Requests for comment/Wikimedia Foundation staff permissions

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The following request for comments is closed. The request was successfully resolved.


Currently, Wikimedia Foundation staff, board members, and various other office functionaries have the same permissions applied to them as non-staffmembers, but with different duties and permissions needs.

Many of the WMF staff have permissions on our wikis that they have acquired via service over the years, but with these years the line between their service as a member of the community and their service as a staffmember have blurred. This proposal seeks to create a bright-line difference between those permissions, that way the community has a clear understanding of which permissions it is entitled to moderate and which it may not.

Let's assume, as a fictional example, that we have a long-time Wikipedian, Bob Smith, who has run for and acquired both the Admin and Bureaucrat responsibilities as part of his work for Wikipedia. Bob later became a trustee and needs, as part of that job, the ability to perform revision hiding. Under the current system, he requests (and is granted) the oversight permission, however when his term is over, his permissions will need to be modified as he is no longer a member of the Board.

While the community is likely to allow Bob to keep his permissions and be "on leave" during his Board tenure, that is the decision of the community. Likewise, his tenure on the Board has requirements that the local community may not wish to grant, causing needless conflict and drama.

In this proposal, as written, we simply add one more user group, "staff", which is given to those users who are either paid employees of the Wikimedia Foundation, a member of its Board of Trustees, an Officer, or are otherwise performing work on behalf of the Foundation as chosen and directed by the Board such as members of the Ombudsman commission.

The Staff user group would have all the permissions of the sysop, import, transwiki, bureaucrat, checkuser, oversight, and steward user groups. Specifically, and deliberately, the staff permission does not include the functions of boardvote or developer. Actions performed while these users are wearing the "staff" hat should be declared as such, or alternatively they create a separate account and segregate roles as much as possible.

To avoid the appearance of impropriety, staff shall at no point ever hold both staff and boardvote permissions. Board vote admins should always be community volunteers.

Staff, being direct employees, can have both volunteer (such as Bob's sysop and bureaucrat flags) which are managed by the community and therefore compliant with local usage requirements and confirmations, and staff rights. If Bob were to fail his annual Bureaucrat confirmation, the community can request its removal without it impacting Bob's ability to perform his staff duties. In the event of abuse, the community should direct its gaze towards the Board of Trustees, who will then decide upon the proper outcome.

It is suggested that only other staffmembers be authorized to confer the staff permission upon others, though in the event of a compromised account or other emergency, stewards will be able to remove the permission.