Requests for comment/Global arbitration and dispute resolution

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The following request for comments is closed. For further development of the idea, see Requests for comment/Global requests committee and Requests for comment/Dispute resolution committee.


During Wikimania 2010 in Gdansk stewards had meeting. They've concluded that there are more and more issues all around Wikimedia projects in which they have to make urgent decisions, which is according to the Steward policy, but the number of needed decisions is above the comfortable limits. At the other side, as stewards are not able to make any non-urgent decision, conflicts remain unsolved.

Thus, the conclusion is that we need the body which would have mandate to make decisions in conflict resolution, mostly related to the projects which don't have their own arbitration committees or if it is about a dispute which involves at least one whole community (or majority of it). This body will be called "Dispute-resolution committee" or "DRC" below.

The other idea is that it would be good to have one global body which would deal with complains on decisions of other arbitration committees, including with complains on DRC's decisions. This body will be called "Global arbitration committee" or "GAC" below.

Feel free to discuss about it, as well as to edit this page by adding your proposals.

Committees[edit]

Dispute-resolution committee[edit]

Scope[edit]

This body would have next responsibilities:

  • First level of dispute-resolution for the communities without arbitration committees.
    If a community explicitly doesn't want an arbcom its decision cannot be superseded by a sort of "super-arbcom": something similar to globalbot's policy would be ok for this hypothetical body. --Vituzzu 18:42, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
  • First level of dispute-resolution which involves one or more communities as whole (or as majority).

Choosing members[edit]

Possible methods for choosing members:

  • Wikimedia-wide elections.
  • 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 some other body.
  • Wikimedia-wide election for most of the members, and two or three stewards elected from and by the stewards (for fact-finding, etc.)
  • ...

Global arbitration committee[edit]

Scope[edit]

This body would have next responsibilities:

  • Defining requirements for having an arbitration committee inside of one project.
  • Accepting and solving complaints on decisions of project-specific arbitration committees.
    Now local arbcoms are the highest "degree of judgement", so local communities should opt-in into a body which will supersede local ones. --Vituzzu 18:47, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
  • Accepting and solving complaints on decisions of DPR.
  • Abuse and misuse of high-level access (checkuser, oversight, steward-rights, taking over the job of the Ombudsman commission)
    "Taking over the job of ombudsmen" is incorrect. Ombudsman commission handles cases where private data was leaked. When it wasn't (e.g. checkuser checking anyone he wants but not revealing anything), it is usually handled by community or local Arbitration committee (the latter can do it even without access to non-public data). vvvt 06:28, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
    The Ombudsman Commision is critizied for not working (members going on wikibreak during their term, usually leaving only one member active, and the fact that that their cases is limited to only release of private information, not abuse of rights. Without an ArbCom on a lot of wikis with checkusers/ombudsmen/stewards, the entire system needs to be redesigned). If I remember correctly, there was a discussion on checkuser-l, where several checkusers considered stewards as their oversight, and not the ombudsman, which is wrong as the stewards don't have have access (without giving it to ourself) to checkuser-log on wikis with active checkusers. Laaknor 07:42, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
    Wouldn't that require a board resolution to change the privacy policy? Nemo 22:14, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
    If we can find a better solution, I'm sure they will change it. Laaknor 07:03, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
    I think that even if some members going on wikibreak during their term, there is no point to conclude the Ombudsman commission is not working. I don't have statistic at hand, but estimate that during my term (beginning from feb 2010) an average interval between the first contact and the final commission's response is approx. 2 weeks. I would also like to notice that according to this resolution Ombudsman commission handles also the cases of CU abuse. DR 08:15, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
    I think that's the only scope for a global arbcom, anyway Nemo bis' makes sense to me. --Vituzzu 18:47, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

Choosing members[edit]

Possible methods for choosing members:

  • Wikimedia-wide elections.
  • Giving the authority to the Ombudsman commission.
  • Appointing the group by the community members of the Board.
    What about chapter members? vvvt 06:28, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
    What about them? Chapters are independent organizations mainly focusing on outreach & partnerships with external organizations. How does that make them a good body to choose members of a global arbitration committee? guillom 07:38, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
    Per Guillom. --Vituzzu 18:43, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
  • ...

Can a project opt out[edit]

I have mainly one question. The Chinese Wikipedia had discussed a few times now if it want to have an ArbCom or not and until now the majority of the community decided that it doesn't want to have an ArbCom and want to solve disputes and problems inside of big discussions on the village pump. In the case that there are bodies like DPR or GAC there will always be people, who don't agree with what was decided inside of the community and call the "next higher level instance". Since zh-wp doesn't have an ArbCom (and deliberately decided not to have one), would the GAC feel obliged to take cases that is considered an ArbCom issue? Would DPR feel obliged to take cases which is already decided inside a community? Can a project decide to opt out DPR or GAC and say, they don't want these bodies handling cases inside of their community?--Wing 08:27, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

Personally, I disagree with that particular part of the Global ArbComs duties as it is suggested. I think that DPR should have all these cases, and if the community is large enough, and have agreed not to have an ArbCom, then DPR should not take any cases from that community. (But it is important that DPR handles cases by default on small communities, where "evil dictators" are more likely to be created). The only reason I see for any cases to be heard by a "next higher level instance"/Supreme Court, is when the project ArbCom doesn't work, and the project ArbCom needs to be disbanded (at that point, the DPR would probably take over the cases from the project ArbCom). The way I see it, the Global ArbCom is more about rethinking the Ombudsman commision and how that works. Laaknor 09:45, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
Wing, could you write up something at w:Chinese Wikipedia on dispute resolution at zh.wp, and how you decided against implementing an Arbcom? -SV 18:30, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

Important process question[edit]

If we are ever to introduce global arbitration committee, how we will do it? Another global sysop policy voting (with at least 10% of people not understanding what are they voting for/against)?

Other ideas[edit]