Talk:Requests for comment/Wikimedia Foundation staff permissions

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  • I think this would be helpful. As I told kylu on IRC, I actually suggested something along these lines a while ago on the mailing lists when there was drama about board/staff with user rights. Personally, I think it would be easier if the staff position were split into staff / board or was just tagged with something more generic like "wikimedia". Cbrown1023 talk 02:30, 8 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I have to say this is quite well thought out. I've often wondered why this hasn't been done in the past. Staff should have these permissions, and a separate user group is the easiest & most drama-free way to accomplish this, as far as I can see.  – Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 02:34, 8 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • This is an excellent idea. Users granted permissions through the community should be treated the same regardless of their "other" jobs... if they fail a reconfirmation (for example), they can still continue their work should they need to with their extra right. Majorly (talk) 02:39, 8 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Seems a very well thought out proposal and one that would help to reduce a great deal of confusion. I would like to see it implemented. ++Lar: t/c 01:13, 9 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • In general, I think this is a very good idea. Separating out what rights people hold through local community involvement from those held through official Foundation staff roles makes a lot of sense and could avoid problems. My only worry is that to create only one "staff" group, that group needs to include all the rights. A lot of Foundation staff do not need oversight or checkuser rights - I wonder (thinking out loud here) if giving them out to all staff members regardless of whether they have a specific need for these is wise, and whether that might create a new source of controversy. WjBscribe 03:21, 9 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • I assume that staff who don't need to be using Oversight won't be using it... They'll have the button, but won't push it. Hopefully the staff are at least that trustworthy? Nevertheless, their logs will be subject to the same scrutiny as anyone else.  – Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 03:37, 9 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • I agree with WJBscribe, staff should use their rights when they need and and if they need it. Like Wikia has their own staff group, people who have all the rights available and they use it when necessary. Foundation Staff, office, board members and lead developers are classed as staff or atleast should be.--Cometstyles 09:22, 9 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I think this proposal is very good. I would have 2 suggestions though:
    I think the "staff" status should only be given to accounts dedicated to foundation actions. For example, fr:User:Cary Bass is a checkuser on frwp only for foundation purposes, and this is a different account from fr:User:Bastique. Just like Danny created an dedicated account on en.wikipedia when He was a Foundation employee. Imho not mixing accounts increases transparency.
    To solve the issue raised by WJBscribe about tools not every staff member would need (oversight, checkuser, etc.), I would suggest that the "staff" status users had steward capabilities, so that they can give themselves the tools they occasionally need. guillom 14:26, 10 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Guillom: I think the idea is that a single user group would contain all the permissions. This would certainly be more clear for most users. But yes, an account for actions made as staff would be a good idea.
    @Everyone: Is the following how this would work? Foundation staff would have staff on Meta, and would assign it to themselves wherever else they need to work? OR like this? Foundation staff have staff on Meta, and assign themselves other permissions on other wikis (like +sysop or +CU). I think the former is a better idea (and the 2nd is pointless if the staff user group has all the permissions of the other ones).  – Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 04:58, 11 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I rather like the ideas that the staff accounts be used only for "staff actions" and that once no longer a WMF employee, the permission is removed and the account turned over. ~Kylu (u|t) 05:08, 11 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Couple of comments on the current situation.
    1. As far as I'm aware, 'boardvote' isn't even used. The last time there were Board elections, an entirely separate site was used.
    2. I don't see any clear differentiation between the levels of staffers. Do the secretaries get the 'staff' right? Do interns working for the Foundation? Who does and who doesn't? And if they have it, is there any guarantee they'll have any idea what to do with it?
    3. For people like Cary, he has multiple accounts on certain wikis. The same can't be said for people like Tim and Brion. Will they be required to create new accounts?
    4. I suppose the largest opposition to this discussion that I have is that it seems kinda silly. I remember Anthere stepping in to Mike Godwin's Request for adminship because those who need +sysop, +oversight, or whatever else to do their job will get it. Similar to a janitor having keys to the headmaster's office -- he needs the access to do his / her job, and so he has it. Whether or not we call them 'steward', 'staff', or anything else, if there is a need for them to have a certain permission, they will have it. (Or, in the case of sysadmins, they can actually do everything without a log or action on-wiki.) Thus, debating what to call them is kinda silly.
    5. In certain cases, perhaps there should be a way to differentiate between people working under their jobs or people just normally editing. Eloquence explicitly states it when he is acting as part of the Foundation. Perhaps there are instructions for others to be sure to do the same.
    6. As for the argument that current steward elections are goofy to include the sysadmins and the Foundation people, I completely agree that it's goofy and a waste of people's time. Instead of adding a user group, why not simply exempt those people from re-confirmation?
  • --MZMcBride 05:12, 11 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Conceptually speaking, I think it is a good idea. We need a system to track "under which role a staff or board is acting". Danny met the same problem many times. I met it when I made Mike sysop. Cary is living the problem in a regular fashion. My only problem with it is that it will give access to some tools in an indiscriminated kindof way. Most of those stuff are interesting to Cary for example. Checkuser and oversight may also make sense to Mike. However, other staff members may not need such tools. And in some cases, it would straight be a bad idea that a staff member with very poor understanding of the project get access to one such tool. Can we brainstorm a little bit more about that ? Anthere 09:11, 13 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I'd tend to suggest that staff-bits only be given to those who are: 1) already familiar with how to use these tools, 2) to those who actually have need of them. Perhaps restrict its use inherently to sysop and steward, and require that they change rights locally (for the log, so the local community can tell that they're using a temporary permission) and immediately remove that right when done? ~Kylu (u|t) 17:59, 24 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I have been giving this some thought. In principle the idea is appealing (similarly stewards having certain rights for the duration of their stewardship) however Anthere has expressed the concern I was searching for. Some of these rights really only should be used with care. The temptation might be to say "as I can have them I will deal with this problem rather than asking for help"? In practice that is exactly why I have requested the rights I hold - I prefer not to have to ask. However, communities have expressed their views on me & I have a track record. It would concern me that staff might (with all good faith) "do" because they can? I'd like to see more discussion too --Herby talk thyme 09:25, 13 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've asked others for input and have had some concerns raised to me:

