Universal Code of Conduct/2021 consultations/Enforcement/Malay community

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Malay Wikipedia (Wikipedia Bahasa Melayu; ms.wikipedia.org/mswiki) was established in October 2002, the first South-East Asian language to have its own Wikipedia project. Per 10 March 2021, it has 347,137 articles, making it the 34th largest Wikipedia edition overall. On an average day, its articles are edited 577 times and 30 new articles are created. The project has 583 active editors and 15 administrators. It has two sister projects, Malay Wiktionary and Malay Wikibooks. Unlike its neighbouring ESEAP language communities such as in Indonesia and the Philippines, Malay Wikimedians basically remained an exclusively online community with almost no offline activities for fourteen years (a community-wide “general meeting” was planned but were eventually not held due to lack of interest and commitment in 2008) up until the first Wikimedia meetup in Nusajaya, Johor on May 2016, which led to the establishment of the Malaysia user group (WMYS) and its recognition by the WMF Affiliation Committee in 2017. In the past four years, the offline Wikimedia community, mainly based within the Malayan Peninsula but also has contributors in Singapore, Brunei, and Sabah has grown and became an integral part of the ESEAP Wikimedia hub.

Current state of behavioral policy[edit]

In general, there is no unique behavioral policy in mswiki. Most of the standard policies were developed in a time period between August 2006 and July 2013 by seven users who contributed to at least one policy, with rest copied with minor revisions from the English Wikipedia. There are no comprehensive policies for enforcement either, so the sysops are generally left to enforce basic standards on an ad hoc/case-per-case basis.

Two long standing concerns of the community that borders on the behavioral policy, which has been put up in the spotlight many times but are yet to reach any form of consensus that result in a written policy and/or enforcement, are:

  • Existence of pornographic and/or sexual contents: first raised in 2009 and brought back into attention in 2011 and 2013, was largely solved by putting a warning {{18sx}} template for content articles that depicts pornographic and/or sexual contents and limit the amount of permitted contents on articles.
  • Contribution of anonymous users: largely mirrors the debate on the contribution of IP address users in other Wikipedias. In April 2020, the community unanimously voted to ban article creation from IP users and to implement a draft-like review process, but both were rejected by developers out of the concern that there are no draft review mechanisms ready and the size of mswiki would be too low to implement it.

Lacking a comprehensive written set of policies, it was left to the mswiki sysops to determine and try behavioral and conduct policy when one came up. In July 2008, a sysop raised a formal complaint (via the usual Request for Comment mechanism) regarding another sysop, accusing them of using sockpuppet to harass an editor. The sysops set an ad hoc process similar to enwiki’s Arbcom, but also largely adopting the elements of Malaysia’s common law criminal trials. In a transparent process which ran for twelve days, eleven sysops convened a trial that involved hearing of charges (from a sysop appointed as chief prosecutor); public deposition involving the plaintiff (the editor harassed by the sysop) and the defendant (the accused sysop), hearing a witness (a Meta steward), and then a weighted vote by eleven judges (all remaining mswiki sysops) which ruled in favour of the plaintiff and sentenced the defendant to removal of adminship for abuse of power. The “court” also granted a right to appeal the sentence for the defendant, but they chose not to exercise it and slowly stopped editing before vanishing from the community. The trial was remarkable not only for its efficiency, but also because it did not leave a lasting impact for the community policies: no behavioral policy guideline nor enforcement plan was adopted as response to the case, and no post-mortem report was ever conducted. Unfortunately, all sysops that were involved in this “trial” have left mswiki in one way or another, which made them unavailable to be consulted in the UCoC consultation process which could greatly learn from this ad hoc, unique case.

Methods of facilitation[edit]

The consultation process was kicked off via a Request for Comment page at mswiki, which was spread via e-mail to sysops and active users. Throughout the process, all updates and new developments are announced at mswiki Facebook fan page, Telegram group, and Discord server. A survey was sent using the same channels and was put as a notification on top of the RfC page. The facilitator also reached out to several users personally and announced the process during Zoom/Google Meet calls where mswiki contributors are present, such as the ESEAP monthly meeting.

The response rate was quite low but not unusual for the mswiki community. Only one editor responded to the RfC. The survey was responded to by 14 users, several of which put their personal comment at the end of the survey. Personal outreaches largely went unnoticed, except for several users who promised to fill out the survey and/or to participate in the RfC. A discussion about UCoC at the ESEAP meeting also received a specific response from a mswiki editor.

The facilitation was not extended to mswiki’s sister projects at Wiktionary and Wikibooks, as the policies there are even close to non-existent, let alone a stable editing community; most of its contributors are active editors at mswiki too, so it would stand to reason just to cover the facilitation to mswiki only.

Feedback[edit]

In general, it is hard to measure the general sentiment from the Malay community from the lack of active and specific participation, but the survey responses and two major responses provided us with some meaningful clues.

