Requests for comment/Dispute resolution committee

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The following request for comments is closed. merged with Requests for comment/Global requests committee

For a related proposal for handling global blocks and bans, see Requests for comment/Global requests committee.
Please discuss or add to the RFC below.

The Dispute resolution committee [DRC] would be a body that resolves

  • disputes on projects that lack their own arbitration committee or other dispute resolution mechanism (E.g.: sitenotice disputes on a small wiki with two admins), and
  • disputes which involve entire projects (or the majority of their contributors), where impartial resolution by project participants is difficult (possibly e.g.: ru:wv-ru:wp deletion war)


The scope of the DRC is limited to disputes between users that span more than one community, or conflicts involving the actions of a user or group across multiple projects.

The DRC would also help actively facilitate the growth of dispute resolution capacity on smaller wikis that do not yet have them.

Initial tasks and opting out[edit]

  • Define initial members, a membership process, and more detailed scope, suggest this for approval.
  • Define a process of reaching decisions. (from existing processes on meta and other wikis)finding a easy way to resolve the issue

Choosing members[edit]

Initial members would be chosen by public nominations followed by Board appointment. It would be tasked with defining policy for dispute resolution including a process for regular cross-project elections, and holding the first elections within the year. These elections might prioritize having members who fall within the scope of the committee (i.e., not coming from the largest wikis).


The tabled proposal which lead to this one was Requests for comment/Global arbitration and dispute resolution.


During Wikimania 2010 in Gdansk stewards had meeting. They concluded that there are more and more issues all around Wikimedia projects in which they are asked to make decisions, some of them urgent and some not. As stewards are not supposed to make any non-urgent decision, conflicts remain unsolved.

The conclusion was that we needed bodies with a mandate to make difficult decisions in conflict resolution. Two specific classes of conflicts that are regularly brought before stewards:

  • Long-term conflicts on projects which don't have their own arbitration committees, or affecting entire smaller projects
  • Conflicts involving many projects, or users forum shopping on different projects

This DRC proposal addresses the first class of conflicts. The second would be handled by a global requests committee.

Other ways to choose members[edit]

  • Election
    • Wikimedia-wide election for most of the members, and two or three stewards elected from and by the stewards (for fact-finding, etc.)
  • Appointment
    • A group of stewards who are willing to volunteer for this purpose. (This is the suggestion of one of the Board members.)
    • Appointing the group by the Board or some other body.
    • Self-appointing (ie, the remainder of the committee chooses replacements)
  • A combination of above methods

Approval process[edit]

I don't see the logic why DRC needs to be approved by the Board. Can you explain please? --Aphaia 11:55, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Lists and policy should be approved by the Board. It is about adding a level of safety to the community that DRC won't be able to change rules alone. --Millosh 05:10, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

More importantly, I don't see explicit mention of (at least attempting to) discuss with the projects themselves (per explicit statements that this would not apply to communities that choose to have no local arbcom but not want this global one coming in either). DMacks 21:56, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Added " discuss with the community and...". It is also possible to define the initial list before creation of DRC. --Millosh 05:10, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

May I suggest that projects wishing to opt-out also be required to either show a local WMF-approved arbcom or do so with an understanding that it may be revoked with sufficient cause? While project independence isn't something to scoff at, I dislike the idea that a project with dictatorial admins could simply opt the project out and continue abusing contributors. Ionek 16:14, 29 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Board should approve any change of the list anyhow. --Millosh 17:04, 29 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I see where both Aphaia and Millosh are coming from here -- everyone currently involved in cross-project disputes should be part of the discussion. This includes everyone working on Meta, and those who sometimes are asked to handle such disputes (which includes small-wiki monitors, stewards and Board members). I think our Meta community is strong enough that the Board does not need to be involved in this sort of policy setting, just as it is not involved in the creation of dispute resolution bodies on individual projects. SJ · talk | translate 07:19, 28 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I think the goal should be finding a way to resolve rare disputes where there is no current mechanism to resolve them [and then helping local communities develop better ways to do so]. Much of the work would be facilitation, and relieving stewards of handling the rare dispute resolution request -- which is where the motivation for the RFC came from. SJ · talk | translate 07:19, 28 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Other ideas[edit]

  • Give more DR support to wikis with few admins. Perhaps starting with the same set used for global sysops? DRC would be able to reconsider the set. However, any decision which includes or excludes some project from the set affected by DRC should be sanctioned by the Board. Before any decision of that type, DRC would have to raise this issue at the relevant places for particular project and globally.
  • Merge the proposed DRC and GRC, to avoid confusion in terms of scope and what falls into the jurisdiction of one of the groups. The last thing we need when trying to quickly fix a global problem is bureaucratic inefficiency inherit in the system. Ajraddatz (Talk) 14:59, 5 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Representation on the committee from affected wikis[edit]

The board should have at least one member from each wiki where it is standing in place of ArbCom's to advise on local policy's of that wiki. There should be a policy about recusing, if your involved in the conflict you shouldn't be on the DRC. Thenub314 14:21, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

If so, then it would potentially have over 100 members. Ottava Rima (talk) 16:50, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Not exactly 100 members, but ~30. However, it should be DRC's job to consult existing ArbComs about their experiences. I don't think that Board members have time for that. --Millosh 05:12, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

  • What about cross project cases? I can imagine that especially when a conflict plays at several projects, a global committee is useful. Effeietsanders 12:51, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
    • I suppose that I didn't cover it explicitly well inside of the second point of the scope: "Dispute-resolution which involves one or more communities as whole (or as majority)." If more explicit explanation is needed, please, verbalize it.--Millosh 17:59, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
      • I rather mean that some people are fighting each other on a cross project basis for example. They keep moving from one project to the other. Would that fall within the scope, even if on specific projects, people are able to handle it? And if one of those projects is a project outside the scope (ie with their own arbcom)? Effeietsanders 21:45, 29 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
        • Sebastian gave the definition (which I've been added instead of the original definition) which clearly includes such cases. --Millosh 22:51, 29 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
          • I believe it's actually better to have uninvolved arbitrators hear cases on wikis divided by major disputes. Sometimes projects get so divided that any editor of that wiki that also hears the case as an arbitrator will be identified with one faction or another, diminishing the legitimacy of the process and the decision. --A. B. (talk) 17:42, 18 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Language issues[edit]

An outside arbitration committee needs to make sure they've got good neutral translation services available when needed.

Linguistic diversity on the committee itself should be a goal in picking the committee. The committee doesn't need to have speakers of every wiki language from Basque to Twi, but the more diversity the better. Based on arbitration proceedings on en.wikipedia, there will be a lot to translate, so the committee would need to find not just a Basque (or Twi or whatever) speaker to translate, but a person willing to commit lots of time. A cheerful, masochistic soul of this sort may be hard to find and the language they can best translate to could end up being any one of several major world languages (English, German, Russian, etc.).--A. B. (talk) 17:59, 18 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I think we should have users of Ancient languages, Major languages and some dead languages. Vibhijain 15:18, 8 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]