  • Currently, there is a level of separation so that such staff members *don't* have direct privs.
  • Okay, this is a major conflict with WMF's legal position: To be blunt, if this becomes policy, WMF will then be liable for content on all the projects. At the same time, I can *really* see where this would be useful in day-to-day operations. The reason why is that WMF is using a legal defense in that they are the host and have no control over the content. With this policy, staff members would have the ability to control the content. (I asked why this was not the case today.) The people who have permissions have them via their standing in the community: it's not part of their job
Input welcome. ~Kylu (u|t) 17:59, 24 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I like the sound of this proposal, even if it is only a formality. It introduces better differentiation between WMF actions and community actions, and that's something I definitely support. Anthøny 16:06, 21 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Arbitrary section break[edit]

We can now give staff permissions globally, which may be useful. Did this die off because we're not doing it, or...?  – Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 18:47, 31 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would still very much like to see this implemented. Cbrown1023 talk 19:17, 31 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am unclear why all staff need such wide powers. It suffices if the Board can get someone to do whatever is necessary, rather than have every single staff member with that capability. Why should every single staff member have the power to desysop an administrator, for example?--Cato 16:00, 1 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Danny used to have a "Dannyisme" account that was used for Office actions, IIRC. Would it be reasonable to have staffmembers create a "staff" accout, and have the extra permissions applied there as opposed to blending the permissions, even if it is a different usergroup, on the same account? This also ensures that everyone knows that the action was a staff action as opposed to a personal one. -- Avi 00:58, 19 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, that was suggested above; I think there was general agreement that this should be done regardless of whether this is adopted.  – Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 01:30, 19 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Seems obvious now that a global staff right should be used instead of granting them various meta-based custom rights, but it was only the twinkling of an eye when the idea was first proposed. ~Kylu (u|t) 02:16, 19 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Keep this to a community liaison (or a small team), who is/are liked by the community and the board, sure. Give them every right (which this basically proposes, developer and boardvote do nothing). If this winds up going to secretaries and accountants, bad things will happen. I have dealt with those people trying to be editors in the past... They should have 0 rights, less if possible. Prodego talk 06:01, 20 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Who qualifies?[edit]

  • Volunteer coordinator (Cary, any future assistants of his.)
  • Wikimedian WMF board of trustees members (That is, active editors.)
  • Wikimedians who are on the WMF legal team (Again, active editors.)

After a chat with others on the issue, elsewhere, it was determined that as Wikimedia Chapters are more "authorized promotional organizations" with no direct legal tie to the Foundation, they would not be considered "staff" of the WMF. Discussion on this matter is welcome.

Please discuss. ~Kylu (u|t) 04:11, 21 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why not just "those persons selected by the Volunteer Coordinator and/or the Chair of the Board who need it to fulfill their Foundation-related work"? (shorter, more clear cut... it's not like Mike can't tell Cary to add people on the legal team) Cbrown1023 talk 04:27, 21 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not to go off-topic, but have the legal consequences of adding a staff group been looked at by Mike, et al.? You mentioned above that there could be issues with giving WMF staff the ability to control content (possibly negating the argument that users are solely responsible for the content they post). As to this specific issue, I agree with Cbrown that having the Volunteer Coordinator / Chair of the Board make the selections seems reasonable. I see no mention of people like Brion, though. Would he be +staff? Would people like RobH? And if so, I don't see any specific group (of the three bulleted ones above) that they would fall into. --MZMcBride 21:48, 21 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Brion and RobH are both staff members, so they would qualify. Furthermore, Brion would find use of it because he often needs to verify bugs. (So we might want to add him to people who can select, Chief Technical Officer?) I do not think there would be legal consequences because they do not control content, they have the same role that they always have had... if their are certain problems received (i.e. BLP, DMCA takedown... etc.) they respond in the necessary way. However, I am sure Mike would look into this if a problem was perceived. Cbrown1023 talk 01:52, 22 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not steward[edit]

I think that the staff should not have the steward permission group as it is a little more than necessary. I would also strongly suggest that they use an alternate account for "office"-related edits. Stifle 14:20, 23 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What would you say is a user right the staff don't need? I can imagine they'd find a use for all the rights at some point. Majorly talk 14:37, 23 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Different version[edit]

Requests for comments/Special global permissions has the benefit of being partially implemented, global, and rather more robust and implementable. Kylu 02:56, 7 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

...and both have been implemented now, yay. Kylu 03:08, 6 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Amendments and clarifications[edit]

Please see a proposed amendment at Requests for comment/Distinguishing Wikimedia Foundation staff accounts for official actions and personal use.

Also relevant, a new right was created and given to staff without board approval, and is being discussed at:

and many other venues due to its 'innovative' qualities of dispute resolution. John Vandenberg (talk) 13:58, 21 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]