Talk:Ombuds commission/Archives/2013

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Does the Ombudsman Commission work?

Hi guys, I filed a complain about eight months ago. Although I received a reception acknowledgment, I didn't get any further news ever. Does this Commission work or, better, exist? Best regards --Ecemaml (talk) 11:01, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

The Commission exists and seems to work pretty well. Some cases do take a long time to handle, for a variety of reasons, including: the need to handle sensitive issues, the need to collect appropriate information, the need to work across a variety of languages, the need to ensure decisions are well thought-through, the need to communicate decisions clearly and finally the fact that the members of the commission are all volunteers, working in different time zones.
If you or anyone else is waiting for a reply on something, an email to the list asking about progress is a good idea, so long as it's not too soon after your last enquiry. Emailing is a much better idea than posting here. --Dweller (talk) 19:57, 9 February 2013 (UTC)


It would be nice to have a chart like Template:StewardsChart or Template:GlobalSysopsChart (see Category:Charts) for the Ombudsmen. πr2 (t • c) 21:24, 24 February 2013 (UTC)

I created Template:OmbudsmenChart. --MF-W 22:07, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you very much! Looks great. πr2 (t • c) 04:11, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
And now I've enabled the translation extension on this page. πr2 (t • c) 16:41, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

Gender neutrality

Can this position be renamed and made more gender-neutral? ombud might be an option. Liangent 03:47, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

For what purpose? --თოგო (D) 20:24, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
To make people feel better. See en:Gender neutrality. Liangent 00:50, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
I think it makes sense to use gender-neutral language here; an Ombudsperson can be of any gender, so why unnecessarily use a gendered term? I'm a woman, and I would be more likely to feel comfortable complaining about a sexual harrassment-related privacy invasion to an Ombud or Ombudsperson commission than to an Ombudsman commission. I'd also be more likely to propose myself for an ombuds or ombudsperson role; I'm not a man so I don't like to hold titles with "man" suffixes. Sumana Harihareswara 16:53, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
I'm speaking in my own personal capacity (not as a WMF representative) so I'm replacing my signature from "Sharihareswara (WMF)" to my personal volunteer account's username. Also I should stress that I have never had any interaction with the Ombudsman commission in any capacity; I'm just speaking as a female Wikimedian who prefers inclusive, gender-neutral language, and knows that it has a beneficial impact on women's participation. Sumana Harihareswara 16:53, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
I understand that you're not a man. But if you don't like to hold titles with "man" suffixes, does that mean you also object to the terms "woman" and "human"? --MZMcBride (talk) 21:24, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
Well, there's the part where "man" isn't a suffix in "woman" or "human". There's also the part where "woman" means "female human" and "human" means "homo sapiens", and neither implies that the bearer of the word has a penis. There's also the part where, even if one chooses to object to those words as being derived from a morpheme that matches the English word for "penis haver" (and some people do), they're not exactly the low-hanging fruit when it comes to "terms we can easily switch away from using." Many style guides and, indeed, governments are making the switch away from masculine compound words like "fireman" in favor of neutral variants like "firefighter"; "ombudsman" is just another example of this. Fluffernutter (talk) 21:49, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
So... that's a no? :-) I'd prefer to focus on a better name overall, as you suggest below. --MZMcBride (talk) 00:04, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
I figure you're asking what I personally want, dislike, and/or object to in terms of gendered language. "Woman" and "human" do not imply "this person is male" nearly as strongly as "ombudsman," "chairman," "fireman," "policeman," "mailman," and similar title/role words with the suffix "man" do. I can go into the nuances of "woman" and "human" at some other time but they aren't really applicable here. Sumana Harihareswara 03:54, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
"Woman" comes from "wīf" (whence wife) +‎ "man", but always refers to females, so it's not a problem. "Human" can be female or male, and it doesn't even come from the Germanic "man"/"mann" root, but from Latin "humanus" (human), itself from "homo" (a human being), which can describe all humans. However, arguing about etymologies often leads to fallacies, so let's think about the present-day meaning as well. PiRSquared17 (talk) 04:20, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

