Grants talk:IdeaLab/Centralised harassment reporting and referral service

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Who should take a position like this?[edit]

I imagine that the ideal person for this position could be someone who is already employed by a nonprofit rights group, like a women's rights group or an LGBT rights group. I suggest these fields because these kinds of groups already have infrastructure in place to provide support services and come from communities with decades of cultural practices in providing support to volunteers in a systematic way.

This position should not be someone in the Wikimedia Foundation. It is not necessary that the person who takes this position be a Wikipedian, but it would be ideal if this position could be a bridge into an organization which advocates for healthier communities and could find grounds for collaboration to the mutual benefit of their organization and the Wikimedia community. Blue Rasberry (talk) 11:42, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

yes, there is a crying need for HR. soft is hard. it's a full time job, and no volunteers have arrived, so we better pay for it, before it's too late. (don't know about the PR panic button, i just showed up for C-SPAN - no panic there among friends) Slowking4 (talk) 03:04, 10 October 2014 (UTC)
Here is a sample job description for a similar position. --Djembayz (talk) 13:32, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
Also agree that this should not be a WMF function. --Djembayz (talk) 22:16, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
I see three kinds of people being really good at this job depending on the scope of the position. First, If this is meant to be a change leader among Wikipedia staff, I'd go with someone with a background in administration akin to Djembayz's link (whether in nonprofits or the private sector). These people are typically good at navigating organizations, defining and pursuing change, building consensus, and communicating results. A great person in this position would cost roughly $40,000-50,000/year (without an MBA or equivalent) and $60,000-$150,000 (with an MBA or equivalent and depending on experience) plus whatever perks like healthcare are standard for formal Wikipedia employees. I actually am an org researcher and can help with this job search should the time come.
Second, If this position is meant to serve as point of contact for Wikipedians/Wikimedians harmed by harassment and who can formulate best practices for helping those Wikipedians, and using these experiences to drive change, I'd go with someone trained as a social worker. These people are trained to handle psycho-social injuries and injustice and build organizational,individual, and group processes for addressing them. A person in this position would cost $30-45,000/year (without the MSW) and $40-60,000 (with an MSW and licensure) plus perks. My wife is a social worker, so I can borrow her social networks to help if this is the route chosen. [Note, there are people who study both administration and social work and who may be perfect.]
Lastly, if this is more of an ombudsperson and record-keeping type of role, I'd go with a traditional HR hire - someone who's good at keeping up with changing procedures, getting documents filled out (i.e. people logistics), and maintaining the records. I think someone like this would cost $30-40,000 plus perks. --Radfordj (talk) 12:32, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Radfordj I emailed you asking to meet by voice or video. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:37, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps we need to make it more clear in the proposal that we do not envision the project as scaling to offer personalized services for response or anything other than a tailored, canned response that would provide the complainant with the information about the more relevant local resources in their region, and language, that could offer them support. I think that any budget of this project would have to include at the minimum:
  • A Project Manager
  • Technical Engineer(s) that would be responsible for building and updating a database with global resources / contact information for organizations in multiple languages that would constitute the written contents of the canned responses that would respond / follow-up to different types of complaints.
  • A Cyber Security Specialist
  • A Data Specialist that would de-identify the complaints and liaise with research institutions and legal consultants about the use of complaint data by institutions conducting research on online harassment (potentially the WMF).
To further respond to this comment, we are working on a proposal that would include better outlines of the workforce that would encompass this project. OR drohowa (talk) 15:54, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Is HR the right term?[edit]

When I read the title, I thought I was going to be seeing a proposal for someone who would serve as a kind of switchboard for connecting Wikipedians across the country/world when they needed to discuss and/or collaborate on projects. What this reads like is more of a Mediation Counselor. Still needed, but different. Also, as someone who is a bit more outsider, I can't quite read between the lines regarding what the incidents are that are given a nod, but not mentioned explicitly. Are we talking about being asked about American Women Novelists? Or is this more about the kind of psychological collateral from things like the en:Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Gender_Gap_Task_Force Gender Gap Task Force conflict and arbitration. I think some more concrete language and examples (that don't expose anyone personally) would be helpful here. --Theredproject (talk) 12:38, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

I am still thinking and talking with others about how this would work. Thanks for commenting. I have trouble with the words. Things could be changed just as you say, and probably that would be an improvement. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:16, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Agreed that the title of this Idea is a bit misleading at first. I'd suggest renaming to something like: "Centralised harassment reporting and referral service". --Skud (WMF) (talk) 01:21, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
Skud (WMF) Yes, you have seen the concept clearly. I moved it to that name. Blue Rasberry (talk) 12:34, 18 March 2015 (UTC)

multilingual?[edit]

thanks for your proposal - it's very ambitious but very important too!

would piloting this project in a limited way for a year likely mean focusing only on one language community? Do you have any ideas on how the project would scale to provide multilingual support across all WMF sites? I believe the only mention I saw of multilingual services/translation was for the code of conduct synchronization idea.

