CZ:Managing Editor/2010/003 - Appeal of block 1549

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Statement of problem

Please be brief and specific in your request (polar questions are best) and add relevant links if available. Please state a time frame in which you expect a decision.

David Finn requested by email to put up the following text here in his name, so as to appeal his block of November 20

I wish to appeal the Citizendium block applied to me on 20 November 2010, block id #1549.
I do not wish to appeal the forum block applied to me on 21 November 2010, 
however I wish to appeal the fact that my IP address appears to be blocked 
from accessing the forums even in a read-only capacity.
David Finn. (~~~~)

--Daniel Mietchen 08:38, 23 November 2010 (UTC)

Resulting question: Should the wiki block be lifted or otherwise modified?
Time frame: Days.
--Daniel Mietchen 01:37, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

Statement by David Finn

The following statement by David Finn reached me by email today, copied in here verbatimly. --Daniel Mietchen 21:14, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

On November 18th I discovered this page on the Editorial Council "wiki". I was and still am of the belief that this page constitutes a breach of Citizendium rules.

From the Editoial Council motion: "It has become increasing clear that the Editorial Council is unable to function as long as Howard C. Berkowitz is a member of it." From the Editorial Council motion: "Under Article 32.2, I hereby state that in my opinion, Howard C. Berkowitz, by his ongoing behavior, does not meet the qualifications of Editorship in Citizendium and shall have all Editorships that he currently holds removed from him by vote of the Editorial Council and I hereby make a formal motion that we should do so."

Article 32.2 of the charter

The Editorial Council is responsible for content and style policies. In particular, it shall establish the qualifications for Editors and establish the procedure for promoting Citizens to Editor status, provided that such qualifications and such procedures do not violate any article of this charter

It is then necessary to examine whether the motion in question violates the articles of the charter.

Article 9

All Citizens shall be treated fairly and respectfully by other Citizens, Editors, and Officers of the Citizendium.

The motion, while stating the belief of the individuals involved that Howard "does not meet the qualifications of Editorship", provides no evidence whatsoever for this position. This cannot be said to be an expression of fair or respectful treatment. It impugns the character of a longstanding Editor without providing any reason for doing so. It simply says "It has become increasing clear that the Editorial Council is unable to function as long as Howard C. Berkowitz is a member of it."

Article 6

Citizens shall mutually respect their competency regarding any of their contributions.

It is impossible to view this motion as anything other than disrespecting Howards comepetency. The Constabulary are authorized to remove personal characterisations and in this case should have.

Article 11

Citizens should expect Officers and Editors to be fair and impartial. Biased Officers and Editors shall recuse themselves from their official positions in any dispute resolution process.

Article 40

All Citizens shall have the right to a fair hearing, which shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following: the opportunity to present one's case in one's defense, the right to be heard by a fair and unprejudiced body, the right to have others offer testimony on one's behalf.

There are well-documented and ongoing disputes between Howard and at least two of the nominators of the EC motion. These disputes have been commented on by many Citizens, before during and after the election process, which render those individuals ineligible as fair and impartial in this case. The charter does not say that membership of the EC overrides the need to be fair and impartial, it says that it applies to all including Editors.

Having seen that Howard was being openly accused on-wiki by people with whom he has had long-standing disputes I felt obliged to point out some of these facts, and that appears to be what I have been banned for. But it can't be a one-way street. The Charter applies to all Citizens - it is not the case that the EC may circumvent the Charter when they so desire. If members of the EC openly accuse an Editor of unprofessional behaviour (without supplying any evidence at all) then they must expect to be questioned on this. If discussion was not expected, the correct approach would have been not to print the allegations.

Article 38

The Constabulary shall enforce the Citizendium's rules of behavior as determined by the Management Council, which shall apply equally to all Citizens regardless of status or position, including Editors and those with official positions.

By printing allegations against a Citizen the nominating members of the Council breached the Charter in a way that should have been intercepted by the Constabulary. That it was not done leaves the allegations to be questioned by other Citizens. Attempts to do so were silenced by the Ombudsman and the Chief Constable. The Ombudsman stated "If I may step in here. This is a difficult situation. Let me stress, there must be no personal attacks, derogatory comments, disrespectful comments about any citizen anywhere on Citizendium. There's a danger here that you are inviting Hayford to make such comments - he must not do so. Issues about behaviour in breach of CZ rules are being considered, properly, coolly by the Constabulary. Issues about the functioning of the EC are being considered by the Managing Editor, again, properly and coolly."

The very obvious problem here is that the personal attacks and derogatory comments had already occurred and were very visible on the EC motion page. As can be seen from this page I am not the only Citizen of this belief.

