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Universal Code of Conduct/Training/Module 2 - Identification and Reporting (UCoC - Violations)

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Universal Code of Conduct


Start here[edit]

Building on the previous module, the goal of this module is to help you identify UCoC violations and explore what you can do when violations occur.

We'll explore various scenarios and real-world examples to help you identify UCoC violations effectively. From subtle instances of incivility to more overt cases, you'll become adept at recognizing behavior that goes against the UCoC.

This module will also equip you with the skills to report these violations confidently. We'll take you through the reporting process step by step, ensuring you know how to initiate appropriate action when you encounter a UCoC violation.

By the end of this module, you will:

  • Learn about different types of UCoC violations and how to identify them
  • Understand reporting processes and learn how to use reporting tools


This self-learning course is designed for anyone interested in learning more about how UCoC violations are identified and reported within the Wikimedia movement. We recommend completing Module 1: UCoC General before continuing with this module.

How to identify UCoC violations?[edit]


Did you know that in a survey of 3,845 Wikimedians conducted in 2015, 38% of the respondents could confidently recognise that they had been harassed? While not only causing real harm to individual community members, 14%-30% of the respondents noted their participation in Wikimedia projects online greatly decreased.

The UCoC defines harassment as “any behavior intended primarily to intimidate, outrage or upset a person, or any behavior where this would reasonably be considered the most likely main outcome.”

However, what is the definition of such behavior? The UCoC aims to assist community members in recognizing bad behavior by establishing a common language to describe its various forms.

Types of Harassment

Behavior can be considered harassment if it is beyond what a reasonable person would be expected to tolerate in a global, intercultural environment and often takes the form of emotional abuse, especially towards people who are in a vulnerable position, and may include contacting workplaces or friends and family members in an effort to intimidate or embarrass.

ACTIVITY: Can you match the type of harassment to its meaning?

... ... ...

To learn more about other forms of harassment, see this page by PEN America.

The goal of harassment is to make the targeted individuals uncomfortable. This can range from overt actions like doxxing or explicit threats of harm to more subtle forms such as microaggressions or gaslighting.

In some cases, behavior that would not rise to the level of harassment in a single case can become harassment through repetition.

If you've never encountered such behavior, it might be difficult to believe that this actually happens in Wikimedia interactions. Let’s assess in the next section!

ACTIVITY: Did this really happen?

Below are a set of statements, choose “Yes” if you believe this could have happened to a community member or “No” if you don’t.

  • “I was hurtfully mocked for my gender and my illness.” → YES/NO
  • “Someone threatened to kill me.” → YES/NO
  • “Someone edited Wikipedia articles about criminals and replaced their names with mine.” → YES/NO
  • “An explicit pornographic website was created based my username,” → YES/NO
  • “My email was flamed, my personal name posted without permission, many accounts were created to impersonate and embarrass me.” → YES/NO
  • “An IP editor attempted to link my name to a sexual criminal in that subject's Wikipedia article.” → YES/NO
  • “I received a phone call on my work number from someone, who threatened to phone my employer and try to get me fired.” → YES/NO
  • ...

The above statements were taken from the 2015 community harassment survey and highlight some of the toxic and bad behavior happening on Wikimedia projects and within the movement. If you are interested in learning more about addressing online harassment, see this module on learn.wiki.

Closely aligned and often overlapping with harassment is the abuse of power, privilege, or influence. Such abuse occurs when someone in a real or perceived position of power, privilege, or influence engages in manipulative, disrespectful, cruel, and/or violent behavior towards other people.

How does this manifest in Wikimedia? Let's explore in the next section!

Abuse of power, privilege, or influence[edit]

The abuse of power, privilege and influence are often intricately linked to one other. Privilege can give someone power, and power can give someone influence. This can create a cycle where people with privilege and power are able to maintain their position and further marginalize people who are less privileged.

It is important to note that abuse often occurs as a pattern of behavior, rather than as isolated incidents. Understanding this pattern is crucial for recognizing and addressing abuse in Wikimedia contexts.

Examples include:

  • Using CheckUser rights to gain access to nonpublic information without due cause: Within Wikimedia, individuals granted CheckUser rights have the privilege of accessing sensitive, non-public information for legitimate purposes, such as investigating abuse. However, if an editor with these rights were to use them to target and reveal personal information about community members for personal gain or to intimidate others, it would be an abuse of their privilege.
  • Blocking community members from making edits to some or all articles without due cause: This example reflects how an editor in a position of power (e.g., an administrator) might misuse their authority to silence voices that challenge their perspectives or interests such as by protecting a page or blocking the challenging voice.
  • Intimidating community members to vote a certain way: Influence in the Wikimedia context can pertain to discussions, decision-making, and community voting. An abuse of influence can occur when certain individuals use tactics like harassment, intimidation, canvassing or blocking to influence the outcome of a certain vote.
  • Bias in notability and article deletion: An abuse of power or influence may be evident when certain articles are kept or deleted based on the preferences of respected editors, even if those articles meet the notability and content guidelines of Wikipedia. This can lead to suppression of topics.
  • Selective enforcement of policies: Some community members may exploit their positions to selectively enforce Wikipedia policies, favoring certain contributors and their contributions while targeting others with sanctions.
  • ...
ACTIVITY: What case of abuse of power, privilege and or influence have you observed?

... ... ...

Content vandalism and abuse of the projects[edit]

Content vandalism and abuse of Wikimedia projects includes behaviors such as deliberately introducing biased, false, inaccurate, or inappropriate content. This encompasses actions that hinder, impede, or otherwise hamper the creation and maintenance of projects.

