Requests for comment/Scope of Ombudsman Commission

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The following request for comments is closed. This Request for comment looked for advice from the community to the Wikimedia Foundation board as to whether expanding the role of the Ombudsman Commission was a good idea and encountered support in the community. It has been substantially inactive, except for a few more comments, since the end of May 2013, the same month it was opened, and fully inactive since September. I suggest that the board read this RfC itself and the comments here, as a lot of important points have been raised here from a lot of different perspectives, but I find that on point one, there is community support for recommending that the Board of Trustees expand the role of the Ombudsman Commission to ensure compliance of local policies regarding Checkuser and Oversight with global policies; on point two, I find overwhelming support for the Board of Trustees expanding the role of the Ombudsman Commission to handle complaints regarding the violation of the global Checkuser and Oversight policies; on point three, I find that the community does not support the proposal put forward. I hope that the Board can now consider the matter swiftly. Snowolf How can I help? 19:43, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

This request for comment pertains to proposed modifications of the scope of the Ombudsman Commission. The Commission would like feedback from the community on whether these changes are necessary and sufficient to address the identified problem.

The Commission invites all users to comment on this page. If you have any questions, feel free to post them below and a member of the Commission will endeavour to answer them if possible.

For the Ombudsman Commission,

--Deskana (talk) 20:47, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Statement of the problem[edit]

In 2006, the Board of Trustees of Wikimedia Foundation passed a resolution to create the Ombudsman Commission and tasked the Commission to "[investigate] cases of privacy policy breach or checkuser abuse". At present, however, the Ombudsman Commission only hears complaints regarding violations of the privacy policy. This means that complaints about misuse of checkuser, with no violation of the privacy policy, are rejected as outside of the scope of the Ombudsman Commission.

For wikis where local procedures exist to handle such complaints, such as the English Wikipedia where complaints can be directed to the Audit Subcommittee, this is not generally a problem. On smaller wikis with no such procedures in place, and on the German Wikipedia where the Arbitration Committee does not hear complaints about checkuser misuse, no specific procedure exists to hear complaints about checkusers and oversighters who may have misused the tool. Even if the complaints are not beyond the scope of local conflict resolution mechanisms, those might be unable to resolve the conflict due to nonpublic evidence often involved in allegations of checkuser misuse. Similarly, if the allegation of misuse is regarding a member of the local appeals body on a wiki that does have a body in place, there is no impartial group to hear their complaint.

Finally, while the Oversight feature was available on Wikimedia wikis prior to that resolution, the 2006 resolution did not literally specify Oversight-related issues when explaining the remit of Ombudsman Commission. Similar to Checkuser access, Oversight access has Privacy Policy implications, and there are insufficient processes for the investigation of cases involving breach of Privacy Policy using the Oversight tool.

Proposal[edit]

To help address the problems described in the above section, the Ombudsman Commission proposes to add the following items to our scope:

  1. We will begin to hear complaints investigating questions of whether local policies for Checkuser and/or Oversight violate respective global policies.
  2. We will begin to hear complaints containing allegations that Checkusers and Oversighters have violated the global Checkuser and Oversight policies, subject to #3 in this proposal.
  3. We will defer complaints about violation of global Checkuser and/or Oversight policy to designated local groups (such as the project's Arbitration Committee or its appropriate subcommittee) wherever possible and appropriate. However, if there is a compelling reason to skip the local process (e.g. members of the designated local group are involved in the case) then the Commission may skip the process. If a complaining user has gone through local processes and is not satisfied with the response, we may consider the complaint and investigate if given a compelling reason why we should do so. We will inform the local group of this investigation where appropriate.

Corollaries[edit]

  • Our remit will still include the investigation of complaints about privacy policy violations.
  • We will continue to make recommendations to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees if any violation of checkuser, oversight or privacy policy is found. These recommendations may be to remove the advanced user rights of a person found to have violated any of the relevant policies, or to suggest suitable changes to policies and software if deemed applicable and necessary. The Ombudsman user group will continue to not have the power to directly remove user rights.
  • Local checkuser and oversight policies cannot be less strict than their global equivalents. However, local policies can be more strict if the community of that wiki wishes for them to be so. If a wiki has decided to operate with a stricter policy, then the Ombudsman Commission does not have the authority to recommend changes to this.
  • If the local Checkuser and/or Oversight policies of a wiki are stricter than their global equivalents, we can only investigate complaints alleging violations of the global policies. This is for both idealistic and practical reasons. If a local process exists for that wiki that can handle such complaints, we will advise the person raising the complaint to contact them.
  • We can only act where there is credible evidence of a violation of a specific clause of the global Checkuser, Oversight and/or Privacy policies. Cases that cannot provide this evidence will be dismissed without prejudice, until relevant evidence can be provided.

