Talk:Ombuds commission/Archives/2014

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2014 Ombudsman Commission announcement

Official announcement

Hello, everyone.

I'm writing with information about the Ombudsman Commission (OC), the small group of volunteers who investigate complaints about violations of the privacy policy, and in particular concerning the use of CheckUser tools, on any Wikimedia project for the Board of Trustees.

I apologize for the length of the announcement. :)

The application period for new commissioners for 2014 has recently closed. The Wikimedia Foundation is extremely grateful to the many experienced and insightful volunteers who offered to assist with this work.

Last year, the WMF made a change to the number of the OC on a trial basis. Although the OC is kept intentionally small due to the high level of trust required of its members, we expanded the commission from five members to seven. This expansion had two primary purposes. First, the commission bears a heavy responsibility of ensuring that users are granted the privacy that is their due under the Wikimedia Foundation's privacy policy. We hoped that an expansion of the commission would help them remain swiftly responsive to issues sent to them even when some of the commissioners had pressing matters beyond their volunteer work. Second, commissioners had traditionally been asked to surrender their checkuser functions on their home wikis during their term on the commission, a request that helped to reduce the potential for conflict of interest between the roles but which we also believed placed an undue burden on smaller projects that had fewer checkusers to assist. With a larger commission, commissioners were able to continue in that also critical function, only recusing if issues were raised relating to their direct colleagues.

At the beginning of this application period, we polled the current Ombudsman Commission, and their consensus is that the seven number functions very well for the role. We share that view. We believe that the benefit the additional two members brought to those areas is sufficient to the functioning of the OC to warrant the growth. However, since we believe it is important to carefully balance the need to keep this group small against the requirements that they remain flexible and available, we will continue to monitor this need going forward.

With this in mind, I am pleased to announce the composition of the 2014 OC.

Returning to the commission are two members who joined in 2013:

  • User:Huji, who primarily edits Farsi Wikipedia, where he is an administrator, bureaucrat and former

CheckUser. He has also contributed substantially to Simple Wikipedia, English Wikipedia and Meta and is a Wikimedia developer.

  • User:Levg, who primarily edits Russian Wikipedia, where he is an administrator, oversighter and bureaucrat and where he has twice served as an arbitrator.

Their willingness to remain, to bring their familiarity with processes and their experience to the new arrivals, is greatly appreciated!

Joining them are:

  • User:Avraham, who primarily edits English Wikipedia, where he is a CheckUser, oversighter, admin and bureaucrat. He also serves on Commons as an admin and oversighter and is a steward.
  • User:Gnom, Lukas Mezger, who primarily edits German Wikipedia. Lukas, a licensed attorney, has previously served Wikimedia as a legal intern for the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • User:M7, Mario Benvenuti, who primarily edits Italian Wikipedia, where he is also known as M/. Mario is also an admin and bureaucrat on Meta and a steward. He is a former CheckUser.
  • User:Polimerek, Tomasz Ganisz, who primarily edits Polish Wikipedia (where he is an admin and former arbitrator), Polish Wikibooks and Wikimedia Commons. He also serves the Wikimedia movement as the president of Wikimedia Poland and on the Grant Advisory Committee. He is a former CheckUser.
  • User:Stryn, who primarily edits the Finnish Wikipedia and Wikidata, serving as an admin on both and as an oversighter on Wikidata

2013 saw other changes in the Ombudsman Commission. The WMF was able to bring the majority of the OC together in person in San Francisco to discuss the best functioning of their role and how the Wikimedia Foundation could more fully support their work. Among other things, this resulted in a Request for comment on Meta concerning the OC's scope (, which is now before the Board. Particularly since the OC may be evolving, with new processes and practices created, and since 2014 may be a particularly important year for the OC with the proposed changes to the Privacy Policy (, we felt it was a good idea to ask two additional members of the OC to serve the 2014 commission in an advisory capacity. User:Sir48 and User:Thogo, who have both served the OC for three years, have consented to offer their guidance to the new commission and also, if necessary, to fill in in the unlikely event that the Ombudsman Commission is unable to act due to incapacity or recusal of seated commissioners.

  • User:Sir48 primarily edits the Danish Wikipedia, where he has previously served as a CheckUser. He also has focused on Meta and Commons, especially in translation. He joined the OC in 2011.
  • User:Thogo primarily edits the German Wikipedia, where he is an administrator and former arbitrator, and has also focused on the German Wiktionary and Meta. He is a steward and has served as an administrator on several other projects. He joined the OC in 2011.

Please join me in thanking the following volunteers, who have given substantially of their time to serve the commission, and who are not returning:

  • User:FloNight primarily edits English Wikipedia, where she is an administrator, CheckUser and oversighter and a former arbitrator. She has also focused on Commons, English Wikiquote and English Wikisource. She serves on the Funds Dissemination Committee. She joined the OC in 2011.
  • User:Erzbischof primarily edits German Wikipedia, where he is an administrator and former arbitrator. He joined the OC in 2013.
  • User:Deskana primarily edits English Wikipedia, where he is an administrator, CheckUser, oversighter and bureaucrat as well as a former arbitrator. He jointed the OC in 2013, but left in September after taking a position at the Wikimedia Foundation.

I'd also like to say a hearty thank you to those returning and those coming aboard for the first time, as well as to all those applied. Again, it was an extremely able group of volunteers, and while this mix of users may best serve the need for this year, I hope that those who applied will consider applying again for future commissions.



The composition of the 2014 Ombudsman Commission has just been announced on Wikimedia-L. The announcement text is above. In nutshell, the OC in 2014 will consist of:

Serving in an advisory capacity, and filling in if necessary, will be:

Thanks to User:Deskana and User:Erzbischof for their willingess to serve last year and User:FloNight for her service from 2011. :) See the announcement above, please, for more details. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 17:35, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

I just wanted to note that the transition of rights has started today. User:Erzbischof is retaining his access for a little longer as needed to help finish up an existing case. Thank you, User:Trijnstel. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 22:03, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
All Yes check.svg Done. Please poke me when the rights of Erzbischof need to be removed. And good luck to all new members. :-) Trijnsteltalk 22:08, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
@Maggie: any update regarding the ombudsmen rights of Erzbischof? Can I remove them now? Trijnsteltalk 19:00, 15 March 2014 (UTC)
User:Trijnstel, I'll check to see if he is still using them to wrap up his existing case. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 12:52, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
@Trijnstel: he is done with them - they concluded the case last week or the week before. Thanks for prompting! --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 16:25, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, rights removed now. :) Trijnsteltalk 16:43, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Call for applications - 2015 OC

New commission has been named.

The call for applicants for the 2015-2016 OC just went out. :) If interested, please apply! Deadline for applications is January 1, any time zone. Please send applications to my email, as I am collecting and processing these. ( Unless you apply right around Christmas (vacation for me!) you should get an acknowledgement within a day or two. If you apply right around Christmas up to the deadline, I'll get back with you as soon as I can but won't have quick access to tech. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 17:55, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Call for applicants

Hello, all.

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 the 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, please see

This is 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 kinds of 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, but per-case recusal is generally sufficient at our current levels of staffing this role.)

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. Operating proficiency in English is necessary; other languages are a plus, although not required - the OC is international in scope. 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 pass this invitation along to any users who you think may be interested.

Thank you!