-Thepwnco (talk) 01:37, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Thepwnco No, even with no funding or resources whatsoever this project is multilingual as soon as it is minimally viable. It could become minimally viable with the setup of a single email address.
The base of this project is not to resolve every problem in the world, but to acknowledge all "bids for connection". A bid for connection is when someone seeks the gratification of being acknowledged and having their words validated and appreciated. While eventually I would like everyone to get fair treatment when they make a complaint, it is hard to anticipate how much funding to allocate to complaint resolution when we do not have data proving the negative impact of complaints nor of how many complaints exist.
Right now, I just want it to be possible for people to make confidential complaints and get notice that their words will be held by a trusted information broker until the day comes when their complaint can be examined and processed. If it happens that people send in responses in a language which the information broker cannot process, then still those complaints sit as an asset and a vote that contributors using a particular language are demanding justice. Just knowing that is valuable, and I think more useful for all parties involved than not making the complaint at all.
This could only scale if it were financially reasonable to invest in infrastructure to address harassment. Right now, I think the traditional response is to say that harassment prevention or response does not merit any defined financial investment. I think that imagining not less than USD 30-60k/year for a pilot and never less than that per year to sustain operations would be a starting point for discussing investment in this scheme. If the idea was useful, it would probably scale by networking in external partners, perhaps starting with open source software communities who also experience harassment, and processing them in the same infrastructure. WMF is big, but this is more of an "online community" problem than a Wikimedia community problem, and I would like to quit focusing on WMF projects as if the source of harassment is internal and not inherent in the design of online spaces. Thoughts? Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:08, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: thanks for your response, and for explaining some of your thinking around this issue. I am not sure however that I agree. In what research and writing I have seen about conflict resolution and complaint/violation reporting, it's often emphasized how important it is to explicitly outline how complaints will be responded to. I realize your project description states that "No promises are made for direct relief" but I worry that if individuals are aware that the community HR staffperson does not communicate in a particular language, then it might undermine the value the individuals see in reporting at all - worse still, it could introduce the appearance of bias by creating a hierarchy of languages/projects that are able to offer greater support for processing complaints.
I agree that it's difficult to put a price on the value of this service and its impact both for and outside of WMF communities - however I wonder if the pilot program should focus first on supporting only a selection of languages/projects, with the intention of later scaling to others. If the goal is to be as multilingual and wide-reaching as soon as possible though, then I might also see the value in pairing the idea of creating a dedicated community HR position with the idea of a distributed model of support with various individuals embedded throughout communities - this is to some degree already outlined on your page Grants:IdeaLab/Develop_a_peer-to-peer_counseling_forum, but could also draw from other Inspire ideas such as Grants:IdeaLab/Community_Leadership_Mentoring and Grants:IdeaLab/Gender-gap_admin_training, with the curriculum based on adapted crisis hotline training for online contexts. -Thepwnco (talk) 10:59, 12 March 2015 (UTC)
Thepwnco There is room for discussion about this. The part about your counterproposal here that I was wishing to avoid is that in the way that I see your proposal, there is a work burden on volunteers and complainants to spend time studying where and how to make complaints, and to only make allowed and acceptable complaints. My expectation is that making complaints should be easy and that processing should fall on some experienced savvy person, rather than having the processing fall to the person making the complaint to make an easier time for whomever manages them. In my opinion this is an unfair burden on people who are already experiencing problems, and it creates a conflict of interest between anyone who is appointed to address problems and the people who complain. If there are a series of communication channels each for only specific types of complaints, then that infrastructure will position the people who are supposed to make safe spaces in opposition to people who make complaints, as no complaint respondent will want to have their job performance marred by accepting the work burden of a complaint they cannot resolve. The outcome will be that anyone who is supposed to fix problems will only take on the problems that are attractive, and shift the burden back to the victim for any problem which is unattractive. I can accept a complaint respondent who can take no action to resolve the complaint, but I object to a complaint respondent who suppresses all record of existence of the problems they do not want to address. While "selective acknowledgement" infrastructure is appealing to anyone who should be responsible for resolving problems, it is antagonistic to anyone who has a problem which falls outside the system. Gender and sexuality-related complaints are particularly taboo to recognize and particularly subject to suppression and erasure from history. At this time, pending more input from you and others, I continue to believe that from a victim's perspective the ideal structure is one channel which acknowledges any kind of complaint without expecting anything more than a person make the complaint in that channel. It is my opinion that designing a system that makes complaints easier for staff management than it does for the victims is an en:appeal to consequences, and I think it would be more honest and prudent to take any complaint and tell complainants that nothing can be done to help them if that is the reality, which is an embarrassing truth that can be made less shameful if the community comes together and confirms that we have serious problems that our best efforts and resources are unable to resolve.
