User:Robertinventor/DRN Notice Draft

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See also RfC Draft


Location of dispute[edit | hide | hide all]

Talk:Karma in Buddhism

Dispute overview[edit | hide]

Joshua Jonathan (abbreviated as JJ), assisted by Victoria Grayson (VG) and Jim Renge (JR), recently did rapid major revisions of several mature articles on central topics in Buddhism ([1], [2], [3], [4] and several others).

Dorje and I are asking for a rollback on the basis that these major edits were not reviewed to confirm that they were consensual to all concerned editors Help:Editing#Major edits, and also violate many wikipedia guidelines on WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, WP:FIXTHEPROBLEM, WP:MOSINTRO and so on. A rollback would solve everything, followed of course by careful consensus based editing, with a section by section, issue by issue discussion of the many changes he wishes to make.

The dispute is about whether to accept the changes or do the rollback. We wish to explore whether there is any possibility of resolution through moderated debate.

Dispute details (for reference during the debate)[edit | hide]

For the extent of the changes, see Bold rapid rewrites of mature articles.

His given motivation is to simplify the presentation, to remove details which he considers unnecessary, and to rewrite the articles based on material presented in a book by Carol Anderson. For details see Motivations given for these rewrites

JJ, Victoria Grayson and Jim Renge are of the opinion that these revisions improve wikipedia.

Dorje108 and myself, as well as other editors commenting on the talk pages, are of the opinion that his edits violate several core guidelines and policies of wikipedia

Main Issues - Guidelines violated by the edits[edit | hide]

We are asking for a rollback because in our view they violate:

For details of these violations (in our opinion) - see Main issues.

In addition to these issues, we have two major differences of opinion to resolve. A Difference of opinion on quotes, and a Difference in opinion on use of bikkhu scholars and other scholars trained in Eastern traditions as primary sources. There has been extensive discussion of both these points on the talk pages, and the second also discussed in an RfC, and it is clear that there is no consensus on these matters. However, JJ has just gone ahead and done these major edits as if a consensus was achieved.

We also have a difference in view on the motivation he gives for the rewrites: To rewrite the articles based on ideas in a book by Carol Anderson. Indeed, Carol Anderson herself makes no attempt at presenting simpler "earlier teachings" in her later 2013 book "Basic Buddhism" introduction to Therevadhan Buddhism. And in her 1999 book she makes it clear that it is a purely scholarly search for the "ur texts" of the Buddha and that she has no wish to undermine the authority of the Pali Canon for Therevadhan Buddhists. [13]. In our view his use of her 1999 book to motivate rewrites of articles on basic teachings of the Buddha is WP:OR and WP:POV and goes against the views of Anderson herself.

Our requests for a rollback[edit | hide]

We have asked for a rollback of the articles he has edited in this way - and a slower discussion, one issue at a time, following wikipedia guidelines for consensus based editing, and with RfCs as necessary. Of course JJs versions of the articles would remain in the edit history and would be referred to as necessary when discussing his proposals.

For details, see Our case for a rollback

Rollback Priorities[edit | hide]

In case a full rollback is not acceptable, these would be priorities for a partial rollback.

  1. Restore the lede. The guidelines in WP:MOSINTRO are clear, that the lede should be substantive and stand alone as a short version of the article itself. The new versions are generally too short. They are also POV, and in some cases, including Four Noble Truths, highly OR. The guidelines also make it clear that the lede of an article needs particular care, and should be based on consensus
  2. Restore ALL the deleted sections. The guidelines are clear, removing content from a well-researched and well-sourced article should be based on consensus decisions, except in clear cases. If there is consensus that any sections need to be removed, it would be easy to do this after the originals are first restored for discussion. WP:FIXTHEPROBLEM.
  3. Restore original versions of controversial sections. I.e. if the rewrites are regarded as controversial by other editors. That's on the basis of the guidelines for major edits, that in case of controversy you start with the existing state as the basis for discussion, not present a new version as a "fait accomplis". See: "A major edit should be reviewed to confirm that it is consensual to all concerned editors" in Help:Editing#Major_edits) and "Boldness should not mean trying to impose edits against existing consensus or in violation of core policies, such as Neutral point of view and Verifiability. Fait accompli actions, where actions are justified by their having already been carried out, are inappropriate." in Wikipedia:Editing_policy#Talking_and_editing
  4. If we retain the new POV sections on the views of Anderson, then following the guidelines, they have to be rewritten so that they are WP:NPOV. In our view, they have to mention and cite criticisms of her ideas. Also they must mention all the other views in this complex debate following the model of Pali Canon#Origins.

Which would of course, be followed by section by section and proposal by proposal discussion of all of JJ's changes, as before.