Comments from the community[edit]

General comments and questions[edit]

  • Looks like adding more unneeded bureaucracy. Don't we have enough venues already to "complain"? I think we do and shouldn't make it more complicated nor easier.TMCk (talk) 23:27, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
    • As we detailed in the statement of the problem, some wikis have no venues at all. This includes all small wikis, and even some big ones like the German Wikipedia (which is the second largest WMF wiki by article count). This is what this is intended to combat. --Deskana (talk) 10:08, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • My view is that the OmbCom should replace and extinguish local CUOS-specific complaints mechanisms. More specifically, enwiki AUSC should be disbanded. CU/OS editors should be among the most trusted of trusted editors, and the caseload for OmbCom therefore not so large that delegation of enforcement is necessary. There will be demarcation/forum shopping issues if there are two bodies with a large overlap in responsibilities. --Surturz (talk) 05:09, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I know of three actual cases that have been referred to the OC (because I have never looked for any, these I came across by accident), in all three cases the response was no response whatsoever, including no acknowledgement of a complaint being made. The sole action of the OC that I am aware of was spending donations on airfares, to fly around the world and discuss what ? what a good job they are doing ? well, I guess the telephone, email, videocalls and every other means of communication that doesn't involve spending thousands just won't do when you need to discuss why you are apparently doing absolutely nothing at all.
Referring abuse back to the exact same people who ARE the abusers ? What Genius was paid thousands of dollars a week (the typical WMF salary) to come up with this brilliant idea ? Penyulap (talk) 14:10, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Several opposers of point 3 support the OC handling all complaints instead of local groups. Speaking of enwiki specifically (are there other projects that have a local group elected for the task?), I would say this RFC is not enough to establish such a solution. There would first need to be a local discussion to see whether the en.wp community supports handing over the inspection of CU/OS complaints to the ombudsman commission. Jafeluv (talk) 20:31, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
    • I agree - this would be a gross violation of local consensus. --Rschen7754 00:03, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
      • As it should be. OC is the way WMF ensures that its legal requirements wrt privacy are observed. Local structures can't do that, because they are intended to reflect the requirements of the local community, not WMF. It's the WMF, not the local community, that will get sued if there is a gross privacy breach. --Surturz (talk) 01:08, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
  • It seems point 3 needs to be split into two parts: the first sentence can be 3a, and the rest 3b. They are quite different - as the various votes below show. SJ talk  21:25, 16 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I wonder if there isn't a typo. Should the sentence "Similarly, if the allegation of misuse is regarding a member of the local appeals body on a wiki that does have a body in place" read "Similarly, if the allegation of misuse is regarding a member of the local appeals body or a wiki that does have a body in place" ? Cheers, — Racconish Tk 16:59, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Actually, I would suggest that it should read as "in": "Similarly, if the allegation of misuse is regarding a member of the local appeals body in a wiki that does have a body in place...". We may sound like nitpickers, but I think it best to be clear. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 22:56, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
      • Let me clarify : The first part of the sentence refers to a situation where a local appeals body exists ; the second, to a situation where it does not exist. Hence : "or". Cheers, — Racconish Tk 05:48, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
        • Hmm. I'm actually reading it as implying that the allegation is against someone who is actually on a local body in place. The person wishing to lodge a complaint is, therefore, stuck in a situation where they can only refer their complaint to the very person against whom the complaint is being lodged - ergo, these are not two separate situations but a clarification of a single concept. It would be nice if we could get some feedback from those making the proposal! Cheers! --Iryna Harpy (talk) 06:00, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
          • Actually, I think I was wrong. Thanks for helping me to better understand, — Racconish Tk 07:04, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
  • "The IP is in the HTTP header and it is modified." While this is a good debate to have, I think it will only work if OmbCom sets reliable standards for what "checkuser abuse" is. (FYI, I have been blocked indefinitely from all projects, the results have been verified, and my appeal has been denied.) Look at WP-EN-ArbCom-AUSC: what is the basis for a review-appeal? A case-by-case review standard? I know it when I see it? If ArbCom can't or won't do whatever needs to be done, what makes us think OmbCom will? ### That being said, I think having the review-appeal stop at AUSC is not good, and unlike Surturz I think more groups having discretionary appeal authority would be a good thing. I don't think adding more judges to an appeals court is the same as having a supreme court; the organizational separation means alot as these groups tend to establish very hierarchical internal structures. I think we should also think about giving WP-EN-ArbCom-AUSC review-appeal authority over WPs without an equivalent (with OmbCom having mandatory review-appeal authority over all projects without an equivalent), but I don't know how these projects handle their business or if that would be technically feasible. I am worried about OmbCom getting overburdened like ArbCom and needing to delegate to a AUSC-like subcommittee. ### I should also reiterate/note my opposition to the CheckUser position itself. It should be disbanded, and access to this information should be exceptional again. If there is Administrator abuse, then there will be CheckUser abuse, but the abuse will be that much more damaging. I am of the opinion that someone with IP address access is already using that information against editors with which they disagree, and it is just a matter of time before it hits the 6 o'clock news as part of some huge international espionage investigation or something. The security stance of these people's setup can't be that good anyways, so I doubt hacking these accounts would be all that difficult (IP logs and anti-virus scanners LOL don't get me started). If people think the safeguards are good enough, or this place exists in a bubble, or the world isn't like that, or that people aren't tortured and killed everyday for alot less than Wikipedia edits, then they are ignoring history and they are lying to themselves. Int21h (talk) 06:43, 27 May 2013 (UTC)