I would like for every problem to be resolved, as as you say, some problems can be readily. In my opinion, the reason why many problems are not be addressed now is the embarrassment of surfacing the problems which cannot be easily addressed. I would like to reduce the stigma of acknowledging problems by empowering victims to have a voice in saying "This bad thing happened, and I want my experience to be acknowledged, even if no one can help me."
I agree with you that there should be full disclosure that resources are not available to help many people who complain. I also agree with you that there will be bias in that some populations, languages, and projects will get much more support than others. I am not imagining this system to produce consistently good experiences, but rather, this is a system which sets a defined worst-case experience. Right now, the worst thing that can happen is that people harassed in Wikimedia projects can have any bad thing happen to them, and they can look at existing infrastructure and find no option whatsoever for expressing their grievance. What I want to happen is that people can have any bad thing happen to them, but at least they can make a complaint no matter what happens, and maybe (no promises) someone can help. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:28, 12 March 2015 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: hello again, thanks for explaining, and for your consideration of how best to alleviate the burden of submitting complaints for complainants. I absolutely support your thoughts on this matter and share your concerns - and did not mean to apply that a distributed model would entail communication channels set aside only for specific types of complaints (i.e. a "selective acknowledgement" system); my thoughts were only with regards to how to potentially expand the system to provide multilingual support. Regarding your comments about complaints that can be readily or easily solved - it would be nice if this were the case but I also don't believe this was something I stated anywhere in my above comments. Finally, I would like to encourage you to further develop this idea as a grant proposal - as stated, I see a lot of value here! -Thepwnco (talk) 22:50, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: I just discovered some resources that might be of interest (I also wasn't sure where to put them but feel free to move to the idea page if you like).... are you familiar with the Crash Override Network and the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative? -Thepwnco (talk) 00:52, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
@Thepwnco: Also, there's Wikipedia:General background on risks for women on Wikipedia and the Internet. --73.173.226.48 23:37, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Hi User:Thepwnco thanks for you comment. We are very invested in this project scaling to offer global, localized, multi-lingual support. As of April, 2015, Wikipedia exists in 288 languages. But to respond to your comment: “I wonder if the pilot program should focus first on supporting only a selection of languages/projects, with the intention of later scaling to others,” – I think this option deserves some consideration though the goal is to offer support in as many languages as are spoken by community members as soon as possible / viable.
  • One method might be to have contractors in each of the 288 languages be active in the process of building database of resources / response organizations for different types of complaints, and having a strategic plan in place for each language as far as identifying the best institutions to respond to different types of harassment support.
  • Another idea would be to work with the Wikipedia communities and WMF engineering staff with experience in OCR and machine translation, on automating help and response pages.
  • I do think User:Bluerasberry’s statement “it is hard to anticipate how much funding to allocate to complaint resolution when we do not have data proving the negative impact of complaints nor of how many complaints exist” deserves re-iteration. The project’s ability to truly offer multi-lingual support would evolve and improve as complaint data was collected and the project had a better sense of the nature and global reach of complaints.
  • I’d also like to re-iterate what User:Bluerasberry has said above: “If the idea was useful, it would probably scale by networking in external partners, perhaps starting with open source software communities who also experience harassment, and processing them in the same infrastructure. WMF is big, but this is more of an ‘online community’ problem than a Wikimedia community problem, and I would like to quit focusing on WMF projects as if the source of harassment is internal and not inherent in the design of online spaces. “
  • I also agree with User:Bluerasberry that we need to do everything we can do consider the emotional and work burden that mediating complaints of a serious and sensitive nature may have on Wikimedia volunteers, and the risk that asking community members to self-mediate might pose to victims being able to get reliable support. As User:Bluerasberry says, we could get into a situation of "selective acknowledgement" infrastructure where a volunteer complaint respondent suppresses all record of existence of the problems they do not want to address and then is not subject to the checks and balances that a paid staff person might be if we continue to rely on volunteers, grant recipients, unpaid project managers, etc. to self-mediate serious complaints.
  • I also agree that there should be full disclosure about what resources are available to help people who complain, and what resources are not available. The resources that we are advocating for in the IdeaLab proposal do not envision the project as scaling to offer personalized, human response services for complaints or anything other than a tailored, canned response that would provide the complainant with the information about the more relevant local resources in their region, and language, that could offer them support if they want to follow-up, and the acknowledgement that their complaint is being listened to in the implementation of the system. OR drohowa (talk) 16:24, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Expand this into a grant?[edit]