POV sections on Anderson's views[edit | hide]

These need to be NPOV. A good starting point would be to summarize the three main scholarly views on these matters presented in Pāli Canon#Origins which incidentally doesn't mention Anderson. If we add mentions of Anderson's view at one end of the spectrum of views - that there is hardly anything deriving from the Buddha in the Pali Canon, we could also add Prayudh Payutto's article on his views on this matter at the other end of the spectrum of views from her, that many of the earliest sutras are preserved pretty much word for word like the Vedas[14].

For more on this, POV that the original teachings of the Buddha were much simpler

Here is a list of some of the POV sections on Anderson's views recently added by Joshua Jonathan:

and probably others as well.

Compare them with

which presents the full spectrum of scholarly views on the matter.

Why editors haven't been able to resist his edits[edit | hide]
  • Joshua Jonathan used BRDR instead of BRD
  • His edit summaries present major edits as minor edits, and he summarizes the major edits as "Cleanup" so it is not clear to other editors that a major rewrite has taken place.
  • There are thousands of articles on Buddhism, and comparatively few editors, and most editors won't put apparently mature articles on their watchlist.
  • He has support of Victoria Grayson and Jim Renge, and it is hard for one, or even two editors to resist three editors who support each other in this way.

In detail:

Dorje tried to stop the edits with one of the articles ([15] followed by attempt at BRD), but JJ responded with BRDR and continued with his rewrite, so the attempt was not successful. See Attempt at BRD and request for rollback.

JJ presents his new versions as a "fait accompli". See for instance Get over it and move on.

Also, in his edit summaries and talk page comments he presents major changes as minor edits. Here is an example:

Extended content

For instance when he deleted the debate on the anatta / atman dispute in Thai Buddhism from the Anatta article - a major controversy on anatta in modern Buddhism - over a twelve hour period, he

  1. removed most of it with the edit summary Shortened
  2. moved it upwards to a subsection
  3. finally removed what was left with the summary WP:UNDO by which time it shows up in the edit history as "Nibbana and anatta", instead of "The Thai Dhammakaya Movement’s Teachings on Non-Self".

He removed many other sections from this article at the same time. But from the edit summaries, which all suggest minor changes - you wouldn't realize what happened. That is unless you look at the character count, and discover that he removed over three quarters of the original content of the article

As a result, other editors won't notice that a major edit has happened unless they are paying close attention to the articles. Many of the articles have at most one or two editors working on them at any given time. Some articles may have no active editors at all, as there are currently 5096 articles and not many editors in the Buddhism topic area.

The talk page "Clean up" summaries also don't make it clear that he has done a major rewrite of the entire article. And the articles were in a relatively mature state before so editors are not likely to add them to their watch lists.

Also, Joshua Jonathan, VictoriaGrayson and Jim Renge often work on articles together in this topic area. It is not easy for other editors to resist the actions of three editors who are in total agreement on their intended changes.

For more on this: Why other editors haven't been able to resist the edits

Why we haven't been able to resolve it[edit | hide]

We can't solve it with discussion of JJs versions of the articles. The problem is that he changed so much, so quickly. Discussions quickly get caught up in details of one or other of the Main issues, or one of the Differences of opinion about his vision for the articles.

Delay in submitting this notice[edit | hide]

This notice has been delayed for multiple reasons, which is why we are submitting this in March though the main violations of the articles discussed here happened in October and November

  • Attempts to resolve it on the talk pages took many weeks
  • RfC took several more weeks
  • Warnings by JJ to me that any action about his edits would boomerang [16] leading us to take great care over our first drafts of the notice.
  • Two ANI actions taken against me by JJ in January while I was working on the draft, see DRN Notice - previous ANI actions.
  • Need to take a break after the ANIs - first one especially was quite stressful for me - and the felt need to take even greater care to present everything clearly, accurately and dispassionately
  • ARE action by Bladesmulti against JJ for WP:COPYVIO (JJ is now in process of fixing these issues)
  • Other editors telling us repeatedly that we are presenting the DRN notice incorrectly, leading us to need to take more care over its presentation.

It is an on-going process - he continues to do major edits of other articles in the same way, removing sections, presenting one POV, short lede and so on, as well as creating numerous new articles. We are aware of several other articles modified in this way, indeed you just need to look up topics on Buddhism in wikipedia and there is a good chance you find an article created or rewritten by JJ, and in our view many of these have similar issues.

However we were advised by Robert McClennon not to investigate this as a user conduct issue at this stage, so can't mention those other articles in this notice, and were warned not to examine his edit history. So this notice is restricted to just the three original articles plus the Anatta page which is a closely related topic area (the Four Noble Truths are of course intimately connected with Anatta, and Nirvana (Buddhism) is about the realization of Anatta).

Our hope for the future[edit | hide]

Our hope is to be able to return to consensus based collaborative editing, where every editor has a part to play. In this process, JJ could use his versions of the articles to explain his vision for them to the other editors, as they would still remain in the edit history. The same would apply to extra material that he and other editors have added to the new versions of the articles, which could be reintroduced on a consensus basis.