Important points from the surveys:

  • 57.1% are not aware and/or familiar with any form of Wikimedia behavioral policy or have little understanding of it;
  • 42.8% indicated that they may or had been harassed on wiki;
  • 28.6% of editors indicated they may or had experienced some kind of abuse of power from functionaries (sysops, bureaucrats, senior community members etc);
  • 50% of editors had experienced a form of vandalism, either perpetrated by registered users or IP addresses;
  • 16.7% has indicated that at some point, they considered taking a break from editing or leaving the project altogether due to harassment, abuse of power, and/or vandalism that they received/experienced;
  • 57.1% are aware of the UCoC, but 84.6% was not sure/neutral on whether the current mswiki behavioral policy (or lack thereof) is aligned with UCoC, and 57.1% are neutral on whether Malay community is open to revise and/or complement the current set of behavioral policy with the terms of UCoC;
  • 71.4% are in favour of adopting the UCoC as a basic standard minimum to adopt a behavioral policy for the Malay community, as opposed to accepting it as what it is.

Enforcement body[edit]

  • The top three bodies that are favoured to enforce UCoC were- Sysops (selected by 92.9%), a special body elected by local community members (71.4%), and an Arbitration Committee (50%);
  • 78.6% are neutral on whether members of UCoC enforcement body should receive a form of financial compensation/remuneration for their service;
  • 50% are neutral on whether the Wikimedia Foundation and its Affiliates are able to handle cases of UCoC violations;
  • 78.6% are in favour of a special mechanism to handle functionaries (sysops, bureaucrats, etc) that violated UCoC;
  • 92.9% are in favour of a standard of procedure to streamline the rights and obligations of those are involved throughout a UCoC violation case (complaining party, complainant, and its arbitrators);
  • 85.7% are in favour of establishing an appellate body that could hear appeals for a UCoC violation case from the local community on global level;
  • 57.1% are neutral and 42.9% are in favour of the said global body to take over the local community’s ability to enforce UCoC, in case, the community could not afford to maintain an enforcement system, has a bad reputation on matters of behavioral enforcement, and/or refuse to cooperate with the global UCoC enforcement ecosystem.
  • 78.6% are in favour of periodic review of UCoC text;
  • The top three bodies that are favoured to periodically review the UCoC text are the local communities (selected by 85.7%), a special body elected by local community members (78.6%), and a special body elected by the global community members (64.3%).

Enforcement pathway and escalation channels[edit]

  • 71.4% indicated that they are aware of steps to report harassment, abuse of power, and/or vandalism on wiki, but only 23.1% had done so before;
  • 64.3% are in favour of handling harassment, abuse of power, and/or vandalism on a case-per-case basis, and 28.6% support the idea of a transparent enforcement mechanism that could be seen and monitored by all contributors;
  • Privacy and ease of access are two primary ideals that should be featured in a reporting system, with 71.4% supporting it.

Support for targets for harassment[edit]

In an ESEAP meeting, a mswiki editor stated that the forms of supporting harassment targets are to “get rid of those toxic Wikipedia admins who are so cruel (literally) to any newbie or general editors”, maintaining that these functionaries are contributing to the situation where “newbies will be heavily discouraged in joining wikimedia movement” and recognized that “this had happened for so many times already”.

Other relevant responses[edit]

At the RfC page, a sysop proposed that the biggest behaviour-related issue is the vandalism from IP addresses, and a full ban for them from creating articles would be a logical solution to this, despite recognizing that it would severely hamper the project’s (already stagnating) growth rate. They also noted that the community’s consensus to ban IP addresses from creating articles in 2020 was summarily rejected by the developers at Phabricator, and hoped for the WMF to be more sensitive to locally-achieved consensus.

Community stories[edit]

In an ESEAP meeting, a mswiki editor observed that “Wikipedia is not just for nerds… we need outreach and rebranding to become well accepted. It’s not just about the product, but branding is important.” The same editor also stated that “Universal Code of Conduct is setting the expectations high … NOT the minimum acceptable behaviour, but rather the kind of behaviour [sic] that we want to have - to be healthy and welcoming”.

Statistics[edit]

Demographics: gender
Gender Editors identifying
Male 17
Female 1
Demographics: age group
Age group Editors identifying
20-39 years old 9
40-59 years old 2
0-19 years old 3
Refused to disclose 2
Demographics: first wiki edit
First wiki edit Editors identifying
After 2015 7
2010-2015 4
Before 2015 3
Demographics: onwiki rights and status
Rights/status Editors identifying
Sysops 9
Newbies 2
Member of a Wikimedia affiliate 5
Experienced onwiki policymaker 4

Conclusion[edit]

In conclusion, the Malay community generally accepted the importance of enforcing the UCoC, but has not formulated enough consensus on how to adopt it locally within the local behavioral policy structure (or lack thereof), or to say whether it is compatible or not with their local values. The consultation found that the community would prefer to decide its own enforcement mechanism but was also open to bringing local cases and disputes to the global level if it is necessary.

The community has shown their ability to create ad hoc enforcement mechanisms to handle serious behavioral cases before, and it would be a valuable precedent should it happen again anytime in the future. In general, because of the small size of the editing base and slow overall growth of the project, the Malay community has generally not experienced serious cases of harassment, abuse of power, and/or vandalism (except for several long-running concerns about the latter), therefore they do not find the need or urgency for formulate a robust set of behavioral policy.

Gallery[edit]