Hi @Bluerasberry:! As I'm sure you know, the Inspire grants campaign is offering funding for suitable gender gap related ideas. This is one of the most endorsed ideas in the category. I was wondering whether you'd be interested in expanding it into a grant proposal and submitting it for consideration? There's a couple of days left until the deadline, and from what I hear the grants process is fairly lightweight and cooperative. I would definitely encourage you to consider submitting it as a grant! --Skud (WMF)

Skud (WMF) Okay, I gave it a try. Blue Rasberry (talk) 12:42, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Suicide labeling[edit]

If someone on English Wikipedia might be suicidal, one of the current best practices is to apply the "Suicide response" template to their userpage. This means that someone posts the template {{Suicide response}} to their userpage, so that the person can read a message telling them to call an international suicide crisis line and that everyone else who goes to their page can see that they are in crisis and have the suicide response template in place.

This may or may not be the ideal practice. When I saw this it struck me as different from what other organization's recommend as a best response to a concern about someone elses' supposed suicidal ideation. I started a discussion on changing the label so as to not so prominently apply what I would call a publicly-visible "suicidal label" on people who are in crisis, and who I imagine might not have their situation improve by having third-parties indiscriminately make their crisis more public with a large label.

I proposed a change and some people questioned the value of the change. I appreciate the conversation and certainly I have no authority to speak on what is best for people in crisis, but also I doubt that the Wikipedia community deliberation process can be best in this situation. I neither trust myself nor the Wikimedia community to come to the best response here without consulting with experienced professional organizations in the field of crisis response, and right now we do not have this. The lack of consultation with experts for best practices in crisis, both on-wiki and off, is an omission which should be addressed. There needs to be a standard way to report any kind of crisis and there should be some thought put into the best way to respond. Right now the community resources in this space are absent. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:13, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

As I understand, the current documentation of the WMF’s structures to respond to real-life emergencies are listed here: Wikipedia:Responding to threats of harm. This process is for threats of harm, suicide, and violence only, but not for other types of community harassment.
The preferred process include:
  • For direct contact with WMF staff to report threats can be made to the email: <emergency@wikimedia.org>.
  • The page suggests that anyone who observes potentially suicidal or violent behavior should notify Wikipedia administrators quickly.
  • Threats of violence should be met with blocking.
  • These pages are also referred to in the “See Also” section of this official page:

Harassment management proposals in 2015 Inspire campaign[edit]

The following is a list of proposals submitted to Inspire, which was a call between January and March 2015 for project proposals to increase the participation of women in Wikimedia projects.

I think that having so many proposals focusing on harassment is supporting evidence for a need to have more discussion about what resources are available to address this problem and what investments should be made now and for the long term to establish a sustainable response for decreasing the harmful effects of harassment. Blue Rasberry (talk) 11:56, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

This is an extremely helpful list, User:Bluerasberry! I believe that this IdeaLab proposal being discussed is definetly in conversation with these other proposals you list. I wonder if anyone has ideas about the best way to start a conversation with all of these groups / stakeholders to choose an appropriate mechanism for responding to / preventing harassment on Wikipedia. Mailing list? Public discussion? Private channels? Guidance from the WMF or grant reviewers would be helpful. OR drohowa (talk) 16:43, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Feedback from Community Advocacy[edit]

Hi, guys. I just wanted to let you know that Community Advocacy has read this proposal and others related to the harassment issue with great interest, as it’s very much a matter on our radar. Our team has been occupied with the Strategy consultation, elections and working to hire a new CA with a history of trust & safety work (we’re seeing the light at the end of that tunnel), among other projects, so we haven’t been able to move beyond the conversation stage, but we plan to prioritize more work on this issue internally very soon. I understand that User:Jalexander-WMF has discussed CA’s concerns with this specific implementation with you, User:Bluerasberry. However, a project that laid the groundwork with research and quite broad community discussion first, before a solution is designed and implemented, would be a good first step. What we desperately need to complete a design in this area is data--not only on the scope and scale of the problem, but on how this is being handled elsewhere, what works and what doesn’t--and dedicated community support to identifying and addressing the problem. We’ve had conversations with some other organizations, but only informally at this point. This would make a very solid base for determining how we as a multicultural, multilingual movement can pull together to best address this very serious problem. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 17:23, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