Point 1: Investigating compliance of local policies with global policy[edit]

  • I'm not so sure on this one. I'd rather have the legal department of the WMF handle this. Snowolf How can I help? 20:52, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Snowolf has a good point. This changes the nature of the ombudsman commission from dealing with the behavior of individuals to dealing with the policies of groups. It's a very different sort of job, and since the global policies are established by WMF, perhaps local wiki compliance with those policies should likewise be monitored and if necessary corrected by WMF. --Jpgordon (talk) 22:12, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
    If I may answer to this point already: The WMF does not know the communities as much as members of the communities (like the OC members) do. And the OC does not take any action by itself, we just recommend changes of policies to the WMF (and to the local communities). So, in fact, it *is* the WMF that handles this. But they get a recommendation from the OC, thus from the (global) community, a recommendation which they do not need to follow. --თოგო (D) 22:31, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
    I still would rather this be handled not by volunteers but by the Legal team directly. That's just my personal preference obviously. I don't like the idea of a group of volunteers checking whether they think other volunteer's made policies are kosher or not and recommending action to the WMF. If they WMF Legal team feels that a policy is problematic, they should raise the issue, but that's it, imo. Snowolf How can I help? 22:41, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose Imagine the dramah if OmbCom tried to override a local policy that had local consensus. --Surturz (talk) 05:24, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
    The WMF has all rights to do so (we (the OC) don't override anything, we only recommend it to the WMF). The local community has to follow the global policies. If they don't, the local policies are not valid, anyway. --თოგო (D) 07:20, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Local policies or local norms? --Rschen7754 06:39, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
    Everything has to follow the global policies. So, both. --თოგო (D) 07:20, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support, investigate and document, yes. Overturn, no. Overriding local policy should be restricted to the WMF itself. Craig Franklin (talk) 10:08, 7 May 2013 (UTC).
  • Support Support. Local policies and practices should be compliant with the global policy. WJBscribe (talk) 12:20, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support per Lankiveil. --Rschen7754 13:03, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support -- MarcoAurelio (talk) 14:07, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support I understand Snowolf's concern, but I don't see it as a big issue. Personally I'd love to see a more responsive team to help deal with issues. As said above, OC will make recommendations to the WMF so all ok with me. --Bencmq (talk) 15:11, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose. I doubt that the OC as a whole is capable of handling such cases. Small individual cases about private policy violation is one matter, judging the compatibility of two complicated normative acts is another. The former is done in private, the latter must be done in public. To handle the latter type of cases the OC must effectively become an arbcom-type body with formal procedures, public presentation of arguments by parties and public decision making (voting) by OC members. I do not think it is realistic. Ruslik (talk) 16:36, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Why on earth is this necessary? If there are local policies that fly in the face of the global policy, they are not ones I am aware of. Oppose Oppose. AGK [•] 20:55, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Having seen the policies that some other wikis have (example: not allowing my present username because of the 4 digits), this is definitely possible. --Rschen7754 21:48, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support SupportGood. This is badly needed. Administrators have too much/absolute power.Johncheverly (talk) 22:46, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
