Wikibooks:Arbitration/Panic2k4 vs. SBJohnny/Plaintiff Charges
Comments from User:SBJohnny
I became involved in a user dispute a few months ago between Panic and Darklama, and responded to a "request for comments" on Panic's userpage. The dispute stemmed from Darklama's desire to make some changes and become involved with the C++ book. At the time, I was unsure what to think of either of them, in part because I know absolutely nothing about C++, and (using 20/20 hindsight) because Panic made it very difficult to understand the actual dispute by changing the topic to something else any time I thought I understood.
After trying to talk to both of them, it quickly became apparent that Darklama was the party capable of keeping a cool head. I asked him to take a step back from the book and see what happens. He did so, and the events of the past few weeks have made me deeply regret giving that advice. At the time it was hard to see who was in the right or wrong, and Panic claims not to be a native English speaker, so I gave him undue benefit of the doubt
Things were quiet for a while, until another contributor tried to work on the C++ book. Panic made coments about every edit the new contributor made, and even went so far as to impose deadlines on completing his thoughts. He was warned by at least two users (not including me) about this behavior, but only became more shrill after these warnings.
At one point he bacame frankly hostile, and I blocked him for 2 hours (I carefully chose to block him at a time of day he does not usually edit... this was an "I mean it!" block). My intended message was: "this is unacceptable, and you've been warned about this". His response was to become even more hostile, and went right back to trying to intimidate his fellow contributors. I blocked him for 2 weeks in response, both to give him some time to think, but also to give the other contributors some breathing room to work on the book without harrassment.
When he came back from his enforced break, Panic engaged in some rather odd dialog with me. It became apparent after a few days that he wasn't interested in a frank and/or objective discussion, but rather a cat-and-mouse contest of wikilawyering. When I had had enough, I told him so, in the hopes that he would turn his attention away from me and towards those he actually had the dispute with.
A day or two later, he decided that my decision not to talk to him anymore meant that he could just go back to doing the same thing again. He announced his intention to do so, and then went about doing it.
His choice of what to "fix" first was to move talk page conversations back to where they were. These pages had been moved around and reorganized over time by Panic, in what I can only interpret as an attempt to control (he might say "organize and standardize") any editorial discussion about the book and its chapters. 2 users had spent a couple days trying to undo this mess... one was darklama, who went so far as to ask me if he could do "page history merges". Again, I told him not to, because using admin tools in a content dispute you are a part of is absolutely taboo in my opinion.
My second block of Panic was primarily pre-emptive (stopping the damage before it went too far), and partly punitive (it's hard to read this as anything but trolling, and he was specifically warned about this). He had been warned specifically about the talk page reorganizations, but had removed this warning a few days before . He then announced  that he was going to reorganize the talk pages the way he liked them, and began doing so.
My impression of Panic is that he
- Values debate over the creative process
- Has little respect for his peers on Wikibooks
- Is not interested in compromise
- Is convinced that he is in a "battle" with the community (am impression which I'm afraid particular format for "arbitration" will only serve to enforce)
Panic has asked me to "close" this statement, so please consider it closed. I hope we can keep this moving, rather than letting it stagnate.
Comments from User:Darklama
In disagreements with other people Panic has repeatedly misrepresented the community through claims that the community agrees with him or that he represents the community's wishes. At times when he has gone out of his way to try to prove the community agrees with him by seeking out the opinion of other people, he then refuses to accept their opinions when its clear they disagree with him. When mediators or arbitrators has than become necessary to resolve issues, if the decision is not as Panic wishes, he has than refused to accept the decisions. Fighting with other Wikibookians pretty much every step of the way and believes all his actions are in the right with no intention of conceding to the community's decision.
Panic refuses to acknowledge or accept other people's point of view or decisions when it differs from his own point of view in various ways, including by misrepresenting passed administrative actions, pointing out lack of policies and guidelines, through attempts to prevent good faith edits by reverting and claims that discussion must take place first, using the GFDL and copyright laws as giving him certain rights, or by denying that mediation took place, as reasons to justify his continue obstructive actions and his right to be uncivil, disrespectful and to maintain editorial control of books above anyone else. One recent example involved Panic trying to force a deadline on another Wikibookian under threats of reverting changes if he did not do as Panic wished.
