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Office actions/Community consultation on partial and temporary office actions/09 2019

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Hello, and welcome to the Wikimedia Foundation's Community consultation on the topic of partial and temporary Foundation bans. After the English Wikipedia's community examined a partial and temporary Foundation office action ban in June 2019, the Wikimedia Foundation has suspended use of partial and temporary Foundation bans as of 2 July 2019. The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees requested that staff hold this consultation to "re-evaluat[e] or add community input to the two new office action policy tools (temporary and partial Foundation bans)", and the executive director subsequently affirmed that "[the Foundation] will seek further community feedback on those [partial/temporary tools] changes".

Purpose of the consultation


Partial and temporary Foundation bans under the office actions policy can be beneficial to the Wikimedia communities in the following situations (and/or combination of situations):

  • When there is repeated abuse that the local community is not able to adequately address, whether due to lack of resources, external threats or lack of appropriate community processes.
  • When the egregious abuse is limited to a single, often mature community project but the user is contributing constructively and non abusively in a smaller project where their activity significantly contributes to the development of the project.
  • When the trigger causing the persistent, concerning behavior is unique to one community project but there are no grounds to be concerned about the user’s broader contributions to the movement at large.

This consultation is intended to give the global Wikimedia community space to discuss three things:

How should partial and temporary Foundation bans be used (if at all)? On all projects, or only on a subset?

  1. Large ones with an elaborate conflict resolution body such as the ArbCom on the English language Wikipedia
  2. Medium-sized ones with a working process for conflict resolution but not elaborate or fully formal
  3. Small ones where neither follow up on all edits is done nor a proper conflict resolution mechanism exists within the community

Can the Office Actions policy on partial and temporary bans, as written (circa June 2019), be used? If not, what changes need to be made to its text?

  1. If complaints are evaluated privately, under which circumstances should contributors be allowed to learn the standards by which their behavior is being judged?
  2. How might privately evaluated confidential complaints prevent abusive or retaliatory accusations?

How should partial and temporary Foundation bans ideally be implemented, if they should be?

  1. For what types of behavior should the Foundation issue partial or temporary office actions?
  2. Should partial and temporary office actions be appealable?
  3. What duration(s) should be available for partial and temporary office actions?
  4. What other considerations should be taken into account when using partial or temporary office actions?
  5. To what extent should the community be allowed to participate in the discussion about temporary Office Actions? What if the temporary Office Actions were challenged by the local community?

Policy as written, circa early June 2019


Temporary Foundation bans


Temporary Foundation global bans serve to exclude a user in line with a traditional Foundation global ban, as described in the previous section, with the key difference that their duration is finite. This means that a temporary global ban will bar individuals from all Wikimedia Foundation websites, platforms and activities, either in their own capacity or as agents of others, for a limited and clearly defined period of time.

Temporary Foundation global bans are reserved for conduct that:

  • Constitutes a single, serious violation of the Terms of Use, and is not part of a pattern of otherwise abusive behaviour;
  • May not expressly breach the Terms of Use, but follows a pattern of behavior with considerable negative impact on the affected projects or individuals.

Similar to a global ban, a temporary global ban is placed against an individual instead of against a specific username. It applies to any alternate accounts an individual may control and any accounts they might create after the ban has been enacted and for the duration of the ban. Likewise, it applies to anonymous / “IP accounts” the banned individual may be using at the time of the ban or may use while the ban is in effect.

The duration of the temporary global ban can range from one to several years, which is clearly communicated to the banned individual and the public through the temporary Foundation global ban notice. It is not appealable, so its duration is final and non-negotiable. The sanctioned individual may resume activity, in line with local project policies and the Terms of Use, upon the ban’s expiration.

Partial Foundation bans


A partial Foundation ban is a Foundation complementary tool to a community site or topic ban. Accordingly, partial Foundation bans serve to exclude an individual from a single or a defined set of Foundation-supported projects, activities or platforms, either indefinitely or for a defined period of time, without excluding them from the entire Wikimedia ecosystem.

Partial Foundation bans may be implemented in cases of:

  • Repeated misconduct within a single Foundation-supported project, with considerable impact either on that project overall or on individual contributors who are active in that project.

Additional circumstances that may be considered for partial Foundation bans include:

  • Lack of abusive conduct by the affected individual in any other Wikimedia Foundation supported projects.
  • Record of positive contributions and overall good standing in other Wikimedia Foundation supported projects.

Partial Foundation bans help safeguard constructive contributions to and growth of smaller, technical, and/or emerging communities, where individual editors with problematic history on mature wikis sometimes become pillars without causing any issues.

Similar to the other bans listed above, partial bans are placed against an individual rather than against a specific account name or IP address by which that individual may be known.

They are final and non-negotiable.

In the event of a finite partial ban, the affected individual may resume activity, in line with local project policies and the Terms of Use, upon the ban’s expiration. Should the affected individual fail to demonstrate course correction upon their return, further office actions may be considered.

Closure and summary of the consultation


During the pre-conversation phase, it was discussed how the summary and findings of the consultation would be drafted. Two options are available:

  1. The community can handle the closure if the volunteers can find an uninvolved Wikimedia steward who volunteers to review and close it in a timely manner at the end of the consultation.
  2. If 1) can't be done, the Foundation will close the consultation in a publicly available summary of findings.

Under either option, Legal will conduct the final review and make changes to the summary if merited.