Universal Code of Conduct/Coordinating Committee/Charter

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Universal Code of Conduct

The Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee (U4C), reflective of the global community, is an enforcement structure dedicated to providing an equitable and consistent implementation of the UCoC.

It is a co-equal body to other high-level decision-making bodies such as NDA-Arbitration Committees and Stewards. The U4C determines if there has been a systemic failure by a Wikimedia group or community in enforcing the UCoC. The committee provides quality assurance of UCoC-related training materials, and oversees the annual UCoC and Enforcement Guidelines (EG) community review.

This charter details the scope and purpose of the U4C, its selection, membership roles, basic procedures, as well as policies and precedent.

1. Purpose and Scope[edit]

1.1. Functions[edit]

The U4C scope includes:

  • Monitoring reports of UCoC breaches. The U4C may conduct additional investigations and take actions where appropriate.
  • Observing the state of UCoC enforcement across all Wikimedia online and offline spaces, as ratified by the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees in 2020.
  • Suggesting suitable changes to the UCoC and the UCoC Enforcement Guidelines for the Wikimedia Foundation and the community to consider as part of the UCoC annual review.
    • U4C cannot change either document on its own.
  • Assisting the Wikimedia Foundation and other stakeholders in handling cases under their jurisdiction, when requested.

1.2. Responsibilities[edit]

The U4C has the following responsibilities:

  • Handles complaints and appeals in the circumstances outlined in the Enforcement Guidelines, including but not limited to:
    • Lack of local self-governance capacity to enforce the UCoC;
    • Consistent local decisions that conflict with the UCoC;
    • Refusal of local self-governance structures and teams to enforce the UCoC;
    • Lack of resources or lack of will to address issues that prevent the adequate enforcement of the UCoC through local self-governance processes;
  • Performs any investigations necessary to resolve said complaints and appeals;
  • Provides resources for communities on UCoC best practices, such as material for mandatory trainings, quality assurances for training resources created by movement members and organizations that go beyond the basic UCoC training material the U4C itself oversees, and other resources as needed;
  • Provides a final interpretation of the UCoC Enforcement Guidelines and the UCoC if the need arises, in collaboration with community members enforcement structures;
  • Assesses the effectiveness of UCoC enforcement and provides recommendations for improvement.

In addition to the above:

  • The U4C will not take cases that do not primarily involve violations of the UCoC, or its enforcement.
  • The U4C may delegate its final decision making authority except in instances of severe systemic issues. The U4C’s responsibilities are explained in the context of other enforcement structures in 3.1.2 of the UCoC Enforcement Guidelines.

1.3. Membership[edit]

The U4C will consist of 16 community voting members and up to two non-voting members appointed by the Wikimedia Foundation. Each voting member fulfills a two-year term, except the inaugural election (see 3.2).

The Wikimedia Foundation may appoint up to two non-voting members and select additional support staff as requested by the U4C.

1.4. Conflict of Interest[edit]

Individual voting members of the U4C do not have to resign from other positions (eg. local administrator (sysop), member of ArbCom) but cannot be employed as staff or contractors by the Wikimedia Foundation or Foundation-affiliated organizations nor may they be members of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.

2. Elections and Terms[edit]

2.1. Member Eligibility[edit]

Each member and candidate must:

  • Comply with the UCoC.
  • Be at least 18 years old and sign the Confidentiality agreement for nonpublic information (NDA) with the Wikimedia Foundation once they are elected.
  • Have not been blocked on any Wikimedia project nor have an active event ban in the past one year. Candidates who are blocked may appeal to the Election Committee, who may make an exception.
  • Self-identify their home wiki(s) and the region they are from publicly.
  • Meet any other eligibility requirements determined during the election process.
  • Be a registered member of at least one Wiki project for at least 365 days and have a minimum of 500 edits.

The Elections Committee will have the final authority to decide whether candidates meet eligibility requirements.

2.2. Distribution of Seats[edit]

2.2.1. Regional Distribution[edit]

To ensure the U4C represents the diversity of the movement, eight representatives, with one representative from each region will be elected by regional distribution. According to the Wikimedia Foundation's regional approach, the regional distribution will be as follows:

  • North America (USA and Canada)
  • Northern and Western Europe
  • Latin America and Caribbean
  • Central and East Europe (CEE)
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • East, South East Asia and Pacific (ESEAP)
  • South Asia

2.2.2. Community at large[edit]

Eight representatives from the Community at large will be elected.

2.3. Terms[edit]

U4C membership will be for a two-year term, except the first election.

For the first election, Regional Candidates will serve two-year terms and at-large members will serve a one year term.