As time has passed Panic has become increasingly hostile, accusing anyone who tries to take reasonable action that goes against Panic's wishes, of violating the GFDL, copyright laws, Wikiboooks policy or his rights. Attempts to clarify policies or guidelines has resulted in Panic trying to subvert changes he disagrees to with his own personal wishes even when it is clear that consensus is otherwise.
Panic has repeatedly bitten new users and in the past established contributors before him, resulting in scaring people off and discouraging further attemps to contribute. I have repeatedly tried to give Panic the benefit of the doubt, but by his repeating the same or similar questionable actions time and time again, and with him making it clear he has no intent to change, leaves me with no doubt left that he is not here to work together with other Wikibookians in good faith as equals on books and I only wish to not be drawn further into his endless cycle of unproductive arguing and his way of doings things.
If I knew what I know now back when this all started, I believe I would of insisted on Panic taking his problems to an administrator or to the staff lounge, since his issues seem to be more of a problem with Wikibooks and how things are done rather then with a single individual. From the beginning with me, he has focused mostly on problems not specifically related to me, such as the forking of the book and his interpretations of what various policies and guidelines allow or don't allow. Which I think was one of the few mistakes I feel I've made in this whole situation.
Part of what Panic has used for his justifications has centered around an old book fork. Since Paddu was involved in the book at the time, I invited Paddu to provide any grievances he has with Panic concerning that rather then trying to rely on other people's interpretations. I also believe through Paddu's grievances with Panic, he can provide some insight into how long Panic has been problematic and a hindrance.
In short I believe Panic has:
- A long history of difficulty working together with other people and no desire to do so unless they agree with him and work on his terms.
- Little or no respect for other Wikibookians and their contributions (including additions, corrections and clean up)
- Through his actions demonstrated a desire to create conflict rather than direct his energy at improving books.
- Been counter productive and damaging to Wikibooks and its community and will continue to be so, as long as people are willing to let him.
Finally I don't believe Panic can be relied on to admit to what he has said or done, since in the past he has denied things and then later repeats it. Panic has not once that I am aware of bothered to try to clarify what he means or how what he does is not what he denies, which I can only assume from my own experience with him means he does not see a need to explain himself further or simply does not care that how people perceive him could get him into trouble. For example, he has denied mediation/moderation when he specifically chose SBJohnny to do so  and than involved himself in a small revert war with SBJohnny after having agreed to his mediation/moderation. Panic was warned back then as well. SBJohnny has tried to moderate since then until recently when he willingly offered to let someone else do it.
I do not believe SBJohnny was taking sides, but rather was acting on Panic's own actions and I believe his blocking Panic was considerably relaxed given the situation and SBJohnny would have had every right to block Panic indefinite if he had chosen to do so. I believe SBJohnny may have in fact tried way too hard to not let it come to needing to block Panic indefinitely. I believe unfortunately Panic will need to be blocked indefinitely, because of his stated intentions and he continues to be controlling, disruptive and uncivil. I believe while blocking Panic may be a first here, it would set the bar for what's required to be blocked very high.
I am satisfied with my provided information for now and will hold off any further information and log information if it is needed for clarification or "evidence" until later on in the process. I close my comments so this process may continue and only ask that anyone else who has something to say be given time to finish first as well.
Comments from User:Whiteknight
I've been involved with this issue since the original "request for comments" that SBJohnny described above. At the time, newcomer Darklama was involved in a series of edit conflicts with Panic2k4, a seasoned veteran of the project. Unfortunately for the current proceedings, much discussion between darklama, SBJohnny and myself from that time until the present has occured on IRC, and there are therefore no records of those discussions. I would like to state for the record (though it be unverifiable) that the topic of Panic2k4 being blocked for his behavior was discussed between the three of us and others in the chat room for some time before the blocks were implemented by SBJohnny.
