Talk:Trust and Safety/Case Review Committee

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New upcoming process![edit]

Hello, all. This is the first of several steps to creating a long-term appeal process for trusted community members who can review Trust & Safety actions. This committee is interim, expected to be operational until a permanent process is approved. (The permanent process may or may not be based on this; we’ll learn a lot by how this committee functions and what challenges and successes we have.) The charter published here will be followed soon by legal documents so you all can see the terms under which this committee will serve, by aggregate data on who has been appointed to the committee (which the Ombuds Commission has agreed to certify), and by process documents once we’ve finalized with the committee. Soon thereafter, we’ll be opening an inbox to submit review/appeal requests, and thereafter the new interim committee will be releasing aggregated data about their caseload.

I’m excited about standing up this committee and optimistic that it will help us calibrate Trust & Safety actions. I’ll be popping in as I can over the next few days to answer any questions here.

I do have the following caveats:

  • I can’t and won’t discuss specific Trust & Safety cases. Instead, I can discuss Trust & Safety protocols and practices and approaches as well as some of the mistakes we’ve made, some of the things I’m proud of, and some of the things we’re hoping to do, especially with this appeal body.
  • I will not respond to comments or questions that are disrespectful to me, to my colleagues, or to anyone in our communities. I can talk civilly about our work even if you disagree with me or I disagree with you. I make every effort not to be too sensitive, but if I think something crosses the line I won’t engage. I won’t compromise on this.

Look forward to talking. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:21, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

Queries re charter[edit]

Since the charter talkpage redirects here, it is presumably the best pl\ce to discuss it. WereSpielChequers (talk) 19:00, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

Because I feel somewhat awkward not responding, I just wanted to note that I see all these comments and read some with great interest. A lot of these will probably be (as you note) things that we discuss in putting together a permanent committee more than in the current interim process. Since that is part of phase 2 of the UCoC, and we're not there yet, I'm going to focus more on the interim process and recruitment. For instance, we are currently not spelling out in detail all facets that might create a conflict of interest but rather leaving it to the General Counsel to determine if a conflict exists; that might change. We are not currently asking for independent investigation, but that might also be adopted as part of the permanent process. I've got my own opinions on those things, of course, that I will share when we move into the permanent process creation! I will, however, carry the recommendation of language simplification I noted below. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 21:15, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
Oh, except I realize now that I misread your first note, WereSpielChequers - to be clear, people don't have to recuse per se - they will not be assigned to cases where the General Counsel and Chair feel a conflict of interest exists. That said, opening the possibility of recusal certainly seems sensible to me. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 21:17, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
I have sign-off from legal counsel to modify to reflect some of your clarification notes: [1]. Hopefully this will help encourage people to take responsibility for their own conflicts and also make clear that it's permissible to take some time off. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 22:26, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
Thanks Maggie, I tend to work from the assumption that "temporary" stopgaps often last longer than things intended to be permanent, and that the closer to the drafting stage you are the more likely drafting amendments will be welcomed. Mind you my experience may be different than others, I once served on a not for profit whose "unadopted draft constitution" was a photocopy of something typed up over half a century earlier, and thereby harder to change than something whose master copy was in a computer or wordprocessor. WereSpielChequers (talk) 15:07, 7 July 2020 (UTC)
Oh, wow, WereSpielChequers. :) Your input is appreciated, and I will make sure that it is heard and considered! The charter is apparently being reviewed by an external law firm as we are exploring legal protections related to this work, so substantive changes are somewhat limited for this phase, but even if this winds up being the basis, I'm sure there are elements that need to be improved! Probably at some point I'll copy all this over to the Charter talkpage for posterity and future building. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:26, 7 July 2020 (UTC)

Recusing[edit]

"Inform the Committee Chair and the General Counsel if at any time they are asked to review a case for which they feel they may have a conflict of interest (such as close relationship with an individual involved in a case) for their assessment of appropriateness of assignment." Would be shorter and clearer if expressed as "Members shall recuse from cases where they have a conflict of interest, such as close friendship or enmity re one or more of the parties." This is shorter, clearer, and would actually result in some recusals - the current wording requires people to inform, but not necessarily recuse. 19:00, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

Thanks, WereSpielChequers; I'll suggest that to the legal team. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 19:04, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
Thanks Maggie. WereSpielChequers (talk) 19:08, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Thanks Maggie, marking this point as resolved. WereSpielChequers (talk) 14:53, 7 July 2020 (UTC)

