to be astonished by the inclusion of said images. In fact, the Content Disclaimer specifically warns both that there are images in this project you may find objectionable, and that Wikipedia "contain audio, visual, or written representations of people or events which may be protected by some cultures." A person may claim to be offended by what Wikipedia contains in this regard, but not astonished. And since your final question somewhat relates, I think any distinction between a battleground mentality over matters of fact vs. opinion becomes meaningless somewhere before three solid months of tendentious behaviour over several forums, none of which have come close to achieving even a majority opinion, let alone consensus.
Given consensus has held for years that the images belong, the burden of proof lies with those who wish to make the change. Consequently, the proper question is: "What is the rationale for the assertion that the inclusion of images of Muhammad is per se not educational?" So far, the only response to that question has been "because I say so". More to the point, why should an image of Muhhammad be viewed any different than an image of Richard I of England, Ivan the Terrible or Cleopatra? You can't ask that question of one article without asking the same of the others. Hans touches on one argument: such images reinforce moments of the subject's life while also helping to break apart the text, which is a benefit to the reader. They visibly show how the subject has been viewed throughout history. In the case of Muhammad specifically, the fact that the method of depiction has changed over time is itself educational. Resolute 00:10, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Statement by Jayen466
Much of what I would have said has already been said by others above. Instead, I'll add an outline of recent history: following Ludwigs2's comments on the images talk page, there had been two lengthy discussions on Jimbo's talk page   and a subsequent clear statement from Jimbo to the effect that
"we should be careful not to allow political views held by almost all Wikipedians (in a particular language) to distract us from the demands of NPOV. So as an example, if reliable sources suggest that depictions of Muhammad are rare, we shouldn't as a "political act" shove a bunch of them in just to prove some kind of case against censorship - if we do so, then we misrepresent history. True NPOV in this area would involve finding a consensus about what reliable sources do." 
Resolute then took an admirable initiative. He hammered out a compromise proposal with Anthony, Mathsci and myself, reducing the number of Islamic figurative images to something that is commensurate with their rarity and marginal status in Islam (), while acknowledging recent scholarly interest in them ().
This proposal attracted majority support on the talk page (with two editors, Johnbod and Alanscottwalker, opposed) . I implemented the proposal on 24 November , only to be reverted by FormerIP , who up to this point had never contributed to either the Muhammad article or any of its talk pages. As those supporting Resolute's proposal remained in a 2:1 majority, I announced a week later on Talk:Muhammad/images (01:32, 1 December 2011), after consultation with Resolute, that I would implement the proposal again. I did so the next day, only to be immediately reverted again by FormerIP . Since then, there has been ongoing discussion on the talk page combined with assorted silliness, such as describing an image of Quranic inscriptions proposed for addition to the article as "The world's most elaborate takeaway menu". .
The statement by Jimbo above is nothing else than the Board Statement on controversial content expressed in different words. We astonish our readers if what we present is systematically, conspicuously different from what reliable sources present. This holds not just for the Muhammad article, but for any type of controversial imagery. WP:NOTCENSORED itself states that it does not overrule WP:NPOV/WP:DUE, which remains paramount. However, when it has been pointed out that reliable sources on Muhammad tend to use mainstream Islamic imagery (e.g. Quranic inscriptions, other types of calligraphy) for illustration, opponents have argued that these sources are censored and must be taking religious objections into account, whereas we, as Wikipedia, do not, and that our NPOV should therefore not be guided by reliable sources. It's an obvious contradiction in terms, but this type of argument – "our sources are censored, and we are not" – is often invoked to retain imagery that will astonish readers, simply because it's not consistent with presentations in reliable sources. I don't know whether there is enough for a case here, as this is largely a content dispute, but an affirmation from the committee that WP:NPOV is a basic pillar of this project, and that our presentation should be guided by reliable sources, would be useful. --JN466 20:49, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- Replies to Roger's questions
1. An RfC may not be the best choice available. Hans Adler suggested an article improvement project aimed at submitting Muhammad for (peer review and then) FAC, which would involve experienced Wikipedians in a thorough check of its content and neutrality against reliable sources. FA candidacies of vital articles attract quality input, and once at FA status, the resulting articles generally remain stable. I prefer this approach, and would be on board with that effort in the New Year. However, if the committee decides to initiate a binding community RfC before then, I'll naturally abide by its outcome.