    Our proposal does not include policies relating to administrators. As mentioned in the proposal above, it is strictly limited to local Checkuser and Oversight policies. --Deskana (talk) 09:58, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Someone uses checkuser to try to work out who the operator of an approved bot with a bot bit is, and the bot was already blocked anyway. Good use of checkuser ? well, the process at the time to appeal/complain was to ask a committee consisting of the person who abused the checkuser tool, and 2 friends of his. Brilliant. The OC has never acknowledged that it received a complaint about this, I'm not sure that they can handle actually judging such an elementary case when they can't take time off from their Wikipedia-funded jet-setting and $4,000 a week salaries to actually send an email saying 'hey, I got your complaint'. I think this is learning to fly before you can walk. I am not even going to 'vote' in this farce, such is the contempt any reasonable person should have for the CU's, OC's and WMF in general. The sooner wikipedia forks the better, I could find farm animals that scientifically couldn't do a worse job of running an encyclopaedia, and given enough time and funds, I'll put this theory to the test. Penyulap (talk) 14:21, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
    • You're not the first person to complain about the Ombudsman Commission not responding to emails; it does indeed appear to have been a problem with the Commission in the past. However, we are much better at this now. I've checked my inbox and the Commission has never received any emails containing the string "Penyulap" since I joined it. Did you send this message before February? If you did, I will have no record of it. If you have a complaint for us, please resend it and I'll make sure we look at it. And, about the salaries, all I have to say is "If only!" ;-) --Deskana (talk) 18:00, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
Sue can help you find the CA$H and champagne
This' is the WMF telling people to Fuck off. When it comes to appointing people to conduct investigations on the OC, they think 'now who should we appoint, who has the skills required to investigate, who is going to get to the bottom of every complaint'.
Yes, I made the claim that I have a bot that was blocked. One day the OC, with a lot of assistance, investigation, and study of this claim, perhaps will be able to determine 'if Penyulap has a bot'. Perhaps we'll see screenshots uploaded proving the bot has a userpage, perhaps, perhaps. The WMF has chosen the best people, they're really come through for the community on this one. Penyulap (talk) 06:55, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
    • That farm animal thing has been tried already, and sadly you are mistaken. The goats kept edit warring with the sheep, the pig CUs kept oversighting any non-pig-friendly edits to the "Swine Flu" article, and the two geese in FarmCom would categorically refuse to desysop any admin no matter how egregious their behaviour. --Surturz (talk) 02:59, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose Per Snowolf, AGK, etc. Trijnsteltalk 19:54, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose The few projects that have local policies are not the problem. The OC should focus its efforts on helping out the less developed projects, not meddling with the more advanced ones. Jclemens (talk) 04:58, 11 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support I really can't find anything I'd object to, definitely seems fair. --108.60.234.140 23:30, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support Yes, this should be a OC task. In doubt, the legal department of the WMF could still observe the OC and its decisions on this matter. Regards, Vogone talk 18:55, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support --Iryna Harpy (talk) 04:44, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support Without a doubt a good idea, the point of a global policy is that it is followed globally. WormTT 10:13, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support — Racconish Tk 17:00, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support ok --Steinsplitter (talk) 17:18, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support Giving OmbCom local policy review authority is required if they are going to have effective review-appeal authority, otherwise they will have no easy way to stop systematic (local policy/norm) global policy violations, other than resorting to Point 2+3 on every individual case. WMF officers (i.e. the WMF legal department) have discretionary policy review authority already, but it is probably informal and inaccessible, so something more formal and accessible is needed. I still think if local policy is wrong (or non-ascertainable), global policy is likely to be as well. Int21h (talk) 05:36, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose per Snowolf and Jpgordon. At least some of the global policies are enacted to ensure compliance with various laws concerning copyright and defamation. In this context, I think WMF legal department would be better suited to this role. Otherwise, if we need volunteers to do this, we may actually require a different skill set in terms of language skills and legal training. PhilKnight (talk) 22:02, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support on the basis that the OC will defer judgement to the WMF and not take actions themselves. I see this working more as a "hey, you should fix this" rather than a "fix this now or be banned", and if that were the case, it would be helpful. Ajraddatz (Talk) 03:37, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

