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

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Universal Code of Conduct
Thank you for helping us keep our community safe!

Polish Wikipedia was officially launched in September 2001 (discussion). Wikipedia's sister projects were started as follows:

The most active Polish project is the Polish Wikipedia. According to the statistics, it has been edited more than 65 million times. Each month, it has more than 5000 active users responsible for 3 372 332 pages (out of which 1 461 865 are articles!). Polish Wikipedia is visited around 11 million times a day which translates to roughly 7500 views per minute! Polish Wikipedia ranks as the 10th most popular version, out of 319 languages of the Wikimedia projects.[1]

Like every Wikimedia project, Polish Wikipedia is governed by its community, which chose to elect ninety-nine users as administrators. The election of the new sysop on Polish Wikipedia requires a vote of support equal to or exceeding 80% which gives administrators a strong mandate to decide sensitive cases and follow the established rules in a way they see fit.[2] Polish Wikipedia is one of the few projects with an Arbitration Committee, which typically decides on half a dozen cases each year.[3]


Phase 2 of the Universal Code of Conduct consultations focused on the entire Polish community and its projects. It was undertaken mainly by conducting conversations at:

  • Village pump discussions on all projects
  • Discussions on social media platforms (Facebook)
  • Discussions using virtual chats (e.g. Discord, Slack)
  • Group meetings with pre-registered attendees
  • Private meeting with chosen users selected from multiple groups
  • Members and bodies working within the Wikimedia Polska chapter

Behavioural policies[edit]

Over the last 20 years, Polish Wikipedia has developed multiple policies and guidelines for its editor and functionaries, which follow the five pillars of the Wikimedia Movement. Most of the rules are the same as other projects, such as "No vandalisms", "Wheel waring", and regulations on protecting and deleting pages.

Members of the community translated some of the rules from the English Wikipedia back in the past. Still, some rules were written entirely by the community (e.g. "Election mode", which governs the biographies' deletion in the time leading up to the elections).

The community does not have a separate rule prohibiting personal attacks, and multiple attempts to develop such a practice were meet with substantial opposition. Regardless of the lack of such written policy, mentions in other rules (eg. in the rules explaining blocking contributors), actions of most functionaries and the Arbitration Committee's jurisprudence suggest that the community values a good atmosphere in the projects. It opposes insults and other savagery symptoms from the users or non-logged-in contributors. The community does not have an official (written) path of dealing with harassment, but most users report it (either in the Village Pump or at the Administrators' Noticeboard) to the administrators. Most users and functionaries have developed a non-written way of reporting and dealing with harassment.

Help of Wikimedia Poland (WMPL)[edit]

Other than its own rules, the community relies on help from its chapter – Wikimedia Poland (WMPL). Among the assistance offered by the chapter are:

  • Safe Space Policy for offline meetings
  • Safe Space Policy for on-line meetings
  • Training and workshops for the members of the community (e.g. Mediation, Dealing with stress)
  • Coordinated collaboration with the proper authorities whenever an offline meeting takes place

How the facilitator contacted the community?[edit]

How was the community contacted?

The first contact with the communities was done by initiating a discussion on the Village Pump (links above) to familiarise users with already conducted consultations. This was also done on other projects to let the communities know that Phase 2 of the talks will be taking place shortly.

After communities started engaging in the Village Pump discussions, other channels were launched to allow more users to contribute.[4] Among the mediums used were:

  • Surveys – During the second half of the consultations, anonymous surveys were launched to allow users to contribute to the discussion without being required to share their beliefs with the whole community and share more private stories
  • Facebook – A primary group of the Polish community on Facebook gathers more than 500 editors. It was used several times to invite the members to discuss and remind them about the elapsing time.
  • Telegram – Members of the Polish Wikimedia Telegram community were also invited to participate in the facilitation process.
  • Discord – A new group chat for the Polish community gathers more than 130 active editors and allows for rapid exchanges of ideas between the participating contributions. It allowed for quick clarifications and answering questions asked by contributors regarding specific issues.
  • Google meet/Zoom calls – During the consultations, there were 3 group meetings for pre-registered community members, during which together they were able to express their opinions and ideas regarding the implementation of the UCoC. Several users have also contacted me privately to share their stories with the safety of a private meeting.