2. There are two kinds of astonishment. There is a kind of astonishment that advances knowledge, and is proof that we are doing our job well. Wikipedia contains lots of information that may be counterintuitive to readers – from quantum mechanics to the fact that there are eight (not nine) planets in the solar system. There is another kind of astonishment that indicates that we aren't doing our job well – imagine the astonishment that results from seeing basic errors in an article on geometry, an attack piece masquerading as a BLP, or seeing an image of a nude person with coloured bodypaint used to illustrate the article on that colour. Basically, astonishment is educational if it is the result of neutrally reflecting sources, and detracts from the project's educational mission if it’s the result of incompetence or capriciousness.
3. Images of Muhammad are unquestionably educational in Depictions of Muhammad. Inclusion of a small number of Muslim images of Muhammad in Muhammad, in the correct context, likewise seems educational, to make the reader aware that there has been a pictorial tradition in Islam – albeit very much a minority tradition – and to illustrate salient aspects of that tradition. This may well be astonishing to some Muslims who are entirely unaware that there have been Islamic depictions of Muhammad, but even Muslims like Omid Safi are writing about these images. On the other hand, inclusion of a large number of such images, to the exclusion of mainstream Islamic imagery, is positively misleading, because it misrepresents the primary focus of Muhammad’s artistic reception, which has always been the word. Right now, we don’t have a single image of a Quranic inscription in the article. We don’t even have a photograph of the Kaaba, despite its outstanding importance in Muhammad’s personal life and the religion he founded. (For reference, the Online Britannica article on Muhammad is illustrated with four images: one of the Kaaba, two of the Prophet’s mosque, and one of the Shahada.) Imagine if the words of Shakespeare had had such an impact that there was no town and city in the English-speaking world that did not have artistic calligraphic renderings of his name and quotes like "To be or not to be ..." or "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day ..." displayed in homes and inscribed on public buildings, to the extent that such renderings had become a notable art form in their own right among a fifth of the world's population, and were widely used to illustrate Shakespeare biographies. Then imagine editors arguing on the Shakespeare talk page that images of such inscriptions, or a photograph of the Globe Theatre, should have no place in the article on Shakespeare, because they "don't show what Shakespeare looked like".
4. I’m not sure that I understand the question correctly, but generally speaking, battleground behaviour that is purely based on opinion and devoid of any basis in reliable sources is not helpful. We should be discussing reliable sources, and how best to reflect them according to policy. --JN466 19:38, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Statement by FormerIP
I have comments I would like to make here. Although I think that this is basically a content dispute, there are policy clarifications that could help substantially.
However, the possibility of proceeding with dispute resolution is still being discussed on the talkpage. I think is therefore appropriate to put this on hold for now, or else close it as moot with a view to re-opening in the near future. I would ask, though, that a decision is not made about accepting the case without me getting a chance to comment. If that request is out of order, then please just tell me so. --FormerIP (talk) 19:33, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
Further comment. I am starting to think that DR is unlikely, because a number of editors previously opposed either to mediation or RfC have been commenting here but not on the talkpage where that is being discussed. For an RfC (of the non-binding variety) in this case to be properly aimed at resolution, it would need the buy-in of everyone or nearly everyone. This is because an RfC cannot realistically expect to cover this from every angle. It would have to present a concrete proposal. So, editors who snub the RfC are unlikely to feel prohibited from just continuing to discuss the possibility of other concrete proposals afterwards, whichever way it goes. Whilst an RfC could be launched by a sub-group or individual editor, this could only be aimed at addressing narrow questions of interest to those editors or that editor, not at resolving the overall dispute. I hope that's not too rambling to be understood.
It would be my view that, unless there are changes to the position on the talkpage soon with regard to DR, Arbs should not consider the realistic possibility of further DR a reason for rejecting the request. --FormerIP (talk) 20:02, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
Responses to questions asked by Roger Davies, below
- to what extent will you accept as binding the outcome of an RFC?
I will accept it, but I expect the process of getting a question together to be complex and fraught.
- Given the very different constituencies likely to be viewing this article what is the line of "least astonishment" most likely to be?
It think "least astonishment" is an unclear concept, but I take it to be entirely different to "least offence". It is possible to be offended whilst at the same time entirely unsurprised. I think an imbalance of imagery that is perceived to be egregious will astonish people who expect Wikipedia not to be censored. I think many Muslims will be offended by the article as it stands, but probably not astonished, whilst others will not be offended or astonished.