Mdennis (WMF) I understand that the WMF has constraints. In any conversation about the WMF's constraints, I would ask for WMF acknowledge of the community's burdens, and to evaluate the relative strengths of the stakeholders and the cost of the harm to each. Jalexander and I did have a productive conversation, and I would have more conversations with others to continue to find common ground.
The position that I have to take is that the Wikimedia community is experiencing harm from harassment and that I want the WMF to grant more resources to addressing that harm. It is not my place to design in entirety how that might work, or what should be done, or what kind of liability it would put on the WMF to address the problems, because the WMF has paid staff and organizational infrastructure and is relatively empowered to take care of itself. My poor Wikimedia community is less empowered, and it is all that we can do to cry out when we are in danger or pain.
Thanks for the update about the community advocate. Perhaps it would be best to pause the conversation until this person took their position, especially if that ought to be sometime soon? If it is expected that the person will be appointed before Wikimania and attend the conference then, perhaps at the conference there can be an in-person meeting including the stakeholders and some kind of schedule for change can be proposed. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:11, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
User:Bluerasberry, while I certainly sympathize with your concerns about people's need to be able to cry out when in danger or pain having dealt with this in both my volunteer and work roles for years, I think it's important to acknowledge that the Wikimedia communities are not without power. There is organizational infrastructure as well, with dispute resolution processes in place on most projects and with users with advanced powers that can enforce community standards. I have struggled and recently as a volunteer with the difficulty of navigating these; the problem is huge, and people have become so fearful of getting involved that productive extrication seems nearly impossible. One of the reasons that I mention that we need more research is that anecdotal evidence would suggest some projects do not struggle in this area (or at least nowhere near on scale to need external help), while others do. We have no real insight into whether that's true or, if it is, why. Cultural homogeneity, so that volunteers on that project are in better agreement than more diverse projects like English Wikipedia which seem to struggle more? More support for administrator culture, so that administrators feel more empowered to enact community consensus? More transparency? Higher expectations? Individual facets of culture? We just don't know. We need to. It'll help us get a better grasp on what needs to change and where. I remain convinced, however, that this is going to require cooperation between the WMF and the communities. Community self-governance to the fullest extent possible is not just part of our core movement values, but—with 15 projects working in up to 284 languages—it's essential for our movement to succeed. No system will make it if the good faith contributors who make up those communities do not support it. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 19:15, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
Mdennis (WMF) As you say, the Wikimedia community has power to offer protections to members.
I am not sure how to go forward with this conversation except to say that the harm is awful and that I request relief. I personally do not need anything but I wish for solutions to be developed to address the harassment problem, and I would like to meet the person at the Wikimedia Foundation who is ready to say "I am personally responsible for addressing every social harm which comes to Wikimedia community members in any context remotely related to Wikimedia participation, and with the resources available, I will attempt to minimize harm to all involved."
I am not sure that this forum is the place to talk about this. Email me if you think it would be useful to talk by voice or video, or meet me whenever someone starts a more centralized discussion of harassment elsewhere. Thanks for your attention and the thoughtful response. Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:14, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
Hi User:Mdennis (WMF). Thanks for your comments and thoughts. As you say, we have discussed this proposal with User:Jalexander and also with User:Philippe (WMF) recently but are hoping to continue the dialogue with CA and with the community. Thoughts:
  • You suggest, “a project that laid the groundwork with research and quite broad community discussion first, before a solution is designed and implemented, would be a good first step.” As far as research goes, its sort of a catch 22 because in order for research on the current state of harassment in the Wikipedia community to be made, we need a standardized mechanism where people know to go to report, and a confidential way of gathering these information, requesting the necessary permissions, de-identifying, etc. and then allowing qualified researchers to study it – otherwise the research will only get data on those who have informally submitted complaints or require extensive surveys, which have their own downsides. That’s why it’s important for us to include in this project a component where reported complaints would be anonymized and would go to vetted research institutions studying online harassment, or would require the WMF research team to also invest in taking the data produced from this system, and using it to better understand the harassment problem on Wikipedia, so that the tool could be improved.
  • That said, I can say as someone working on this proposal that we are currently doing extensive research on online harassment reporting procedures and how dealing with online harassment is being handled in other global, online, communities. What we are seeing already from initial research is that few organizations, even corporate models like Facebook, have adequate structures for dealing with this type of thing. This is why we think Wikipedia should take the lead on this particular aspect of community management, and why we believe that other companies and organizations with substantial online communities would also, down the line, be interested in investing in developing this project so it could be used within their own communities.
  • RE: your comment; “There is organizational infrastructure as well, with dispute resolution processes in place on most projects and with users with advanced powers that can enforce community standards. I have struggled and recently as a volunteer with the difficulty of navigating these; the problem is huge, and people have become so fearful of getting involved that productive extrication seems nearly impossible.” – In the section on this page, Suicide labeling, I’ve made note of some resources WMF provides currently available for emergency response that, as I understand, CA takes a lead in developing. But I’d be interested to hear from you more generally what structures and dispute resolution processes are currently in place to help enforce community standards? Are you thinking along the lines structures currently in place for in-person or on-wiki conflict, or both? OR drohowa (talk) 17:23, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Budget and scope[edit]

Hi Bluerasberry, thanks for turning your thoughts towards this really important issue. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but for this round of Inspire grants we’ve only got $250,000 total available in funding, so we’d be unable to fund this particular proposal as currently conceived in this round. That said, I’ve asked the committee to review it anyway so that you can get some useful feedback on this idea, because I know you’re committed to improving Wikimedia’s ability to handle harassment, via one means or another, and that's an admirable aim.

Meanwhile, here are a few first thoughts from my end:

  • From my past experience in other organizations, and even just working on gender-related projects here at WMF, the emotional labor involved in taking harassment complaints is really high, and my sense is that the folks handling these issues need solid organizational support (for example, our WMF staff who handle threats get training, emotional support, and time off when they need it). Providing this to grantees or volunteers is more difficult, and would need to be carefully thought through in order to not burn people out. I’d be curious to know how you’re thinking about this.
  • Grant-funded projects work best when work can be done independently and sustained via something other than the same grant renewed in perpetuity. The large size of this grant, funding so many full time folks, and knowing that they’d need to be continued to be funded at the same level as long as the program continues, indicates to me that something along these lines may be best led by an organization rather than individuals, and the level of integration required makes me unsure it is best suited to a grant setup. You’ve indicated in your infobox that you're seeking a grantee organizational partner, so I’d be interested to hear more about your thoughts on this too.

