Talk:Ombuds commission/Archives/2015

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2015 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 2015 recently closed. The Wikimedia Foundation is extremely grateful to the many experienced and insightful volunteers who offered to assist with this work.

As with last year, this year’s OC will consist of seven members, with a two-member advisory team who will guide the new commission and also, if necessary, fill in in the event that the OC is unable to act due to incapacity or recusal. Last year’s advisors rose to full membership when two members found themselves unable to complete their terms due to competing time demands.

I am pleased to announce the composition of the 2015 OC.

  • 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. He joined the OC in 2014.
  • 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. In 2014, he was elected to the Board of Wikimedia Deutschland, where he serves as co-Vice Chair. Gnom joined the OC in 2014.
  • User:Polimerek, Tomasz Ganicz, 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. Polimerek joined the OC in 2014.
  • User:Alhen, Erlan Vega, who primarily edits Spanish projects. He is a bureaucrat and administrator on the Spanish Wikipedia and Spanish Wikibooks, and is also an administrator on Commons. A prior member of the Spanish ArbCom, before it was dismantled, he is a checkuser on the Spanish Wikipedia.
  • User:Barras, who is primarily active on the Simple English Wikipedia and Meta. He’s a steward, an oversighter on Simple English and Meta, and also a CheckUser on Simple and Meta.
  • User:PhilKnight, who primarily edits the English Wikipedia. A former member of its arbitration committee and currently serving on its mediation committee, he is also a checkuser, oversighter and administrator there.
  • User:Rubin16, who primarily edits the Russian Wikipedia, where he is a bureaucrat and administrator. He is formerly a member of their Arbitration Committee. He is an administrator on Wikimedia Commons and is a Central Notice and translation admin on Meta. (He is also a translation admin on Commons.) He is a member of Wikimedia Russia, responsible for press contacts and financial reporting. He also serves on the IEG and Grant Advisory Committees.

The 2015 OC’s advisors are:

  • 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. Huji joined the OC in 2013.
  • User:Thogo primarily edits the German Wikipedia, where he is an administrator and former arbitrator, and has also focused on Meta. He is a former steward and has served as an administrator on several other projects. He joined the OC in 2011.

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

Please join me in thanking the following volunteers, who have given substantially of their time to serve the commission:

  • User:Levg, who primarily edits Russian Wikipedia, where he is an administrator, oversighter and bureaucrat and where he has twice served as an arbitrator. He joined the OC in 2013.
  • 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. Last year, he agreed to stay on in advisory capacity, and we are so grateful that he was willing to step back into full service mid-year when several members were forced to depart.

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. (Resigned in June due to time conflicts.)

  • User:Stryn, who primarily edits the Finnish Wikipedia and Wikidata, serving as an admin on both and formerly serving as an oversighter on Wikidata. (Resigned in July due to time conflicts.)

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 2015 Ombudsman Commission has just been announced on Wikimedia-L. The announcement text is above. In nutshell, the OC in 2015 will consist of:

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

Great appreciation goes out to the departing members of the OC. User:Levg and User:Sir48, we are grateful. Sir48, we are particularly grateful to you for agreeing to take on full membership again midyear when you had only signed on to be an advisor. :) User:M7 and User:Stryn, while both required by time constraints to withdraw midyear, your service on the 2014 OC is also much appreciated. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:34, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

Title does not match duties

The title "ombudsman" means something - see d:Q169180 or en:Ombudsman for more information.

The commission is great. I appreciate the contributions of anyone who serves on it. The people in this role serve an essential function.

The "ombudsman commission" here is not doing ombudsman work in any usual sense of the term. I would not want anyone to think that the Wikimedia community has any named ombudsman available. When I think of an ombudsman, I think of a person who is available to hear and confirm any sort of complaint, and particularly complaints about the highest authorities in an institution. The ombudsman commission here has narrow oversight over only the volunteers who use checkuser tools.

It might be worthwhile to rename this position to match its role. "Privacy enforcement" might be appropriate.

Am I missing anything, or mistaken on some point? Why was the name "ombudsman" chosen here? Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:27, 8 December 2015 (UTC)

Bluerasberry, while some ombudsman positions in the wider world are broad and general, many have more limited mandates, and look at a specific aspect of an organisation or practice. In this case, it is an independent body from the local projects where checkuser is in place, and provides independent review how that tool is used. I wasn't involved in the discussions where the name was decided upon, however, and can't speak to how/why it was chosen. Patrick Earley (WMF) (talk) 22:34, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
PEarley (WMF) I do not expect you or anyone else to respond.
My perspective is that your job description makes you the closest thing WMF has to an ombudsman. Blue Rasberry (talk) 23:18, 8 December 2015 (UTC)

Call for Applications - OC 2016

New commission has been named.

Hello all,

As the end of the year approaches, the Ombudsman Committee seeks new members. 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 the main page.

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. It is important that volunteers for this role commit to being active in their work on this commission, including participating in email discussions and, ideally, occasional virtual meetings.

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 at 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. Patrick Earley (WMF) (talk) 22:22, 8 December 2015 (UTC)