- What is the rationale for the assertion that the inclusion of images of Mohammed is per se educational?
Images depicting historical/mythical events and showing the artistic styles, content choices etc of cultures connected to the topic of the article are always educational. I would also suggest that Wikipedia generally has a low bar in terms of how far we require images we include to be "educational". In the context of the article, I'm not sure what is meant by the "per se" part of the question. For practical purposes we have to select particular images which do have educational value. Others which do not (for example, a child's drawing), we leave aside.
- Is there a useful distinction to be drawn between battleground conduct over matters of fact and similar behaviour about matters of opinion?
Statement by Tivanir2
Well let's go through everything. Throughout this entire process myself and other editors have searched for a compromise (this does include people on both sides of the argument, not just the one I tend to be on at most points) and usually it gets traction to a point. However during this normally we have a few people that tend to derail the process with an extreme viewpoint that won't accept any sort of compromise. I just think this is coming down to people don't like the same talking points when no one can provide a good argument to dissuade people from their current position. I won't point fingers at anyone, and the walls of text that need to be combed through are obscene, but I do have hope since we are holding meaningful discussion on new images for inclusion.
Also in advance I apologize for the one time I lost my temper (it wasn't bad considering some of the comments we have seen but it makes me embarrassed.)
- On a side note I would also like to point out that many times arguments get dismissed because they rely solely upon offense. In the cases where someone brings up a problem with images not relating to offense there is usually some meaningful discussion.
Arbitrators' opinion on hearing this matter (7/0/2/2)
- Accept I think ArbCom can legitimately decide how much advocacy on one side of any discussion, content related or not, becomes a variant of WP:IDHT or is otherwise disruptive editing. I think our silence on image retention in the Abortion case may have sent the wrong message, and further believe that three months is not an unreasonably short time since the last request. Jclemens (talk) 15:34, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- Comment What I was thinking about was a dual pronged attack on this issue. Conduct issues being handled here, content issues (should there be images, what should the images be?) being handled by binding RfC, similar to other cases in the past. If you separate the content issues from the conduct issues, is there enough left to take a case on? SirFozzie (talk) 16:18, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- Ludwigs2, I will be doubly blunt: If a binding RFC is set up, editors are expected to comply with the results, and will face blocks and topic bans if they violate the binding RFC. And while I do not like to prejudge cases, your comments how you will never accept as legitimate any result but the one that you want.. the Committee can propose a topic ban on you in this area without hearing a full case, you know... SirFozzie (talk) 19:16, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
- Comment: Leaning toward acceptance, but waiting for more statements. There are behavioural elements to this matter (on all sides), as well as a relatively recent but significant overarching WMF board policy (WMF Board resolution on controversial content) since the last major community discussion of this issue. I would like to hear from parties and other commenters on how they see the WMF board resolution affecting this situation. Risker (talk) 17:04, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- Comment: As noted by several parties above, it seems like the next logical step would be an RfC. Unless that entirely breaks down, we really haven't reached the last-stage ArbCom approach yet. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 14:58, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
- Recuse; I have participated frequently in the image debates. — Coren (talk) 18:26, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
- Comment - awaiting more statements, but leading towards a decline. I appreciate that mediation has been attempted without success, however, my own personal feeling is that this subject would be better handled by a Request for Comment than arbitration. PhilKnight (talk) 16:39, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
- Accept - mainly to look at and assess disruptive editing that is preventing progress on the issue. Casliber (talk · contribs) 11:47, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
- Questions: I'd welcome comments from the parties on the following points please:
- to what extent will you accept as binding the outcome of an RFC?
- given the very different constituencies likely to be viewing this article what is the line of "least astonishment" most likely to be?
- what is the rationale for the assertion that the inclusion of images of Mohammed is per se educational?
- is there a useful distinction to be drawn between battleground conduct over matters of fact and similar behaviour about matters of opinion?
- Accept. Kirill [talk] [prof] 13:22, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
- Recuse unless the case confines itself to the behaviour of Ludwigs2. I have distinct memories of entering this fray a couple of times. Elen of the Roads (talk) 19:36, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
- Accept to look at the issues related to the images on the article "Muhammad". John Vandenberg (chat) 02:02, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Temporary injunction (none)
All numbering based on /Proposed decision, where vote counts and comments are also available.
