Talk:Code of Conduct

Liz (talkcontribs)

Hello, Code of Conduct team,

I'd like to read over the proceedings of where your tech division decided to infinitely block MZMcBride who has contributed so much to the English Wikipedia. I trust these deliberations aren't done in secret so I'd like to read over your reasons and reasoning to come to such a drastic decision. Thank you.

Ladsgroup (talkcontribs)

Hi, According to CoC itself, these cases are private to protect the reporters and targets of harassment. We are not allowed to discuss those publicly. Keep it in mind, Mz's ban was not just because of one offense and it's because of a long-term pattern of problematic behavior.

Jonesey95 (talkcontribs)

I have read the "Confidentiality" section. I do not see anything in there that prevents the disclosure of diffs or postings that do not contain confidential private information. If any of the behavior leading to this block occurred in public forums and has not been redacted, please link to it. Thanks.

Martin Urbanec (talkcontribs)

The confidentiality section of the CoC/Committee policy indeed does prevent the Committee from publishing links. While it doesn't say so explicitly, it says that the identities of harassment targets are confidential. As such, it's not possible to publish the links without also disclosing confidential information.

In any case, please do note (as Ladsgroup mentioned above) that Mz's ban did not happen due to a single offense; instead, the decision was made based on the long-term pattern of Mz's behavior in technical spaces.

Jonesey95 (talkcontribs)

There are zero existing links showing any violating behavior that can be disclosed? What prevents this committee from being a star chamber?

I have no reason to believe or disbelieve either side of this dispute, having encountered unreasonableness and obstinacy from both MZMcBride and WMF staff, but living in a country with guarantees of due process makes me wary of secret trials, and of judgements rendered without disclosure of any of the evidence or even a summary of the evidence presented.

How about a summary of the proceedings, with quotations from the evidence that do not compromise the confidentiality regulations? How about a list of the specific items in the code of conduct that MZMcBride was determined to have violated? Any measure of transparency would be welcome.

Anomie (talkcontribs)

I think what it comes down to is that MZ has been known for over a decade as someone who has the interests of Wikipedia at heart, and who helps keep WMF "honest" by calling things out, but also sometimes picks odd windmills to tilt at and who frequently expresses himself abrasively and without appropriate amounts of tact.

Unfortunately for the past several years the power at WMF has been held by those who're willing to use tone policing, endless discussions, consultations with predetermined outcomes, and similar tactics to promote their agendas, whether those agendas are "advocate for social change" or "climb the management ladder" or "play with new technology". So bars on "acceptable behavior" get lowered and secret courts get created to enforce this without the benefit of external scrutiny.

What prevents it from becoming a star chamber? That it already is, the question is where it is between "just and efficient" (cf. the original Star Chamber around the time of its formation) and "corrupt abuse of power" (cf. the original a few decades later).

As someone who also struggles with "appropriate amounts of tact", I find that this sort of thing creates for me the sort of hostile environment that the advocates claim they're seeking to prevent.

Alexis Jazz (talkcontribs)

"As someone who also struggles with "appropriate amounts of tact", I find that this sort of thing creates for me the sort of hostile environment that the advocates claim they're seeking to prevent."

I just released a trial balloon about blocking the TechConductCommittee from English Wikipedia. That's probably not sufficiently tactful either. It's on English Wikipedia though, so technically the star chamber shouldn't block me for it. So either I'm safe, or the TechConductCommittee is about to shoot themselves in the foot. We'll see.

Bawolff (talkcontribs)

With all due respect, the en wikipedia discussion is silly and not helping anything.

Alexis Jazz (talkcontribs)

I doubt anything will help anything here. It's not that silly: if we did it (which, granted, is unlikely) I think there's a good chance it would work. The TechConductCommittee isn't going to reform itself without some signal from the outside.

And as for whatever MZMcBride said: people are getting offended way too easily. If someone feels offended, that's typically their problem. See w:en:Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. If it's not a case of w:en:WP:NOTHERE (which this isn't) or cyberstalking (which nobody suggested in this case), then just accept it's all opinion and leave it be. I've been called a cunt and I don't care.

AKlapper (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@Alexis Jazz It's alright if you are personally fine and don't feel offended by getting insulted, or maybe getting bullied, or maybe being physically attacked, or wherever you would like to draw your own individual boundaries and red lines in your life.