Finally, a suggestion:

I can see that the first step of a project like this really is the research component you’ve proposed - looking across to gain crisp and more concrete understanding of how lots of other communities are actually doing this (everything from large online communities like FB and Twitter, to smaller non-profit communities). That kind of data and information is part of what I think has kept WMF from moving forward with solutions so far, and I expect it is also part of what would be needed to facilitate productive community discussions. I can imagine that once we had a better idea of the nature of challenges, solutions, similarities, and differences in other communities' approaches to the issue, the solution that this movement would design would be ultimately that much stronger. That sort of research could also be something that would work quite well as a grant, and I expect could take several months to complete. If you want to consider starting with something like this, please feel free to update your Inspire proposal with a phase 1 activities and budget now, focusing on gathering information. And if this re-scope doesn’t make good sense to you, of course it is also fine to leave the proposal as-is, and receive feedback from the committee on the entire plan, current budget etc.

Best wishes, Siko (WMF) (talk) 19:37, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

Siko (WMF) Thanks for the feedback. Here are some responses -
  • I do not speak for her, but OR drohowa has put as much or more thought into this as me. Some other people who have experienced harassment also shared ideas with me and I put those in as well. I am comfortable being a point of contact in this and I want to encourage the development of a response to harassment but I do not expect to manage this project.
  • About changing the grant scope to collect data - if anyone stepped forward to attempt a smaller data collection project then I would favor it. Grants:IdeaLab/A Consciousness Raising Repository seems to be that, and Radfordj seems like an able researcher in the field. Still, I have doubts that anyone could design research which could inspire someone to propose a grander solution, and think it might be best for someone to imagine the grander solution and then design research to measure the viability of that solution. If anyone wants general research now then Radfordj's project is almost like the one proposed here just with focus on data collection.
  • If you want to talk about possible organizational partners then we could talk, or perhaps just send any other WMF point of contact for this to Dorothy (OR drohowa) and me.
  • Could you please rate this proposal in the Inspire campaign as it is? Perhaps it might be useful to not even consider whether Inspire can fund such a thing, but rather comment on the financial impact of the problem and the extent to which making ~350k available for an external partner to develop a solution should be considered among the ways forward.
  • About harassment in general, you say "the emotional labor involved in taking harassment complaints is really high, and my sense is that the folks handling these issues need solid organizational support (for example, our WMF staff who handle threats get training, emotional support, and time off when they need it). Providing this to grantees or volunteers is more difficult, and would need to be carefully thought through in order to not burn people out." I know that you need to look after your employer and colleagues first because that is the nature of a conflict of interest, but the current harassment management strategy is that the WMF directs harassment concerns back to the Wikimedia community who in turn do the emotional labor and bear the responsibility without any institutional support, training, funding, "time off", or acknowledgement to lessen the burden. I regret that the more savvy and empowered WMF staff chooses to direct these problems to more naive and less empowered Wikimedia community volunteers, and hope that the power imbalance in this relationship changes over time. Any number of responses to harassment could be developed, but right now if I could ask for one thing, it would be that Inspire graders make a recommendation that money beyond the Inspire campaign be allotted specifically to develop harassment management infrastructure. Money does not necessarily solve anything but budgeting it does show a commitment to change and and encourage people to think about the financial costs of not addressing the harassment problem.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation is the world's leading organization in developing solutions to online community problems. Even though I hold the WMF responsible for a lot, I do not say that anyone else is doing something else better. I want solutions and would be happy to get them over time through a budget and a schedule because I know they will not be instant.
Blue Rasberry (talk) 11:33, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
  • "I regret that the more savvy and empowered WMF staff chooses to direct these problems to more naive and less empowered Wikimedia community volunteers, and hope that the power imbalance in this relationship changes over time" Wow. Lane, that message comes off as incredibly patronising and minimises a lot of the work that said WMF staff do. I would ask you: given that you only see the horrible things that the WMF doesn't prioritise highly enough to be able to deal with given the current resourcing: imagine how much worse the stuff that can't be distributed out is?
  • I very much like this project. Indeed, I consider it necessary to have support for people dealing with harassment. I'm working on a research project with Frances and Amanda and J-Mo and Keilana right now and the first thing Frances suggested, which I think is a great thing, is emotional support for people hand-coding the toxic commentary we're dealing with. So please don't read this as "your idea is bad". Your idea is great. But Siko's commentary seems pretty reasonable, and I don't know what you think you're gaining by putting down the work that the staffers tasked with dealing with emergency situations do, or the cost that they bear. I'd suggest rephrasing that bit. Ironholds (talk) 20:22, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for providing further clarification, Bluerasberry, and for helping me to understand your perspective and aims a bit more. Confirmed, the Inspire committee is indeed scoring this proposal as-is now, and they'll offer feedback on the idea as a whole to both you and OR drohowa here. I'm interested to see the conversation develop! I do find comments like "I know that you need to look after your employer and colleagues first because that is the nature of a conflict of interest" to be a bit more hurtful than helpful in this discussion, though. I'd like to see Wikimedia community members and WMF staff come together to figure out how to handle harassment more effectively in the coming year, and good communication in order to share multiple perspectives is going to be required to make that happen - we'll be more powerful as a movement banded together than taking sides apart. Respectfully yours, Siko (WMF) (talk) 22:21, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
