Wikimedia Stewards User Group/Reports/2022

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Report of the Wikimedia Stewards User Group (WMSUG) for activities from January until December 2022.


Membership to the User Group is open to anyone interested in steward recruitment, tool development, or any of the other topics included in the user group mandate. Voting membership is restricted to current and former stewards in good standing. In the first quarter of 2022, the annual steward elections within the global Wikimedia community took place, resulting in 5 new stewards. 1 steward resigned during the annual confirmations, none was removed by community and steward consensus without good standing. 4 more stewards resigned since the last report, resulting in 37 active stewards as of 28 December 2022, with two more announcing their resignation for the upcoming confirmation process in February. The user group did not develop formal hierarchical structures while stewards as a global group developed a decision process which reads as follows: “Successful proposals require 20% of stewards (currently 8 stewards) to have participated in the discussion, and 66% of those participating to vote support.” The user group remains consensus-driven among members with co-contacts Base and DerHexer.


Due to the nature of our members who work in security-related fields, an internal wiki was used with some WMF staff members having access where experiences about global abuse was shared (documentation of cases, processes, etc.). We also continued using a private mailing list (steward-l) where Wikimedia Stewards discussed various cases in more than 800 emails in the reported period, almost as many emails as in the previous reported period which covered 15 instead of 12 months, therefore a little increase in activities. Wikimedia Stewards handled more than 6,500 tickets sent to the VRT stewards queue in the reported period, mostly queries about previous actions of Wikimedia Stewards.

Since this year, the WMSUG uses an internal mailing list for its members. This sometimes leads to some double communications with the stewards-only mailing list but allowed the group to reach non-steward members for important discussions and decisions. Besides that, a steward collected relevant global information for their fellows and sent out monthly summaries.

Within the reported period, Wikimedia Stewards advised WMF on several topics on a monthly base and joined additional calls, e.g. with the Anti-Harassment Tools team and T&S Tools. Calls with two other functionary groups were scheduled and supported by WMF staff, after some misunderstandings between the stewards and the respective groups happened. Both respective parties agreed on intensifying the communications between the groups, including regular calls. With the enwiki Arbitration committee, a new formal collaboration process was developed and later passed by both groups. In total, the WMSUG sees a development in communications with the WMF due to the increased support for additional meetings as well as more WMF staff attending the monthly calls—while the number of stewards who joins remains pretty low (less than 10 per call). It remains as is, most stewards are highly specialized in some topics and not many interested in governance or communications. However, some newer stewards seem to fill these gaps.

Online activities[edit]

Most standard onwiki activities of Wikimedia stewards are visible on a statistics page: Stewards/statistics. For editcounts of the user group please also have a look at these statistics (about 1,800,000 edits and log actions in the reported period). It can be observed that most stewards are (very active), highly specialized individuals. Furthermore, Wikimedia Stewards helped out as scrutineers for several elections, including 2022 English Wikipedia Arbitration Committee, the 2022 WMF Board Election, the UCoC Phase 2 vote and others. Besides that we completed annual activities like the admin activity review/2021 for administrators on small wikis and helped out with other global activities, like CentralNotice.

Offline activities[edit]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we couldn't hold our annual gatherings at the Wikimedia Summit or Wikimania. Co-contact DerHexer was invited to the Wikimedia Summit 2022 as representative of the user group where he discussed several topics:

  • Prioritization of support for our technical needs: DerHexer had the feeling for the first time that stewards got visible at a global level (despite our monthly calls with WMF) as I had the chance to talk about the past struggles and ongoing needs of stewards with Maryana (CEO) and Selena (who is the new CPO/CTO). In particular that it felt more like WMF is informing and involving us in their projects during our calls (IP masking, UCoC enforcement, etc.) while our wishes are not really heard. We've had these kinds of priorization meetings but didn't come forward.
  • DerHexer had some intensive discussions with Marshall Miller about range blocks and their impacts in particular in developing countries, alongside with affected users from Ghana and Anthere who had raised these concerns on wikimedia-l. Sadly, this topic could not be continued after the event. But the feedback from the global community was taken seriously by many members of the group.
  • Having felt pretty unique among affiliates (the WMSUG is still the only group which represents an actual user group, the Wikimedia Stewards), we noticed that there are other globally active groups like LGBT+, Wikipedian in Residence group, etc. who neither are regional nor thematically focussed. We drew the conclusion that the current regions system for grants does not fit to our needs. We noted that this gap should be filled. WMF encouraged the to apply for grants. Even some other affiliates besides WMF offered to look for some money because they do understand the impact of our work to all Wikimedia wikis.

Discussions within the emerged from this topic as the last in-person meeting with the WMF happened in 2015 and that technical developments by known contractors could help with improving our workflows. New grant requests were planned, and WMF offered its support but currently there is a lack of time for WMSUG members to proceed with these activities.


Due to the lack of public events during the pandemic, Wikimedia Stewards couldn't held as many presentations as in previous years. However, some of them attended the virtual Wikimania or shared thoughts about banner campaigns and other topics, e.g. at the VSN training.

Evaluation of the group status[edit]

In general, with the new decision process and more diverse communication channels, the group professionalizes. Some newer stewards are closing some gaps in governing the stewards as a group of individuals thanks to increased communications and development of internal processes but the majority of members are still (very active), highly specialized individuals. However, it is to be expected that the professionalization will continue in the upcoming months and years.