1) Wikipedia contributors are expected to pursue dispute resolution if internal discussion alone does not yield consensus on a matter of content.
- Passed 11 to 0, 05:50, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
2) If a dispute becomes protracted or the subject of extensive or heated discussion, the views and comments of uninvolved contributors should be sought. Insulating a content dispute for long periods can lead to the disputants become entrenched, and so unresolvable questions of content should be referred at the first opportunity to the community at large—whether in a Request for Comment, Third Opinion, or other suitable mechanism for inviting comment from a new perspective.
- Passed 11 to 0, 05:50, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Neutral Point of View
3) Wikipedia content must be presented from a neutral viewpoint.
- Passed 11 to 0, 05:50, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Editorial decisions and resistance to censorship
5.1) The principle that "Wikipedia is not censored" is properly invoked in resisting attempts to control the content of Wikipedia articles based on factors other than our editors' informed and mature collective editorial judgments. In controversial instances, reminding fellow editors that "Wikipedia is not censored" will often be the beginning, not the end, of a well-informed analysis regarding inclusion or exclusion of content. In particular, if an element (a statement or an image) does not otherwise belong in an article, the fact that people want it excluded is a poor argument for including it. A consensus for inclusion or exclusion should be sought based on the community's collective editorial judgment, well-informed by knowledge of the relevant subject matter and, where applicable, by Wikipedia's policies and guidelines.
- Passed 11 to 0, 05:50, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Principle of Least Astonishment
6.2) The "principle of least astonishment" articulated by the Wikimedia Foundation in this resolution is one relevant principle that editors should take into account in deciding what images are appropriate for inclusion in a given article.
- Passed 10 to 1, 05:50, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Role of the Arbitration Committee
7.1) Although the Arbitration Committee can be useful in disputes about content by clarifying the core issues and providing for a resolution, its role is not to adjudicate such disputes.
- Passed 10 to 1, 05:50, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
8) Wikipedia works by building consensus through the use of dispute resolution and polite discussion, with a shared receptiveness to compromise—and involving the wider community, if necessary. Individual editors have a responsibility to help debate succeed and move forward by discussing their differences rationally. This applies to all pages on Wikipedia, but especially to articles and article discussion pages.
- Passed 11 to 0, 05:50, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Conduct and decorum
9) Wikipedia editors are expected to behave reasonably, calmly, and courteously in their interactions with other editors; to approach even difficult situations in a dignified fashion and with a constructive and collaborative outlook; and to avoid acting in a manner that brings the project into disrepute. Unseemly conduct, such as personal attacks, incivility, assumptions of bad faith, harassment, disruptive point-making, and gaming the system, is prohibited.
- Passed 10 to 0, 05:50, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Findings of fact
Locus of dispute
1.1) The locus of the dispute is the use of images in the articleand allegations of poor user conduct by several editors engaged in discussions of this issue.
- Passed 10 to 0, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
- Passed 11 to 0, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
- Passed 11 to 0, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Ludwigs2's conduct elsewhere on wikipedia
4.1) Ludwigs2's conduct elsewhere on Wikipedia has been problematic. In a May 2011 arbitration case, Ludwigs2 was cautioned; in October 2011, he was topic-banned from all Astrology articles; and in September 2011, he was asked to reconsider his comments to other editors in discussion about the Pregnancy article.
- Passed 11 to 0, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
5) Tarc's participation in the dispute concerning the Muhammad article has been disruptive. Although he has been sensible in his interpretation of policy , Tarc has also cast aspersions about other editors' motives and behaviour during content discussion , been confrontational and uncivil , adopted a battlefield mentality , , , and interacted with his colleagues with an unprofessional attitude .
- Passed 6 to 4 with 1 abstention, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Community asked to decide issue of Muhammad images
1) The community is asked to hold a discussion that will establish a definitive consensus on what images will be included in the article verifiability and the neutral point of view must be the most important considerations. The editors who choose to participate in this discussion are asked to form an opinion with an open mind, and to explain their decision clearly. Any editor who disrupts this discussion may be banned from the affected pages by any uninvolved administrator, under the discretionary sanctions authorised in this decision. The decision reached in this discussion will be appended to this case within two months from the close of the case., and on where the images will be placed within the article. As with all decisions about content, the policies on
- Passed 6 to 4, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
2.1) Ludwigs2 is prohibited from contributing to any discussion concerning Muhammad.