Point 2: Investigation violations of global checkuser/oversight policies[edit]

  • &  it is fairly silly to have a global CU and a global OS policy but no body that can enforce them. Hoping the OC has improved from the debacles of the past years, I am in favour of expanding its remit to fill the natural role of handling all complains related to CU and OS abuse. Snowolf How can I help? 20:51, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support I agree with Snowolf, it's a really good idea. I'm looking for this for years, and am happy that you propose to handle it. But I'm not sure that only answering complaints is enough, because most of the times nobody will notice this, so nobody will complain. Maybe looking once a year to checkuser logs on wikis with no more than 5 checkusers to see if there are obvious abuses would be a solution to this... -- Quentinv57 (talk) 21:55, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support essential to protect the integrity of the system. --Rschen7754 01:57, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support but prefer striking the clause "subject to #3 in this proposal". Replacing the entire proposal with "We will begin to hear complaints containing allegations that Checkusers and Oversighters have violated the global Checkuser and Oversight policies" is my preferred option - simpler and less wikilawyering opportunities than the full proposal. --Surturz (talk) 05:21, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support Pundit (talk) 06:38, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support. Craig Franklin (talk) 10:08, 7 May 2013 (UTC).
  • Support Support, but only for those projects that have no venues to investigate allegations of tool misuse. Salvio Let's talk about it! 11:36, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support without qualification per Surturz. Overdue fix to a problematic lacuna. WJBscribe (talk) 12:19, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support There should definitely be a possibility to investigate the use of advanced permissions through an external body. It sounds reasonable to include this in the omubdsman committee's scope considering that they're already investigating the use of advanced rights in a limited sense. Jafeluv (talk) 13:01, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support but for all projects no matter if they have local bodies or not. CU/OS investigations should be an exclusive remit of the OC. One policy, unity of criteria; and we very much need unity of criteria in this important matters. -- MarcoAurelio (talk) 14:13, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment The board resolution only mentions that the OC is to investigate breaches of the privacy policy and checkuser abuse — I don't think we, the community, should be expanding the scope of OC ourselves when this is a WMF-created body with a clearly defined scope already. If the WMF Board of Trustees wants to expand the scope of the OC based on the result of this RfC, it should be clearly mentioned. odder (talk) 14:20, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Just a small follow-up to this comment: if the scope of OC is defined by a resolution of the WMF Board, then the only rational way to extend that scope is to amend it by a new resolution, which only the WMF Board is able to do. Therefore, this RfC should only serve as a guidance to the WMF Board; and if that's the case, then this should be mentioned at the very top of this RfC. odder (talk) 14:30, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
      I concurr with Odder on this. -- MarcoAurelio (talk) 14:40, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
      • This RFC was put forward at the advisory of Philippe who suggested that the board did not need to approve this change in remit formally if the community wants it. In fact, the discussions that led to this RFC took place in the office in San Francisco in the presence of office staff. If the board needs to formally approve this then that is fine, but I think a clear consensus from the community that they want us doing this is far more important to get first. --Deskana (talk) 15:32, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose See my opposes above and below. Ruslik (talk) 16:38, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support. This makes a lot of sense. AGK [•] 20:53, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support There certainly should be something to deal with violations of global checkuser/oversight policies. Eeekster (talk) 00:58, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support Again per Snowolf, but I'd appreciate it if the OC could at least give the community a bit of information about the cases they're working on then. Trijnsteltalk 19:54, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
    We talked about this before and are planning to provide regular summarily reports. In fact, we should schedule the first report soon. --Erzbischof (talk) 22:31, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
    That would be awesome. Thanks!! Trijnsteltalk 23:11, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support per Snowolf and Trijnstel. Regards, Vogone talk 18:57, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support Makes sense. Ajraddatz (Talk) 01:04, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support --Iryna Harpy (talk) 04:47, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support agreed. WormTT 10:13, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support — Racconish Tk 17:01, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support per Trijnstel.--Steinsplitter (talk) 17:13, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose This is a mandatory review-appeal responsibility. I am just afraid this is going to overburden OmbCom, leading to less focus on Point 1+3. I really think an intermediate entity should be given responsibility for projects without one, even if only to "develop the record". Review-appealing administrative decisions of the Kenyan police directly to the Hague for trial-in-the-first-instance is going to cause problems. Int21h (talk) 05:56, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support PhilKnight (talk) 22:03, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