  • January 18 – First message on the Polish Wikipedia
  • January 19 – First messages in the sister projects
  • January 19 – Social media groups notified
  • January 29 – Telegram group notified
  • February 2 – Board of Trustees ratifies the UCoC
  • February 8–14 – Group meetings with the community
  • February 12 – Survey launches
  • February 13 – Site notice deployed on pl.wiki
  • February 13 – Facebook group reminder
  • February 14 – Site notice deployed on pl.wikinews and pl.wiktionary
  • February 14 – 2 weeks reminder sent to all projects
  • February 14 – Emails to active female editors
  • February 15 – Emails to active editors of Wiktionary
  • February 16 – Emails to members of the LGBT project
  • February 23 – Emails to pl.wiki sysops
  • February 28 – End of consultations
  • March 1 – Survey closed

Engagement and the response rate[edit]

In total, around 120 users (excluding surveys) have participated in Phase 2 of the Universal Code of Conduct facilitation process, the majority of which did so off-wiki. Additional 175 (174 survey answers + 1 on-wiki answer) users filled out a survey. We are happy to say that the respondents came from all parts and groups of the community. Both users with and without advanced rights participated in a discussion. Additionally, the engagement of women and users from different minorities, both groups historically misrepresented, is commendable.


The communities’ ideas and feedback differed from the very beginning of the conversation. Most of the users stated their support for the Universal Code of Conduct concept and said that they want it to be implemented. Some users also expressed their support but noted that they would like the UCoC to be implemented in a way that gives them tools to deal with such issues to the communities (according to the subsidiarity policy). We equally encountered opposition from several members of the community. Several users stated that they oppose the UCoC in any form, with some of them saying that it should only be limited to the direst situations. More on the comments and feedback below:

Village pump and other discussions[edit]

Permissions (rights[5]) of participants

Village pump discussion was a mix of different points of view and other arguments. Most participants shared their ideas and concerns regarding the implementation of the Universal Code of Conduct. However, some discussants have only expressed their opinions against the Universal Code of Conduct, without any constructive statement proposing how the UCoC should be implemented. A group of users only shared their opinion that the Universal Code of Conduct should not be implemented.

The Polish community is aware of the issues that the Universal Code of Conduct plans to address, and only a small group of users disagreed with its merit and validity. Being one of the oldest and most prominent projects, the Polish community has had almost 20 years to develop its policies, and it is very proud of them. In the past few years, conflicts have been rare and mainly dealt with specific issues that the administrators or the Arbitration Committee quickly tackled. Most participants agree that the UCoC covers only the minimal required behavioural policies and that (at the moment of consultations) it does not interfere with the communities competences too much.


Most users offered constructive feedback comprising of their ideas and thoughts on the matter of implementing the UCoC. Among those ideas were:

  • Subsidiarity – Concept that projects with advanced communities should be allowed to handle the matters in-house. If they choose so, smaller communities and projects should be offered help by the global community and the Wikimedia Foundation. This idea has been"' supported by the majority of participants".
  • Role of arbitration committees – Most of the large projects usually have an Arbitration Committee (or have operated it in the past). Some community members proposed that the projects with established and functioning arbitration committees should be allowed to "'handle the matters in-house'", without outside interactions.
  • Judgement should be based on overall activity – Participants noted that any users should be judged based on their overall activity. There should be a difference between a user consistently rejecting good manners and community rules and a user that has been only once found in their defiance.

Problems, concerns and issues[edit]

The problem and disagreement arrive when it comes to the ways of implementing the Universal Code of Conduct. Several users are afraid that the UCoC is being created with good intentions, but if implemented not correctly, it can change into a tool designed to target specific users and block them from editing the projects (such as in the "police state"). Other problems mentioned by the users include:

  • language – The community is afraid that vaguely written document using the corporate jargon may make the UCoC hard to understand by the typical users. English should not be the only authenticated language[6] for the Universal Code of Conduct. The Universal Code of Conduct should also provide that a text in the native language of the offenders shall prevail in the case of divergence. Wikimedia Foundation or others hired by the WMF should professionally translate the Universal Code of Conduct and rules regarding its implementation into the several largest communities' languages.
  • cultural background – Some participants also noticed that several statements in the Universal Code of Conduct might be understood differently by people coming from different cultural backgrounds. When deciding a case, at least one person deciding it should be familiar with both the language and the community's culture in question.
  • Wikimedia Foundation overreach – Users participating in the consultations have raised many concerns regarding the possible use of the Foundation actions justified by acting according to the rules written in the Universal Code of Conduct.
  • lack of transparencyCase Review Committee offers a way for editors to appeal the actions of the Wikimedia Foundation's Trust and Safety Team, but it is done with a total and absolute lack of transparency. It is understood why the identity of the people involved in the Committee is not a public record. Still, the community demands more clarity for it to know and understand how the cases will be decided and who will decide them.
  • need for a public verdict – Large portion of users have advocated that any verdict should be made available to the community after it is issued. It is understood that for some parts of the proceeding it may be necessary to remain confidential, but the community requires that some information be made public at the end of the process. If the member of the community is banned or blocked, the community demands that the reasoning and verdict should be available to everyone who wishes to read it (such as verdicts in trials in real life).
  • opposition to the Universal Code of Conduct – A small (but significant) group of users has refused to voice their opinions on the enforcement of the Universal Code of Conduct. The discussants' main issues were that the Wikimedia Foundation did not consult the Polish community about creating the Universal Code of Conduct. Some users argued that they are not aware of cases that would justify the need for the UCoC. Others mentioned that they completely opposed the idea of the Universal Code of Conduct and do not support its implementation.

Surveys and other sources[edit]

Gender of participants

It is essential to point out that some contributors actively opposed the idea of consultations being done off-wiki. The majority of those arguments consisted of issues and concerns about the safety of users data (surveys) and the transparency of the process using Chatham House rules (private conversation and not disclosing information about participating users) during the meetings.

One of the most important things to note when talking about the survey feedback is that it differs from the Village Pump discussion. It was observed that a private venue allowed the users to speak more freely and frankly about the issues they consider essential. Intimate venue to voice their concerns allowed them to share ideas and opinions that would otherwise be controversial as it could have hurt their stand in the community when tied to their username.

It is also important to mention that the total numbers of answers to different questions may be different from one another. No question was compulsory and some questions allowed for selecting multiple answers[7].



On the graph →

Main project[edit]
  • Wikipedia – 146 (85,4%)
  • Wiktionary – 13 (7,6%)
  • Commons – 5 (2,9%)
  • Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wikidata, MediaWiki, Meta-wiki – Each 1 (0,6%)

In total 56 users (32%) have stated that they are either current or former: administrators, bureaucrats, checkusers, oversighters, members of the arbitration committee or holders of global permissions.


On the graph →

How long have you been editing Wikimedia projects?
Self identification[edit]

The survey asked the participants to self identify if they feel like they have been or are members of historically or currently repressed groups. Out of 150 participants that have answered, the statistics are as follows:

  • 70 users (46,7%) stated that they do not identify with any of such groups.
  • 30 users (20%) stated that they identify as LGBT+ or are of other sexual minorities.
  • 16 users (10,7%) stated that they are at a disadvantage because of their disabilities (either mental or physical)
  • 15 users (10%) either socially or economically excluded
  • 6 users (4%) identified themselves as white, catholic, heterosexual males.
  • 13 users (8,7%) mentioned belonging to other repressed groups.

State of enforcement[edit]

In their answers, most users who awarded lesser scores to the enforcement questions pointed to their past experiences of being treated unequally. Some of them brought up that they were falsely accused of breaking the rules because the administrator performing the actions was of the opposite ideological spectrum. Most of them also noticed that the same behaviour could result in many different treatments, depending on both the administrator and the punished contributor. On pl.wiki, if a user has a well-respected position in the project and no one questions their merit, they are also allowed to say much more than a regular user without such standing. Typically, beginners would be blocked from editing for several hours after uttering their first insult. Meanwhile, experienced users would not even be reprimanded for the same behaviour.

