User:Anthere/mediation

Since january 2004, I am a member of the Wikipedia:Mediation Committee. I participated in setting it up, and contributed to the following pages :

On meta, I am the main author of

Historical comment : missing a pointEdit

On Wikipedia, it should not matter who is writing what. The only thing that should matter is what is written, what is suggested to the community. Given that, we agree, what is written and suggested, is not too inflammatory, or insulting, or humiliating.
This proposition is none of this.

It does not matter who write something. Just the content is important. I like that comparison made on the ML, that we should protect all the GMO articles from being "taken over" by Monsanto or Greenpeace. For all you know, people supporting Greenpeace or any environmental organisation, or people working for Monsanto, or any industrial firm making research or producing GMO, could already be editing all these articles. And then so what ? If the result is OK ? Why should it matter, as long as the resulting article is good and neutral ? If those from Greenpeace, and those from Monsanto play the game with honesty, where is the problem ? There is no problem. Especially, since any change made by another editor may be changed by others. Because none of us would deny that in spite of their efforts, they are not sometimes factually wrong, conceptually wrong or just biaised. We all are. And that is not very important, since others are here to correct us. Any contribution that hold a meaning, that has an interest, that is considered worthwhile, should be kept, and reworked if necessary. That hold for articles, just as for governance.

This proposition interests some of us. As such, the discussion should not roll over who initially made it up, but about what it could bring to the project, which issues it could solve. At the same time, some insist that the proposition is having some drawbacks, that some points are bad. Fine, then, what is the difference with any issue over an article ? If the proposition has some bad aspect, just change it. If the proposition is interesting some people, then it should not be just thrown away, just because of who made it initially. As you often say, be bold.

I feel a bit taken abashed there, because I feel this proposition is just part of something that should be taking place, in particular after the RK issue. We clearly need to work on mediation and resolution of conflict issue. Remember, it is not only RK issue, but this is also why some users, such as User:Kat, who you appear to regret, left. Because some issues were never solved, because no process existed, so that some issues got stuck forever (and mind you, are still stuck).

In short, I think issues such as the one raised over Daniel Boyer articles, or those raised over User:RK are a big warning, that when a community gets big, there is need for other options, to take decisions, as well as to help people solving their conflicts.

And this requires a big brainstorming, with all of us part of it. That is how consensus decision making works. First, people throw as much ideas that they can think of, even the most crazy ones, the ones that appear absolutely incredible and impossible to set up. It does not matter. People just think together, and the thoughts of one enrich another one, who will have a better idea. At this point of the process, just killing the brainstorming by declaring an idea is wrong and should be dismissed, because of its author, is just bad.

When everyone threw crazy ideas in the basket, other ideas, more useable, will begin to appear.

Please, do not try to pretend there are no problem of conflict resolution. Most of them are solved more or less painfully, by classical wiki process. Which I think is best, with public discussion on talk page, between identified (even by IP) users. When a conflict appears, either one of the protagonist ask to someone to mediate the conflict, or a mediator miraculously appears, willing to bring a little help. In most cases, this is sufficient, and it is good.

But, it does not solve every conflict. Perhaps because no one is willing to mediate, or just because nothing can help a conflict which is degenerating into personal attacks. Then something else is needed. It happened to me that no one came to help in a starting conflict with RK. I call Ed for help. He just ignored my call. And no one came either. So, I just dropped the matter, because I felt no desire to make appear another of these worthless and extremely degrading conflicts. But, ultimately, that means no conflict was solved, which is for me a demonstration of Wikipedia inability to solve issues sometimes.