Hi User:Siko (WMF). We are aware that there is $250,000 total funding for the inspire grants, however, we appreciate your willingness to review this proposal and offer us feedback as its currently conceived in this round.
  • Repeating what I said above: Perhaps we need to make it more clear in the IdeaLab proposal that we do not envision the project as scaling to offer personalized services for response or anything other than a tailored, canned response that would provide the complainant with the information about the more relevant local resources in their region, and language, that could offer them support. I think that any budget of this project would have to include at the minimum:
  • A project manager
  • Technical engineer(s) and a data specialist that would be responsible for building and updating a database with global resources / contact information for organizations in multiple languages that would constitute the written contents of the canned responses that would respond / follow-up to different types of complaints.
  • A Cyber Security Specialist
  • A data specialist that would de-identify the complaints and liaise with research institutions and legal consultants about the use of complaint data by institutions conducting research on online harassment (potentially the WMF).
We are currently working on better outlines of the workforce that would encompass this project and will keep you updated on what we discuss as it evolves.
  • We are open and interested in pursuing alternative sources of funding outside of WMF Grants and the Inspire Grants Program, including pursuing other avenues of funding from WMF CA or other WMF avenues, but also other non-profits interested in online harassment, other websites and projects with significant online communities that deal with the same problems, and other avenues of external funding and are looking into these options. If you want to talk about possible organizational partners, as Lane suggests, I recommend emailing us and arranging a call.
  • I’ve put down some thoughts on research in a response above in the Grants talk:IdeaLab/Centralised harassment reporting and referral service#Feedback from Community Advocacy section.
Thanks, OR drohowa (talk) 17:34, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Siko (WMF) Ironholds I apologize for the aggression. I wanted to express emotion and text on Wikipedia is rarely a good way to do that. In this case I was also being rude. I am totally in the wrong about speaking down to others in this thread, and I have no excuse for that except to say that I am sorry and I want to do better in the future.
Ironholds, I wish to avoid criticism of what the WMF staff do. The WMF staff who manage harassment cannot possibly do more than what they are already doing or do it better. The harassment management system in Wikimedia projects is the best one that exists anywhere, and I have no clear ideas for how it could be improved. Even though I do not know what could be changed to get better outcomes, still I want better outcomes however unreasonable that might be.
The WMF staffers are paid to deal with crazy harassment, have an organizational support network, have agency to choose what to address and what to leave unaddressed, and deal with harassment which is not targeted at them personally or those in their social circles. When harassment comes to volunteers, it is because they themselves are targeted, they are compelled to face it when it happens without a choice to pass it on, there is no pay for the time spent in stress over it, and there is no organizational structure to back the volunteers for personal life stress. Both of these are unpleasant but for volunteers I think it is worse. As you say, I cannot imagine what kind of harassment the WMF staffers are managing rather than distributing to volunteers, because so far as I know there is no accounting or reporting of this. I appreciate my local police also, but if someone around me were in trouble, I would wish for the police to help to the extent they are able without thinking of everything else the police have done. It is unfair of me to think of the WMF as police, because that probably is not sustainable, but also I regret that the Wikimedia community is not empowered to police either and I can only think to ask that resources be allocated for that to happen.
Siko, I am sorry especially to you. Please forgive me. I was feeling like I needed to be defensive, or maybe offensive, or that I should feel some danger or urgency to get attention. I feel the same way when I meet pharma reps who are paid to be patient advocates. I know that doctors and researchers who go into medicine do so because they want to help people, but something happens to them when they face people who have experienced negative side effects from taking their products. They get a bias to not want to promote the voices that fail to praise the product, and even if the scientists are ethical, the PR network of the pharma company has a way of wanting to handle problems privately rather than letting the people who have had side effects to also associate those side effects with their product. It is not at all fair for me to project this on you or any other WMF staffer, but at the same time, I would be more comfortable if the Wikimedia community and WMF staffers could be on different sides and reconcile complaints through some kind of community advocate. I worry that there could be a situation where WMF staff thinks that they are doing better jobs when there is less harassment, and since it might not be possible to reduce harassment, there might just be pressures against reporting it. Making police reports is kind of impersonal also. In the past I have felt guilty about reporting harassment. I am not sure how I feel now, or how anyone is supposed to feel about harassment.
Sorry - I will go talk with others about this and think for a while. Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:56, 17 April 2015 (UTC)

Hi OR drohowa and Bluerasberry, I was wondering if you saw the Grants:IdeaLab/Wikipedia Gender Concerns Reporting Tools which includes many of the same ideas as yours but with a narrower focus. (I don't think that it was included in the list that Bluerasberry created.) Have you reached out to any of the other people creating proposals addressing harassment to get their thoughts and ideas? I would suggest that all of the people who created proposals around the topic of harassment share their ideas instead of duplicating efforts. If possible I would rather have cooperation instead of competition. Also, I want to make sure that all kinds of different concerns and ideas are considered. I would help facilitate a hangout where interested people could share ideas if nothing like that has happened yet. I raise this idea in this thread, because it is possible that some of the work (and funding) could be shared with another team of people who have submitted a request. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 18:29, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Community discussion on harassment reporting[edit]