Is there another recognisable English language term that covers the role of Ombudsman? I've never come across the term "ombud" in English and am challenging it on wiktionary. --Dweller (talk) 10:57, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

I agree with Thogo. Current name is OK. -- MarcoAurelio (talk) 16:16, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
en:Ombudsman says: Modern variations of this term include "ombud", "ombuds", "ombudsperson", or "ombudswoman" ... Liangent 12:56, 14 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Ombudsperson is perfectly acceptable, and listed in the OED. Drmies (talk) 00:44, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
  • +1, per Drmies. Not a big problem, but uncontroversial change. --Nemo 08:32, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
Any action can be taken now? Liangent 06:25, 13 April 2013 (UTC)
  • The original question is quite loaded. I believe it was written with an aim on "succinct simplicity", but irony comes from a much higher power, like randomness for example; and its "succinct simplicity" becomes an irreducible complexity to me. Far too often the "damn fool" in me has tried to explain the effect of irony, and I'm well aware that people don't want to see that fool in me getting all tl;dr. So I'll definitely skip all of that. The bottom line, where the truth is known, dictates that there is no reason at all for changing the name unless a reason is created. User:Liangent, are you hoping to create a reason that compels a changing of the name? My76Strat (talk) 13:34, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
    The name doesn't make a ton of difference to me, personally, but it does disturb me to see you, My76, write (I think? Sometimes it's hard to know what you're getting at...) that there is "no reason at all" to consider changing a gendered group name to an ungendered one. The reason is that, as Sumana says above, gendered language can have an effect on whether people feel comfortable approaching a group. Will the gendered language have that effect on everyone? No, probably not. Does that mean that the fact that it won't affect your choices, or mine, means that there's "no reason" to consider a change that would help some people feel more able to approach the OC? No. I know it can be hard to understand sometimes when it doesn't feel to you (or me, or John Doe) like it makes a difference, but removing some of the systemic gender bias in Wikimedia terms and policies can have a small-but-cumulative effect in making the atmosphere more welcoming to editors who aren't demographic majorities, and there's no downside to broadening the language to encompass all genders. It would also make a difference, by the way, for us minorities to see proposals like this one not be immediately pooh-poohed as "what we have is ok" and "there's no reason for this" by members of the demographic majority who are favored by our systemic bias. Fluffernutter (talk) 17:20, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
    Yes it does seem that my meaning was lost. It would only have compounded with an attempt to explain. My76Strat (talk) 03:32, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Er. Basically "what Fluffernutter says", to be honest (I had things to say, and everything, and then she went and Lando'd me).

      I don't understand the statement "create a reason"; frankly, it comes off snarky and slightly ABF, so I'd like to see you explain what it means, M76 (preferably in plain English). Let's be clear here; the cost of changing the text is almost zero. There is no reason to not do it. The strength of any reason to do it has to be negligible for it to be worthwhile, and the idea that gendered language is problematic is well-recognised and far more than negligible as a rationale. Ironholds (talk) 17:24, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

      Ironholds, you have never read a comment from me that you didn't assume was rooted in bad faith. Perhaps you should check your own motives. My76Strat (talk) 03:32, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
        • I'm sorry if our interactions have uniformly given that impression, then; I find you to be a (largely) sensible person, albeit someone whose speech is overly flowery. This verbose verbiage I liked the aliteration is precisely the reason why I'm confused and worried by your statement above; you did not say "I do not see that there is a current issue", you pointed to a specific user and said "are you trying to create an issue?" That's not conductive to reasoned discussion. If I misunderstood your meaning, I apologise, but I would ask you (as I have many times before, and as others have) to try and break sentences down into simpler structures to avoid just this kind of problem. Ironholds (talk) 23:58, 11 May 2013 (UTC)
      • No and no. The cost is not almost zero. I believe it requires a new Board resolution to rename the commission (as it was established by a Board resolution). Those certainly have a cost. If the group is renamed (regardless of whether it's done via Board resolution), it also requires updating documentation here on Meta-Wiki, on, and on individual projects (of which there are several hundred).

