Mediation oversight procedure

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These are suggestions regarding a possible oversight procedure for mediators:

Proposal One:[edit]

  1. The final oversight of mediation presides in Jimbo Wales.
  2. To aid him in this task Jimbo Wales may appoint a silent overseer to monitor the progress of of the mediation process.
  3. The silent overseer may guard against gross acts of malfeasance by the mediator, or the disposition of the disputants acting in a final way which prevents productive mediation, and nothing else. These acts may comprise:
    1. The mediator taking sides in a blatant and constant manner.
    2. Blatant and continuing solicitations by the mediator.
    3. One or more parties refusing to take the mediation process seriously.
    4. A repetive argument, covering no new ground for an extended period.
    5. Silence or only queries from one or both disputants.
    6. Profound and unbridgeable disagreement over what the dispute itself consists of.
  4. If the silent overseer fears that the mediation process is in danger of heading towards a final impasse, he may send an E-mail containing "{establish date} I am duly tapping you on the shoulder." and not a syllable more, to the mediator.
  5. If after this, the silent overseer observes that his fears have come to fruition despite the efforts of all involved, he may send an E-mail to Jimbo Wales detailing the problems of the mediation, and nothing else, ending with the words "In my considered opinion, the mediation process has now entered a stage from which it is unlikely to productively exit. If I am correct, do I have the authority to suspend it?"
  6. Jimbo Wales may send an E-mail to the silent overseer (directly or after any span of time), containing a precis of his concerns, and the phrase "You have the authority to suspend the mediation process at any time you conclusively observe it has failed in such a way that no conceivable human effort can resurrect it."

Proposal Two:[edit]

  1. As mediation is a confidential process that is undertaken with the consent of the parties involved in order to reach a mutually agreeable understanding the mediator should not talk about the substance of any discussions between the parties during or after the mediation process is completed.
  2. Mediators, however, can discuss the nature of a specific mediation with others. They should be encouraged to discuss issues such as procedure, mediation tactics, negotiation strategies, and difficulties with other mediators or which anyone whom has expertise in the area of mediation.
    1. Such discussions must be limited to structural issues, i.e. what do you do if the parties cannot agree on very basic things, such as the meaning of words, or what is the best way to present the viewpoint of one party to the other without creating more friction between the parties, mediators should never discuss the issues that are facing the mediator, i.e. "that guy is really a troll and all he wants Wikipedia to be the place to promote his neo-fascist ideological propaganda".
  3. Mediation is not a process to determine the truth or falsity of statements made by the parties, it is an attempt to help them reach a reasonable compromise.
    1. The mediator should never assume the role of a judge or arbitrator.
    2. The mediator should endeavor to demonstrate that their impartiality extends to representing the POV of each side to the dispute.
  4. The first and foremost rule of mediation: Listen to both sides. Mediators succeed because they are able to get the parties to listen to each other.
    1. The first step in this process is understanding the parties so that their point of view can be communicated to the other side.
    2. The second step is to find a way to express the substance of the point of view of one party to the other party without creating more friction between the parties.
      1. The third step is to listen to the reservations of the parties, their valid or ideosycratic criticisms, identify their anger, frustration and to identify the extent of their mutuality and the extent to which the misunderstanding is based upon communication difficulties.
  5. Mediators should try to keep mediation going.
    1. If the parties do not want the process to continue they will voluntarily withdraw without any intervention of the mediator. If the parties understand mediation and are undertaking mediation in good faith they want the other side to understand them too.
    2. Mediators should not conclude that they cannot help the parties reach a conclusion if they can remain impartial and the parties should even the minimal interest in continuing mediation.
    3. If a mediation process is becoming destructive or creating more animosity between the parties, the mediator can suggest that the parties take a "time out" and then restart the mediation process. If the mediator thinks she or he is contributing to the difficulties of the mediation suggest that another mediator be contacted to conduct the subsequent mediation, in some cases mediation may be undertaken by a team of mediators working together (i.e. one mediator works primarily with one party, the second with the other party and the third works together with the two mediators attempting to develop some consensus, this model may work when the parties have many apparently unreconcilable differences, it is not generally necessary).
  6. Oversight of mediation is thus a process of the mediator reviewing their own bias, however slight, while keeping the substance of mediation confidential, seeking counsel of other mediators to better understand the process of mediation, listening to all the parties and being patient with the parties, the process and oneself.