Dear Kalliope and T&S members,

Thank you for your swift and detailed response.

As you suggest contacting the Ombudsman Commission: I’ve done so on 4th July and the report was properly acknowledged on 5th July. Although it is a simple request with only 5 pieces of objective evidence, there was no progress since then.

I’ll try to contact the new ArbCom and see if they respond. In the meantime allow me to make a few notes and feedback about safety and the processes supposedly ensuring safety:

Unfortunately, Trust & Safety is not in position to offer comment regarding community group processes

I’ve assumed that Trust & Safety is the team to ensure the safety of editors (ex. from Terms of Use violations) if the communities fail to do so. Gregory’s comment also confirmed my belief.

From the Board statement: “existing processes within the communities and T&S have failed, as we have cases which obviously need some form of sanctions, in which sanctions have not occurred.” … “We also recognize that the communities may need support to carry out these needed steps.”

Is there a team that supports the communities to ensure ToU and policy guidelines are met in practice?

As an editor observing and experiencing the handling of controversial issues I’d like to give the feedback that there is a great need for employees and/or uninvolved volunteers who can give independent advice and clarification on community policies and practices, when the communities’ handling is not sufficient to resolve the issue. In my view, sanctioning power - such as office actions - is not of primary importance, but instead, the effort invested and the cooperation with the communities’ trustees is the primary tool to improve safety and achieve the Movement’s 2030 targets of a safe and diverse editing environment.

As I mentioned before, we respect the Wikimedia communities’ self governing structures and prefer to not interfere with their local processes, as those have been defined by the communities themselves.

There were some spectacular exceptions this year, however, that question that statement. I believe that in a safe environment all editors deserve protection from Terms of Use violations, not only exceptional ones.

It should be noted that Trust & Safety does not function as an appeals mechanism or bypass for when community processes do not yield the desired result, so, it may be worth awaiting Arbcom’s reaction to your report. I know it’s been a long while since your reached out to them…

As ArbCom did not follow the standard ArbCom procedures in this case and 5 months has passed since, it is clear that ArbCom avoided this controversial issue. I understand that it is difficult to remedy administrator conduct and checkuser policy issues and it seems ArbCom might not have the power to resolve issues in such powerful positions due to power concentration. This is one of the reasons why I contacted Trust & Safety, not to appeal… there’s no ArbCom action to appeal.

we will be happy to raise this to their attention

Thank you for the offer. I’ll try to contact them again. If that fails again, I’d be grateful for your support.

I hope you understand that we do not control ArbCom’s handling or decision making process and are in no way able to place any pressure on them.

I’m fully aware. However, the Terms of Use (and the global checkuser policy) applies to all editors and communities, regardless of how successful local governance structures are. The Office Actions policy is still in effect and in use since the consultation, only the “Use of partial or temporary bans are currently suspended indefinitely”: these aren’t applicable to this case. The interaction ban to prevent further abuse - that I’ve asked for previously - is still available to the T&S, as well as removal of advanced rights (in cases of abuse “severe enough to have breached the community’s trust in the individuals”), that I haven’t asked for.

I honestly hoped to have at least the level of safety provided by an IBAN, either enacted by ArbCom or T&S. Note that I would have preferred that this issue is handled by ArbCom and I haven’t had to contact T&S, however new and casual editors don’t enjoy the safety net of established editors and administrators who would stand up for them.

I’m also aware that this is a high-profile case, that’s expectable to attract some disruption, even if not on the level of the WP:Fram drama. As the Board of Trustees states, “those in a position of authority should be held to a higher standard.” I believe the Wikimedia 2030 Strategy Process shows significant support for improving the actual practice.

In the partial bans consultation some editors expressed their distrust to the application of office actions. Transparency is the key to address those concerns and gain the community’s support. Fortunately, this case does not require the same privacy as the Fram case did, therefore the T&S has a chance to create a precedent of handling hard and controversial community issues transparently and regain some trust.

the July 2 statement by the board advised that abuse taking place on a single project, is best left to that community’s established mechanisms.

The Board also states “We also recognize that the communities may need support to carry out these needed steps.” When ArbCom ignores an issue in “a position of authority” for 5 months, it might be time for the WMF (I assume the T&S team) to give some support. Besides office actions, T&S can support the community by giving cases to ArbCom, as it happened with the case of Fram in the end, albeit with a lot of detours. I assume giving advice and making non-binding suggestions is also in the capabilities of T&S and takes only the time required to write a formal email.

For a more developed form of supporting the communities I’ve made a suggestion in the Community consultation on partial and temporary office actions: appointing a temporary (or permanent) mixed board of local trustees (arbitrators in case of enwiki) and WMF members to assess cases not handled by the community (more detailed suggestion). I hope to see that arrangement one day. I’m aware of the previous - related, but different - proposal of a global ArbCom, that did not include WMF employees. In my opinion, consistent cooperation is the key to trust between the communities and WMF. Establishing this trust is crucial to achieving the Movement’s 2030 targets.

Merry wishes for Christmas time.
Yours sincerely,
Aron Manning

On Tue, 10 Dec 2019 at 15:21, Kalliope Tsouroupidou wrote:

Hello Mr. Manning,

Thank you for racing out to the Trust & Safety team once more. I am sorry to hear that you have not had success through community process so far.

Unfortunately, Trust & Safety is not in position to offer comment regarding community group processes, such as the English Wikipedia Arbitration committee’s arbitration procedure (including the length of time it may take for the committee to acknowledge receipt of a report). As I mentioned before, we respect the Wikimedia communities’ self governing structures and prefer to not interfere with their local processes, as those have been defined by the communities themselves. It should be noted that Trust & Safety does not function as an appeals mechanism or bypass for when community processes do not yield the desired result, so, it may be worth awaiting Arbcom’s reaction to your report. I know it’s been a long while since your reached out to them, and we will be happy to raise this to their attention, but I hope you understand that we do not control Arbcom’s handling or decision making process and are in no way able to place any pressure on them. That said, keep in mind that there may be additional delays there as Arbcom had their elections recently - they concluded on December 2. This means that the newly formed committee may need some time to onboard and get to work.

Now, local governance aside norms aside, the July 2 statement by the board advised that abuse taking place on a single project, is best left to that community’s established mechanisms. This statement, among other discussions that took place on English Wikipedia over summer, led to the Community consultation on partial and temporary office actions, which concluded in November. Both the board statement and the consultation outcome really do restrict Trust & Safety in what we can do for the situation you have described. Accordingly, we really do have to allow local process to assess and address the issue, as seen fit. Speaking on which, violations of the CU policy, may also be handled by the Ombudsman Commission. You can consider that option if you have not yet explored it.

I hope the above helps.

Warm regards,

K.