Point 3: Deferring complaints to local processes and final appeals body[edit]

  • I very much do not like "If a complaining user has gone through local processes and is not satisfied with the response, we may consider the complaint and investigate if given a compelling reason why we should do so." It seems like an invitation to forum shopping, especially since "compelling reason" is not detailed. Sven Manguard (talk) 21:30, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Yeah. This should be clarified at least a bit. I can see what the "compelling reasons" might be -- but they're all of the form of "we should have skipped the local process in the first place" -- and perhaps that is the only reason for even considering overriding the local jurisdiction. --Jpgordon (talk) 22:03, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I do not agree with this. Most of the times, local arbitration commitees are not competent to judge such abuses, and don't even have access to private data. I think that the english Wikipedia is the only exception, without meaning to offend anyone. The OmbCom should completely investigate the case, and notify the local community if an abuse has been proved. -- Quentinv57 (talk) 22:04, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
    • I understand that the role of the arbitration committees varies depending on the wiki, but on the other end of the spectrum, removing this would deny enwiki the right to handle matters internally first, if people know that they can just go to the OC. I know that many people on that project right now are skeptical of the AUSC, and would gladly appeal to the OC if given the opportunity. --Rschen7754 04:24, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
      • Then it could maybe be made an exception for enwiki *only*, but I'm not even sure it's a good idea. It's a global policy, so it has to be enforced even on projects where there is a different local policy. It's the same for granting CU and OS accesses, it doesn't make much sense if it is granted by decision of a local ArbCom who doesn't even know what's the role of these groups... Either we give these local ArbCom the means to take a right decision, else we simply don't allow CU and OS appointments "per decision". -- Quentinv57 (talk) 11:28, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
        • I'm not aware of any other ArbCom though where all members have access to the CU/OS tools. --Rschen7754 12:52, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
        • Could the WMF and the local communities get together to discuss how to transition from the current regime of numerous (and sometimes partially contradicting) local policies to a unified, global policy that takes everyone's views into consideration? I think that a gradual shift from what works now to what we want to work later would be a lot better than a sudden one as long as the current bodies that handle CheckUser and Oversight issues get turned into local representatives of the global body. — RandomDSdevel (talk) 23:54, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • The phrase "If a wiki has decided to operate with a stricter policy, then the Ombudsman Commission does not have the authority to recommend changes to this" seems strange. In general, anyone is free to recommend anything, as long as others are free to ignore that recommendation. It almost seems as if "recommend changes" is being used as a euphemism for something else. --Guy Macon (talk) 02:32, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose Unclear demarcation of responsibilities. Should be: Privacy or CUOS issue = OmbCom. Everything else = local ArbCom or Stewards. --Surturz (talk) 05:28, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
    Steward is not anywhere near an arbitration/dispute resolution body. --Bencmq (talk) 06:00, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
    I included Stewards for those wikis that have no local admins/crats/arbcoms per Steward. I only really edit enwiki so I'm happy to be corrected on DR for those wikis. --Surturz (talk) 07:18, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose. When a project has internal processes, aimed at investigating allegations of tool misuse, which are well established and efficient, OmbCom should only investigate alleged violations of the privacy policy. This proposal would only encourage forum shopping and vexatious litigations. Furthermore, these complaints would be examined by people who are not familiar with local policies and who may unwillingly interpret them in the wrong way. Salvio Let's talk about it! 11:48, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose deferring. Local committees may lack the independence a complainant is seeking. At the very least there is a problem of apparent bias if they are seen to be "investigating their own". I would prefer CUOS abuse to be regulated centrally, with the ombudsman being able to remove/prevent appointment of checkusers/oversighters by local communities/ArbComs. WJBscribe (talk) 12:18, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • &  all CU/OS abuses should be investigated by the OC, not by local bodies, likely made up of the same people that either appointed them or even their colleagues. This does not preclude the local electing bodies (the community at large for wikis without arbcoms elected by 25-30 people and the arbitration committee for wikis where it is present and elected by 25-30 people) to withdraw the userright in accordance with local policies and practices. Snowolf How can I help? 12:44, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • The OC would be a bunch of people, many of whom will not be editors of the project concerned with the subject of a complaint, deciding whether a local CU/OS policy has been violated. The local CU/OS policy, particularly on the English Wikipedia, often differs from the global one (in that the local policy is stricter in some respects than the global policy); I am not convinced that this body is capable of deciding these complaints, because if it does so it will lead to the deprecation of our local CU/OS policies or the strangulation of local project control over its own policies and practices. I do not like the culture on many global projects and on Meta, and I certainly do not want to see that culture plastered onto my home project by an ex cathedra edict. Also, I do not understand why the commission needs to take over the role of local ArbComs or subcommittees in respect of CU/OS auditing. Has it detected some sort of deficiency in the current standards of auditing on projects that have an ArbCom? Can it seriously suggest it will do a better job of auditing advanced permission use on local projects than local editors who have contributed there for their entire lives? I am grateful for how thoughtfully this proposal has been framed, but having given this some thought, this is an awful idea. As a matter of principle, I don't like the idea of ArbCom being in charge of advanced permissions auditing (I think it's a distraction from its core remit), but passing the job onto some faceless body would be far, far worse. Oppose Oppose any expansion or change in this respect. AGK [•] 13:06, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
