Universal Code of Conduct/Drafting committee/Digests/Phase 2/

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<languages/> Template:Universal Code of Conduct/Header <translate> This page contains summaries, or "digests", of feedback on the [[<tvar name="EDGR">Special:MyLanguage/Universal Code of Conduct/Enforcement draft guidelines review</tvar>|Universal Code of Conduct draft guidelines review]]. The summaries have been prepared for the [[<tvar name="1">Special:MyLanguage/Universal_Code_of_Conduct/Drafting_committee#Phase_2</tvar>|Universal Code of Conduct Drafting committee for phase 2]] (UCoCDC 2 or “the committee”) by the Universal Code of Conduct facilitation team.

Digest 1: 17 August 2021 - 3 September 2021[edit]

For this first digest, input was collated from [[<tvar name="2">Special:MyLanguage/Talk:Universal Code of Conduct/Enforcement draft guidelines review</tvar>|the Meta-Wiki talk page]]. Future digests will include input from specific communities ([[<tvar name="3">Special:MyLanguage/Universal_Code_of_Conduct/Discussions#Enforcement_draft_guidelines_review</tvar>|see list of discussions here]]). Input has been roughly sorted into themes.

Suggestions for Content Changes[edit]


Code Enforcement Officer:[edit]

Make sure "Code Enforcement Officer" is replaced. CEO as an acronym has already been taken, and “officer” implies some sort of police power, rather than a position of responsibility. Officer broadly designates a person with corporate responsibility, so if the code gives them none, it should be avoided. Evoking an image of formal law enforcement figures isn't ideal for several reasons, not the least of which is approachability.

  • Suggestion 1: something like "CoC Administrator" is positive, especially because "possesses ... technical rights" sounds like it presumes having admin tools.
  • Suggestion 2: use  “moderator” definition of CoC administrator.

In the definition of “Code Enforcement Officer”: What does this term mean? What are this group's powers? It's defined at the top but it seems it's never used in the draft...?


Trust a group of users selected from the community itself, rather than a global body, whose members might not have any technical experience at all

It is extremely unwise that the U4C can decide categories permitted for its own cases. It may involve little growth over time, but it could also include significant scope creep. That makes it impossible for users to do a fair assessment of whether to ratify the UCOC. This will mean a few more categories need to be added.

The U4C also needs to commit to not devolving any sanctioning authority to alternate authorities, and confirm that any individual case/appeal is to have a minimum quorum of 7 drawn directly from the U4C. Any systemic abuse case must be held by a quorum of 15. Determining rules for U4C size/size change worth doing?

  • Suggestion: This restriction “no devolving powers” should be spelled out explicitly in the document. This Committee should not be allowed to single-handedly set new enforcement rules (e.g. giving more power to 'Code Enforcement Officers') through proclamations and delegation.

The U4C should take any instance of WMF employee action on-wiki or connection that would otherwise fall under the UCOC. That is, were they not an employee their actions would be handled by another function here, but they should automatically be raised here. Yes this may cause simultaneous on-wiki and off-wiki action being taken. Also an interesting consideration of vice-versa!

Prefer a group of users selected from the community itself, rather than a global body, whose members might not have any technical experience at all.

Answering the question of How will people be chosen for the U4C committee: reviewers suggested different thoughts, and thought there are lots of different ways to look at this question including:

  • Members of the U4C Committee should not be 'chosen' at all. Candidates should be elected into the role by their peers, the editors who they will be helping and/or judging, in annual elections. In that election, they can set out their platform and why they would be effective at the job, and the community will have the option of picking those they trust for this job (conducting CU checks, determining consensus to appoint admins, preventing LTA abuse, etc, is not at all the same as deciding on conduct problems with established editors).
  • Since this body will have even more power than stewards, they should be subject to reconfirmations (like stewards) to ensure there is still community confidence in their continued tenure. Any other method of appointment is not legitimate IMO
  • While the Foundation technically doesn't need the buy-in of local communities in order to implement this new Code, things will go a lot more smoothly if local communities are given the ability to ensure that these committees don't stray from their intended purpose. If, on the other hand, these appointments are made by the Foundation, I strongly believe that the local communities will come to resent the committees and their members as an outside governing force that is not answerable to them.
  • There is an assumption of one big global election should be held on meta. Perhaps it shouldn't, and a series of elections should be held locally or in project groups (the current draft guidelines stipulate communities grouping together by language, for example, in shared ArbComs). An alternative approach might be making the Committee composed of current ArbCom members, which fits nicely in line with the ideas in "Providing resources for processing cases" (expansion of ArbComs), but may not necessarily be representative of the editorbase, and of course some ArbCom members may not be interested. This method would be a more indirect election, and would save time/energy spent on another set of annual elections.
  • The U4C committee should have regular elections by the communities, and not appointments.
  • The WMF also definitely can't have any input into the process. They have demonstrated on several occasions an inability to do crucial mathematics.
  • If a completely new body with staggering powers is going to be formed, I assume it's reasonable that while they can (and should!) have an internal impeachment process as well it clearly would be seriously odd to trust in it. There's a question about having different needs: individual issues and group issues. For the moment, I'm going to say it's the latter that needs a focus. Perhaps RfCs by at least 10 projects representing 10% of the active editors of the project should in effect force an immediate recall election, and, if appropriate, move the timing of the next UCOC review period sooner.

Answering the question if other code committees should be merged with U4C, participants need a list of examples of such committees; it seems that the most known ones are “Ombuds” and  mw:Code of Conduct/Committee. However, there are two opinions about merging the TCoC; the first thinks that  do think that TCoC sanctions should be appealable to the U4C (with the same process as any other local sanction appeal), while the second disagrees with the merge because TCoC is not a global group and only has jurisdiction in the technical spaces, which is similar to the one of local ArbComs.

Answering the question if the U4C committee should also decide individual cases or process appeals; please refer to Digest 2 for the answers, which are accompanied with the comments related to “appealing cases”.

Definition of Roles and Job Descriptions:[edit]

There seems to be at least four job descriptions emerging for the UCoC, including the 4 listed categories below. It will be helpful to have separate roles and descriptions for these, not just one "U4C membership". The different groups can have overlapping membership but the role differences need to be clear:

  • "Supreme Court Judges" who mediate or arbitrate cross-wiki disputes or disputes escalated from local projects that cannot resolve the dispute on its own;
  • "Clerks" who triage incoming reports to decide whether they should be resolved at UCoC level or delegated to local projects
  • "Mentors" or "Ambassadors" who help local projects improve their internal governance
  • "Cultural interpreters" who provide cross-cultural advice to the Judges and the Mentors, so as to understand local (both real-world and project) culture and avoid cultural pitfalls during dispute resolution.

Preventive work (articles 1 and 2 UCOC)[edit]

UCoC Training/Education amongst Community:[edit]

This section is a bit concerning, because it sometimes asks very small projects or organizations to do an awful lot of work just in setting up such a system, nevermind following through with execution.

The section “A link to the UCoC should be present on:” takes things for granted, while the UCoC isn't supposed to supersede all other conduct-related policies and procedures, but is instead a starting point with which various groups can build their own policies and projects that did not have well-developed policies for dealing with harassment and other conduct issues.

Training is mentioned frequently, but no details on how trained persons are to be assessed. If there are no mechanisms to ensure the trained person has taken on board their training, and indeed no mechanisms to review whether their training is still effective down the line, perhaps this word should be downgraded to the more usual "guidance". As in, Johnny was provided with all the guidance he would have needed to effectively discharge this duty, so it's not really our fault if he didn't follow it, or never even understood it.

Introducing a complicated training bureaucracy, as is proposed here, is likely to be a barrier to successful implementation of the UCoC. Most of the burden of creating the proposed training material, as well as the problems introduced by not creating the material, would fall on smaller, non-English-language communities.