It doesn't mean that everyone else is or should be expected to also be personally fine with having your preferred boundary levels. Except if you only want people in the Wikimedia communities who already have a thick skin (and exclude anyone else, but that is only "their problem", as you wrote).

Alexis Jazz (talkcontribs)

Yeah, I'm totally fine with being knifed.[/sarcasm] Come on @AKlapper (WMF), this kind of slippery slope argument is ridiculous.

You got it backwards. If someone can't handle the occasional hurtful comment, they could stay away if they so wish, but they're not being excluded. On the other hand, when you block people for saying "andre__: Such a troll." (which is hard to judge out of context), you are excluding them.

All people are different. Some are very pleasant, some can be hotheaded. But as long as they're all here to contribute to the Wikimedia projects, we should welcome them. And if their behavior is so bad that the bad outweighs the good, any block should come with a crystal clear target for an unblock. "we'll unblock when we feel like it" doesn't cut it.

And if Andre (not sure which user that refers to actually) feels excluded and no longer able to contribute to Wikimedia because MZMcBride said "andre__: Such a troll.", I'm afraid they would have gotten irrevocably offended by something sooner or later anyway.

Just let Andre return the favor by telling MZMcBride "Hey, you suck." and call it a day. No point in blocking anyone over some offhanded comment, that just leads to drama. And drama doesn't help Wikimedia.

AKlapper (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@Alexis Jazz If I get you right you propose "Insult me, then I insult you, then everybody involved would somehow magically stop and not continue escalating, and magically everyone will feel fine afterwards". I guess I'm not convinced.

Please also take into account bystanders who watch such conversations. If people in a community happily insult each other and that seems to be accepted behavior in that community, then that is not my understanding of a welcoming community I'd want to be part of. (No [/sarcasm].)

Indeed all people are different. However that's not a great argument for ending up only with people with a thicker skin to stick around?

Alexis Jazz (talkcontribs)

"then everybody involved would somehow magically stop and not continue escalating"

Obviously it depends on the circumstances. Without a star chamber to instill fear into everyone, that can very well happen.

"Please also take into account bystanders who watch such conversations. If people in a community happily insult each other and that seems to be accepted behavior in that community, then that is not my understanding of a welcoming community I'd want to be part of."

An offhanded comment isn't the same as full blown personal attack. A community where members can sling minor insults at each other, followed by them shaking hands and smiling about it? I'd consider that as welcoming as it gets. And I'll take that over a star chamber that instills fear any day of the week. That star chamber terrorizes me. I get accused of bad behavior, but wasn't given links. The only conclusion for me to draw is that I'll get blocked sooner or later because the star chamber doesn't like me. I do not feel welcome.

"However that's not a great argument for ending up only with people with a thicker skin to stick around?"

The current regime has already chased people away. If the goal/ideal is to be a welcoming community, this is a complete and utter failure. Sunshine and puppies aren't the answer to everything.

Joe the internet plumber (talkcontribs)

Please don't confuse the internal dynamics of the Wikimedia Foundation with the work of the CoCC.

There's a great difference between conflict avoidance and being toxic, consistently over a decade.

If anything, it's time that certain behaviour (which isn't "a badly toned code review") is considered unacceptable.

Alexis Jazz (talkcontribs)

Can you please sign your user page at with your main account? I have no way to tell if you're actually GLavagetto (WMF).

"(which isn't "a badly toned code review")"

What quote are you referring to?

"If anything, it's time that certain behaviour is considered unacceptable."

This isn't all that much about what is or isn't acceptable but mostly about the secrecy and lack of accountability. Even if MZMcBride would have totally deserved it, which I'm not convinced of, this is very much the wrong way to do it.

An important step forward would be to inform reporters that any diffs/direct links to comments/etc can be shared publicly, and consistently give anyone who gets accused that information, publicly if they so wish.

Ckoerner (talkcontribs)

Brad, I generally appreciate your comments in discussions and so it frustrates me to see this comment. I'm sorry you feel triggered by this decision and feel the need to bring in accusations of tone policing and secret courts into the conversation. If you struggle with tact, that's on you to improve, not for others to have to deal with.

In this particular case, it's not tone policing to demand respect or to uphold agreed upon social expectations. Being held accountable for one's actions is not repression or the will of "secret courts". It's upholding human decency. Criticism is a form of communication and how you communicate is important. Valid criticism doesn't make it permissible to be a jerk.