More Details (for reference during debate)[edit | hide]

For more details about any of this: DRN Notice Details

If editors wish to present their take on the issues, I suggest you follow a similar approach - a short summary here - and put any detailed exposition of your case into your user space and link to that. I will do the same in my section.

Meanwhile, let's focus this discussion on the processes we might be able to use to come to a resolution, such as for instance, a voluntary rollback, or any other idea for a way ahead. Otherwise the usual debates will resume and we will get nowhere yet again.


Users involved[edit | hide]

Joshua Jonathan, VictoriaGrayson, JimRenge, Dorje108, Robertinventor, Andi 3ö

(N.B. if I understand the guidelines right, we have to list everyone who has been involved in the dispute in a significant way, otherwise the DRN notice is likely to be rejected. Doesn't mean they have to take part in the discussion on the DRN)

Resolving the dispute[edit | hide]

What other steps, if any, have you tried to resolve this dispute? RfC on the Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Buddhism and also, extensive discussion on Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Buddhism, Talk:Karma_in_Buddhism, Talk:Karma_in_Buddhism/Archive_1, Talk:Four_Noble_Truths, Talk:Four_Noble_Truths/Archive_2, Talk:Nirvana_(Buddhism), Talk:Dzogchen, User_talk:Robertinventor, and User talk:Dorje108.

How do you think we can help resolve the dispute?[edit | hide]

We are posting here as the first step of an attempt at dispute resolution.

First, does anyone here have experience of a previous case like this, where one group of editors has made large scale changes to many related articles - and other editors question those changes?

If so has it been resolved, and how was it resolved? Can a DRN resolve a situation like this?

Or can a moderated debate like this perhaps help clarify the situation in a preliminary way?

  • If this is the wrong place to post - is any volunteer interested to help guide us through the Wikipedia processes to a resolution
  • Or does anyone have any suggestions about how to resolve it?
  • If this needs to be taken to some other place on wikipedia, please give advice
  • If disputes like this typically can't be resolved, we would also like to know that.

Thanks for your help!

Summary of dispute by Robert Walker[edit | hide]

(Here I'm doing a try out of what I might write in my personal section of the notice)

I got involved as a reader, not an editor. Previously, I thought the articles were excellent. My only talk page posts were to ask editors if they could help improve other parts of wikipedia.

When I saw that a favourite article had just had much of the content removed, it was natural to join up with one of the previous editors of the article to attempt to restore this hastily removed content. This doesn't mean I want to edit it myself, but I know enough about the subject to have views that this removed content is significant, and to also know that JJ is presenting just one POV on a complex debate.

Compare the situation of a Christian reader with a long term interest in theology, who finds that an article on theology has had much of the previous content removed, and in other sections, only one POV presented on what you know to be a complex debate. You wouldn't want to edit the article yourself. But it would be natural to try to do something about it, especially when you find that other editors of the article have objected to the edits.

If the articles can be rolled back to their previous mature state, and the editors can resume collaborative editing following the guidelines, then I will feel that they are once more in safe hands - as they were excellent before.

My own section here is pretty much like the dispute summary, but goes into some more details and is more of a personal take on the edits: DRN Notice Summary by Robert Walker (leave this out??)

Not a character dispute[edit | hide]

Various editors have suggested on my talk page and JJs talk page and the ANI actions that this is a character dispute. But from our side certainly, that's not a factor at all. It is simply a content and editing dispute as far as we are concerned. It originated in JJ's large scale rewrites of the articles and that has remained our focus throughout.

As far as motivations are concerned, we refer only to the motivations the editors themselves give for their edits. Neither Dorje108 nor myself have any made adverse comments on the character or personality of other editors in the dispute, or speculated on their intentions or aims, or made any ad hominem type remarks at all. We have always treated them with respect as fellow wikipedia editors throughout this months long dispute.

If the content issues are sorted out in these articles and the Buddhism topic area generally, then that's the dispute over as far as we are concerned.

Not an edit war[edit | hide]

It is also not an edit war as I haven't edited any of the articles except for that one edit to fix a broken link using the wayback machine. And Dorje108 hasn't edit warred either. After his one attempt at BRD failed, reversed as BRDR - he simply ceased editing the articles, to decide what to do next.

Clarification of intent[edit | hide]

The moderator of this DRN should be aware that the situation has become a little tense. JJ took out two ANIs about my talk page conduct while I was working on the draft notice. DRN Notice - previous ANI actions.

So, I'd like to assure everyone that this is, and always has been from my part, a sincere attempt at resolving a content dispute, and that I am ready to err on the side of caution and confidence-building restraint in any interactions with JJ while the DRN process takes place. I'd like to affirm my hope we can put this behind us, and move on, and continue in good faith.

Details: DRN Notice - Clarification of intent

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