Predetermination[edit]

It seems to me that it would be unfair for someone to get "two bites of the cherry". If you are invited to sit on a case appealing a decision that you were already involved in, even as an uninvolved admin handling the complaint before it went to T&S, then even if you don't have a conflict of interest, you aren't going to be a suitable person to look at the case with fresh eyes. WereSpielChequers (talk) 19:08, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

Agree with this suggestion; members should recuse from conflicts of interest or cases that they have had any involvement in, particularly if the member had made decisions related to the case. – Ajraddatz (talk) 19:17, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Thanks Maggie, marking this point as resolved. WereSpielChequers (talk) 14:50, 7 July 2020 (UTC)

Former staff[edit]

Assuming this charter will morph into something longer term, you might want to revisit "Current and past Foundation staff are prohibited, as are current staff of movement affiliates." I would suggest clarifying whether this includes contractors as well as staff, and capping the ineligability period. "Current and past Foundation staff and contractors are ineligible to serve for at least seven years after they ceased to be employed by the Foundation." You could leave the rule about affiliate staff as just current ones, or for simplicity put that under the same seven year rule. Seven years is long enough to ensure psychological safe distance between those people and the current T&S staff. I'm not precious about it being specifically seven years, more that it not be permanent. WereSpielChequers (talk) 19:23, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

How long an absence?[edit]

Re "The General Counsel may appoint one or more additional international volunteer functionaries to serve as alternate committee members to act in the place and stead of any absent volunteer committee members." You need to set an expectation of activity levels-how long can a member sit out or take a break before being deemed absent? Given that this is a volunteer role that needs to be a few weeks, though perhaps only a few days if someone takes on a case review and goes inactive before it finishes. WereSpielChequers (talk) 19:35, 6 July 2020 (UTC) (Update, the charter currently specifies that volunteers must commit to five hours per week for the duration of their service, a big ask and one that will exclude some people who know that the period in question will include a week or two when they are unavailable for work, religious or family reasons. I suggest this be reviewed to make it more open to people with complex lives. WereSpielChequers (talk) 20:20, 6 July 2020 (UTC) Yes check.svg Done Thanks Maggie, marking this point as resolved. WereSpielChequers (talk) 14:51, 7 July 2020 (UTC)

Independent investigation[edit]

The problem with "by reading existing Trust & Safety case files (not by independent investigation);" is that you are recruiting a group of Wikimedians who are well versed in independent investigation of on Wiki disputes, and then not allowing them to contemplate the scenario that T&S may have erred in the way it assembled its case files. I would suggest that mistakes will happen, even by T&S employees, and that some of the easiest cases to handle will be ones where the bewildered appellant has not been able to see the evidence, but a review committee has the chance to spot the mistake in evidence collection, or the oversight edit that has confused an edit history, and thereby resolve an issue and create a situation where T&S will want to apologise and rethink. I predict that the difficult cases will be ones where the committee agrees that the evidence is as per collection, but draws a different conclusion from it. WereSpielChequers (talk) 20:20, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

Maggie Dennis clarified on ENWP [2] that CRC members will be allowed to independently investigate. I believe requirement 6 is intended to mean "you must be able to spend five hours a week reading case files as well as any independent investigation you find necessary." Given that it has caused confusion it might be better if T&S remove the bracketed part. --RaiderAspect (talk) 12:56, 7 July 2020 (UTC)
Thanks, RaiderAspect. :) I should have mentioned that here, too. I'll ask Legal if we can note in some way that independent investigation is not required, but permitted. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:13, 7 July 2020 (UTC)

Anonymity[edit]

Could you elaborate a little on the exact thinking behind the anonymity? I can understand that some level of anonymity is required - but how far will it go? Can members self-disclose their membership? In small circle (employer, family)? On their resume? When disclosing conflict of interest elsewhere? Afterwards? Will anything be published about the members (number of members, levels of achieved diversity)? Can the committee publish some general performance report (how many cases, what kind of outcomes, etc - basically the stuff that I'd expect from any team/committee in a review role)? From your description I'm not entirely certain if you're mostly concerned for the wellbeing of the member, or are concerned that they will be pressured to disclose information (in which case I can think of a lot of other functionaries that have access to much more sensitive information). Effeietsanders (talk) 07:34, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