As for the broader discussion, the committee should not relitigate their decision here. I trust the volunteers on the committee, all of which are in good standing in the technical community. An appeal can be made if one so chooses.

Bawolff (talkcontribs)

> Being held accountable for one's actions is not repression or the will of "secret courts". It's upholding human decency.

Its this type of means justify the ends reasoning i find most objectionable. If a secret court holds someone accountable for their actions, then its a secret court doing it. It doesn't become any less problematic because the person "deserved it". If anything that has been the justification for most tyranny throughout history.

Ckoerner (talkcontribs)

Good thing it’s not a secret court then.

Bawolff (talkcontribs)

Which part are you disputing? That it is secret or that it is a court?

Ckoerner (talkcontribs)

I’m unsure of the confusion. The Code of Conduct and its committee are neither secret or a court. But now we’re splitting hairs and getting off topic.

Bawolff (talkcontribs)

i disagree, the preception of the CoC as a secret court is the core of the issue here and speaks to lack of trust.

i seriously dont understand how you could be unsure of the confusion.

Secret means "not public". I dont think anyone is disputing that the reasonings of the CoC are confidential and as such not public? If it really isn't secret, someone should just link to such reasonings. Of course secrecy tends to be shades of grey, and some level may be appropriate without raising to the level of "secret court", but the CoC seems to be literally as secretive as possible.

wikt:court - "The hall, chamber, or place, where justice is administered." - obviously we are online so its not a "place", but i thought it was self-obvious that the intent of the CoC committee was to administer justice for violations of the code of conduct

Ladsgroup (talkcontribs)
Jonesey95 (talkcontribs)

Thanks for that. So that's one comment on a contributor instead of on content. That sort of thing on the English Wikipedia is handled in public very easily, with links to diffs, with input from all parties, and without any need for secret tribunals.

I think I need to drop this stick, since it appears that my requests for basic transparency will go nowhere, but the whole thing strikes me as unnecessarily secretive. That secrecy, like many interactions with WMF staff, is frustrating and not in alignment with my experience of the open, collaborative nature of WMF's public-facing projects. Please consider a better approach.

TheDJ (talkcontribs)

"Tech division", I'd rather say Tech community (much like the en.wp community).

"trust these deliberations aren't done in secret" Every Code of Conduct that I know of handles cases with confidentiality.

I doubt the committee will comment on it very much. The list of offences that could lead to sanctions is listed here. Reading MZMcBride's talk page on en.wp does make it seem like they were running a vendetta, which doesn't make it unlikely they crossed one of those boundaries one too many times.

It is unfortunate that someone who is productive is blocked/banned, but productivity is never an excuse that should measure into any of this.

Jonesey95 (talkcontribs)

I don't know where TheDJ lives, but in a country with pretty good due process rights, it is not difficult to find code of conduct trial procedures that make available at least a partial transcript or summary of the case. I found one with my very first web search. See this US government report on conduct hearings at military academies, for example (specifically the section "COMPARISON OF DUE PROCESS PROTECTIONS ...").

A committee that renders punishments and provides the public with no record of the proceedings at all is pretty much the definition of a secret court, and it is not a good look for a US-based organization that, under US law, has a government-sanctioned public non-profit status.

Ladsgroup (talkcontribs)

Comparing judicial systems with ability to use a platform is like comparing apples and oranges. In a democratic society, people have (civil) rights and governments can't take them away easily. In wikis, we don't have such rigorous protection of users. That's why "There is no justice" and "Wikipedia is not a democracy" exist. TheDJ is talking about other platform's CoCs not judicial systems.

Lots of cases are handled without public disclosure, T&S office bans are among them. Our CoC also handles cases of sexual harassment. Do you want us to publicly mention them to the harasser? I do understand we could mention some cases publicly but where can we draw the line? I have been volunteer in Wikipedia for sixteen years and gonna stay for way longer. I take transparency to my heart and have all sorts of criticisms of how WMF is operating but 1- that doesn't mean we can be jerks 2- WP:ANI's cases doesn't look like fair court either. Finding the balance is not easy.

Bawolff (talkcontribs)

> Comparing judicial systems with ability to use a platform is like comparing apples and oranges. In a democratic society, people have (civil) rights and governments can't take them away easily. In wikis, we don't have such rigorous protection of users. That's why "There is no justice" and "Wikipedia is not a democracy" exist.

foundation:Policy:Human Rights Policy is an official WMF policy. Surely that trumps random essays on english wikipedia?