If Citizens, no matter if they are on the EC, are permitted to publish allegations against other Citizens then the Citizendium must respond. As stated by the Ombudsman, issues of behaviour are a matter for Constable deliberation, via private complaint. They are not the subject of on-wiki discussion. Nothing in the Charter permits the EC the powers to override this process, or the rest of the Charter. If they have issues with the behaviour of an Editor the proper approach would be to contact the Constabulary, not make a vague motion with no evidence that does nothing but impugn the character of an Editor without giving anyone the opportunity to counter it.

I have been banned for expressing my opinion openly about the sequence of events the above narrative describes. However I believe that having been put in the position of facing allegations about a fellow Citizen printed openly on-wiki that it was the duty of all Citizens to make their opinions known.

The EC wiki is not policed by the Constabulary - it should have been. The EC wiki is a CZ resource like any other. The Constabulary should have removed the allegation immediately, as is their right. The EC, as stated in the Charter, are subject to the rules of CZ, the Charter, and therefore Constabulary action over transgressions.

That it wasn't done sets the scene for my banning - Citizens may not make personal attacks, even if they are on the EC. Personal complaints should be relayed to the Constabulary.

The allegations on the EC are simply that - the Ombudsman seems to be stating that if anyone mentions any of the specific evidence that they would be sanctioned. This makes absolutely no sense. In the question of whether an Editor is qualified to edit, the only evidence needed is that of diffs. of offending edits. Presenting an edit for consideration is not a personal attack. Not presenting the edit but saying that the Editor is unprofessional because of the edit is in itself unprofessional. No-one could believe that a specific diff of an edit to CZ could be more harmful than a general allegation of unprofessionalism with no evidence, therefore I question the Ombudsmans role in this matter.

I also question the Chief Constables approach. On the day that I was banned I was first given the opportunity to replace a forum comment. Well, that's the impression I got, but in fact what I received from the Constabulary was the note: {{rephrase}} I do not find this to be a worthwhile approach by the Constabulary. CZ has very few contributors and can ill-afford to lose more, and I believe that the Constabulary are duty-bound to be more interactive when fulfilling their function. It was only after replacing the comment that I was informed that if the comment was not approved a second time I would be banned from Citizendium.

Luckily my replacement comment fitted the rules and was accepted, however within a short time I was banned for making a comment which broke none of the rules. At no time was I informed of what may have been wrong with any of my comments, nor given advice on modifying them - I was not pointed in the direction of the relevant rules nor given an opportunity to discuss them. Upon banning all contact ceased and the Constabulary refused to answer my mails. Apart from anything else this refusal of contact violates my right of appeal.

I also have issue with the Chief Constables interpretation of the Charter. I was informed by him that I must take my appeal to the Ombudsman, however the Charter is very clear:

Article 38

The Constabulary shall enforce the Citizendium's rules of behavior as determined by the Management Council, which shall apply equally to all Citizens regardless of status or position, including Editors and those with official positions.

Any act of the Constables may be appealed to the Management Council.

Article 34

The Management Council is responsible for the technical and economic resources of the Citizendium and its related websites. In particular, it shall: appoint and supervise the activities of Constables

I do not then agree with the punishment applied to me as I believe that my comments were made only after a breach of the Charter by officials of Citizendium that could only have been answered in public by concerned Citizens. I also do not agree with the process used by the Constabulary to achieve my banning.

Article 40

Citizens shall not have arbitrary or excessive sanctions imposed upon them.

Article 45

All Citizens, regardless of position or status, shall be bound by this Charter including its amendments, and no referendum or decision of any council or official shall contravene it.

In view of the position of the Charter I ask that my block be overturned and consideration given to the other matters raised in this issue.

David Finn.

Statement by the Chief Constable

Formal restatement of problem

This section defines the section structure of the decision.

A Citizen appeals a decision of the Constabulary.

Existing applicable policy


  • Article 38.4: Any act of the Constables may be appealed to the Management Council.

Decisions by the governing bodies

Pre-Charter policy

Draft decision

The text below is what I plan to decide in this case. Feel free to edit the text if you think this improves it. If your edits require discussion, please use the dedicated section below. Editing and discussion in this "Draft decision" section shall stop 24h after my last edit to it.'

Discussion of Draft decision

When reading or editing this section, please keep in mind that the current version of the draft decision might be different from the one referred to by previous commenters.


I am referring this appeal to the Management Council.

--Daniel Mietchen 02:47, 26 November 2010 (UTC) as CZ:Managing Editor

A link to the referral. --Daniel Mietchen 03:07, 26 November 2010 (UTC)
Given that the Management Council has not yet acted upon this appeal, I am hereby lifting the block of David Finn on both the wiki and the forums, pending a decision by the Management Council. --Daniel Mietchen 22:56, 15 January 2011 (UTC)