There are many current proposals as part of the 2015 Inspire Campaign related to harassment management, including the proposal. I’ve created a page, Grants:IdeaLab/Community discussion on harassment reporting meant to serve as a central space where the various stakeholders in these proposals and other community members can discuss which methods might serve our community best so that we can unify our ideas into collective action. I encourage you to join the conversation and contribute your ideas! OR drohowa (talk) 20:09, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Aggregated feedback from the committee for Centralized harassment report and referral service[edit]

Scoring rubric Score
(A) Impact potential
  • Does it have the potential to increase gender diversity in Wikimedia projects, either in terms of content, contributors, or both?
  • Does it have the potential for online impact?
  • Can it be sustained, scaled, or adapted elsewhere after the grant ends?
5.6
(B) Community engagement
  • Does it have a specific target community and plan to engage it often?
  • Does it have community support?
5.0
(C) Ability to execute
  • Can the scope be accomplished in the proposed timeframe?
  • Is the budget realistic/efficient ?
  • Do the participants have the necessary skills/experience?
2.7
(D) Measures of success
  • Are there both quantitative and qualitative measures of success?
  • Are they realistic?
  • Can they be measured?
4.1
Additional comments from the Committee:
  • The idea of a centralized harassment reporting system has significant merit. However, the proposal does not clearly articulate whether or how the proposed system would go beyond merely receiving complaints to provide an effective mechanism to actually resolve the reported concerns.
  • Indirectly, it has the potential to answer a long standing issue and that would indirectly help with the gender gap.
  • It is a much larger issue than can be addressed in the Inspire Campaign, but it is a good venue for getting feedback and momentum to create better policies and procedures for addressing harassment.
  • I love this idea. However, I believe this is something WMF needs to initiate, hiring qualified individuals and/or outsourcing with an established company. There is an incredible amount of emotional labor that goes into supporting this kind of service.
  • This proposal seems like one of the few that actually addresses some of the root causes of the Wikimedia movement gender gap, and it definitely has the potential to positively affect the Wikimedia movement as a whole.
  • There is significant community support for the idea in principle, although it is unclear whether the community supports the specific implementation in question.
  • In the proposal the budget is only for paid staff only. No place for community engagement.
  • There is high community engagement in the current proposal endorsements, and plans for repeated community engagement are outlined in the project proposal.
  • The budget is highly inefficient and unrealistic.
  • Need to put the work into revising the proposal into a detailed plan with a timeline and detailed budget with responsibilities spelled out. It is unclear to me if the people proposing the idea want to have any direct involvement or want to turn it over to some else to project manage.
  • The budget is beyond the means of the Inspire campaign.
  • The measures of success do not appear to be sufficiently quantified, and in some cases may not be appropriate ways to evaluate the success of the program in and of itself (such as, for example, defining success as a significant increase in reported harassment).
  • A program as large as the one they are proposing would have a much more thorough measures of success and plan for evaluation of all the components. Nothing that they mention as a measure of success is directly related to reducing the gender gap. If that is a goal, I would like to see it included.
  • It seems likely that the proposed metrics for success mean that the project's outcomes can easily be measured and shared across the Wikimedia movement.
  • There needs to be more clarity about who is going to do the project management to get the ball rolling. And if that piece needs to be funded or if it should be absorbed into the WMF Community Advocacy Department or outsourced to a partner organization.
  • I would recommend that this be scaled back to propose a group of volunteers/community members to work with WMF to find a solution/service. I'd recommend that those volunteers/community members receive some kind of payment for their involvement and in recognition of their skills and expertise.
  • While out of scope for Inspire, I do believe the proposal has the potential to actually address one of the actual reasons the gender gap in the Wikimedia movement is so wide--with the important caveat that the proposal's stated goals of improving the community's general health and safety via providing infrastructure for harassment reporting is basically diametrically opposed to the idea that a goal of creating infrastructure for harassment reporting is, or should be, so that the Wikimedia movement looks better in the media. Safety and positive press are not necessarily opposite goals, but elevating the latter to the level of the former in the proposal's stated goals is troubling.

Inspire funding decision[edit]

Inspire astrocat aqua.png

This project has not been selected for an Inspire Grant at this time.

We love that you took the chance to creatively improve the Wikimedia movement. The committee has reviewed this proposal and not recommended it for funding, but we hope you'll continue to engage in the program. Please drop by the IdeaLab to share and refine future ideas!


Next steps:

  1. Review the feedback provided on your proposal and to ask for any clarifications you need using this talk page.
  2. Visit the IdeaLab to continue developing this idea and share any new ideas you may have.
  3. To reapply with this project in the future, please make updates based on the feedback provided in this round before resubmitting it for review in a new round.
  4. Check the Individual Engagement Grant schedule for the next open call to submit proposals or the Project and Event Grant pages if your idea is to support expenses for offline events - we look forward to helping you apply for a grant in the future.

Questions? Contact us at grants@wikimedia.org