There is still the question of how it applies here, after all, WMF is not the crown, and while i might argue that CoCC is a "tribunal" it certainly is not a state court. However, we seem to be interpreting the human rights policy quite liberally - there are conversations about how the right to equality, education, and freedom from discrimination implies we need to spend more effort improving the mobile site (don't get me wrong, definitely a worthy goal, but to get there from UNDHR demonstrates how liberally the rights are being interpreted). With that in mind, i struggle to understand how CoC as is could be considered in compliance with article 14, which starts with:

"Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations..."

> Lots of cases are handled without public disclosure, T&S office bans are among them.

And how is that working out for them? I dont think anyone won during fram-gate. Certainly not the victim.

> Our CoC also handles cases of sexual harassment. Do you want us to publicly mention them to the harasser?

well i would first of all say that, maybe we should not use the same procedure for things that are literal crimes as we do for things that boil down to being rude to someone on the internet.

However ultimately yes (to the extent neccesary). It is a super common trolling tactic on the internet to impersonate someone else and do hateful things in their name. I would generally expect that a comittee of this nature check to see if the alleged perpatrator is actually the person who did the thing - which seems like it would require contacting the perpertrator. Now every situation is different, and that might not always apply, sexual harrasment is complicated, there are no easy answers.

the question remains, what percentage of cases actually involve sexual harrasment? Especially outside of in-person events. I took a look the the role account's block log. It seems like in the entirety of the committee's existence, mzmcbride is the only member of the developer community to ever be blocked (most everyone else are random wikipedians,most having enough public context to make it obvious why they were blocked). I might be wrong, but i would assume that sexual harrasment would take place between members of our community, and not from random outsiders. It honestly makes me wonder if there has ever even been a case of sexual harrasment that resulted in on-wiki sanctions. If not, this feels a bit like bringing out the boogey-man. If we are solely talking about things happening in in-person events with sactions extending only to such events, perhaps differing procedures are warranted for in-person events. Regardless, it seems like a small portion of cases, and certainly not the cases that are causing strife.

> WP:ANI's cases doesn't look like fair court either. Finding the balance is not easy.


To look at it from another perspective, one of the founding views for the CoC is that mediawiki should be considered a professional space and we should treat other contributors as if they are co-workers.

Perhaps we should take that metaphor further. A ban is sort of similar to firing someone for cause. Maybe we should treat it similar to how workplaces treat problematic employees. For example requiring that sanctioned people are (paraphrasing from ): told clearly what the reasonable standards are, told that they weren't meeting the standards, Had reasonable time and help to meet the standards, Was warned that they would be banned if they did not improve their behaviour and Still didn’t meet the standards after all of the above.

given that a significant portion of people blocked by the CoC claim they were not informed of the reason for their block, this does not seem to be taking place currently (if it was just one person saying that i would assume they were lying, but it seems a very common refrain).

Anomie (talkcontribs)

Perhaps we should take that metaphor further. A ban is sort of similar to firing someone for cause. Maybe we should treat it similar to how workplaces treat problematic employees.

Not that WMF has a particularly clean record on that point either. They've done the lack of feedback, bullying, discrimination, and trumped-up or made-up claims in that context too.

Pppery (talkcontribs)

You missed Aron Manning (also known as "Demian"), who I would say was a member of the developer community. But that doesn't change your general point.

Bawolff (talkcontribs)

my mistake - i guess i was only looking at the blocks by the role account. I dont think i've ever interacted with that person or recognized the name but does seem like he was quite active at one point. Although he did manage to get himself blocked all over the place not just here, so seems like quite the controversial prerson.

Bawolff (talkcontribs)

With the distance of a couple days, I wanted to add an adendum to all this.

Well i stand behind everything i said, they are beliefs that are not new and ultimately have very little to do with mzmcbride. In the current context i reiterated them because i was sad/frustrated that mzmcbride was blocked - and that frustration took the form of a rant about what i precieve as the faults of the CoC process. While i appreciate this is not a universally held position, i do feel that he has had an important and ultimately quite positive impact in our community, often in hard to see ways. However as TheDJ said, positive contribution is not an excuse.