Why do nobody come to help conflicts sometimes ? Because they know not the topic, so feel helpless, because they do not have time or energy, because they are not in friendly terms with one of the protagonists, or because they fear very much consequences on themselves. I experienced that more than once on the fr wiki, where some users prefer shutting up rather than to find themselves facing a shouting mob. Once someone begins to try to help mediate the case, they feel less alone, and dare speaking up.
I think the current proposition - with all its imperfections - could somehow help there. It could help those in unfriendly terms with one of the protagonists to help anyway (and perhaps, then, gain understanding of this user, and learn to appreciate him better). It could also help all those who are timid, perhaps to train themselves, before feeling stronger to mediate bare faced. And it could solve the conflict, by stripping away, all historical background that could disturb the process. Just as for the devil advocate, having a anonymous mediator in a consensus decision process, is not something uncommon. If I dared say so, that is also why the man sentencing people to death in Europe before, was anonymous. It was also protection to him. One of the good point of this option, is that since the user:mediator would only focus (it should be his only role ihmo) his activity on mediation, provided he is good (:-)), he will be able to benefit from a reputation, so when approaching a conflict, he will probably be seen with much benevolence. All in all, if I knew mediator role was taken in turns by Ec, Erik and Ed, I would be very confident calling for User:Mediator for help would be prone to much success. I would likely be easier to manage myself, and perhaps, the real success would not be at all due to Ec, Erik or Ed, but to another user, who would feel *good* and proud of his success. And as I told you, not knowing who it was, the success will shower over all those who could have held the role. More WikiLove I am sure :-)

But this is just one of the possibility of mediation in consensus process. Alex option is also interesting, especially for extrem cases, where all forms of mediation previously provided, have failed. Because people in conflict are best approached privately when they are really angry. It could mostly help to cool people down, without other well-meaning people further heating up the debate. Mind you, if some had not hold this kind of practice when RK attacked me, I would be gone by now. Because private conversations were needed to cool down things, for them to be rational again. And only a mediator could do that. A person not taking sides. So, here, I see benefits in what Alex proposes, but mostly to sooth relationships, the core of the conflict should go back to the talk page, to discuss the topic. That is where it does belong. Personal issues belong more to privacy. Note that one of the main drawback of Alex option, is that it will de-facto exclude mediation for those who have no email adress, or all the anonymous IPs. So, as interesting as it is, it can only be *one* process among others. Unless we declare that IP contributions are unwelcome from now on, and that every user must provide a valid email adress to contribute. Do we want that ? I do not think so.

All I mean to say here, is that shutting down an idea, because of its author, is just detrimental to the wiki-consensus-based process. User:Anthere


Some comments by othersEdit

I don't envy your position as mediator. Personally I think I will go back to investigating whether Huntsman spiders will really bite people as they are claimed to do, and whether it really hurts so much when they finally do it. I think maybe that is safer. ;-) anon1


I hope that the small areas of disagreement we may have won't obscure the larger areas of agreement, or the respect that I have for you (even if you do seem to be much TOO nice :-) anon2


But Anthere, you should know you are indeed an unusual wikipedian, because you will bend over backwards to see the good side of people, which is why you are so valued a member of the community (seriously!). Fuzheado IRC 22/02/2004


I only picked you for the selfish reasons I stated at the time, although I suppose if I had been completely honest, I might have said "because I think she likes me and likely be more sympathetic to my arguments than someone random"... I think you did a good job and worked much harder than I had any right to expect. I feel a lot better as a result of your intervention. anon3


Anthere is delicious

This adorable flattery is from MyRedDice :-) I wonder what came to his mind to write such a thing

Mark_Ryan: awwww i'll send ya a love letter if you want
Anthere0: yes, please :-)
Mark_Ryan: To my sweet, dear Anthere... you make me happy when you enter the channel. Some sanity in a field of extraordinary insanity. A bluebell in a paddock of thickets...
Anthere0: A bluebell in a paddock of thickets ?
Anthere0: what is thickets ?
Mark_Ryan: Anthere0: thorny horrible stuff
Mark_Ryan: like roses but without the nice flowers :)
Anthere0: please go on to raise my spirit
Mark_Ryan: you have the spirit of a glistening silver brumby (horse), graceful, wild and carefree
Anthere0: I keep my personal love letter for bad times


I think that you have a strong sense of injustice...you don't care about rules per se, but you care when you feel that rules are applied unfairly or violated or when people are treated badly...I just think that ... you look for the person who is evil, and the person who is good and once you have decided who is evil, you decide to fight the evil person...well, that is the precise reason I have reservations about you...I think a mediator needs to be very distant, very objective, cold even, he should not sympathize with the people he mediates for. Eloquence.


nominating ant for coord, for her bounteous energy and ease of reaching out to people. | I'd like to see the AMA develop into a 'conflict patrol' like the RC patrol, to keep an eye on conflicts and reach out to people to defuse situations before they are forced into formal conflict channels -- rather than waiting for people to come here and ask for they know not what help. +sj+ 20:53, 2004 Mar 20 (UTC)