A joint set of rules we all agree to live by (a.k.a. Code of Conduct)
Q 1 What is your Recommendation?
The code will also be closely linked to the process for safe reporting of infringements (see also Recommendation “Investing in equity-centered technologies”), and will deal with guidelines for (repeated) violations, including imposing corrective measures. It will make clear who within the community and the wider movement is responsible for upholding the code and has the authority to take action. Corrective measures can apply to (groups of) individuals causing justified concerns, and will be primarily imposed by the community of which they are part of. If communities consistently fail to act against such individuals, or in other ways are no longer aligned with the Wikimedia vision, mission and culture, taking corrective measures becomes the responsibility of the wider movement. Complementary to the platform provider’s responsibilities, it may be necessary to establish a new body for this, such as a global arbitration committee or other types of bodies, which would come with its own set of challenges..
The universal CoC will initially be drafted professionally based on established open source best practices like the Contributor Covenant that helped build existing policies within the movement already, refined through an equitable and multilingual Wikimedia community consultation, and has to be formally adopted by the Foundation’s board of trustees through resolution. The development of the universal CoC and the contextualised local codes will generate discussion and reflection within communities that will contribute to building a culture that is intolerant of inappropriate behaviour.
Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?
We are assuming that in the coming years the communities of the various Wikimedia projects will become more diverse and include representatives of groups that have been traditionally marginalised or excluded. Community feedback from interviews, surveys, Community Conversations, regional strategy summits and more shows that especially volunteers from these groups can become victims of incivility, abuse and harassment. If we truly want to be a community that is welcoming to everyone we will need to have adequate procedures for dealing with inappropriate behaviour.
The working group notes that the different community projects of the platform become more integrated both with each other - Commons and Wikidata are more closely collaborating today with Wikipedia communities than before - and with the movement’s offline spaces. We expect these trends to continue as deeper software integrations across wikis and more mature offline forms of self-organization emerge.
The working group, thirdly, assumes that these two trends, diversification and deeper integration, will increase the need for a more detailed shared basis governing social expectations and interactions. Volunteers have a reasonable expectation that shared basic social norms apply and can be enforced in all Wikimedia projects which impact each other and interact with offline spaces.
Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?
At the moment there is no clarity about behavioural standards, no well defined basis for action against inappropriate behaviour, and confusion about who is ultimately responsible for safeguarding and maintaining a good working atmosphere.
The Wikimedia movement has effective mandatory codes of conduct for in-real-life events and for technical spaces.
There is however no such code for our main areas of work/meeting spaces: the Wikimedia projects. This recommendation will contribute to making Wikimedia projects safe and pleasant working spaces, thus facilitating active participation of a diverse group of contributors and in particular of previously marginalised groups. It will make transparent what the standards of behaviour are, and will provide a basis for action against those who act in an inappropriate way.
The code of conduct is one of the measures that will reinforce and reinvigorate the capability of communities to independently deal with inappropriate behaviour by setting standards and clearly allocating responsibility and authority. The demand for implementing a CoC is also reflected in the community survey conducted by the Community Health Working Group in June/July 2019 and were described in other consultative processes including Community Conversations (see for example the report from June 2019), Wikimania 2019 and various summits, like the ESEAP Strategy Summit in June 2019.
In creating these rules, the working group recommends to follow the precedent established by the rules governing biographies of living people in April 2009. The technical CoC already covering technical spaces took years to complete - in an entirely English-only conversation format - and longer to be up and running with (to date) patchy mechanisms administering it. Learning from the experience, the universal CoC will initially be drafted professionally based on established open source best practices, refined through an equitable and multilingual Wikimedia community consultation, and has to be formally adopted by the Foundation’s board of trustees through resolution. All user rights groups handling non-public information, currently such as administrators, OTRS agents and other functionaries (see Recommendation “Privacy and security for everyone”), will be have to complete a mandatory session about the code in tailored training modules provided under the “Building an inclusive global community” recommendation.
Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?
- Improved online safety and working climate across all projects while allowing for social and cultural diversity within the movement
- Easily accessible and safe procedures for reporting inappropriate behaviour
- A formal basis for taking action against inappropriate behaviour that is based on ‘universal’ rules for online behaviour but tailored by communities to meet the specific context of their project
- Functionaries will have a better handle and justification on situations because of this joint set of rules
- A safer and more welcoming working environment which may encourage/facilitate the active participation of previously marginalised groups and disenfranchised users
Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?
- Individual editors, in particular members of previously marginalised groups
- Project communities,
- Functionaries (admins, arbcom members, etc.)
Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?
Overview of possible negative outcomes of the recommendation, supported by a risk assessment.
- Can be seen as outside interference in community matters.
- Extra burden on community: dealing with complaints, infringements
Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?
- Maximise involvement of communities in the development of core standards
- Emphasise the whole process (basic CoC, then development by the communities themselves to build upon it) to address criticism within those communities
- Consult parts of the community that are usually silent on these matters to gage the actual concerns
- Gradual implementation over the projects, starting with pilots
- Providing training, tools etc
Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality? Does it keep something, change something, stop something, or add something new?
- It introduces compulsory, community-defined sanctions for inappropriate behaviour.
- It integrates safeguarding the work environment into the governance structure of the Wikimedia movement and the decision making structure of the Wikimedia projects
- It creates the possibility of measures taken towards entire projects/communities if the atmosphere becomes persistently toxic or is otherwise in conflict with the Wikimedia mission and vision, and the community is not willing or able to take action.
- It introduces the concept that it is not just technical/editing skills that determine whether someone can be a Wikimedian
- It introduces new roles in the Wikimedia communities based on the needs and maturity of a community
Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?
Building an inclusive global community, Privacy and security for everyone, Building an inclusive global movement
Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?
Roles and Responsibilities: introduction of a body/functionaries as being responsible for upholding code of conduct
Diversity: measures to create a welcoming atmosphere
Capacity building: training of functionaries to uphold code