Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Working Groups/Diversity/Recommendations/7

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Recommendation # 7: Ombudsperson / Community-WMF Liaison[edit]

Q 1 What is your Recommendation?[edit]

To prevent communications breakdowns between the foundation and stakeholders propose that a board of ombudspersons or community/WMF liaisons be created to facilitate the flow of information between projects.

Q 2 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?[edit]

Editors and contributors typically edit on one main platform, though some participate in multiple platforms. Sharing information across platforms is cumbersome and in the event, like in en.WP where there is no board or single entity to make contact with it is difficult to have dialogue. Much of the miscommunication which occurred during the recent office action on en.WP or for the distribution of the surveys of the Working Groups could have been avoided had better communication avenues been in place.

Q 3 What will change because of the Recommendation?[edit]

Each stakeholder will have the option to select an ombudspersons and an alternate to serve on the body. Candidates must be highly trusted community members, but ideally should not simultaneously hold other positions of authority, as their neutrality must be assured. The foundation will vet candidates and select both the primary and an alternate who serves only if the primary is unavailable or is involved in a potential conflict. The obligation of ombudsperson is to serve as a conduit of information between communities and the WMF and between the WMF and communities. Their primary role is to support the development of appropriate solutions, harmonizing interactions between the foundation and stakeholders.

In the event that information involves sensitive information or impacts privacy, such as an office action against a community member, the ombudsperson will be the only person who receives information concerning the issue. While names and identifying information may be withheld by the WMF, the ombudsperson will be given full rationale and documentary evidence to support the actions. Ombudsperson in turn will prepare a statement for the community which must be approved (and if necessary redacted and renegotiated) by the WMF. Upon all parties signing off on the statement, the ombudsperson shall relay information to Arbcom or the stakeholder board notifying of a pending post of the message in a prominent messaging center available to the community. Once local governance bodies have discussed the matter, it shall be posted and the ombudsperson shall facilitate communication on the matter to ensure timely handling and prevent delays that escalate the situation.

Q^. How does Recommendation relate to the current structural reality? Does it keep something, change something, stop something, or add something new?[edit]

It adds a position to eliminate the frustration and communication delays that tend to escalate policy decisions and implementation processes.

Q4a. Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?[edit]

Community self-governance is a strong component to the Wiki movement. Having a mediator for their processes could be seen as undermining local voices.

Q4b. What could be done to mitigate this risk?[edit]

Education on the role the ombudsperson will play as facilitators of open communication without lengthy delays would mitigate risks.

Q5. Why this Recommendation? What assumptions are you making?[edit]

That failure to adequately inform projects about WMF actions before they take place causes frustration and disruption for stakeholders. Once notification has taken place, delays in communication cause escalation of negativity.

Q6. How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?[edit]

Directly related to community health.

Q7. Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations?[edit]

Yes. See Code of Ethics and Terms of Use Recommendations.

Q^. What is the timeframe of this Recommendation in terms of when it should be implemented? 2020, 2021, etc. Does it have an urgency or priority? Does this timeframe depend on other Recommendations being implemented before or after it?[edit]

Urgently needed