Why was this rule “Every sanctioned person has the right to be told exactly what they were sanctioned for” taken down? (rule in English Wikipedia).

  • Suggestion: Include the principle of audi alteram partem in the UCoC enforcement guidelines, along the following lines: Allow all individuals involved in a case tell their side of the matter before making an enforcement decision. In urgent cases, a preliminary decision may be made before that, but only if an appeal is possible. (PS: people want to know why!)

Regarding "handling complaints in a timely manner":

  • Suggestion 1: add some acknowledgement that we have to give the accused person time to read and compose a response to the accusations, ideally before they're presented to the people who are going to make the decision. Perhaps a day and a half for every 500 words of accusing text. So if someone files a 3000 word complaint, the accused would be given a copy and nine days to write a reply, and then the complaint and reply would be presented to the community or committee at the same time. At the very least, the accused should have a chance to read and respond to the complaint before the decision is made or sanctions imposed. Otherwise, we leave open a loophole for abusive complaints.
  • Situation: You cannot expect people to see an accusation against them as soon as it has been published. There have been cases where an accusation is lifted against somebody who has gone on holiday and who has not logged onto their account for two weeks. When they get back, they find that they have been blocked without even knowing that an accusation has been made against them. On the other hand, if the time frame is too long, a vandal who uses one of the more subtle forms of vandalism can continue while the clock is ticking.
  • Suggestion for the situation: An accusation is made against an editor, Evidence is presented in response to the case; after 48 hours, the evidence against the accused is strong enough for sanctions to be applied, but they have not responded, nor is there evidence that they have logged into any Wikimedia project. A closing administrator will issue a pre-emptive block which will prevent the accused from making any edits. When the accused next logs on, they will see the pre-emptive block. They will have the ability to cancel the pre-emptive block and defend themselves. As soon as they cancel the pre-emptive block, everybody who has made a comment concerning the case will be notified that the accused has returned and the case can continue. Since such a procedure might well require some software changes to the Wiki code itself, it is probably best handled at the WMF level rather than at individual project level
Recommendations of UCoC Consent amongst Community and Foundation Staff[edit]

The statement “Contributes to online and offline Wikimedia projects and spaces” could use its own full overview subsection, to ease further discussion.

The subtitle (if holding authority) seems to contradict its content; it appears to be a demand rather than a recommendation.

A reviewer disagrees that there is any right to demand more than “will comply with/adhere” the UCOC. We have it as a specific acceptance that much as no editor is forced to edit, no admin is forced “to admin”, except so far as to conclude an action (admin accountability etc)

Responsive work (article 3 UCOC)[edit]

Principles for processing and filing of reported cases:[edit]

For the two statements: “Cases should be forwarded or escalated where appropriate” and “Allow reports to be forwarded to relevant bodies”, please remember that there is some element of trust in writing a private report. Please codify that consent of the person is required to forward the case to another "relevant body" (an Arbitration Committee, a public venue, or whatever else) outside of the U4C Committee. Of course, lack of consent may mean the report cannot be dealt with, but that should be up to the reporter and/or affected users.

The first statement can be expanded to mention something about the relationship between this process and other processes/venues that may exist within the relevant project or organization.

Providing resources for processing cases[edit]

Add some additional context. i.e. what "an ArbCom" is and why it is desirable

Define the relationship between ArbCom and the Code of Conduct Enforcement Officers.

Recommend that in case there are shared ArbCom across projects, the projects need a major amount of policy unification, and that Arbs require practical knowledge of policy.

Maybe you would want to add a section at the end of the document to provide examples or references; or quick guidelines that help interpret the original guidelines easily.

Suggestions for words/tone/readability/ambiguity[edit]

Overall Opinion: Text has low readability. The original text is written for a reader with a postgraduate degree. It is not appropriate for a broad group of contributors


Objection to the use of "enforcement of violations" might be neater as “enforcement of the UCOC” or “enforcement against violations”; do we really want to enforce the violations?