        We absolutely do require a reason for changing the name of the group, as it's already been established and used for several years (in addition to being a completely standard and genderless group name).

        That said, I agree with Fluffernutter below that a better title altogether should be considered. --MZMcBride (talk) 21:36, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

        • Sure, we need a reason. That reason's been provided - that it is explicitly gendered language (I'm confused by your assertion that it's genderless, given that the etymology is entirely gendered; it's the masculine form of the old Norwegian "representative"). Ironholds (talk) 21:57, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
          • Are there gendered definitions of this word anywhere? I don't think English has masculine forms in the way you're suggesting it does. Or at least not in the context of this word. The Wiktionary entry seems to go out of its way to specify that it's in fact not gendered (though for some reason the current version of that entry puts the usage note below the word "ombuds", which is a little confusing).

            Anyway, as I said, I think it's a pretty bad name overall and I wouldn't be opposed to changing it to something else (though I think you'd do so by convincing a Board member to write a resolution). The -man thing is a silly distraction, in my opinion. --MZMcBride (talk) 00:01, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

            • The United Nations would seem to disagree with the Wiktionary entry. To be honest, I'm finding a lot of people saying it's gendered and a lot of people saying it's not; it's sort of ambiguous. I'll accept it's certainly not clearcut in English, but I would note that the commission is tasked with investigating these sorts of issues on a lot of projects in a lot of languages. While the word itself is ambiguously gendered or non-gendered in English (depending on who you ask) translations into other languages and, indeed, the original in other languages, are a slightly different matter; Spanish appears to have this issue, for example, as (according to that wiktionary link) do Czech and Dutch. Ironholds (talk) 05:41, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
              • I found the UN link interesting. Thanks for finding that! I hope we can find a way to incorporate some of this research into our projects. --MZMcBride (talk) 14:41, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
                Perhaps we are not even human for that damn gender specific root. My point about creating a reason is that Liangent did not suggest that they found the term offensive, nor did they suggest that they knew of anyone who did. They jump to the conclusion that a more gender neutral name was preferred without ever suggesting someone found the name non-neutral. As for a new name, I prefer "Kindbudsman", but I.m not holding out any hopes at seeing it adopted. My76Strat (talk) 03:50, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
                • Sumana has, above, explained that she (at least) would feel more comfortable with gender neutral language, and with complaining to a gender neutral body. I appreciate, however, that this was posted after your statement - but I would caution that in practise our goal is to avoid foreseeable harm. If it can be foreseen that this would be a problem, we can solve for it. Simple as. Waiting until it has become a problem is far too late, particularly since the problem in question would be silent; an invisible set of unsubmitted cases. Ironholds (talk) 00:02, 12 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Sure, why not? There's no reason to retain the gendered term if changing it can reduce how uncomfortable some non-men feel with approaching the committee. "Ombudsperson" feels awkward to me, though - perhaps rather than de-gendering the "ombuds" word, we could replace it with something that flows a bit better? "Privacy Policy Adherence Committee" or something that actually describes what they do. If we can't come up with a less awkward term for it, though, I'd say go with "Ombuds Committee" rather than "Ombudsperson Committee". Fluffernutter (talk) 17:28, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
  • A simpler name would definitely be an improvement. How about just "Privacy Policy Group"? — Scott talk 12:53, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
    Any of those, or the ones below, sound fine, but I'm not sure "ombuds" is the best choice. It seems a little too informal, like "'crat" instead of "bureaucrat". PiRSquared17 (talk) 04:27, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

By the way, is the English plural "Ombudsmen" more inclusive than the singular "Ombudsman", or is that impression deceptive? --Erzbischof (talk) 15:13, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