Examples of such behaviors include:

  • Sockpuppetry: Using multiple accounts to manipulate discussions or content.
  • Undisclosed Paid Editing: Editing for compensation without disclosure, compromising neutrality.
  • Vandalism: Deliberate sabotage of content or functionality.
  • Edit Warring: Repeatedly undoing others' edits in a confrontational manner.
  • POV Pushing: Promoting a particular point of view without regard for neutrality.
  • ...

It's important to note that most often, it is not a single behavior that would rise to the level of a violation, but rather the repeated action of such behaviors, indicative of a pattern of disruptive conduct. This often involves repeated behaviors, such as:

  • Taking away content for no clear reason and without talking about it or explaining why.
  • Manipulating content to favor specific interpretations or viewpoints.
  • Hate speech or discriminatory language aimed at vilifying or inciting hatred.
  • Using content in ways that intimidate or harm others outside an encyclopedic context.
  • ...

To gather a deeper understanding of how content vandalism and abuse occur on Wikimedia projects, especially in the context of disinformation, consider exploring the Trust & Safety Disinformaion training module.

How can you report UCoC violations?[edit]

Existing reporting mechanisms[edit]

The way misconduct and policy violations are dealt with across Wikimedia spaces and projects has developed organically and varies across different communities and projects.

Each Wikimedia project or community has their way of managing issues. Reporting and processing of incidents happen in a variety of ways:

  • via wiki talk pages
  • via noticeboards
  • via email
  • via private discussions on off-wiki communication channels (Discord, IRC, Telegram channels..)

For example, listed below are a few existing reporting mechanisms:

Project-specific Reporting: Many Wikimedia projects have a designated page for reporting harassment or other UCoC violations. Look for the "Noticeboard" or "Incidents" page specific to the project where the violation is occurring. On English Wikipedia, for example, you can report harassment on the "Administrator's noticeboard for incidents."

For other examples:

Arbitration Committee (ArbCom): An Arbitration Committee is a small group of trusted community members who serve as a means of dispute resolution resolving serious conduct issues. The existence of an ArbCom as well as rulings, policies and procedures differ between projects depending on local and cultural contexts and capacity. Currently Arbitration Committees are used on eleven Wikipedia versions and the English Wikinews.

Ombuds commission: Following a call for volunteers from the community, members of the ombuds commission are selected by Wikimedia Foundation staff. The ombuds commission investigates complaints about infringements of the Privacy Policy, the Access to nonpublic personal data policy, the CheckUser policy and the Oversight policy, on any Wikimedia project.

Stewards: Stewards are elected community members who have global access rights across all Wikimedia projects. They have the technical ability to modify all local and global user rights, change the status and name of global accounts, and access any of the permissions available to administrators and bureaucrats. Stewards are the primary point of contact for global conduct issues. The Steward requests page provide more information on the type of requests that can be submitted and how.

If you’re thinking this is all rather complicated, you’re not alone.

It was observed that the decentralized nature of these reporting mechanisms, coupled with variations based on the specific projects and languages, has created confusion regarding the reporting process when an incident occurs.

Privacy concerns further compound this issue, making it unclear for many community members how to respond to such situations.

This lack of clarity has become a discouraging factor for reporting unacceptable behavior. As a solution to these challenges, the EG proposes the implementation of an Incident Reporting System (IRS). What would this system look like?

Incident Reporting System (IRS)[edit]

The EG notes that a centralized reporting and processing tool for UCoC violations will be developed and maintained by the Wikimedia Foundation.

The purpose is to lower the technical barrier for reporting and processing UCoC violations. The interface will allow the reporter to add all essential information, encompassing details such as the who, what, when, how, and where of the violation, along with any additional information they find relevant.

This may be especially useful for smaller projects or organizations in the movement who don’t have the needed resources or capacity.


The goal of the IRS are to:

  • Make it easier for people who experience harassment to get help.
  • Eliminate situations in which people do not report because they don’t know how to report harassment.
  • Ensure harassment reports reach the right entities that handle them per local community processes.
  • Ensure responders receive good reports and redirect unfounded complaints and issues to be handled elsewhere.

However, community members charged with enforcing the UCoC are not required to use this tool. They may continue to work with whatever tools they deem appropriate, as long as cases are handled according to the same principles of ease-of-use, privacy and security, flexibility in processing, and transparency.

What happens next?[edit]

Enforcement of UCoC will depend on the type of violation, its severity to people and project, in which community it is taking place and its capacity to process a violation and so on.

The EG are not intended to replace existing enforcement structures. The use of existing structures is expected and preferred, provided that they reflect the baseline principles defined by the Enforcement Guidelines

Some of these approaches can include:

  • An Arbitration Committee (ArbCom) for a specific Wikimedia project
  • An ArbCom shared amongst multiple Wikimedia projects
  • Advanced rights holders enforcing local policies consistent with the UCoC in a decentralized manner
  • Panels of local administrators enforcing policies
  • Local contributors enforcing local policies through community discussion and agreement

Now that you've gained an overview of unacceptable behavior, reporting procedures and enforcement, let's explore how these concepts work in practice through some scenarios

Let's try together[edit]


[Do you have any case scenarios in mind that could be used as an educational example? Please share your ideas in the talkpage. :)]

Sample structure:

Case title:

Case description:

How does this violate the UCoC?

How can you report this violation?

UCoC Identification and Reporting - Test your knowledge![edit]