Universal Code of Conduct/Phase 1 Enforcement Pathways Summary

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Universal Code of Conduct

The work on the Universal Code of Conduct (UCoC) project has been going on for over a year. During all its stages completed so far, the project team has actively reached out to the community for inputs, feedback, concerns, and suggestions. Although the conversation during Phase 1 focused on the content of the UCoC draft, on numerous occasions the community members provided feedback on potential enforcement pathways. Many of those questions could not be answered then, so the team recorded them for inclusion in the Phase 2 conversations.

This page presents a summary of all the community feedback on enforcement shared with the team in different instances. The team has summarized the comments to avoid redundancies and maintain the privacy of users. A majority of the enforcement questions are still unanswered. This is because we aim to find solutions to those in collaboration with the communities. Similar to that of Phase 1, the team has launched a second round of local language consultations with the help of ten facilitators. The goal of the consultation is to collect feedback on potential workable enforcement mechanisms for UCoC and find answers to the concerns raised.

Summary—ArbCom outreach, Affiliate outreach, inputs shared with the Drafting Committee[edit]

A major aspect of the enforcement conversation during Phase 1 was the community's request for a strong reporting system to report cases of abuse and harassment taking place both on-wiki and off-wiki. Community members have expressed that the reporting system must allow users to report issues anonymously and in their local languages. They expressed it should provide protection to those who wish to report cases against admins and users holding positions of power in communities. Several users supported a global enforcement mechanism and said that without it the UCoC would be ineffective on dysfunctional projects. Some felt the mechanism decided at the end should override local self-governance by projects/affiliates, while preferably providing improved transparency compared to existing procedures. Contrary to this, some users said that in order to be effective, UCoC should not include global enforcement and rather support stronger local governance infrastructures. These users added that it seems reasonable to set a baseline for cordial behavior across the movement but UCoC should provide the flexibility of adoption to each project.

The conversations reflected ambiguity in communities’ preference on who should/would enforce the UCoC. Some communities wanted local admins to take upon this responsibility whereas others opposed the idea. This was because users wish to have the ability to report admins if needed. A couple of communities suggested the creation of local ArbComs or similar bodies dedicated to addressing UCoC related reports, while a few suggested creating a Global ArbCom. We reached out to the existing ArbComs for their opinion. The idea of taking upon more responsibility besides their existing workload did not sit well with them and they voiced their apprehensions.

The common concern expressed by all the groups was the challenge of handling large volumes of cases. Some users suggested creating dedicated roles within the community (an appointed role), or a role in chapters (delegated by the board), or authorities in the movement/Foundation (an individual or an appointed group) as contact points for UCoC related reports. A few people named the foundation or Trust and Safety. Some of them even preferred to report to the foundation over their local entities, yet, many comments affirmed that communities do not want the Foundation to play a leading role in enforcement.

Affiliates, in general, voiced the need for training and sensitization sessions on harassment and the value of UCoC. This, they said, should be done in conjunction with validation of affiliate’s charters and by-laws. Affiliates also raised the need to incorporate a clear review/amendment system for the UCoC in the future.

In addition to these inputs, the team received a set of suggestions from different groups. Some suggested seeking advice from external specialists who have worked on enforcement before. Some groups demanded the development of new apps that can track repeated abuse from specific users and trigger relevant warning messages to admins. A few users proposed mandating the creation of by-laws for user-groups and chapters. And some advised enabling communities to work with law enforcement on serious cases. There were subtle requests to include off-wiki actions as well.

Members of the UCoC Drafting committee also had strong opinions about enforcement. They summarized their thoughts as follows:

  • The application process will be designed according to the principles outlined in the Movement Strategy 2030, especially Equity & Empowerment, and Subsidiarity & Self Management. This means that, where possible and effective, local and project communities will be responsible for transposing the Universal Code of Conduct into their own context and for ensuring it is upheld.
  • The application process will also align with the Movement Strategy 2030 recommendations as they are being implemented, especially but not exclusively Provide for safety and inclusion and Ensure equity in decision making
  • If application of the UCoC within a project or community fails, there will be a clear and easily accessible process for reporting, redress and appeal, and a body will be established deal with these reports, claims and appeals
  • It is possible that UCOC application and enforcement procedures may have to be tailor made for groups such as functionaries, affiliates, Foundation staff, and board members
  • Grant agreements and affiliate agreements may have to be revised to ensure that the UCoC also applies in all operations of Wikimedia affiliates
  • All acts of violating the UCOC will be taken up for discussion as per the provisions set up by the appropriate body.
  • The UCoC will be reviewed after coming into force.
  • The Foundation will make available the resources needed for successful adaptation of the Universal Code of Conduct throughout the Wikimedia movement. This includes resources for training and capacity building.

Staff Survey—Enforcement data[edit]

In addition to reaching out to the communities, the T&S reached out to Foundation staff members for their feedback on UCoC. Since the UCoC applies to volunteers and staff members alike, it was important to listen to the employees as well. We sent out a survey to the whole foundation and received feedback from over a hundred staff members. Like other Phase 1 conversations, the questions for the staff also revolved around the content of the UCoC. Thus, we have limited information about their preference for enforcement mechanisms. But, some employees did share some ideas on potential enforcement pathways.

The responses from the staff can be categorized into three segments - support for targets/reporters, educating staff, and providing more support resources to staff. Several staff members requested mechanisms that allow users to report incidents anonymously with a clear escalation chain and pipelines for handling harassment from community members. They requested the same for separate redressal mechanisms in cases where staff members are reported by the community.

Many requested the Foundation to set up a safe space for victims to discuss and talk through the incident and develop resources to provide moral/mental support to victims when needed.

Foundation staff called for more efforts within the Foundation for sensitization and education of employees on abuse, harassment, and bullying. There were requests for clear measures to address hostility/aggression during consultations. Some asked for a dedicated office wiki page with transparent information on such issues whereas others requested a better leadership alignment. They requested a dedicated point of contact and capacity-building programs for managers to recognize and address such issues. It was brought in a few times that community-facing staff should be provided with open information about all the fallouts of possible unfriendly public conversations and should be put into the work only if they consent.

Many staff members agreed that the Wikimedia Foundation should support communities that want to incorporate UCoC enforcement into their local governance structures. This should be done in partnership with Wikimedia volunteer functionaries and admins by providing them the required tools, resources, and training.