I don't know why the plural would be more inclusive. Do you think it is? Did you read that somewhere? PiRSquared17 (talk) 04:27, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
  • My preference is to switch to a gender neutral term. Ombudsperson works for me but I'll interested to hear other ideas that might better covey what we do. --FloNight (talk) 17:04, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
    I really prefer to retain "Ombuds-", because it corresponds well to the fact that we are instituted by the Board as impartial committee (paraphrasing en:Ombudsman "appointed, but with a significant degree of independence"), we have access to non-public information in order to fulfill our tasks, our investigations result in recommendations and there is a component of mediation as well.--Erzbischof (talk) 11:13, 11 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I support a change to a gender-neutral name for this body, per Fluffernutter's rationale. This piece also makes some good observations on the use of this gendered term. Gobōnobō + c 19:34, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Alternate names for "Ombudsman commission"

  • Ombudsperson commission
  • Ombuds Committee
  • Privacy Policy Adherence Committee
  • Privacy Policy Compliance Committee
  • Privacy Policy Group
  • (iff some of the changes on the scope proposal go through:) something like "Advanced Userrights Supervisory Committee"? "Functionary Supervision Committee"? But ugh, those are both awkward too. Fluffernutter (talk) 19:31, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Privacy Policy Investigative Service (PPIS) - Just came out of my mind. Probably sounds too "official" but it's just an idea. Another problem is how will be the denomination of the members. "Special Agent"? :-) -- MarcoAurelio (talk) 02:48, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Just to sum up this rather useless discussion: There is absolutely no problem to solve here. So, please don't waste your time. English, as well as most other languages with a grammatical gender system, have one generic gender. This means for English that any mixed group is grammatically masculine which makes the masculine term gender-neutral per se. And that's all about that. This über-artificial crampy political correctness is nothing but annoying, and it shows that people are either not aware of the grammar or are trying to manipulate it for political reasons. It's "Ombudsman commission" and that's gender-neutral. Period. --თოგო (D) 23:45, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

