Structure for handling conflicts- before, during and after
Q 1 What is your Recommendation?
All Wikimedia projects need to develop and maintain effective processes and structures for preventing and resolving conflicts.
Individuals and communities need training regarding conflict prevention and conflict resolution. We need to offer:
- training to avoid conflicts from happening (consensus-building);
- processes for mediation and conflict resolution to resolve conflicts when they do occur;
- follow-up best practices to apply in the aftermath of the conflict.
Training in conflict resolution will be compulsory for functionaries.
To accommodate the movement’s cultural diversity and be equitable, training opportunities will need to be spread across different formats, whether it is in person at regional and global events or as online. To that end, the training and learning infrastructure identified in the recommendation “Building an inclusive global movement” ought to offer a range of context-sensitive modules providing different templates.
Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?
In many communities, conflicts are less and less likely to be resolved. This is an unsatisfactory situation for everyone involved, necessitating a more organised approach in the future.
The strategic goals of opening up to more people and partners will also bring in many people that will have different viewpoints on many topics, making it necessary to put in place measures that make consensus building a very important factor in retaining partners and users.
Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?
Our movement has not had a unified range of approaches for dealing with conflict. This recommendation addresses that deficit and strikes a balance between the movement’s cultural diversity informing conflict resolution cultures across the world and sharing possible solutions for these issues.
Conflict prevention and resolution practices will nonetheless have to take the local and regional context into account, especially when training functionaries to act as mediators within conflicts. Therefore processes and materials for conflict resolution will be developed and implemented across the communities, ensuring their support and their voice in a basic matter that no community can do without.
In addition, there is a lack of clarity regarding who is responsible for (identifying, reporting and making decisions) and how to effectively handle bad behaviour. In the Community Health Working Group survey, the most common survey response when asked who is responsible for community health was that everyone in the community is responsible for the contributors wellbeing, but then many respondents added that no one acts.
However, in the Community Health survey the responsibility for taking actions against bad behaviour was given to the affiliates, community leader, admins, and WMF. People acknowledge that there is a lack of process and policy in reporting bad behaviour as well as the need to be more inclusive and welcoming. It is worth mentioning that some people consider training and capacity building as important aspects in dealing with conflict resolution, and that people would like training in conflict resolution. Supporting this, the 2019 Admin Confidence Survey specifically identified training for conflict resolution as a need.
Responses to our CHWG survey questions identified several main barriers that prevent taking effective action against bad behaviour:
- Bad behaviour and certain biases are accepted and normalized
- Gaps between different communities or abuses of power
- Complexity to report or identify bad behaviour
- Lack of training
- Complex procedures to set and implement policies
- Lack of responsibility
- Language barriers and difficulty to adapt policies
- Legal issues
- Lack of trust in the existing structures to solve problems adequately and not prolong conflicts indefinitely
Actively listening for complaints and taking actions promptly is important but rarely implemented. Not everyone understands conflict in other cultures and upbringings. Diversity is key.
Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?
Communities will be able/have established processes to resolve and prevent conflicts in a more efficient and equitable way, introducing new roles to handle conflict prevention and resolution as well as consensus building, if necessary.
They will understand that there is a knowledge hub which shows up ways of conflict resolution and conflict practices. How to deal with conflict once it arises, e.g. conflict mediation and resolution; as well as how to move forward as a community in the aftermath of a conflict.
Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?
- Individual contributors.
- Offline and online communities.
Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?
Mis-use; misapplication; avoidance.
Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?
- Mandatory training for functionaries that have influence on the wellbeing of a community and who deal with conflicts frequently due to the volunteer positions they have chosen to hold.
- Sharing responsibilities among more roles within the community, instead of pooling too much responsibility in a single group of users, also known as “Administrators”.
Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality? Does it keep something, change something, stop something, or add something new?
Some aspects of this recommendation currently exist for online communities, for example:
- A consensus-building workshop has been a part of Learning Days.
- Wikimedia Germany has been offering conflict resolution trainings for admins in the last year.x
None of these efforts represent a coordinated and shared approach to conflict resolution, which this recommendation will change. It will put emphasis on creating an atmosphere of consensus building that stands in stark contrast to today’s civil behaviour on most Wikimedia projects.
Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?
Yes: Code of Conduct; Newcomers, Building an inclusive global movement.
Q 6-2 Does this Recommendation connect or relate to your Scoping Questions? If yes, how?
Yes. For example, responses to our survey questions identified several reasons why this recommendation is necessary:
- failure to act against harassment bias against women
- selective implementation of policies
- absence of processes/rules, or difficulty in accessing the processes or not knowing it’s there
- gang culture/old guard as being
Overall, we are identifying this recommendation as including preventative measures to mitigate risks to contributors and communities. This ties to the scoping document in the ways mentioned above, but the Community Health Working Group is unsure how tying the recommendation to the scoping document is relevant.
Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?
Roles & Responsibilities; Diversity; Capacity Building; Revenue Streams; Resource Allocation; Technology
Q 8 Do you have anything to add that was not covered with previous questions, yet essential for understanding the recommendation?
Still to be visited and cleaned up later
- conflict resolution outside of communities
- conflict happens, a healthy community has a respectful and effective process in place to effectively deal with it
- a healthy community has processes to mitigate the potential for conflict
- make available resources for conflict resolution / also outside of communities
- we must commit to supporting a community even after its health has failed