After the initial block by SBJohnny (described above), and Panic2k4's subsequent return, I had received a number of complaints, from Darklama and from User:James Dennett (actually, I received complaints about panic's treatment of James Dennett from another user, not from James Dennett himself). I sent him this initial reminder, to which he sent me this initial reply (minus the unrelated comment from User:Herbythyme, in between) and later I sent this warning/reminder and received this final reply. I did not continue this discussion any further after that.
It is worth noting that at this time, Darklama was promoted into an admin and chose not to take any action himself, instead petitioning SBJohnny and myself to interceed into the matter. I declined initially to take action against Panic2k4, and I strongly urged SBJohnny to abstain from action as well. It was my thought at this time that the situation could be properly moderated and dealt with amicably. However, Panic's actions and responses to SBJohnny after this discussion displayed that the situation would not be solved peacefully. It was after my warning and SBJohnny's warning that Panic was blocked the second time.
Comments from User:James Dennett
I've been reluctant to post here; this arbitration process, necessary though it may appear to be, has been set up to be explicitly adversarial, and I fear that may not be likely to lead to a resolution that is satisfactory to all.
However, I would not wish the written records of events to be misinterpreted, and so feel that I must add my own comments here. I have tried, in my own way, to accept some behavior from Panic that I would deem unacceptable in many other contexts, as his redeeming virtues from a Wikibooks perspective are his energy and has willingness to invest effort in writing and editing material. However, it must be said that I have found Panic's particular contributions to the C++ book writing community to have negative value; while not being an expert, he is not open to corrections unless they are done almost exactly as he wishes. For example, he threatened to reverts edits of mine correcting a particular error (equating pointers and arrays in C++, if that matters) because I had not corrected every instance of the problem, leaving some inconsistency; he explicitly stated that inconsistency (with notes on the work in progress) was worse than being consistently wrong. My view of the wiki/cooperative approach is that a 90% complete fix is a valuable contribution, more so for the existence of others who can finish some of the "busy work".
One issue to be very aware of in the context of considering Panic's relationship with the community is that, possibly unintentionally, Panic's characterizations of situations (in particular, disputes) can be very misleading. Descriptions he wrote to users including SBJohnny of his interactions with me included statements about my views which were very inaccurate; I have been wary of correcting them, concerned at escalating a situation. (By now I see that while escalation may well have been the result, that would be as a result of Panic's difficulties in constructive and cooperative conflict resolution.)
As will be clear from the above, I am not a neutral party here. I was neutral, but circumstances have made it impossible for me not to have opinions on the conduct of those involved in this debate. SBJohnny's actions have seemed intelligent and thoughtful throughout, and I would feel that it would reflect badly on the Wikibooks community if that counted for nothing. -- James Dennett 08:07, 5 January 2007 (UTC)
Comments from User:Paddu
Note: this was moved from the talk page as was suggested by Rob Horning, with some comments from Panic removed.
Paddu also started providing some addition comments on Panic here to avoid complications.
I was invited to post at Wikibooks:Arbitration/Panic2k4 vs. SBJohnny/Plaintiff Charges by User:Darklama. I'm posting my comments here since I've been inactive in Wikibooks (barring a few responses to comments on my Wikipedia talk page) for quite some time and will remain so indefinitely.
#Comments from User:SBJohnny: I agree with the final summary of SBJohny except that I'd say that Panic probably values creative process over debates as long as each person's creativity is in an independent page, i.e. he only seems to value unwiki creative processes. He didn't like to debate with me and instead forked the C++ book so that he can have his say in one book and I can have mine in another -- quite violative of wiki principles. Since at that time there weren't enough administrators interested in avoiding the fork, I chose to stay away and encouraged others to contribute to Panic's fork only, since contributing to both the books would make a later merge more difficult. I also would like to add that right from his early days here Panic probably didn't understand how talk pages work and kept rearranging the talk pages of the C++ book, causing a concern that my comments/ideas were being made less prominent for others to discuss/build on.