As I said above; the Ombudsmen are tasked with investigating violations of the privacy policy wherever they originate. While English certainly might treat Ombudsman in a gender-neutral way, the same is not true of Dutch, Czech, Spanish and (presumably) other languages. The fact that a de-wiki user wouldn't take languages other than English, and the connotations terminology might carry in those languages into account, is frankly disappointing. It is even more disappointing to hear an Ombudsman reply to a civil, reasoned and lucid debate by simply stating that "This über-artificial crampy political correctness is nothing but annoying, and it shows that people are either not aware of the grammar or are trying to manipulate it for political reasons"; you are an Ombudsman. A core part of your duties is to be open to people approaching you. Another part, presumably, would be the will and ability to approach things neutrally and read the arguments and issues set forth - by arguing for the English term and ignoring issues around other languages, you've slightly undermined my trust in your ability to do that. Ironholds (talk) 23:55, 11 May 2013 (UTC)
It surprises me that Thogo sees himself fit not only to treat grammar as an unequivocal matter of fact (as if the identification of mankind with malekind had ever been an unpolitical position) as well as to denounce other people's problems as non-existent. A blunt "period", by the way, will not help solve anything in this matter. I wish an elected community official would show at least a minimum of empathy and will to discussion instead of exhibiting a stubborn EOD-attitude that could be mistaken for arrogance.--Toter Alter Mann (talk) 12:35, 16 May 2013 (UTC)
So is "human" exclusionary to females? What about "shaman" or "bogeyman"? Can woman wear a "talisman", or "manhandle" an opponent? Is complimenting a woman on her "penmanship" worthy of scorn or a shrill lecture? Regardless of historical etymology, at this point in the 21st century "ombudsman" is just another word that happens to feature "-man" at some point. Your argument seems to be "people who don't speak English might assume this is a position for men only", which is about as ridiculously edge-case as it gets. I'm sorry - I'm not by any means unreceptive to feminist arguments, but this particular one is like a mean-spirited MRA parody. Strani Beeap (talk) 14:12, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
Can you explain how it's an edge case? There are many languages in which ombudsman is grammatically a male term used in a male context (some of them have been highlighted above). Ironholds (talk) 16:08, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
Neither "human", "shaman", nor "talisman" derive from the Germanic "-man" suffix or have any male-only connotations. "Bogeyman" is a better comparison to this situation. PiRSquared17 (talk) 15:58, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
This is a complete and utter waste of time and effort. Ironholds, I hope at some point you realize that instead of speaking for dutch, spanish and "many other languages" that you have so far been arguing for, that you have also been disagreeing with native speakers of those languages about what is gender-neutral in their language. Between Marco, Trijnstel, Thogo - you've disagreed with native speakers of a few of those languages for what you presume is lack of gender-neutrality in languages you don't speak. It's also telling perhaps that between you, fluffernutter and a few other people from en.wp asking for this change, are predominantly native english speakers worrying about connotations in languages they don't speak, while the speakers of those language would just see this discussion end so we can move on. This is a disgusting form of political correctness when you make it about other languages that you don't speak. Theo10011 (talk) 15:35, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Can I ask why you feel it's necessary to call people's positions here "disgusting", Theo? It's an emotive, judgmental word to apply to something like this, and I'd like to understand why you feel it's important to point out how poorly you view people who are participating in this discussion, rather than just opposing the proposal. It turns the aggressiveness of the discussion up a lot when we move from "This thing is unnecessary because [reasons]" to "I am personally disgusted by this thing". Fluffernutter (talk) 15:48, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Sure, I'll explain. I was referring to Ironholds predominantly above speaking about connotations in languages he doesn't speak or people who are actually asking this entire line of reasoning to stop. Unlike you, he first accepts that English accepts the term as gender neutral - "While English certainly might treat Ombudsman in a gender-neutral way", and then goes on to talk about other languages where the same neutrality is not true. Somewhere in there is a form of heavy-handedness, a bit of superiority, imperialism, whatever.....that comes down to - "I know what those people who speak those languages want and what is right for them." We can speak for ourselves, Thank you. While this line of reasoning might work on en.wp, this is multi-lingual place and he is arguing people who speak other languages, and they should agree with him as he points to in case of Thogo because he read about this somewhere - does seem insulting to Thogo. As an american, it would be someone arguing that they know what African Americans find offensive and not, and then going the distance and asking to change a word, while the group in question is actually arguing the opposite. The bottom line, please stop using connotations in other languages as a weaselly excuse, and stop insulting people when they disagree when you use their language to make your point. Theo10011 (talk) 16:03, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Without reading everything, I fail to see the need. I mean, I'm a steward and also female (the only one). So should I call myself a stewardess then? Trijnsteltalk 12:20, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
    • No, either a purser or get the needed exams and become a pilot. MoiraMoira (talk) 12:22, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
      • 👍Like lol. I love some of these comments. Theo10011 (talk) 15:12, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Privacy policy group would be much more widely understandable. I had to look up the definition of 'ombudsman' to find out what it even means. I always thought it was a person who made corrections to newspaper articles :) Kaldari (talk) 21:51, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

Thoughts, by Deskana

In an unrelated discussion that I was having with User:Sumanah two days ago, this topic so happened to come up. Chatting to her about it made me really crystallise my thoughts, so I want to take this opportunity to get them down while they're still crystallised!

The current name "Ombudsman" has many advantages. I realise it is a complex word, but it is well-defined (it's in my dictionary, as well as the informal Google dictionary). The definition that Google gives is An official appointed to investigate individuals' complaints against maladministration, esp. that of public authorities. That definition captures rather a lot about what the Ombudsman Commission is and does. I don't really agree with the argument that the word is too complex, because not only have I demonstrated that it's trivially easy to look up what it means, but being presented with complex words and then learning their meaning is all part of speaking a language (whether it's your native language or not).