Regardless of whatever issues i may have with the CoC, i unfortunately did see recent statements made by mcbride which were over the line. While i wish that our processes and procedures were more fair (in terms of my personal views of fairness which are not universal), i suspect any process would have probably at least taken some action in this situation. He probably would have got in trouble for this even in the wild-west pre-CoC days.

I guess what i'm trying to say, i stand by my rant, but it shouldn't be taken to imply that mcbride is innocent either. I hope (perhaps vainly) that some day in the future, some set of events will arise that would allow him to be invited back.

TheDJ (talkcontribs)

To clarify, I did mean CoCs as used in similar style projects and organisations.

There is always a balance here. A full fledged legal system would be senseless as there is already a higher legal system that can be relied upon, and an organization with 10 people would find it hard to find a defendant, prosecutor, attorneys, judge, executioner, an ombudsman, a jury, an appeals court etc etc.. it gets a bit ridiculous. Somewhere in between is a balance.

BUT, can I also just note that I'M FUCKING PISSED OFF AND ANNOYED THAT PEOPLE WHO BULLY AND HARASS ALWAYS GET DEFENDED and WIKILAWYERED in this community and that the rest always need to deal with it and keep scorecards for 10 years? Every event, every CoC moment, it's the same old shit. "he's such a productive person", "they mean well", "it was a mistake", "they didn't get enough warnings", "they've learned". Every god damn time it's the same. No, they don't mean well and it's wasting everyone's time and make me not want to be here. Ban and move on.

Skizzerz (talkcontribs)

> BUT, can I also just note that I'M FUCKING PISSED OFF AND ANNOYED THAT PEOPLE WHO BULLY AND HARASS ALWAYS GET DEFENDED and WIKILAWYERED in this community and that the rest always need to deal with it and keep scorecards for 10 years?

I am criticizing the process of the committee, and this particular event provides a convenient avenue of doing so. I am not rejecting their decision--I don't even know the duration of the ban due to complete lack of any transparency with anyone, which is one of the issues I'm criticizing. Did MZMcBride deserve to be banned? Probably, but I don't know details. I've certainly seen plenty of abrasive behavior from him. Were there any warnings or less-drastic means of getting MZMcBride to improve before the ban was issued? Is the ban a short-term thing or a long-term thing? These are things I don't know, and I cannot in good faith make a determination of whether the ban was fair without knowing those.

As an uninvolved party, my argument is that I don't need to know those details or be a backseat driver in the process. But I feel very strongly that the involved parties have a right to know those details. If they wish to share it with the public, that is on them, not the committee. The involved parties (all of them, including the offender) have rights, and those rights should be respected.

> Ban and move on.

No. This is always the wrong way of going about issues. Bans are a punitive tool, and should not be used as a first resort. And when they are used, they should be relatively short except in egregious circumstances. What happened to Assume Good Faith? Give the person warnings and let them know their behavior isn't acceptable. Work with them on improving. If they improve? Great, you got a motivated contributor to help things grow and evolve. Didn't improve? That's when punishment is warranted.

If the committee feels that everything that goes before them needs to end up in a ban, then the committee should re-read the code of conduct that they're purporting to enforce. The conduct of the committee by blocking people when less harsh methods may have worked seems to fall foul of "Harming the discussion or community with methods such as sustained disruption, interruption, or blocking of community collaboration."

Martin Urbanec (talkcontribs)

Hi @Skizzerz,

If we didn't say why we issued a warning or ban to the offender, that would be pretty unfair as they would have no way to know how to improve or what they even did wrong. Fortunately that's not the case. All involved parties were made fully aware of what led to the decision. Sometimes we can't get too specific in order to protect the reporter (see Code of Conduct/Committee#Confidentiality), but we certainly don't intentionally hang offenders out to dry. I can say with confidence that generally speaking, we go out of our way to assist offenders in improving their behavior, provided they are open to advice and will cooperate.

FTR, in this case, we did try less harsh solutions before deciding on the ban, including warnings and temporary bans. However, MzMcBride's behavior did not improve, which led to the ban.

Skizzerz (talkcontribs)

Thanks for that confirmation @Martin Urbanec. From what I was told via other sources, that notification didn't seem to have happened. With the confirmation that it did, that clears up the biggest concern I had with the process. I still feel the other bits I mentioned in my other posts merit examination regarding the appeal and amendments process, but this makes me feel a lot better about the committee. I would also encourage documenting the overall process you all follow somewhere public to help engender additional trust in the committee.