Hello, Effeietsanders. :) I'll start with the middle - Yes, we are going to publish number of members, levels of achieved diversity, likely the kinds of experience they bring. The Ombuds Commission has agreed to verify this. The committee will also be publishing performance reports. Some processes are waiting final definition for the committee to be constituted, but that they publish this kind of data is one of the responsibilities of taking the position. We expect these reports quarterly, unless we are utterly shocked to find out that they are not very busy after all. :)
Now, for the larger question, you are right that the secrecy has two purposes - to protect committee members and to protect community. At one point, to make sure that Trust & Safety case files were handled properly, we invited external counsel to review and advise our practices, and one of the key recommendations is that case files needed to be held in strict confidence. Outside of Trust & Safety staff, they are viewable as a general rule to me, to the attorney who governs the workflow, to the general counsel, and to the Executive Director. Finding a way to comply with that while still being able to share unredacted files with volunteers has been a challenge for our legal team, but this committee will be a contract that is (I'm told) not like any other committee in the movement. We're going to publish the contract once it is completed; I'm not expecting to see it myself until towards the end of July. (The firm we're working with has a deadline of July 24.) At that point, we'll see the extent of the non-disclosure requirements. I know that the request not to self-disclose is engineered to protect not only people who submit sometimes very sensitive information to Trust & Safety, but also to protect the other people on the committee from discovery through the person who self-discloses, whether that's through litigation or otherwise. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 12:28, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
@Mdennis (WMF): Thanks for the first - good to know that transparency where possible is aimed for. The Ombuds committee seems like a good body to verify indeed.
I understand your concerns that these files need to remain confidential, and that is fair enough. I wouldn't expect anything different. I'm also glad that there's a thorough NDA process - these can be potentially highly sensitive files, especially as the committee members may have to interact with people that know the subjects.
It's good that you'll publish the exact extent of the NDA (or 'contract'). I do have some problems with the secrecy of who holds which position (it's a tough disconnect from our typical transparency, and I"m having trouble coming up with an equivalent). Given that you're looking for volunteers that have a real life job, which may have disclosure requirements for this kind of position, or that just feel ethically constrained in keeping secret the mere fact that they are holding a position potentially for eternity, this seems like a potential big ask. I hope you'll reconsider and find a way to make it work without this hard ask. I can understand that people are not allowed to 'out' a colleague - but I'm having most concerns about people not being allowed to disclose their own involvement. ::Aside from that general concern, I'm having some trouble understanding how you can expect people to apply before the extent of the secrecy is known. It may make sense to extend the application deadline until after that is clear - so that they can consider the full picture when applying. Effeietsanders (talk) 20:33, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
Hi, Effeietsanders. Thanks. I hear your feedback, and it's certainly valuable. There will be opportunities to shape the permanent processes in phase 2 of the Universal Code of Conduct, so at that point any remaining questions about self-outing should be very clear and we should be able to talk more broadly about what works for the final form and what doesn't. We do want to get the committee functional, though, and even with current deadlines I fear it'll be mid-August before they can begin reviewing cases. But for what it's worth, the contract will be complete before the members of the committee are appointed and signed before they meet one another. Nobody is required to follow through with signing the contract. If somebody applies and then feels unable to meet that commitment, I am very, very sure there will be no ill will. Volunteers deserve respect for raising their hand, and they absolutely have the right to change their minds before any legal documents are signed. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 21:06, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
I think I understand the case for anonymity of participants. I'm not sure that I agree, but I think I understand. However I don't see the need for former members to be obliged not say they have served a term on this body, especially if former members lose all access to case files and other info at the end of their term. WereSpielChequers (talk) 21:24, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

End of term[edit]

Given that it is not that unrealistic that the deadline of July 21, 2021 will be missed by a few weeks, I would suggest to allow the general counsel (possibly with consent of the committee) to provide a one-time extension of the term up to six months, if there is a clear finalization of the new committee in sight (e.g. if we know the new committee will start by September 1, I see no point in running a call for applications just for that one month). I wouldn't want to put too much artificial pressure on finishing up the new process at a very specific date. Effeietsanders (talk) 07:34, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