- Passed 7 to 4, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
3) Ludwigs2 is banned from the English Wikipedia for one year.
- Passed 8 to 3, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
4.1) Tarc is admonished to behave with appropriate professionalism in his contributions to discussions about disputed article content.
- Passed 9 to 1 with 1 abstention, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
5) FormerIP is admonished to behave with appropriate professionalism in his contributions to discussions about disputed article content.
- Passed 8 to 2, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Hans Adler reminded
6.1) Hans Adler is reminded to engage in discussions about disputed article content with an appropriate degree of civility.
- Passed 6 to 4, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
- Passed 11 to 0 with 1 abstention, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
General caution to parties
9) The participants in the dispute about depictions of Muhammad are reminded that editors who engage extensively in an intractable dispute can become frustrated, and that it is important to be aware that as editors we are limited in our ability to contribute constructively to a deadlocked disagreement. Our exasperation with a dispute can make us unprofessional or unreceptive to compromise. We therefore encourage the disputants of this case to consider if their participation in the coming community discussion of depictions of Muhammad would be useful, and we remind them that if they disrupt the community discussion they may be banned from the discussion or otherwise sanctioned under the discretionary sanctions provision of this case.
- Passed 11 to 0, 06:23, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Enforcement of restrictions
0) Should any user subject to a restriction in this case violate that restriction, that user may be blocked, initially for up to one month, and then with blocks increasing in duration to a maximum of one year.
- Per the procedure for the standard enforcement provision adopted 3 May 2014, this provision did not require a vote.
Appeals and modifications
0) Appeals and modifications
Appeals may be made only by the editor under sanction and only for a currently active sanction. Requests for modification of page restrictions may be made by any editor. The process has three possible stages (see "Important notes" below). The editor may:
No administrator may modify or remove a sanction placed by another administrator without:
Administrators modifying sanctions out of process may at the discretion of the committee be desysopped.
Nothing in this section prevents an administrator from replacing an existing sanction issued by another administrator with a new sanction if fresh misconduct has taken place after the existing sanction was applied.
Administrators are free to modify sanctions placed by former administrators – that is, editors who do not have the administrator permission enabled (due to a temporary or permanent relinquishment or desysop) – without regard to the requirements of this section. If an administrator modifies a sanction placed by a former administrator, the administrator who made the modification becomes the "enforcing administrator". If a former administrator regains the tools, the provisions of this section again apply to their unmodified enforcement actions.
- Per the procedure for the standard appeals and modifications provision adopted 3 May 2014, this provision did not require a vote.
Log of blocks, bans, and restrictions
Any block, restriction, ban, or sanction performed under the authorisation of a remedy for this case must be logged in this section. Please specify the administrator, date and time, nature of sanction, and basis or context. Unless otherwise specified, the standardised enforcement provision applies to this case. All sanctions issued pursuant to a discretionary sanctions remedy must be logged at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Discretionary sanctions/Log.
- 07:08, 6 February 2012 Ludwigs2 (talk · contribs) was banned for 1 year by AlexandrDmitri "Per [this] arbitration case". reported by Thryduulf (talk) 15:37, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
After closely examining the arguments put forth in each section, we have concluded that the status quo of the Muhammad article should largely be retained. For proposal 1, we found there to be no consensus to put any type of hatnote in the article. In the discussion of question 2, we found that there was the strongest consensus to put a calligraphic depiction of Muhammad in the infobox. With regards to the placement of other figurative images, we found that the current status quo -- of using figurative images of the highest encyclopedic value to illustrate important events in the subject’s life -- had the most support. This was accompanied by a general sentiment that figurative images were not necessary before the “Life” section, but would certainly be necessary after that point. However, editors should remember that calligraphic representations are the most common, and should not add images, especially figurative ones, without a clear encyclopedic reason to do so. Furthermore, there was a clear consensus to avoid any quota of figurative or calligraphic image, and to let the text of the article dictate the images used. There was no consensus for how the principle of least astonishment should apply to Muhammad.
Thank you all for your participation and your patience.
- For the link to the discussion see, Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Muhammad images.
- It was agreed in the discussion now archived to the talk page (see this section) that it was acceptable to close the RFC after the originally-specified deadline. AGK [•] 15:49, 22 June 2012 (UTC)