    The OC is not faceless! File:Wikipedia-Ombudsman-Commission-Public.jpg :D Snowolf How can I help? 06:02, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose investigations concerning the (ab)use of the CU or OS tools should be handled exclusively by the OC. -- MarcoAurelio (talk) 14:15, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. On wikis with a local arbcom all complaints about CU/OS policy violations (as opposed to privacy violations) should be heard only by the local arbcom, which should be the final authority in these matters. Ruslik (talk) 16:22, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
    Not all local arbcoms handle complaints about CU/OS policy violations. For example, fi.wp's arbitration committee is strictly a dispute resolution body and has no authority over CU/OS matters. Jafeluv (talk) 06:38, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
    This is also true of the German Wikipedia, as mentioned in the statement of the problem. So really, as I see it, the choice here is between "Ombudsman Commission investigates these complaints" and "Nobody investigates these complaints". --Deskana (talk) 09:55, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
    If no local process exists (regardless of the existence of a local arbcom), I think it's clear that OC will be the one doing the investigations if the proposed point 2 is accepted here. In projects where a local process does exist, alternatives to the proposed point 3 include "everything is investigated locally" and "everything is investigated by OC". The way I see it, the former is the only option which has any likelyhood of passing. Jafeluv (talk) 10:20, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Because some people will never be satisfied with any local processs. If we can tell them they have another avenue of appeal that is not on the local project, then they are the OmCom's problem from then on. If you want that, you're welcome to it. Beeblebrox (talk) 17:46, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support I see no problem with this. --Rschen7754 20:56, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
  • hey, if someone can get a handle on all the stupid bullshit that goes on ... I'm all for it. Ched (talk) 00:57, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose I'd prefer having the OC investigating complaints, not local groups... Trijnsteltalk 19:54, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose Again per Trijnstel. Vogone talk 18:59, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support Too many interest groups taking care of their own here. It's a Wiki-wide problem which needs to be addressed OUTSIDE of the the selfsame interest groups abusing their localised power. (Apologies for the edit: I popped in oppose instead of support. I definitely Support the proposal!) --Iryna Harpy (talk) 04:57, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support I support this concept. I take on board the idea that local users understand the local processes, but the simple fact is that we need an outside body to look at complaints. The group who investigate complaints locally are too closely related to the group that are subject to the complaints. WormTT 10:13, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support — Racconish Tk 17:02, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose per Trijnstel.--Steinsplitter (talk) 17:11, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose or Neutral Neutral. You will most likely be more competent than the local arbcom. So I'd rather have the OC take care of those specific complaints. However, I also know that it's just a matter of time before a strange case occur where the OS/CU alleged abuse is just a small part of the request (or intentionality thrown there in order to trigger this point). I'd like that the OC have the option to differ if they feel that it's the appropriate choice. Iluvalar (talk) 21:14, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose Jyothishbabu (talk)
  • Oppose Oppose - I'd prefer if instead of doing this, we just referred complaints to the Ombudsman Commission. I understand that, for example, this would mean the English language Wikipedia's Audit Subcommittee would no longer have much of a role, however, I've served on this subcommittee for a total of 12 months, and there were only a few actual complaints which could be investigated. In other words, I think the Ombudsman Commission could handle all of the complaints. Also, I think reducing the workload of the local Arbitration Committees, and enabling them to focus more on cases, would be beneficial. PhilKnight (talk) 22:16, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Support. Localizing Ombudsman Commission. A centralized Ombudsman will have his/her task of quite complex of dealing with local issues and policies. However if the local policies are to be taken care, its best to have regional/national Ombudsman Commission. Proposal 3 is most appropriate. --User:Ntu129 05:45, 5 June 2013‎ (UTC)
  • Comment: The English Wikipedia set up the Audit Subcommittee because (a) the Ombud Commission of the time was essentially inactive and completely unresponsive, (b) there were reasons for both the Arbitration Committee and the community to have concerns about the use of CU/OS tools, and (c) it permitted community representation and participation in the review of the CU/OS tools. While the number of concerns expressed in recent times is pretty small, during the first few years this was a very active subcommittee.