#Comments from User:Darklama: I feel that even during Panic's initial days he probably misrepresented my opinion (at that time there wasn't much of a community for the C++ book apart from Panic and me) by rearranging the C++ book talk page. I think he might have been incivil to me but I can't say for sure as I don't remember much -- one should probably look at my (not that big) contribution history for such instances. [And of course one could say he has bitten and scared me off, though I wasn't a new user. :-(]
#Comments from User:Whiteknight: I think there would have been more people worthy of being called "seasoned veterans" had Panic had a more tolerant approach towards other contributors. If he has continued to monopolise the book, reverting contribution of C++ experts like James Dennett, as people seem to suggest, I feel he isn't worthy of the respect one would get on being a veteran contributor to a book.
Some of my own personal grievances against Panic include his pasting material from other books (whether GFDL'd or not), his forking the book instead of discussing to resolve issues, and his forking and rearranging talk pages. My issues with Panic are documented throughout most of my contributions to talk pages in the Wikibooks. Interested people could dig through my contribution tree and get some evidence on what transpired between Panic and me. I'll try to post a few links of interest to this arbitration case soon. -- Paddu 09:30, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
Here is the link to Panic's edits that reordered all the discussions in what used to be called Talk:Programming:C plus plus—. Note that the original discussion has been commented out (using <-- and -->). Here he started calling my proposals "dead" though with the kind of traffic Wikibooks was getting then, one should have waited at least 6 months to see if someone opposes/improves on my proposals and his rearrangements made sure not many would get the opportunity to comment on my proposal, but that is just a minor issue.
- The major issue here is that he commented out the original comments and added his own interpretations of what others said. In the English Wikipedia, these kinds of edits are a strict no-no — one should never remove/comment out others' comments, and never replace them with one's own interpretations of what was said; these reinterpretations will likely be inaccurate.
- I removed the <-- -->, put his reinterpretations at the end and made clear the problems with the reinterpretations in this edit— but he reverted and stuck to his stance that the proposals were dead, etc. -- Paddu 14:14, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
He made edits like  to the talk page which seem to distinguish between "active contributors" and others—very unwiki. In  he seemed to say that he was just requesting "major" contributors to comment and was not enforcing protections/etc., but from what others say, it looks like he might have prevented many from becoming "major" contributors in his view by reverting/scaring them off, and probably did revert even major contributors—at least I think he has reverted me while I was still a major contributor. He insisted in  that I had not implemented highlighting, whereas all the C++ pages (and the one C page) that I started ( looks like a few pages have been deleted) used my proposed highlighting right from the beginning — he probably was so adamantly tied to the one-big-wikipage idea that he probably refused to consider the pages I started as part of the book.  and the next 2 edits show how his rearrangement of the talk page was counterintuitive even to someone who was an administrator at that time and had been at Wikipedia for at least a year prior to that . Panic says in : "I'm taking the road set by P3 "move chapters to modules as they were finished" (they aren't)" which I hadn't understood until I was looking at it and thinking about it today. I had mentioned in the talk page earlier that I'd move content from Programming:C plus plus to things like Programming:C plus plus Hello World, [[Programming:C plus plus <some other thing>]], etc. once the latter modules are complete. Panic had reinterpreted my comment and was talking as though I wanted sections to be finished within Programming:C plus plus and then move them to [[Programming:C plus plus <something>]], etc. I wonder why would anyone propose such a thing — edit a large wikipage with great difficulty and make them larger and when everything is finished split it into smaller pages. Had he not rearranged the talk page I might have clarified what I meant.
- In that edit he said "...if the solution Paddu indicated will work (transclusion), still waiting for him to give me a working example but" but before that I had already showed him how transclusion works in .
-  seems to say he'd rearrange the page the way he wants and everyone who has commented has to verify if his version is a correct representation of what was said. Ha, ha, ha. -- Paddu 19:18, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
A note that I forgot to add earlier: Since I stopped working at the C++ programming book a lot of page moves/deletes have happened so some of the pages referred to in the discussions that can be found from my contribution tree (including the ones I linked above) might be found at some other location or might have got deleted (so only administrators may view). -- Paddu 21:08, 6 January 2007 (UTC)