With regards to gender neutrality, I find myself in agreement with my learned linguist User:Thogo. The way that the English language presently works means that the term "ombudsman" is actually gender-neutral. That said, I am not opposed to renaming the Ombudsman Commission to something else to satisfy those concerns that other people have and make people happier about the name, but I'd be happy with that if and only if we do not lose the excellent characterisation that is given by the present name. "Privacy Policy Group", for instance, loses the nuance that the name "Ombudsman Commission" offered. The issue with this renaming, so far, is that I've not been able to come up with a name as good as the present one. More suggestions for alternative names would be appreciated.

--Deskana (talk) 16:15, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

How to request that Deskana be removed from the Ombudsman commission?

I would like to present my evidence that User:Deskana is not just very abusive, but also dishonest (by deliberately misrepresenting emails) and extremely incompetent for any Check User position. I think my concerns are well founded, and given that Deskana refuses to answer a very simple, polite question, I would like to bring it to the attention of the commission (as well as other evidence).

What is the proper process whereby a concerned user may request that someone as abusive as Deskana be removed from the Ombudsman commission (whose members are expected to be trustworthy)? A Request for Comment? Something more specific? Or would the Ombudsman commission members prefer to deal with complaints by email? Thanks. ~ DanielTom (talk) 13:49, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

The commision members are appointed by the WMF. I guess you either need to complain about the commision to Geoff Brigham, the general council or to Philippe, who usually handles community related things. -Barras talk 14:10, 13 August 2013 (UTC) PS: Looking a bit deeper in your history on wmf projects, I doubt that it will ever happen that Deskana is being removed. You should probably better start working on yourself instead of assigning the blame to others. -Barras talk 14:30, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
I also doubt that Deskana is going to be removed, but I see that as unfortunate (unlike you). What I am going to do is express my concerns, and present evidence, about this user's incompetence. If in the future someone else comes along, and complains about Deskana, maybe then it will be taken more seriously (I should be working on myself, but you seem to think that those in power can never be abusive, and that is simply delusional.) ~ DanielTom (talk) 15:04, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Just to clarify, I am the staff liaison to the Ombudsman Commission. You can reach me at liaison(_AT_) I will pass along complaints supported by solid evidence to senior staff, who may contact you if additional information is needed. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:43, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
I will email you my concerns and evidence mentioned above, as soon as I can ~ DanielTom (talk) 14:58, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

This is sounding like harassment and your public statements are getting malicious. There is only so much breath that volunteers need to exhaust when dealing with serial complainants. enWP have processes in place that can review any decision made by a volunteer, and I am informed that you have undertaken these processes and there has been no change of the original decision. Time to accept that and move on. — billinghurst sDrewth 14:36, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

I am the one being harassed. I am not appealing my block at Wikipedia, I am expressing concerns about a user's misconduct/incompetence. An important distinction. ~ DanielTom (talk) 14:58, 13 August 2013 (UTC) P.S. It is true that soon after being blocked at Wikipedia, I contacted en.functionaries, and amusingly Deskana was the one replying to me. I made it very clear then that I was NOT appealing the block, but I did present relevant information about my brother, which Deskana not only decided to ignore, but deliberately misrepresented. I see he keeps misrepresenting it still today. ~ DanielTom (talk) 15:25, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Deskana shifting roles

Hi, guys.

I just wanted to alert those of you who are not already aware that User:Deskana is taking on a new role in contributing to the movement and has accepted a contract with the Wikimedia Foundation as the Associate Product Manager for Platform. It's a pleasure to have Dan on board in this new capacity. Given the conflict of interest this creates, he has resigned from the Ombudsman Commission, although he retains other roles in volunteer capacity (such as Checkuser). Given organizational structures the current OC put in place at the beginning of the term, they feel they can carry on through the rest of the term short a member. We will, of course, adjust if necessary if they encounter difficulties. Thank you, Dan, for your service, and good luck with your new role! --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 16:58, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Hi everyone. I leave the Ombudsman Commission in a good spot. The Commission has been more productive than previous years, we handled the case backlog (only one or two cases, but they were stubborn ones), and we proposed wrote the request for comment to see if people wanted us to expand our role. I'm confident that the Ombudsman Commission will continue at its current pace without me. It was a great experience, and I wish them the best. I'm still happy to help the Commission however I can in my role as a checkuser and former member. Thanks! --Deskana (talk) 17:47, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Data retention policy needs clarification

I just begun a discussion in Chinese Wikipedia regarding data retention by Check-User-executors in their personal computers and its implications for the risks regarding the possible data requests made to mainland Check-User-executors by local law enforcement.