2.4. Elections[edit]

Annual elections to select voting members of the U4C will be overseen by the U4C and administered by the Elections Committee, in cooperation with the U4C. For the first election, the U4C Building Committee (U4CBC) will take the place of the U4C.

Candidates will have to satisfy the membership requirements stated in section 2.1.

The inaugural election of the U4C will be held as soon as practical, following the successful completion of the U4C Charter ratification process.

The Election Process follows the timeline below:

  • Determining the date of the election, its timeline, and the number of regional and at-large seats by the U4C at least one month before the start of the election
  • Opening of the process of election by the Elections Committee
  • Nomination period – Nominations are accepted during this time
  • Verification period of the candidates
  • Question and Answer period – Candidates answer questions from the community
  • Voting period – Eligible voters can vote for the candidates

2.5. Voting Process[edit]

  • Voting is conducted by secret ballot, with voters leaving support, oppose and neutral votes for each candidate.
  • Voters are able to vote for candidates from all regions.
  • Neutral votes will not count.
  • Voter eligibility will be decided by the Elections Committee.
  • The candidate must have 60% or higher of votes as calculated by support/(support + oppose). After this qualification:
    • For each candidate the number of opposes will be subtracted from the number of supporters. The candidates with the highest difference will be elected to each seat.
    • If two candidates have the same difference then the percentage calculated by support/(support + oppose) will be used as a tiebreaker.

After the first session of the U4C, the U4CBC will be dissolved and the U4C will begin work as soon as possible.

2.6. Vacancies[edit]

If there is an empty seat, whether because of resignations, removals, or no candidate was chosen for a regional seat in an election, the U4C may leave the seat empty and temporarily fill it during the next election, or the U4C may call a special election. An additional option in the case of resignation or removal is that the U4C may appoint a member who ran within the most recent election and received at least 60% support.

Members who fill a vacant seat will serve out the remainder of the term of the seat they are filling.

3. Internal Procedures[edit]

The U4C may create or modify their internal procedures as long as it is within their scope. There should be fairness and impartiality among members in the group's processes. Whenever appropriate, the U4C should invite community feedback on intended changes prior to implementing them.

3.1. Internal Policy and Precedent[edit]

The U4C does not create new policy and may not amend or change the UCoC and its Enforcement Guidelines. The U4C instead applies and enforces the UCoC as defined by its scope.

Previous decisions may be taken into account only to the extent that they remain relevant in the current context, as community policies, guidelines and norms evolve over time.

The U4C may, however, suggest changes to the UCoC and Enforcement Guidelines for the Wikimedia Foundation and the community to consider as part of the annual review process organized by the U4C.

3.2. Conduct of U4C members[edit]

U4C members should:

  • Actively engage in the U4C work, and inform the U4C at the start of any absence from U4C participation.
  • Respond in a timely and suitable manner to concerns about their conduct.
  • Maintain the confidentiality of private information shared with the U4C, including private correspondence and non-public personal information.
  • Maintain collegial relations with their fellow U4C members and work to productively resolve interpersonal conflicts.
  • Uphold the idea that no U4C member is more or less powerful than any other member.
  • Strive to act in a transparent manner, providing explanations for their decisions whenever possible while maintaining appropriate confidentiality.
  • Be knowledgeable about global policies, including the Universal Code of Conduct, and should work to gain knowledge of local policies and culture for any work the U4C handles.

Any U4C member who repeatedly or grossly violates the expectations outlined above may be suspended or removed by public committee resolution. This public committee resolution must be supported by two-thirds of all U4C members, excluding the following from the voting process:

  • The U4C member facing suspension or removal, and;
  • Any U4C member who does not respond within 30 days to any attempts to solicit their feedback on the resolution through all known methods of written communication.

3.3. Transparency and Confidentiality[edit]

Complaints accepted shall be reported publicly on-wiki with at least minimal information.

Work decided shall be reported publicly on-wiki, stating account names, projects, dates and a rudimentary case description. If any information is unsuitable for public reports due to privacy or legal reasons, reports shall anonymize it by broadening details or even omit the respective information as appropriate.

If a U4C member breaches confidentiality agreements, it is important to address the issue through appropriate internal disciplinary actions, if necessary. Breaches of the Privacy Policy, the Access to nonpublic personal data policy, the CheckUser policy and the Oversight policy are also investigated by the Ombuds Commission. The Committee should conduct an investigation to determine whether the breach was an error or intentional. The committee may recommend to the Wikimedia Foundation to revoke a confidentiality agreement if an investigation determines this is warranted.