TheDJ (talkcontribs)

> should not be used as a first resort.

The user literally has been a problem for well over 15 years. I can’t remember events up to 2017 (when Tim stepped in (for the 2nd time if I remember correctly)) that didn’t have ppl talk about whatever shit mzmcbride created in the months before. They were a problem user on Wikimedia-l, they got a stern talking to by Tim starling, there were people who tried to reach out and push the user into being useful and that was all BEFORE there even was a COC.

and I do think banning is useful. We ban way too little. Behave or get tf out, fill in an appeal form and maybe we’ll reconsider after three years. It really shouldnt have to be more difficult than the average Twitch chat.

Bawolff (talkcontribs)

> Every Code of Conduct that I know of handles cases with confidentiality.

I would dispute that. I suppose it depends on what it means to be a "code of conduct", but if anything i think most tribunals involve much more transparency than the CoC does.

Ladsgroup (talkcontribs)
Skizzerz (talkcontribs)

That link is meaningless, given that the committee has the ability to block amendments arbitrarily. It serves no useful purpose in any sort of oversight role, which is the role I believe you were suggesting it for here.

I feel the committee needs to adjust their processes with respect to communication with the parties involved. I'm not asking for public proceedings or even public summaries. However, from my understanding, MZMcBride was not provided with any information whatsoever of:

  • An anonymized summary of the behavior that led to the ban, and
  • The aspects of the code of conduct being violated that led to the ban.

I feel both parts should be given to all parties in any given dispute. An anonymized summary isn't a link to specific diffs, and nor does it need reveal any identities of the reporter or other involved parties besides the person being reported (which was obvious anyway given the ban).

The committee supposedly has an appeals process, but with the complete lack of information given to the involved parties that process also is completely meaningless -- there is simply nothing that can be appealed.

I strongly encourage the committee to examine how other similar committees operate with regards to their oversight and appeals process and institute transparent, public policies to improve the situation of both of those aspects for this committee. Failing to do so will simply continue the ever-growing impression that the committee is nothing more than a means of oppressing people that they do not like.

Some suggestions I have for this are:

  • Expand the committee size to 9 regular members, and for each case, have a random minority subset of the committee selected to review, investigate, and deliberate the case (say, 3 people). This provides an easy, meaningful appeals process of kicking the case to the full committee for review while presumably also reducing the time and mental energy burden on any particular member of the committee.
  • Remove the clause in the amendments procedure that allows the committee to override a decision made by the community at large, or alternatively make that veto power in turn able to be overridden by the community with perhaps a higher bar to clear. You serve the community, not the other way around.
Bawolff (talkcontribs)

I would also point out the last amendment about transparency doesn't appear to have been followed.

Reply to "MZMcBride"

Your experiences with CoC enforcement

JustB EU (talkcontribs)

Please, for what community does have this Code of Conduct effect? Is it binding, enforceable and when yes, how and by whom? What were the biggest (most challenging) problems, issues you had to deal with? How will you adapt the new Universal Code of Conduct? Thanks!

Malyacko (talkcontribs)

@JustB EU The first two questions are already answered on the wiki pages, I'd say. Who is "you" in your last question?

JustB EU (talkcontribs)

You = the community that did develop and now controls and executes this CoC. Can you be so kind to give more specific links to "the wiki pages". When not, no prob!

JustB EU (talkcontribs)
Reply to "Your experiences with CoC enforcement"

Recommendation to modify the appeals process

Summary by Ladsgroup

This amendment is implemented.

Qgil-WMF (talkcontribs)

task T199086

Hi, the Technical Collaboration’s Community Health group wants to share some thoughts about the appeal process that we are currently handling. The text describing the appeal process itself is fine. The problematic part is to have an appeals team other than the CoC Committee itself without defining the relationship and governance between both teams.

The core of the problem is that it is not defined who has the ultimate decision on the resolution of an appeal. This is fine when both teams agree on a resolution, but what if they don’t? The options are

  • They have to keep discussing until there is consensus. This would put both teams on equal foot, which is fine but needs to be documented.
  • The Committee has the last word. This means that the Appeals team has an advisory function, which is fine but needs to be documented.
  • The Appeals team has the last word. This might even be the default expectation (?), but it is actually the most problematic one because it means that the Appeals team has more power than the Committee itself.