That's a very good point, Effeietsanders. I'll talk with Legal. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 12:29, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
Thank you, Effeietsanders. It doesn't impact the contract being written with assistance of external counsel, so it is an easy change. Done! --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 18:19, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

active arbs[edit]

If a particular project decides it does not want it's currently serving arbitrators to also serve on this committee (due to potential conflicts of interest, reviewing their own requests, etc) will the foundation respect that? There's no other way to actually enforce it since membership is confidential. Beeblebrox (talk) 19:20, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

Oh, yes. I see no reason to push those boundaries. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 20:01, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
I figured as much, thanks! Beeblebrox (talk) 21:04, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

Access to Case files[edit]

Maybe I have missed it, but it isn't clear to me whether access to case files will be specific to just the panel members reviewing a specific case, or whether all members will have access to all currently considered cases. Given the anonymity of the members, it would be somewhat reassuring if the members only had access to the specific cases that they were reviewing; I appreciate that would be more difficult in IT terms, but it would be much better in privacy terms. WereSpielChequers (talk) 21:40, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

Sorry for lack of clarity, WereSpielChequers! Case files will absolutely only be shared with members assigned, with the exception of the chair, who will be able to see all cases that pass through the committee. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 22:31, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
Thanks Maggie, that's good to hear. I suggest it would be good to change the charter to make that clear. But you might also want to think again re occasions where the Chair has recused from an item. I get the idea that the Chair should default to general access to all cases open whilst they are Chair. But I think it important that they can recuse from an item and not have access to those files. WereSpielChequers (talk) 12:33, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
Both good points, WereSpielChequers. I'll have to check to see if these changes to the charter would impact the counsel building the contract on it before I change it, but I can't imagine it would. It can also be clearly spelled out in the process documents that we'll be publishing after the committee is constituted (and we've evolved our thinking with them). --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:13, 9 July 2020 (UTC)

Accountability[edit]

What sort of accountability will the committee have? While I do have good relationships with many on the OC, I worry that we will get into a situation like this and this where the cases (regarding potential violations of privacy!) appear to just be sitting there and not acted upon. I hope that WMF will be looking at having editors on the committee who will actively participate. --Rschen7754 00:40, 9 July 2020 (UTC)

Hello, Rschen7754. Active participation is a requirement, but we will also be directly supporting this team with its accountability. I have budget to hire a contractor (confirmed yesterday!) who will be helping schedule their cases, there is a time window for review, and reports will happen on a regular cadence. If people do not participate, the General Counsel has the right to remove them from the committee and replace them with somebody who will. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:11, 9 July 2020 (UTC)

Volunteer expectations[edit]

The requirement for volunteers joining the committee to devote 5 hours a week for at least half a year is unusually high. I think rather few volunteers consistently contribute more than 5 hours a week to their home project, let alone sparing 5 hours to handle cross-wiki conduct issues in addition to contributing to their home wiki. I admire the aim to create a case review committee that is diverse and draws expertise from the existing volunteer community, but the workload specification will likely limit the committee membership to a very small circle of volunteers - similar to board members of local chapters - who have a lot of time to contribute in a volunteer capacity and therefore will likely come from a very skewed demographic. Deryck C. 23:23, 9 July 2020 (UTC)

Hello, Deryck C. :) I really hope that 5 hours a week is an overestimate - we set it as the upper end with that hope in mind - but we really just won't know until we see this committee in action. For that matter, I rather expect they may see a flurry of activity early on, if there are people who feel that sanctions they received were unfair or if other feel that requests they made that didn't result in sanctions were unfair. You make a good point, though - if in the interim body we see that this workload is accurate and consistent (or, worse, higher), we may need to adjust the number of members of the permanent committee or take some other steps to make it more reasonable. It may well limit those who are able to serve in this interim stage, but I hope we can avoid that for the long term. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 23:40, 11 July 2020 (UTC)

Secret Kafka-process?[edit]

Seems like Wikimedia becomes increasingly secret. Secret indictments. Secret processes. Secret tribunals. Secret verdicts. This becomes more and more Kafkaesque! The only thing public is who gets banned. People are even being banned for complaining about lack of transparency in the process. If people are banned publicly, then the people involved in the process must be publicly accountable. They have a right to face their accusers in the same domain! — Jeblad 11:38, 12 July 2020 (UTC)