3.4. Quorum[edit]

The U4C can seat with any number of members, but no decision or vote can be taken by the Committee unless the quorum of 50% (8 members) of the voting members (16 members) is attained. When there is no quorum, the U4C will continue to work on matters where no vote is needed and call a special election if needed.

3.5. Subcommittees[edit]

The U4C Building Committee suggests that at least two subcommittees are created within the U4C at the time of formation. One subcommittee for the prevention, training and reports pertaining to the U4C work and the second subcommittee for the review and handling of cases.

3.6. Structured Support[edit]

Some work may necessitate certain structured support. The U4C may form subcommittees or designate members for particular tasks or roles as appropriate to address the work of the U4C.

The Wikimedia Foundation will provide tools for the Committee to help it accomplish its work (e.g. secure communication tools, private wiki, etc). The Foundation may appoint additional support staff as requested by the U4C.

3.7. Tools[edit]

The Committee can take all measures it deems appropriate and proportionate to adhere to its mandate and address systemic failures to adequately enforce the UCoC in line with the enforcement guideline and this policy. This includes creating or requesting user rights for committee members or its delegates for administration (local/global Wiki and MediaWiki tools), supporting tools like mailing lists and private wiki, and other tools like the Private Incident Reporting System to support operations of the U4C, to be created and administered by the Wikimedia Foundation and the stewards during the term of U4C members.

Any rights granted for U4C committee purposes must be used only for U4C actions, investigations and emergency cases unless they have other administrative rights granted from local or global processes.

3.8. Recusal[edit]

A U4C member may recuse themselves from any work, or from any aspect of the work, with or without explanation, and it’s required when a conflict of interest arises. This situation may result in a member of the U4C participating in the discussions about the work, but not the voting process.

Any U4C member participating in their U4C member capacity regarding work from a project or affiliate they participate in has the responsibility of the decision to recuse themselves. Members of the U4C will not participate in the work if they have been directly involved with the work as a result of their other positions or other activities. This decision is still subject to a vote by the whole membership of the U4C. Any U4C member may choose to withdraw from the recusal vote, but still participate in discussions of recusals from the work.

Typically, a conflict of interest regarding U4C work includes personal involvement in the substance of the dispute or significant personal involvement with one of the parties involved in the work. Previous interactions with the parties as routine editor, administrator or U4C interactions are not usually grounds for recusal.

3.8.1. Process and procedures regarding requesting member recusal[edit]

If a person believes a U4C member should recuse themselves from certain work of the U4C, the person has to send their request to the U4C asking for the person to recuse themselves and identify the work and state their rationale. A member of the U4C may comply with the request to recuse themselves or a vote of the membership of the U4C will happen, excluding the affected member or members.

The U4C should reply to the request before starting to vote on the work. Requests for recusal after the work has entered the voting stage will not be granted, except in extraordinary circumstances.

3.9. Relationships[edit]

The U4C may issue formal or informal advice and interpretation of the UCoC. When possible, the U4C should respond to requests from other high level decision-making bodies, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, or the Wikimedia Foundation for advice or interpretation. Other groups or individuals may also request advice and interpretation from the U4C. Where appropriate, the U4C should publicly document their formal advice and interpretation.

3.9.1. Relationship with other movement government structures[edit]

According to the UCoC Enforcement Guidelines, depending on the situation, the U4C can act as a high level decision-making body about the UCoC and as a peer group to other high level decision making bodies. The Committee's role is to provide resources for communities on UCoC best practices and act as the final recourse in situations where there are systemic issues by local groups to enforce the UCoC on their own.

For cases involving Affiliate staff, the U4C should handle the case jointly with the Affiliate and/or AffCom. The U4C may take actions regarding staff in Wikimedia movement spaces and may recommend other action to the Affiliate.

Movement government structures may also refer UCoC enforcement cases or appeals, even those which would not normally be in the scope of the U4C, to the U4C. The U4C may decide whether or not to hear those cases or appeals according to its typical procedures.

Requests for advice or interpretation or case referrals should generally be made on Meta-wiki, except when not appropriate for privacy reasons. For situations involving privacy, use of the dedicated email address for the U4C is expected.

4. Tasks[edit]

4.1. UCoC and Enforcement Training Resources[edit]

The U4C will oversee the creation and maintenance of training resources, as well as coordinating with the Wikimedia Foundation on translation of such training resources.

Three basic training modules shall cover as mandated in the enforcement guidelines will include:

  • Orientation
  • Identification and reporting
  • Complex cases and appeals

These modules will be publicly accessible, on platforms such as on learn.wiki, and must be translated in cooperation with the Wikimedia Foundation into as many languages as possible. The list or number of languages will be determined by the U4C.