Users mention that in their opinion (an opinion shared by administrators responding in the survey), administrators do not want to engage in discussion with troublesome contributors because this task is stressful, and they treat Wikimedia projects as their hobby and escape from stressful reality. They are also afraid of the trouble they may get into if they were to act against said contributors (Arbitration Committee, Administrators discussion list, ostracism from some community members). Users rate their anti-harassment action at 6,02, citing the same reasons as administrators.

Past experiences[edit]

Multiple users reported that they have encountered toxic behaviours from other community members during their time in Wikimedia projects.

Past experiences of survey participants[7]
Reporting harassment[edit]
  • The plurality of 69 users (40,9%) say that reporting cases of harassment to the Administrators' Noticeboard or in the Village Pump are the best way to deal with harassment against members of the community.
  • 27 users (16%) advocate for reports directly to the administrator (e.g. via Discord or IRC).
  • 20 users (11,8%) say that matter should be handed to the WMF or chapter employee.
  • 22 users (13%) say that these cases should be handled by a new body created to combat harassment.
  • 4 users (2,4%) say that harassment should be taken care of by the local authorities (eg. police).
  • Additional 4 users (2,4%) said that there is no harassment at their project and that the issue is "made up".

When asked about the idea of how to supply a more private system of reporting to handle more personal matters while also maintaining transparency, users responded as follows:

  • 73 users (46,5%) proposed the creation of a confidential reporting system based on Oversight reporting and OTRS (ticket system visible to all sysops)
  • 23 users (14,6%) advocated for reporting issues directly to the administrator (e.g. via Discord via IRC or by using a private message)
  • 8 users (5,1%) said that private reporting should be only possible when the case reaches the Arbitration Committee
  • 14 users (8,9%) proposed the idea of privately reporting the restricted information but publicly informing about the report
  • 27 users (17,2%) said that private reporting should not be allowed under any circumstance
Reporting harassment from the functionaries[edit]
  • 98 users (62,8%) said that the functionaries' misusing the tools and harassment should be reported directly to the Arbitration Committee.
  • 25 users (16%) proposed that misusing the tools and harassment by the functionaries should be reported to the new body created based on the Ombudsman Commission.
How should the Universal Code of Conduct apply to off-wiki harassment?[edit]
  • 113 users (72,9%) support the UCoC being applied to off-wiki behaviour. Most of them cite one condition – the organiser (e.g. WMF during Wikimania, Chapter during the Meet-up, Facebook group moderator, Expedition leader etc.) should each time state and effectively communicate which parts of the UCoC apply to said space and how are they going to be enforced.

Globally enforcing the Universal Code of Conduct[edit]

  • 105 users (62,1%) state that the Universal Code of Conduct "'should be handled locally' "if a project has a capacity and willingness for such enforcement rules.
  • 22 users (13%) say that the matter should be taken care of by some global body comprised of volunteers.
  • 20 (11,8%) would like the issue to be handled by the local chapter or the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • 90 users (59,2%) said that they are either"' against the creation of a global body'" or they would like to see its competences limited.

Many ideas referred to the global body rules are similar to those of the Supreme Court of the United States – uphold or invalidate the ruling of the lower instance but not set its verdict or sentences. Same users also did not support the body's ability to start investigating cases on its own.

Wikimedia Foundation's involvement[edit]

  • 55 users (32,9%) stated that they would like to see the Wikimedia Foundation act on its own against matters of assaults, harassment, physical and legal threats against the community members.
  • 64 users (38,3%) stated that they would like the Wikimedia Foundation to act on such behaviour, but only when requested by the victim, involved administrator or Arbitration Committee.
  • 22 users (13,2%) said that the Wikimedia Foundation should act when requested by the victim.
  • 17 users (10,2%) said that the Wikimedia Foundation should not act on such matters or leave it up to the community.
  • Other users said that such behaviours should be left to the local authorities.
Off-wiki behaviour directly related to on-wiki activities or the Wikimedia movement[edit]
  • 38 users (22,9%) said that the Wikimedia Foundation should react to harassment happening off-wiki.
  • 57 users (34,3%) stated that the Wikimedia Foundation should only act when requested by either a victim or by the off-wiki activity organisers.
  • 25 users (15,1%) said that only the victim should have the right to ask the Wikimedia Foundation to start an investigation.
  • 36 users (21,7%) stated that the Wikimedia Foundation should not take any action regarding these kinds of behaviours happening off-wiki.