Hey Jeblad,
In all fairness: the 'secret' bans have been going on for years as part of the 'office actions'. Some of that secrecy is unavoidable for legal reasons - but some cases have raised eyebrows over the past years. This committee is an attempt to put a check on that process: a community committee that can evaluate whether this secret process was fair and balanced, and whether maybe it shouldn't have been secret at all. I think that is a huge step forward.
I have some critiques on the way the committee is being put together, but overall it seems to support exactly the values that you signal to be important: due process and transparency-where-possible. I would suggest that you weigh in further during the discussions on a permanent committee that were basically announced here too: this is supposed to be an intermediate step so that there is some reviewing process in place while we discuss a 'real process'. Effeietsanders (talk) 18:00, 12 July 2020 (UTC)
This is an attempt to fix a broken process by adding new layers to it. Start by fixing the existing broken parts, only then will it make sense to add a review committee.
Secret tribunals banning users as part of local and office actions should stop. Period. I know a few people that has been permbanned, and the optics are quite bad.
The core problem is lack of transparency and accountability. If someone do something, then it should be clear who did what, and the person should be identifiable. That points back to the even more urgent problem; the complete lack of traceability on users. Perhaps it is acceptable to let ordinary users operate without identification, but admins? These are users that have the power to disrupt a persons' life! — Jeblad 01:46, 13 July 2020 (UTC)
I think your whole argument stands or falls with the major assumption that this kind of transparency to have 'public trials' (which is what you seem to argue for? Correct me if I'm misinterpreting.) is legally even possible. I imagine both US law and EU law (privacy) may prove challenging here. From what I understand, the WMF may have a legal obligation to act on complaints without disclosing the identity. If I understand that correctly, there will always be some kind of process that requires confidentiality. Then it becomes a matter of shades: when do you want to use this process. That is not just a legal question, but also an ethical. Sounds like a great discussion. But whatever the outcome, you'll need some kind of process like this. I don't know the people you're referring to, and what really happened. But with a process like this, at least their cases could be reviewed. Effeietsanders (talk) 18:07, 13 July 2020 (UTC)
@Mdennis (WMF): I suspect that there is some cleaner writeup of the legal reasons that this may have to be done confidentially. I was unable to find it from Office actions, or am I overlooking it? It links to the relevant legislations though. Effeietsanders (talk) 18:10, 13 July 2020 (UTC)
Hello, Effeietsanders. There is not a cleaner writeup, I'm afraid. :/ I'm not a lawyer, but I've been involved in this workflow from the start. When the Foundation first started issuing office action bans, we had very strict parameters, and all cases were on a need-to-know basis within staff. When we carved out a Trust & Safety team, it became standard for all Trust & Safety ops personnel to be able to access cases, but external counsel advised that other staff should not have access to case files for legal reasons. This committee will have access because they're going to be asked to enter an unprecedented legal arrangement with the Foundation which makes them eligible for a level of access similar to staff. I'll see if we can document the restrictions and reasons better, especially as we will undoubtedly need to visit these reasons during the second phase of the UCoC. I can say that I have access to every case file, and no Foundation ban has ever been issued "for complaining about lack of transparency in the process" - not one. I cannot speak to local processes. Every Foundation ban undergoes legal review before implementation, even the ones that don't rise to the level of being legally mandatory to protect the movement, and I do not believe that any Foundation lawyer would ever sign off on a Foundation sanction that was not defensible as a response to violations of our Terms of Use. I've never seen it. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 18:39, 13 July 2020 (UTC)
A process can be confidential to the outside, yet still transparent for the involved. The problem here is that the process is said to be confidential and because of that non-transparent. You have a group A that does something to a person outside that group, and a group B that is sort of responsible for wetting group A's actions. The accused person have no idea who is in group A, and no idea who is in group B. Group B claim they act somehow neutral, but without knowing who they are it is nothing more than an unsubstantiated claim. It is like an email popping up in your spamfilter claiming you have won 42 billion – if you pay the sender first.
Redesign the process. Everyone does not need to be involved, but creating secret tribunals is not the way forward. — Jeblad 23:48, 13 July 2020 (UTC)
Hello, Jeblad. We are not able to redesign the process at this point; the permanent process may look different, but the confidentiality of membership is important to protect members and people who are involved in cases. There are legal risks involved, and we are trying to mitigate those as much as possible. That said, Group A is identified; we are Foundation staff members. There is a detailing of who does office actions here. It's true that Group B's identity will be known only to some Foundation staff and the volunteer Ombuds, who have agreed to verify aggregate details about that group, although five stewards will be assisting with vetting applicants and will know who applied. It will not reassure everyone, but it is currently the best approach we have to enable appeals now while we tackle some of the larger questions in the upcoming Universal Code of Conduct conversations. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:14, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
I don't think you understand the problem. When you say “we are Foundation staff members” it is at the core of the problem. Just claiming to be Foundation staff does not make you part of the community. Then you try to counteract that with an additional committee, with some members you claim represent the community, but you want to keep it secret who they are. Why should the community trust your claim? What if the persons' accuser sits in the Case Review Committee? Who would know? WMF? But WMF is already part of the case!
I have been around long enough to see abuse of power done by admins, 'crats, and stewards, and I don't think anyone should be trusted just because they have some special role. Actually, when someone starts hording roles in a community, then I start to be suspicious. Who benefits from assigning new roles to some special group, is there something else going on? Why would WMF want to pick these members from a limited group? Could it be that the Trust and Safety group has run into fierce resistance in the larger community?
Sorry, but I don't buy the arguments. Do it right or drop the idea. [I believe I've said enough. This is not going to change, no matter what argumens I or any other uses.] — Jeblad 15:39, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
(Edit conflict.) Oh, Jeblad, when you said, "The accused person have no idea who is in group A" I guess you meant "don't know the character of the persons". It seems I took you too literally. I'll try to ask clarifying questions next time. In terms of the core of what you find problematic, I'm not sure there's a solution at this point. I imagine that people who feel that the Foundation's lawyers might have enough bias to put a case review in front of a person materially involved in the case will indeed find this committee and its work hard to trust. There's no way to address that concern in this interim process; I'm not sure that it'll be easy to address in the permanent process, but I hope you will contribute to those conversations when they happen in phase 2 of the UCoC. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:50, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
There is a real issue that committee members and indeed T&S staff will sometimes have had prior interactions with people involved in a case, and it is only human to be prejudiced by past interactions. Ideally they will remember this and recuse where appropriate. But anonymity of members and staff removes a really important safeguard. Who but the person who should have recused would be in a position to know and suggest recusal? I'm tempted to ask how often T&S staff have recused from specific cases in recent years. WereSpielChequers (talk) 18:32, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
Hello, WereSpielChequers. We don't track that data (would be interesting! We should consider the value add versus the time cost), but there are two that have closed within the past three months where staff have recused. It's not that common that cases come up where familiarity is an issue, but it does happen - in fact, I have recused myself. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:02, 27 July 2020 (UTC)
Thanks Maggie, it is very reassuring and to the credit of those who have recused, that recusals have taken place. My concern is that with this level of secrecy we are left reliant on the honour of people who we won't be allowed to know the identity of. I prefer systems with more safeguards built in. WereSpielChequers (talk) 15:06, 27 July 2020 (UTC)