If we want to go for the third option anyway, then that Appeals body cannot be a team like we have now, formed by Wikimedia Foundation members by design. There were good reasons to make this choice (leaving tough situations to paid professionals, saving some trouble to volunteers), but having a team of WMF employees having more power than the Committee is a setup that we don’t want to have.

Strainu (talkcontribs)

The current text states: "These [appeals] will be considered by the Committee, which may alter the outcome." This suggests to me that the Committee has the last word. I believe this makes perfect sense, since the foundation should only override community-elected structures for legal reasons (in which case the Community Health group doesn't sound like the right group to make a decision anyway).

Bluerasberry (talkcontribs)

Can you link to the pages for each of these two committees or teams? I want to see a page for each, listing who the members are, and stating how anyone comes to be on these teams.

Based on what you say here and my browsing around I cannot quickly come to understand the differences in the nature of these two teams.

Huji (talkcontribs)

Can the auxiliary members of the CoC be the Appeals team? In which case I think option 1 above makes the most sense.

ArielGlenn (talkcontribs)

I'm not excited by having the auxiliary members be the Appeals team. Said as a former auxiliary member, I'd prefer to keep the function strictly as fallback in case of conflict of interest of active CoC committee members.

Qgil-WMF (talkcontribs)

An additional factor to be considered. The Technical Collaboration team doesn't exist as such anymore. The people who form the Community Health group are all active, so if we receive a new appeal we can still handle it. However, we would welcome a decision on our proposal.

Tracked: task T199086

MarcoAurelio (talkcontribs)

I think the Appeals team should have the final word on cases submitted to their consideration. Thank you.

Duesentrieb (talkcontribs)

Giving a non-elected (wmf appointed) team power to veto and repeal decisions my a community committee seems contrary to being a community driven organization. WMF staff should not have "benevolent dictator" powers in social processes.

Qgil-WMF (talkcontribs)

In order to help the discussion, I think two aspects should be considered:

  • Should the Appeals team be nominated by the Wikimedia Foundation or not? (and if not, how is this team nominated)
  • Who should have the last word, the Committee or the Appeals team?

The combination of these points offer four scenarios. A fifth would be that there is no Appeals team.

Ladsgroup (talkcontribs)

So far there are two things that can be seen here:

  • Slight majority believe a WMF-based team should not have power to overrule CoCC remedies. If there is no strong objections towards this by the next 7 days, I will make it clear in the CoC.
  • We don't have a "Community Health group" at WMF anymore. The functionality needs to be given to another body. I don't know WMF internal structure to suggest an alternative body in these cases. I reach out to people for suggestions.
MarcoAurelio (talkcontribs)

I still think that an appeals body should exist and be able to overturn a decision submitted to their consideration. Otherwise, what'd be the point on having one? It'd be bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy and a false appearance on the existance of an appeal process. If the problem is that we don't want to grant such power to a WMF Team for whatever reason, then I suggest that the appeals body be formed by community members instead in the same way the COCC is elected. Thank you.

Ladsgroup (talkcontribs)

I don't have any better proposal but making a committee just to check appeals seems too much overhead to me. There are several committees/group/teams we can delegate this responsibility.

Tgr (WMF) (talkcontribs)

The WMF operates most technical spaces, sponsors most development etc. so ultimately it is the WMF's responsibility to ensure technical spaces have a healthy culture. Having it as the decisionmaker of last resort makes sense.

OTOH if most decisions get appealed and some WMF team has to secondguess the CoC committee all the time, that seems like a bad situation. Rather than setting up another committee, I think it might be better to restrict appeals to situations where the committee made some objectively identifiable mistake (and then the WMF team's involvement would be limited to verifying that the mistake indeed happened).

Ladsgroup (talkcontribs)

We have cases review committee in WMF now which is reviewing T&S cases, would that work? I need to ask legal if that's okay with them. The team is also temporary and will be replaced by another team but something will replace it so we won't lose it. The problem that should it have the authority to override or not still stands. @Tgr: I disagree, I think delegating low-level cases to them would cause issues. There are cases that WMF needs to handle like T&S cases but they are on another league compared to cases we have with CoCC.

Ladsgroup (talkcontribs)

I quite like the compromise of these two bodies being peers (the first bullet point). What do you think?

Bawolff (talkcontribs)

what is the point of having an appeals body that is not allowed to hear appeals?