There are some factual clarification needed on the current practices and policies of Check-User. I need answers.

  1. Is it allowed for individual Check-User-executors to make a copy of his or her Check-User working data (no matter the results)? Is there any specific policies to support or ban such action?
  2. Is it allowed for individual Check-User-executors to make Check-User judgement based on such data that is kept before three months ago? Is there any specific policies to support or ban such action?
  3. Is there any possibilities for local law enforcement outside the US to request the access to such working data through local Check-User-executors? Is there any Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for local Check-User-executors to respond to such requests, say local Chinese Wikipedia Check-User-executors facing direct data request from the law enforcement from People's Republic of China (PRC)?

There are currently four Check-User-executors, all of them is believed to be PRC citizens (one is likely to be based in Singapore based on self-reported information on individual user pages). There is another PRC citizen who just nominated himself to be the fifth Check-User-executor.

I personally believe that the current Check-User-executors are generally trust-worthy and have done great service to the Chinese Wikipedia community so far. However, I believe there are some risks to Chinese Wikipedians (including those who are not PRC citizens such as ROC/Taiwanese citizens), and to Check-User-executors themselves. I sincerely believe that these risks must be properly and preferably explicitly managed before any incidents occur.

--Hanteng (talk) 03:58, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

I was told by Shizhao and others that Check users can post and share some of the working data in the Wikimedia's checkuser wiki system, so as to combat more serious and persistant cases of vendalism without the limitation of 3-month data window. I personally think it is a good mechanism so as to minimize the necessiity for individual Check-User-executor to copy or store working data in their personal computers or devices. It also enhance administrative integrity if no individual Check-User-executor can copy or store working data selected by him- or her-self to make Check-User decisions based on locally stored older-than-3-month datasets. Thus, I would like to ban or disencourage individual Check-User-executor to copy or store working data in their personal computers or devices. It would also help ensure that the risks individual Check-User-executors have to take can be minimzed, especially for those inside People's Republic of China. --Hanteng (talk) 08:51, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

Call for applications

The call for applications for the 2/14-2/15 OC just went on on Wikimedia-L. Please submit your application if interested in helping out!

--Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:05, 10 December 2013 (UTC)



It's coming close to time for annual appointments of community members to serve on the Ombudsman commission. This commission works on all Wikimedia projects to investigate complaints about violations of the privacy policy, especially in use of CheckUser tools, and to mediate between the complaining party and the individual whose work is being investigated. They may also assist the General Counsel, the Executive Director or the Board of Trustees in investigations of these issues. For more on their duties and roles, see

This is a call for community members interested in volunteering for appointment to this commission. Commissioners should be experienced Wikimedians, active on any project, who have previously used the CheckUser tool OR who have the technical ability to understand the CheckUser tool and the willingness to learn it. They are expected to be able to engage neutrally in investigating these concerns and to know when to recuse when other roles and relationships may cause conflict. (In the past, commissioners have turned in other roles that could cause conflict.)

Commissioners are required to identify to the Wikimedia Foundation and must be willing to comply with the appropriate board policies (such as the access to non-public data policy and the privacy policy). This is a position that requires a high degree of discretion and trust.

If you are interested in serving on this commission, please drop me a note detailing your experience on the projects, your thoughts on the commission and what you hope to bring to the role. The commission is deliberately quite small, so slots are limited, but all applications are appreciated. The deadline for applications is January 1. Any timezone. :)

Please feel free to pass this invitation along to any users who you think may be interested.

Thank you!