Several users stated that it is not the Wikimedia Foundation's role to act as the authority, but it should offer help if the local authorities required it. Many users also said that the UCoC could only apply to an off-wiki activity"' if the participants were notified adequately' "before joining the community or participating in the event.

Concerns regarding Wikimedia Foundation's past actions or failure to act[edit]

Several users noted the difficulty in reaching the Wikimedia Foundation's staff or the Trust and Safety Team. The main obstacle is the need to translate every piece of information and communication into English, which leaves many members of the community unable to communicate with the T&S.

Users have stated that T&S has failed to act in the past, when the harassment and other types of unwanted behaviour have happened outside of Wikimedia projects but in the spaces directly related to them.

Stories that stand out[edit]

During the consultation, we have had a chance to listen to multiple users' stories and ideas, which allowed us to understand the projects and members of the community contributing to them.

A significant number of contributors participating in the facilitation process mentioned that they do not feel like every community member is being treated equally. Most of them expressed concerns that some users contributing to Polish Wikipedia can count on immunity from enacting behavioural policies just because their contributions to the (main) namespaces are highly valued. Some users noted that it allows experienced users to mock others, insult them, and even troll, without the fear of being prosecuted, as any other user would be if he had done the same.

Several contributors have also mentioned that in the past, administrators have refrained from acting against some troublesome members of the community. Administrators have said (during meetings and in the survey) that they usually do so, because of the problems it could bring to them. They understand that their role is to serve the community, but they would often abstain or prefer not to act on the matter if blocking one user, even if met with the applause of the majority of the community, would mean that they have to deal with other troublesome users. Such troubles could mean a prolonged debate in the Village pump, bureaucratic requests for comment, gaming the system and other actions taken by aforementioned troublesome editors. It had changed a bit when, during the consultations, one prolific content editor was blocked for one year for reasons that are also addressed in the UCoC. Blockade was followed by an extensive debate both on and off-wiki.

In communities own words[edit]

  • Jak najbardziej za (w zasadzie jest to spójne i tak z naszymi zasadami i z czwartym filarem) i bardzo podoba mi się ich nakierowanie na empatię i współpracę. Ale tylko przy założeniu, że egzekwowanie, interpretacja i ścieżka odwoławcza będą po stronie danej społeczności z wykorzystaniem jej istniejących mechanizmów (administratorzy, mediacja, Komitet Arbitrażowy). [...] Chciałabym też, żeby oprócz zasad, społecznościom zostały zaoferowane środki wspierające działanie zgodne z Powszechnymi Zasadami Postępowania inne niż egzekwowanie: a więc środki (techniczne, szkoleniowe, rozwojowe) służące zapobieganiu wypaleniu, lepszej komunikacji, rozwiązywaniu konfliktów. Magalia (dyskusja) 10:22, 19 sty 2021 (CET)
  • [...] egzekwowanie, interpretacja i ścieżka odwoławcza będą odbywać się wyłącznie za pomocą mechanizmów ustalonych przez społeczność Polskiej Wikipedii i nie ulegnie to zmianie w przyszłości [...] Gdarin dyskusja 11:56, 21 sty 2021 (CET)
  • [...] Dlatego, jeśli chodzi o egzekwowanie, wnioskuję aby projekty, które posiadają własny komitet arbitrażowy pozostały samodzielne, w takim sensie, że nikt z zewnątrz nie może, pod pretekstem UCoC, nakładać blokad/globalnych blokad (locków) na użytkowników, wyłącznie za ich działania na owych projektach. [...] Moim zdaniem lokalne społeczności powinny regulować się samodzielnie; jedynie w ekstremalnych sytuacjach powinna być interwencja WMF; i to się też raczej nie zmieni, gdyż nawet teraz WMF może interweniować przy pomocy tzw. m:Office actions. [...] tufor (dyskusja) 00:25, 28 lut 2021 (CET)

Main takeaways[edit]

Polish community has said that they would prefer not to have any interventions in their projects’ local governance mechanisms, either from the global community or from the WMF. To avoid this, Polish community is willing to take all measures necessary to update, upscale and rework their governance system to bring to the level needed to self-regulate UCoC. They have already started discussions on how to bring their local behavioural policies to be consistent with the UCoC.