This sentence is supposed to tell us that Code Enforcement is not only forcing actions (blocks) but also prevention, investigations, etc.

Suggestion: Rephrase this as Template:Tq

  • What does “enforcement” mean? Blocking? Presumably they would have power for bans, removal of user rights, etc., just like [[<tvar name="4">Special:MyLanguage/Trust and Safety</tvar>|Trust and Safety's]] [[<tvar name="5">Special:MyLanguage/Office actions</tvar>|Office actions]]. But there should be a definition on methods of "enforcement".
  • Against defining enforcement as "enforcement". Perhaps instead of "...and enforcement of violations...", we might say "...and sanctions (or 'punishment', maybe) for infractions of..."

Objection to the use of “Punishment” in this statement: Enforcement of the UCoC is applied by means of preventive work and campaigns, issuing warnings and notices to persuade people with signs of problematic behaviour to comply, imposing technical restrictions and punishments, or taking additional steps that may be necessary and appropriate.

Measures implemented as a response to UCoC violations should not be viewed as "punishments".

  • Suggestion 1: "imposing technical restrictions and other measures preventing disruption" or similar might be more in line with these existing policies and would also indicate that the UCoC enforcement should be focused on prevention rather than retribution.
  • Suggestion 2: What we mean is a measure to ensure compliance. Measure is neutral.
  • Suggestion 3: It’s OK to use “punishment”; the goal is for it to be anti disruptive in addition to being a punishment; maybe there is no way to remove the punitive element, and acting as if it isn't there might put people on both sides of the event in the wrong frame of mind.
    • Under “The Code Enforcement Committee - "U4C Committee" Definition” → Where local structures are unable to handle or need to escalate cases to this committee for final decision making: This is rather broad latitude. Does this even need to be included? If they are "unable to handle", they should be able to request assistance. So this seems unnecessary.
    • Under “The Code Enforcement Committee - "U4C Committee" Definition”, the sentence “Once formed, the permanent committee will decide on how often it should convene, etc.”, seems weird in combination with the "Types of violations and enforcement mechanism / groups" section. Does this mean the Committee can change its scope, or that of the cases allocated to it under article 3, it can choose which it will take and which it won't? Both interpretations seem in need of refinement, so perhaps there's a third.
    • Under “Recommendations for local enforcement structures” → “Fairness in process”: this sentence "anyone named in a dispute should recuse themselves from the case" would be better as "anyone with any conflict of interest in the case should recuse themselves." Maybe the following should be added: "all judges are expected to abstain in any case in which they have a conflict of interest" and "any judge may recuse themselves for any reason" so no one has to reveal private information to bow out; they don't have to explain who the conflict of interest is provided that the judge has recused. To avoid arguments about definition of “conflict of interest”, add a clarification that admins can rescue themselves from interfering and they don’t have to tell why; such as "Should any admin find themselves in a position where a conflict of interest MIGHT be suspected or where they have in the past interacted with one of the parties in a manner that suggests that they MIGHT have exercised their judgement as to circumstances surrounding the earlier incident, then they are expected to recuse themselves".

Opinion2: The whole document reads like the drafters were writing a constitution for a state or establishing a police force. And more generally speaking, the structure and prose overall is not very polished and not precise.

Consider the following suggestions to enhance readability:

  • Change: “Code Enforcement is the prevention, detection, investigation, and enforcement of violations of the Universal Code of Conduct. Code enforcement is a responsibility of designated functionaries, the Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee ["U4C Committee" - Final name to be determined], and the Wikimedia Foundation. This should be done in a proper, timely fashion, consistently across the entire Wikimedia Movement. Consequently, individuals charged with enforcing the Universal Code of Conduct must be fully acquainted with the regulations they enforce.”
To: “Code Enforcement is making people follow the Universal Code of Conduct. Code enforcement is the responsibility of the new Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee (U4C) and the Wikimedia Foundation. Enforcing the code in a consistent and timely manner is important. People who enforce the Universal Code of Conduct must know the code really well.”
  • Change: “Enforcement of the UCoC is applied by means of preventive work and campaigns, issuing warnings and notices to persuade people with signs of problematic behaviour to comply, imposing technical restrictions and punishments, or taking additional steps that may be necessary and appropriate. Local and global functionaries who implement policies, codes, rules, and regulations on the Wikimedia spaces, both online and offline, are supposed to understand the management of the code enforcement function and the process.”
To: Enforcing the code involves prevention and campaigning to encourage compliance. Enforcement also involves warning or issuing notifications to people who have problems complying. Imposing restrictions, punishments or taking other steps may be necessary and appropriate. Functionaries who put policies into effect must understand the management and the process of code enforcement.
  • Avoid unnecessary abbreviations: this includes: ArbCom, U4C Committee, etc.

The definition of “Code enforcement” excludes admins. are we all not supposed to be doing so. If it is limited to parts of the Wikimedia Community, should it not be limited to parts of the WMF?

In the definition of “Code Enforcement Officer”: training and technical rights. Who is defining the training? What if the communities consider the training unsuitable or insufficient. Who gets to vet the WMF staff member’s training?

Preventive work (articles 1 and 2 UCOC)[edit]

The term “legally binding” is ambiguous and meaningless; it implies we're dealing with law. It is up to the courts, not the WMF, to determine what is "legally binding" and what is not "legally binding". (Drop “legally binding”, unless we’ll be suing people over the UCoC)

Responsive work (article 3 UCOC)[edit]

Types of Violation

  1. Types of violations and enforcement mechanism / groups → Types of violations and enforcement mechanism / groups: surely the second sub-bullet (cross-wiki systematic failures at the 'administrative level' [unclear meaning of term?]) is already included in the broader first sub-bullet (systematic failures to follow the UCOC).
  2. Types of violations and enforcement mechanism / groups → Off-wiki violations (the examples): This sounds like it would include Discord groups as well (as 'social media platforms'); who the 'event organiser' would be in that case, but is this trying to say that the incident can only be investigated if the admins of the Discord server refer the incident? Either way, it's confusing when combined with For Wikimedia-specific conversations occurring off-project in unofficial or semi-official spaces (e.g. Discord, Telegram, etc.), Wikimedia’s Terms of Use may not apply. ... Nevertheless, the behavior of Wikimedians on these networks and platforms can be accepted as additional evidence in reports of UCoC violations.
  3. What’s meant by “adhesion”? In the following statements: "promote voluntary adhesion to the code", "Recommendations of UCoC Translation for voluntary adhesion:". Did you mean adherence. (see a related comment in section 5). [Note - this term has been changed by DC member Vermont in the draft text]

Escalation and de-escalation mechanisms

It would be helpful to have well-defined processes for escalation and delegation. Some suggestions:

  • Reports that can be solved locally will be referred back to a local project community, either by pointing the complainant to relevant processes in the project, or by U4C members supporting editors to engage with local dispute resolution.
  • The U4C will investigate and mediate disputes where local dispute resolution has failed and escalation is necessary, or in cases of cross-wiki disputes that require external mediation.

Suggestions for Translatability and Cultural Context[edit]


Translation for “voluntary adherence”: This is normal phrasing for treaties, and this could be one of the more multilingual documents ever. However, this has some flaws. A translation has been provided to a number of communities, who will vote to ratify that copy, or not. If a difference in meaning big enough for us to actually care about the wording is found; that ratification would surely be in serious jeopardy, pending a new one?

People are recommending that it’s important to understand reasons for the behaviour of people and try to help them to change their behaviour if that was not compliant with the UCOC in the past. The guidelines may include a recommendation for enforcers to speak to the individuals directly to understand the cause of the unaccepted behavior; “Everyone should be told what they did”; The German arbcom has experience in this regard.

There is currently a need for some clarity around terminology such as:

  • Severe systemic issues: What does “Systemic” mean? Why use unfamiliar English words?

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