Martin Urbanec (talkcontribs)

It is allowed to hear them, it's however not allowed to overrule them. It's like senate's role in some countries - it is allowed to veto a law, but the lower chamber can overrule it - and force a law it wishes.

Ladsgroup (talkcontribs)

Or a similar case is FDC, they don't have the authority, they can recommand the board on fund distribution but they don't have the authority.

MarcoAurelio (talkcontribs)

I think the term appeal implies the existence of a superior entity with powers to review and confirm or overturn or vacate a previous decision, or remand the case back from where it came from asking them to re-examine. Reading Code_of_Conduct/Cases#Appealing_a_resolution I concurr with Quim that it looks like this might've been the original expectation although limited to the most serious of cases. If this is not what actually happens, I personally find the word "appeal" confusing and problematic because it won't be a real appeal but an advisory council to the CoCC. If the technical community feels the appeals body or process should be only advisory in nature, and not a real appeals body as IRL, I'd suggest to move away from the term "appeal" to remove the impresion that whichever groups fullfils that role can actually change the outcome of a decision by the CoCC, and clearly document that the CoCC has the last word. Thanks.

Martin Urbanec (talkcontribs)

Well, if those two bodies would be peers, then no one would have last word - both would be able to veto each other's decision.

Bawolff (talkcontribs)

And veto each other's vetos!

Ladsgroup (talkcontribs)

In paper yes, in reality I expect both bodies be reasonable enough to handle a disagreement.

MarcoAurelio (talkcontribs)

I feel terminology is important, that's all. If the two bodies are peers or expected to be peers (I am not saying this is good or bad), then no appeals process exist and the process should not be called as such IMHO. We could change it to 'review', 'advisor', 'dialogue' or any other word that more accurately describes the actual process.

> both would be able to veto each other's decision

That reminds me of the old it:Intercessio, but doesn't look like it's happening? I mean, if the CoCC has the last word, as the participants above seems to agree to (not arguing this is good or bad either), where exactly the so-called appeals body have veto powers? They could recommend but the ultimate decision would be yours so that's hardly an appeal, and hardly a veto either.


Tgr (WMF) (talkcontribs)

The Universal Code of Conduct (expected to be out this year) will have its own enforcement and appeals mechanism. It's not clear to me what the status of the technical CoC is supposed to be at that point. Will it be replaced by the UCoC wholesale? Will they exist in parallel, with occasionally overlapping authority? Will they share appeal infrastructure?

I imagine these cannot really be answered before the UCoC gets finalized, so this might not be the best time for this amendment.

Qgil-WMF (talkcontribs)

Hi, nobody knows today how these pieces will play together, but a basic principle is that the UCoC exists to provide a baseline. Then specific projects can use / build their own structures on top of this baseline. This means that if the TCoC is compatible with the UCoC and it defines its own appeal process, then whatever UCoC structures won't interfere.

We have a very tangible problem with the TCoC appeal process, as I reported two years ago. On top of this, the Technical Collaboration doesn't exist as such since July 2019, and it is just a coincidence that the five original members of the former Community Health group are still working at the Foundation. The UCoC is in a very early stage, and there haven't been any discussions or decisions about enforcement and appeals yet. For these reasons, I would really welcome an amendment of this Appeals section in the TCoC, at least to reflect the current reality.

Tgr (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I would really welcome an amendment of this Appeals section in the TCoC, at least to reflect the current reality.

That's a fair point. So maybe go with that and state there is no appeals process? In your experience as part of the appeals team, was there ever a need for it? (As in, was there any appeal where the appeals team disagreed or found problems with the original committee's decisionmaking process?)

Qgil-WMF (talkcontribs)

In all this time we have received only two appeal requests. In the first one we disagreed with the appeal request and we agreed with the Committee. The second one is being processed right now.

The lack of appeals (a good sign) has been a reason for me to almost forget about this proposal during this time.

Martin Urbanec (talkcontribs)

I guess we (TCoC) would have the same position & authority as local arbitration committees - it is something T&S definitely needs to count with :).

Bawolff (talkcontribs)

But what is the point of this "appeals ls" process? Its hard to evaluate what to do here if we don't even agree on what role this process is supposed to play.

I strongly agree with Marco that the terminology is very problematic here. In my view it undermines the legitamacy of the CoC as an appeal is a well understood concept and outside of show-trials this is very much not what is meant by the word appeal.