The other main takeaways from the facilitation process are as follows:

Self governance and subsidiarity[edit]

As mentioned above, self-governance is important to the Polish Wikimedia community. They are proud of the rules, policies and guidelines developed during the last 20 years and they would like to continue governing their own projects. Users contributing to the Polish Wikimedia projects are proud- proud of their accomplishments, proud of the matter and essence they have created over the last two decades. They are proud of their rules and the system that has been operating since the projects' very beginnings. Given that, users are suspicious and mistrustful toward outside "legislation", which will directly interfere with their projects' handling.

In 2007 pl.wiki Arbitration Committee refused to go through the Wikimedia Foundation's authentication process and left the appointment of the Checkusers in community's hands.[8] For some users, self-rule is as important now as it has been almost 15, 20 years ago.

The Polish community does understand that smaller and not as established projects may require help from the global community or the Wikimedia Foundation. Most users agree that the Polish community is big enough and their rules are sufficient to implement the Universal Code of Conduct in their own projects. The community has also stated that they are willing to update their own rules and make changes to the local governance system, that would ensure the safety of users and community’s ability to handle UCoC violations locally.

Language and cultural difficulties[edit]

The Polish community raised the point that the Universal Code of Conduct is written in a way that discriminates against non-native English speakers and people who do not speak English. The document was created using corporate jargon that can make the text of the UCoC hard to understand to anyone who does not have a command of English. Users advocated that the second part of the Universal Code of Conduct (regarding the implementation) should be written in a simpler language. It should be documented in a way that more members of the community can understand.

It was also stated by several contributors that the Universal Code of Conduct should be professionally translated into the world's most commonly spoken languages as well as into the languages most commonly spoken by the Wikimedia Community (e.g. 15-20 largest projects). Users also noted that there should be a provision stating that in case of any difference between the language versions, the text in the community's language should prevail.

If a global body was to be created to handle matters and cases from all Wikimedia projects (for which there is a major opposition in the Polish community), contributors fear that such a global body would be "blind" to some issues. Users without experience in editing in one project could not be aware of non-written rules and traditions established by the project or a community in question. It was stated many times, if such a case was to be tried, it should be done by the people familiar with the rules and the language of the case.

Volunteer burnout and overload[edit]

The creation of any global or inter-wiki body responsible for implementing the Universal Code of Conduct in large projects (especially in the Polish community) is opposed by the vast majority of users participating in the facilitation process. Nevertheless, community members offered insightful feedback if such a body was to be created to deal with issues in other projects.

As per the feedback, a single body cannot deal with issues and cases coming from over 800 projects in more than 300 languages. The caseload would simply be too big to deal with. To avoid such situations, the body would need to set some ground rules for cases to be eligible for submission to it. That would be a task requiring a lot of energy (analysing, reading through and dealing with them). Such tasks risk the burnout of any volunteers involved. Most of them come to Wikimedia projects to relax from their real-life jobs and duties and asking them to spend their free time analyzing dozens of cases (often traumatic cases) could easily lead to burnout.


  1. Wikistats - Statistics For Wikimedia Projects, 2021-03-12, stats.wikimedia.org
  2. Wikipedia:Administratorzy, 2020-12-19, Wikipedia, wolna encyklopedia
  3. Wikipedia:Komitet Arbitrażowy/Archiwum spraw, 2020-12-20, Wikipedia, wolna encyklopedia
  4. Here, it is essential to acknowledge that the opening of other channels was met with opposition from some contributors, who advocated that only on-wiki consultation should be taking place.
  5. Other rights include: Current and formers Checkusers, Oversighters, Bureaucrats, Stewards, Arbitration Committee members, Holders of global permissions
  6. https://journals.iupui.edu/index.php/iiclr/article/download/17481/17596/0
  7. a b Numbers may exceed a total number of participants as it was possible to select multiple answers
  8. Wikipedia:Komitet Arbitrażowy/Oświadczenie w sprawie funkcji CheckUsera, 2007-10-07, Wikipedia, wolna encyklopedia