    I am not opposed to referring all investigations to OmbCom, although I believe that such a change should be discussed with the community, and there should be clearcut community support for mothballing the AUSC. However, given the OmbCom's history of very significant inactivity of the majority of its members over many years, I am hesitant to take such a recommendation to the community. This year's OmbCom is active and, in fact, pro-active; I just don't know if we can count on next year's committee being the same way. Risker (talk) 01:22, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

I see your point, Risker. Does this mean that there is a necessity to set up an independent Ombuds Committee to investigate whether the OmbCom is actually performing to par every year? Retain the services of an Arbitration Committee to investigate complaints regarding any potential lack of activity on behalf of the OmbCom? It all seems to become more convoluted by the minute. In all seriousness, ultimately, having only one point of contact is bound to recreate the selfsame issues as are purportedly being redressed. Would it not be best to have a multi-tiered catchment system in place? I don't mean a replication system where the kids go crying to mum if dad doesn't support what they want, but a system that retains queries/complaints until they are addressed AND acted on where subcommittee members check in to see whether a full checklist has been completed before the issue is archived. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 01:42, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose CU/OS have global legal problems associated with them, so it should be a global group responsible for investigations. It is definitely true that this requires an active and engaged commission, i.e. one which actually responds to complaints, so I hope to see this in the future. Ajraddatz (Talk) 03:40, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

rename? bullying[edit]

I am not sure if this belongs in an above discussion section. I would assume that a role named merely "Ombudsman" is more general than simply relating to privacy issues. A different issue is bullying of editors, which is a serious problem, and one for which having an ombudsman could well be part of the solution. For new editors especially, when faced with apparent bullying behavior by one or more experienced/entrenched editors, having an ombudsman to appeal to, who could provide some short-term relief, would be a good idea, I personally think. Dealing with bullying practices by regular channels, including arbitration, is time-consuming and impractical and really impossible for new editors. So for the privacy ombudsman, call it "Privacy Ombudsman" or "Ombudsman on Privacy Issues". Or, is it possible to redefine the role of Ombudsman here to extend to address bullying in some way. Anyhow, I am interested in participating in RFC and other development of better solutions on bullying, and I would welcome contact to my Talk page in the English wikipedia. --Doncram (talk) 18:07, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

The official policy is to block anyone who is a victim, or anyone who identifies a victim as being bullied, and to cover-up any discussion of bullying. I figure they are going for the 'lets see just how many people can be driven to suicide by wiki admins/arbs until the courts FORCE us to give lip-service to the issue, while we waste donations to defend and support the bullying that goes on' strategy. I shit you not, donations are already diverted to lawyers rather than servers. (the servers are donated anyhow). What's the name of the legal plan ? anyone fill us in here, what is the name of the program that buys lawyers for admins and arbs who are charged with Internet bullying ? I can't be bothered looking, as this entire RfC is a farce imo. Penyulap (talk) 08:02, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
Seeing as you've now unhatted this: Forgive me if I've seen enough people struggle with real depression as to be offended when someone gratuitously invokes suicide to further a petty grudge against some strangers on the Internet. How about you show some fucking respect for people who've actually been victimized, as opposed to whatever nonsense you're whining about. (Of course, for the majority of people who suffer from depression, it's not bullying or victimization that's the problem. It's easy to fight the external things that hurt you. It's the things you hate about yourself that are hard to deal with. But I shouldn't even be dignifying that part of what you said with a response.)
As to my hatting being itself a "cover-up"... what, are people too dumb to find the "show" button all of a sudden? If you're gonna troll, at least have the courtesy to own it, and not pretend that your comments demonstrated anything other than just how pathetically bitter you are. — PinkAmpers&(Je vous invite à me parler) 09:46, 6 July 2013 (UTC)