Alongside providing training modules, the U4C can explore and support other ways of training, collaborating with various community stakeholders such as but not limited to the Wikimedia Foundation and affiliates.

The U4C can also share the best practices of UCoC violations and related matters and offer quality assurance and certification of UCoC training resources created by other movement stakeholders upon request.

Just like the UCoC itself defines minimums, and invites and encourages communities to build upon those minimum standards for behavior, movement stakeholders are welcome to build upon and improve the basic training resources.

4.2. Jurisdiction, proceedings, adjudication, appeals[edit]

4.2.1. Jurisdiction[edit]

The U4C has jurisdiction within all Wikimedia-related online and offline spaces within the scope of its mandate as defined by the Enforcement Guidelines. The U4C will not take cases that do not primarily involve violations of the UCoC, or its enforcement. The U4C may delegate its final decision-making authority except in instances of systemic failures.

The U4C has no jurisdiction, except as noted in the relationship sections above, over: (i) official actions of the Wikimedia Foundation or its staff; (ii) Wikimedia affiliate employment relations issues governed by laws and regulations of the affiliate’s jurisdiction.

Except in instances of systemic failures, the U4C will not have jurisdiction when a NDA-signed, high-level decision-making body exists (Arbitration Committees, Affiliations Committee, Global Council, Elections Committee, Technical Code of Conduct committee, stewards), warranting effective self-governance. The U4C should also respect the movement principle of decentralization, understanding that the UCoC should be enforced at the most relevant local level possible.

The U4C retains jurisdiction over all matters heard by it, including associated enforcement processes, and may, at its sole discretion, revisit any proceeding at any time unless the issue is handed over to the Wikimedia Foundation in its capacity as platform provider due to legal issues.

4.2.1.1. Systemic failures[edit]

Issues related to systemic failure can be raised by anyone and the U4C may choose to open an investigation with at least majority support. If the Foundation or a high-level decision making body requests an investigation into a systemic failure, the U4C will open an investigation. A good faith disagreement over how to interpret the UCoC is not enough to determine that a high-level decision making body has systematically failed to enforce the code.

In line with the community-approved enforcement guidelines, the U4C can take all measures it deems appropriate and proportionate to address systemic failures (e.g. project-capture) to adequately enforce the UCoC. The U4C may rely on reports by the Wikimedia Foundation and other movement groups or may request its own external report when making its decision. Sanctions for systemic failure to enforce the UCoC includes the full range of measures, up to and including the closure of wikis. A report should be published for the global community’s consideration after the adjudication.

4.2.2. Proceedings[edit]

4.2.2.1. Requesting adjudication review[edit]

Requests for adjudication review must be presented in the manner designated by the U4C. The U4C may accept or decline any matter at its sole discretion; it will take into account, but will not be bound by the views of the parties to the request and other informed users.

4.2.2.2. Forms of proceeding[edit]
  • Standard proceedings: By default, hearings are public and follow the procedures published on the relevant U4C pages. Proceedings can be private if the U4C takes the view that a public proceeding might cause disproportionate harm – typically where significant privacy, harassment, or legal issues are involved – to proceeding participants, third parties, or could adversely affect the Wikimedia Foundation’s legal, technical, and public policy-related platform provider obligations. The parties will be notified of the private hearing and be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to what is said about them before a decision is made.
  • Expedited proceeding: Where the facts of a matter are substantially undisputed, the U4C may resolve the dispute by a vote without a standard proceeding.
4.2.2.3. Participation[edit]

A member whose term expires while a case is pending may remain active on that case until its conclusion. Newly appointed members may become active on any matter before the U4C with immediate effect from the date of their appointment.

Statements may be added to case pages by any informed and interested user. The U4C may further set rules as needed for the submission of statements. Users may respond to statements about themselves and the U4C will make a good faith effort to contact any user who is the subject of a case; failure to do so may result in decisions being made without their participation. All editors are required to act according to the UCoC on U4C case pages, and may face sanctions if they fail to do so.

4.2.2.4. Admissibility of evidence[edit]

In all proceedings, admissible evidence includes:

  1. All edits and log entries, including deleted or otherwise hidden edits and log entries from online projects, platforms, and services within the U4C’s scope;
  2. Testimony and evidence from offline incidents as deemed appropriate by the U4C.

Evidence is admissible in all languages supported by Wikimedia Foundation platforms and services. If the U4C requires additional resources processing material received, it can coordinate with the Wikimedia Foundation as other community self-governance committees collaborating with the platform provider do. Evidence based on private communications (including, but not limited to, other websites, forums, chat rooms, IRC logs, email correspondence) is admissible only by prior consent of the U4C.

