Grants:IdeaLab/Study how current mechanisms handle harassment

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Study how current mechanisms handle harassment
A study to understand the use and efficacy of existing wiki processes for finding and addressing harassment.
contact emailemail
idea creator
AjraddatzPEarley (WMF)
A. Nauval Pradana
created on21:45, Saturday, June 4, 2016 (UTC)

Project idea[edit]

What this Inspire campaign is missing is a clear understanding of how harassment is addressed systemically on our projects. We know the individual experiences and responses through a study done by the Foundation, but there is no knowledge presented about how our social institutions deal with cases of harassment. What this project seeks to explore is the rate at which complaints are received in more personal (such as user talk pages) and common (such as public noticeboards) areas, and the typical outcomes of these processes.

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

This campaign is being done with only half of the requisite research done. The individual experiences are known, but we also need to understand how existing institutions react to harassment - both in terms of use and efficacy.

What is your solution?[edit]

A primarily-qualitative study which examines how harassment complaints are addressed and handled by existing social institutions, as well as looking at reasons why harassment cases do not make it to the existing institutions.

Project goals[edit]

The proposed study would address the following areas:

  • From a systemic point of view, look at what proportion of harassment cases are dealt with privately and publicly.
    • Understand why certain cases are not dealt with.
    • Engage with survey participants to understand the stumbling blocks that existing processes have in that regard.
  • Look at how harassment is dealt with in relative privacy, such as on user talk pages.
    • Understand the role and involvement of administrators.
    • Understand the role and involvement of current user behaviour policies.
    • Determine how effective privacy resolution is for dealing with harassment.
  • Look at how harassment is dealt with publicly, such as on noticeboards.
    • Understand the impact it has on both the filing and the accused party.
    • Understand the role of administrators and user behaviour policies.
    • Determine how effective public resolution is for dealing with harassment.
    • Determine the impact of other aspects of public resolution, such as establishing an "us vs. them" mentality or victim-blaming.

This study would initially be conducted on the English Wikipedia, which represents around 30% of the active users on Wikimedia sites, and thus is a good foundation for the larger projects. Future work should focus on one of the multilingual projects, either Commons or Wikidata, as well as on another large non-English Wikipedia and a smaller sister site.

This study would involve a combination of limited survey research and searching through the wiki archives. More specific methodology for this will be established before the project begins, and will be explained in detail at the beginning of the write-up. It would focus on qualitative research, rather than a strictly quantitative outcome documenting the rate of success of any of the above processes. While this will be part of the analysis, the numbers by themselves do not give an adequate explanation for why the social institutions perform the way they do, and as such the more important component will be the qualitative rationale that can be supported by the numbers.

Projected outcomes[edit]

  • An answer to the research question posed above.
  • The framework through which further research could be done in other language wiki-projects and on different sizes of wiki-projects.

Get involved[edit]


  • Ajraddatz (researcher) - academic and professional qualifications available as needed.
  • Volunteer Joined as volunteer. —M@sssly 16:16, 10 June 2016 (UTC)


  • No use reinventing the wheel. Anti-harassment has been a part of employment policy for at least 30 years. Title IX might be a good place to start. —Neotarf (talk) 00:45, 11 June 2016 (UTC)

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