Universal Code of Conduct/2021 consultations/Enforcement/Bangla, Assamese, and Bishnupriya Manipuri community
The Bangla Community consultation started on 2 February 2021 and ended on 8 March 2021. The duration of the consultation was 35 days. You can find the background on the Bangla community and the status of behavioral policy in the community.
The community was approached in several steps. At the beginning of the consultation (2 February 2021), the community was invited on the designated consultation page to participate in the consultation on Bangla Wikipedia. Then, several active and experienced editors were contacted via one-to-one chats. People were also reached out through the Bangla Wikipedia Telegram group, several Messenger chat groups, official Facebook groups, IRC channels, and more. A survey was launched a few weeks later. Both the survey link and discussion page link were put on the Bangla Wikipedia as a site notice till the end of the consultation — 8 March 2021. To attract the attention of female users of the community, 226 female editors were contacted on their user talk page through the MassMessage tool.
During the consultation period, several Wikimedia Bangladesh executive committee members and core members of the West Bengal Wikimedians User Group were interviewed.
It was observed that most people in the Bangla Wikipedia community did not face many conduct issues. In the survey, about 60% of participants chose to select “Not applicable” when they were asked the question about unacceptable behavior they faced or witnessed. However, it was brought to our notice that many community members are prone to harassment due to a lack of awareness about privacy. Many users have their personal information written on their user pages which are publicly visible to everyone. This can make many, easy targets. Major on-wiki harassments include personal attacks and insults. Most of the incidents are resolved on the on-wiki discussion page or on the parties’ talk pages with or without the administrator’s intervention.
However, off-wiki harassment is a major concern for Bangla Wikimedians. There have been incidents of people getting harassed due to their contributions or false representation of their contributions. This kind of harassment happens mostly for their contributions to - biography articles, articles on government or political organizations, articles on political figures, religion/ religious groups and organizations, etc.
During the consultation, we also saw suggestions to form a local peer group for support and safeguarding. It was suggested that this should be a group that can provide mentoring to victims to get their issues resolved. Also, if necessary, the group can guide the targets to other teams that are better positioned to address their situations and needs.
As of March 2021, the administrators play a major role in hearing, mediating, and resolving conduct issues on Bangla Wikipedia. The community is in favor of a separate enforcement body that can be tasked with conducting issues for not only Bangla Wikipedia, but also for the whole language community that includes other Bangla-language projects (i.e., Bangla Wikisource, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, and Wikivoyage).
The idea on tasks of such an enforcement body include:
- Quickly taking actions in cases of emergencies and guide the victim to the appropriate local body or Wikimedia Foundation to resolve the issue and decrease the chances of harm.
- Create awareness through workshops to decrease and eliminate chances to get harassed.
- Create awareness outside Wikimedia projects so that people can understand how Wikipedia works. This will help reduce the problems that arise due to false/wrong representation of contribution.
Bangla Wikipedia does not have a designated page to report conduct issues. It does not have any private reporting system either. Currently, victims have options to raise the issue in the local village pump or contact administrators on their talk pages or administrators’ noticeboard. In case of private requests, they usually contact the administrator(s) privately.
The community is in favor of a dedicated private reporting system—83.1% of survey participants think there should be a functional and easily findable private reporting system on the projects. There are several ideas regarding a reporting system. The most suggested one is reporting through an email ticketing service or mailing list. There are also proposals of on-wiki reporting features and a secret talk page to reach the enforcement body. To avoid misuse of such a system, most participants think providing evidence should be mandatory.
We also saw suggestions like putting such harassment reporting options on the welcome message so even the newbies can be encouraged to report and get help for behavioral issues.
Off-wiki harassment is a major concern for the Bangla Wikipedia community. This includes harassment in online platforms other than Wikipedia and/or insult and harassment in real life.
We were notified that some users get unwanted messages and contact requests on various social media channels about generic Wikipedia matters that could be discussed publicly. Engaging in communications through personal social media accounts also increases the risk of doxing. It has been suggested that there should be a policy against discussing Wikipedia matters on other social media platforms. This can also have a positive impact on the movement because there are matters of importance that should be discussed on-wiki to be resolved within the platform. There are blocked trolls who frequently harass active users on social media through unwanted and irrelevant messages from multiple social media accounts.
We saw that many users are deeply concerned and anxious about getting harassed in real life for their Wikimedia contributions. Due to active off-wiki engagement, several users’ real-life identities are publicly known/visible. As mentioned above, many users publicly expose their private information (real/legal name, phone numbers, addresses, workplace, etc.) and links to their social media accounts (i.e., Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.). Thus, they can be easily tracked for insults and harassment in real life or on social media platforms.
There is an increased risk of getting harassed for contributions on biographical articles, articles on government and political organizations, political figures, articles on religion, and religious groups. There have been incidents of such harassment in the community in the past. Due to several newly imposed laws or regulations in both Bangladesh and India, the risk rate of such harassment and harm has increased significantly.
Although affiliates do not control or have no influence on any content on any Wikimedia projects, during the consultation, members of both affiliates expressed the anxiety of getting harassed for content on Bangla Wikipedia. The concerns were about the unawareness of non-wikimedians and law enforcement agencies on how Wikipedia works and how its policies are enforced.
Expected support from the Wikimedia Foundation
The Bangla community expects quick and locally adjustable support from the Wikimedia Foundation. It has been suggested that WMF should find a way to support the victims in cases of off-wiki harassment. The support should not only include legal assistance but also a measure to prevent a possible risk of getting harassed. It has been suggested that sometimes content censoring for specific geolocation could help reduce harm to the local volunteers. There have been ideas to have specific legal firms or lawyers appointed by the WMF, so community members can contact them for legal advice and remedies for off-wiki harassment.
The survey was conducted only for the Bangla community. It received 65 responses. It had a combination of single and multiple-choice questions, short questions, and elaborative questions. Most participants provided responses to most questions.
Bangla Wiki community is one of the few communities to participate in both phases of UCoC consultations. It is an uprising community with many potentials. Most members of the community are active contributors to Bangla Wikipedia. It is a peaceful community and most of the participants stated that they did not witness harassment.
However, behavioral issues are not unknown to the community as there are members who witnessed a variety of harassment ranging from personal attacks to legal threats and physical harm. Although most members think administrators should be the primary enforcer for UCoC violations, there is also considerable support for a local peer support group and safeguarding team. The community is in favor of the UCoC and believes an effective reporting system is helpful. Many members of the community are concerned and faced off-wiki harassment in social media and real life and hope UCoC would offer a remedy to prevent such harassment.
Additionally, several members of the community expect WMF to help victims by providing localized solutions to prevent legal harassment.
The Assamese Wikipedia were consulted on their village pump. And some of their active contributors were contacted via talk page messages. Only two community members participated in the conversation, with one being an administrator who expressed support for the UCoC. But both the members did not have strong ideas on the enforcement.
Bishnupriya Manipuri Consultation
Bishnupriya Manipuri is a very inactive Wikipedia project. We announced the start of the consultation on Wikipedia but received no responses from the community.