Evidence may be submitted privately, but the U4C normally expects evidence to be posted publicly in all public proceedings unless there are compelling reasons not to do so, or it has been determined the proceeding will be private. The U4C will decide whether to admit each submission of private evidence on its own merits and, if admitted, the evidence will be considered at a private hearing.

4.2.2.5. Temporary injunctions[edit]

At any time between the request for a case being made and the closure of the case, the U4C may issue temporary injunctions, restricting the conduct of the parties, or users generally, for the duration of the case.

4.2.3. Adjudication[edit]

4.2.3.1. Format of decisions[edit]

Decisions are written in clear, concise standard English and the primary language(s) relevant to the case at hand; usually including: (i) an outline of the salient principles, (ii) findings of fact, (iii) setting out remedies and rulings, and (iv) specifying any enforcement arrangements. Where the meaning of any provision is unclear to any U4C member, the parties, or other interested editors, it may be clarified upon request.

4.2.4. Appeals[edit]

4.2.4.1. Admissibility of appeals[edit]

Appeals by blocked, banned, or similarly restricted individual users are usually conducted by email.

4.2.4.2. Appeal of decisions[edit]

Any party to the case may ask the U4C to reconsider or amend a ruling, which the U4C may accept or decline at its discretion. The U4C may require a minimum time to have elapsed since the enactment of the ruling, or since any prior request for reconsideration, before reviewing it.

4.3. UCoC and Enforcement Guidelines- Review and Changes[edit]

4.3.1. UCoC monitoring[edit]

The U4C shall closely monitor the Foundation safety perception surveys, its own caseload trends, and feedback from community self-governance processes to identify challenges to the effective self-governance of communities to enforce the UCoC. Concerns identified shall be publicly documented on the U4C’s noticeboard, addressed as merited, or tabled during the annual UCoC & EG review.

Preceding the annual review, the U4C will complete the following:

  • Contact functionaries in our global community, including:
    • Stewards
    • ArbCom members
    • Checkusers
    • Oversighters
    • Administrators
    • Communities
  • Provide reports of any observations requiring the U4C to look into UCoC or EG-related challenges in communities. The U4C is obligated to discuss these reports for inclusion in their proposal.
  • Open a comment page on Meta-wiki available for everyone. It contains a section for any community member to report matters about how the U4C, the EG and the UCoC work as enforced. The comment page is linked in U4C communications about the annual review. The U4C shall look into comments and questions placed on that page, but is not obligated to follow-up in depth.
  • The above mentioned Meta-wiki comment page contains a second dedicated section allowing community members to share ideas for improvement and amendments. This is helpful to collect ideas from individuals and aims to be open to all voices in the community. U4C is required to read and decide if they want to adopt these ideas when drafting a proposal during the annual process.
  • The U4C should actively search and identify any new or unusual trends of unacceptable behaviors occurring in the movement. They may observe the trends, the comments of the community, and consider academic research.

4.3.2. Changes to the Charter, the Enforcement Guidelines or the UCoC[edit]

Changes to the Charter, the Enforcement Guidelines or the UCoC require community approval. The U4C will organize at its sole discretion the annual review of the UCoC, the Enforcement Guidelines and the Charter. It comprises at least:

  • A feedback evaluation phase
    • Call for comment globally
    • An evaluation of comments and accumulated community sentiment from all channels
    • A knowledge from the actual state of research about our movement and Internet in general
  • A drafting phase
    • Inclusion of evaluated functionaries and community comments, internal notes from the noticeboard and knowledge from the actual state of research about our movement and Internet in general.
    • During the drafting phase there are at least three open community conversations, for timezone coverage.
    • The changed draft is published regularly during the drafting phase, depending on the U4C’s workflow either after every session or weekly.
    • The final draft is reviewed by the Wikimedia Foundations Legal Department on-wiki.
  • A voting phase
    • Votes will be cast by community members with > 60% or > 66% approval
    • The translation of the final draft preceding the vote and running and promoting the poll according to the specifications of the U4C is ensured by the Wikimedia Foundation.
    • The ballot must allow voters to vote separately on individual substantive sections.

5. Glossary[edit]

Regional Distribution group: The Regional Distribution group is the group of Community elected representatives of the U4C coming from each of the 8 Wikimedia determined regions (Central and East Europe (CEE); Latin America and Caribbean; Middle East and North Africa; North America (USA and Canada); South Asia; East, Southeast Asia and Pacific (ESEAP); Sub-Saharan Africa; Western Europe).

Community at Large group: The Community at Large group is the group of the U4C Community elected representatives being active on any Wikimedia project. However no more than two members can be elected from the same home wiki, this number including the members elected In the Regional part distribution group as well.