Legal Aid Coverage[edit]

Two things here:

One is that it's probably worth updating the coverage that assists functionaries, admins, OTRS agents etc if they are sued for carrying out those duties. I know there's some general language used that could be expanded to cover those that join, but where possible these things should always be clarified.

Beyond that, this position is being fairly heavily stressed as "there could be RL backlash if your position was ever compromised". It is also a position that may give cause to the WMF to dislike you.

Because of those two things, I think it should be updated that in the event that WMF decided not to provide legal aid coverage (as it currently leaves it 100% to the WMF's discretion), a majority vote of the Case Review Committee should be able to require it. That would give some coverage against true bad-faith actors not being protected whilst mitigating against an unlikely, but potentially catastrophic, edge case. @Mdennis (WMF): Nosebagbear (talk) 19:15, 17 July 2020 (UTC)

Hi, Nosebagbear. I can point legal to the question with regards the general language of Legal/Legal Fees Assistance Program, but I do want to note that this Case Review Committee is a separate animal and as I understand it it is not protected by the LFAP but by the contract the members will sign with the Foundation. This contract is in final stages of preparation, and I expect it will be posted to Meta. (The decision to do that is a legal one, though; so it's not ultimately up to me.) I know it will be signed with members of the Committee on their acceptance before they have access to any confidential information. That said, I have absolutely no reason to believe that participating in this committee will cause the WMF to dislike anyone, at least not as long as they abide by their contract and protect confidential information. :) We have created the committee with the idea that they are very likely to overturn some decisions; staff can't take that personally. If these were 'bright line' cases, there wouldn't be a need for a committee. We don't always even agree with each other. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:53, 20 July 2020 (UTC)

Relation with WMF Global Ban Policy[edit]

WMF Global Ban Policy currently says WMF banned users are unappealable, so they may not request review after the ban happens. So:

  1. Will CRC receive information about the WMF ban?
  2. Will CRC review the issue before the ban?

--GZWDer (talk) 16:59, 27 July 2020 (UTC)

Hello, GZWDer. This process will override that. Many WMF bans will be appealable after this committee is active. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 17:12, 27 July 2020 (UTC)
Does this also applies retroactively? And is the ban still appealable even if the concern is valid? (all ArbCom actions are appealable no matter how serious the issue is, as long as ArbCom no longer thinks the ban is necessary. This provided a way for long-term abusive users to rejoin the community.)--GZWDer (talk) 17:16, 27 July 2020 (UTC)
Just to be sure this part is clear, GZWDer, this does not relate to community issued sanctions. This only relates to Foundation sanction. It is retroactive. Bans may be overturned even if the concern is valid if, for instance, the committee decides that the Foundation should not have been the ones to issue the sanction. However, local communities have authority to act in such cases if there is concern. Not all cases are subject to appeal; this is only for borderline cases where the Foundation does not have a duty as host to act to protect the sites and the communities. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:52, 28 July 2020 (UTC)

Relation with local ArbCom[edit]

w:WP:ARBFRAM suggested that there are information that ArbCom does not have access to. However I do not have any way to prevent some ArbCom member that is also member of CRC "leaks" the information, other than prevent all local member from applying CRC membership, and vice versa.--GZWDer (talk) 17:02, 27 July 2020 (UTC)

To join the committee, members must sign a legal document wherein they legally commit not to share information. Applicants are being assessed for experience and trustworthiness, so I hope we can rely on those individuals to keep their legal contract. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 17:13, 27 July 2020 (UTC)

Access to private resources[edit]

As Case Review Committee is anonymous, is the only way to view private data (e.g. Checkuser data, and access to private checkuser wiki) to set up specific role accounts (whether one per member, or one for the whole commitee)?--GZWDer (talk) 14:18, 28 July 2020 (UTC)

The Case Review Committee does not have access to such data as part of their role in the committee. committee members who are CheckUsers may, of course, but they do not need that data to fill this role for this committee. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:28, 28 July 2020 (UTC)

Community-selected anonymous membership[edit]

The proposed Review Committee is intended to represent the volunteer community, which is something that would normally be accomplished by a community process of some sort. However, due to legal and safety issues, the Legal department requires that all members of the team be anonymous (even relative to their usernames), so the plan is to have Legal select from a set of private applications, thus having a team that is anonymous, but not representing the community. I propose a different way, which would fulfill both requirements:

  1. The community should hold an open call for nominations, and then, by a public and open process, approve a suitably large multiple of the required number of members. The approved individuals should be sufficiently trusted by the community to serve on the Committee.
  2. The Ombuds Commission would then select the required number of members completely randomly from the approved candidates, and then privately communicate the results to T&S. No successful candidate would be permitted to reveal whether or not they were among those selected, ensuring that the membership is anonymous.
  3. If any disqualifications are necessary due to legal issues, this should be done in advance of the selection, in public.

I realize this it is very late in the process to implement such a change, with a lot of the preparation already finished, but I feel that the current plan is likely to strongly exacerbate tensions between the community and the WMF, and will not allow the process to adequately accomplish its goals. Allowing the community to approve the anonymous members of the community committee seems like a necessary step. I urge the team to please consider changing the process, late as it is. --Yair rand (talk) 06:13, 3 August 2020 (UTC)

Hi, Yair rand. That's an interesting approach and might wind up something that happens with the permanent committee. We are well into establishing the committee now, however, as the legal document is being finalized. However, I do want to clarify that Legal did not select from a set of private applications, but selected from the finalists approved by the subset of stewards who agreed to vet candidates - not randomly, but 10 from the group that they advanced. Other finalists have been asked to go on stand-by in case we need stand-ins or replacements for those selected. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 18:08, 4 August 2020 (UTC)