|This page documents a formally ratified English Wikipedia policy. Any changes must be proposed through the formal amendment process.|
This policy governs the Arbitration Committee, arbitration proceedings and arbitration processes. It was ratified by the community on 13 June 2011.
- 1 The Arbitration Committee
- 2 Arbitration proceedings
- 3 Ratification and amendment
- 4 Notes
- 5 See also
The Arbitration Committee
Scope and responsibilities
The Arbitration Committee of the English Wikipedia has the following duties and responsibilities:
- To act as a final binding decision-maker primarily for serious conduct disputes the community has been unable to resolve;
- To hear appeals from blocked, banned, or otherwise restricted users;
- To handle requests (other than self-requests) for removal of administrative tools;1
- To resolve matters unsuitable for public discussion for privacy, legal, or similar reasons;
- To approve and remove access to (i) CheckUser and Oversight tools and (ii) mailing lists maintained by the Arbitration Committee.
Selection and appointment
Members of the Committee are appointed following annual elections organized and run by the community. Candidates must:
- Meet the Wikimedia Foundation's criteria for access to non-public data and confirm in their election statement they will fully comply with the criteria; and
- Disclose any alternate accounts in their election statements. Legitimate accounts which have been declared to the Arbitration Committee prior to the close of nominations need not be publicly disclosed.
In exceptional circumstances, the Committee may call interim elections, in a format similar to that of the regular annual elections, if it determines that arbitrator resignations or inactivity have created an immediate need for additional arbitrators.
Conduct of arbitrators
Arbitrators are expected to:
- Act with integrity and good faith at all times;
- Respond promptly and appropriately to questions from other arbitrators, or from the community, about conduct which appears to conflict with their trusted roles;
- Participate conscientiously in the Committee's activities and deliberations, advising the Committee of upcoming inactivity if that inactivity will likely last more than a week; and
- Preserve in appropriate confidence the contents of private correspondence sent to the Committee and the Committee's internal discussions and deliberations.
Any arbitrator who repeatedly or grossly fails to meet the expectations outlined above may be suspended or removed by Committee resolution supported by two-thirds of arbitrators.
Recusal of arbitrators
An arbitrator may recuse from any case, or from any aspect of a case, with or without explanation and is expected to do so where he or she has a significant conflict of interest. Typically, a conflict of interest includes significant personal involvement in the substance of the dispute or significant personal involvement with one of the parties. Previous routine editor, administrator or arbitrator interactions are not usually grounds for recusal.
An editor who believes an arbitrator should recuse will first post a message on the arbitrator's talk page asking the arbitrator to recuse and giving reasons. Should the arbitrator not respond, or not recuse, the user may refer the request to the Committee for a ruling. Requests for recusal after a case has entered the voting stage will not be granted, except in extraordinary circumstances.
Transparency and confidentiality
Committee deliberations are often held privately though the Committee will make public detailed rationales for decisions related to cases, unless the matter is unsuitable for public discussion for privacy, legal or similar reasons. The Committee treats as private all communications sent to it, or sent by a Committee member in the performance of their duties.
Procedures and roles
The Committee may create or modify its procedures, provided they are consistent with its scope; and may form subcommittees or designate individuals for particular tasks or roles. Where appropriate, the Committee may invite community comment on intended changes prior to implementing them.
The Committee maintains a panel of clerks to assist with the smooth running of its functions. The clerks' functions include the administration of arbitration cases and management of all the Committee's pages and subpages; enforcing Committee decisions; implementing procedures; and enforcing good standards of conduct and decorum on the Committee's pages.
The Committee has jurisdiction within the English Wikipedia.
The Committee has no jurisdiction over: (i) official actions of the Wikimedia Foundation or its staff; (ii) Wikimedia projects other than the English Wikipedia; or (iii) conduct outside the English Wikipedia.
The Committee may take notice of conduct outside its jurisdiction when making decisions about conduct on the English Wikipedia if such outside conduct impacts or has the potential to impact adversely upon the English Wikipedia or its editors.
The Committee retains jurisdiction over all matters heard by it, including associated enforcement processes, and may, at its sole discretion, revisit any proceeding at any time.
Requests for arbitration must be presented in the manner designated by the Committee. The Committee may accept or decline any matter at its sole discretion; it will take into account, but will not be bound by, the views of the parties to the request and other interested users.
Forms of proceeding
- Standard proceedings
- By default, hearings are public and follow the procedures published on the relevant arbitration pages.
- Summary proceedings
- Where the facts of a matter are substantially undisputed, the Committee may resolve the dispute by motion.
- Private hearings
- In exceptional circumstances, typically where significant privacy, harassment or legal issues are involved, the Committee may hold a hearing in private. The parties will be notified of the private hearing and be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to what is said about them before a decision is made.
- Appeals by blocked, banned, or similarly restricted users are usually conducted by email.
Decisions are reached by a majority vote of active, non-recused arbitrators. An arbitrator whose term expires while a case is pending may remain active on that case until its conclusion. Newly appointed arbitrators may become active on any matter before the Committee with immediate effect from the date of their appointment.
Statements may be added to case pages by any interested editor. Editors are expected to respond to statements about themselves; failure to do so may result in decisions being made without their participation. All editors are required to act reasonably, civilly, and with decorum on arbitration case pages, and may face sanctions if they fail to do so.
Admissibility of evidence
In all proceedings, admissible evidence includes:
- All Wikipedia edits and log entries, including deleted or otherwise hidden edits and log entries;
- Edits and log entries from Wikimedia projects other than the English Wikipedia, where appropriate; and
- Posts to official mailing lists.
Evidence from official mediation is only admissible with the express prior written consent of the Mediation Committee.
Evidence based on private communications (including, but not limited to, other websites, forums, chat rooms, IRC logs, email correspondence) is admissible only by prior consent of the Committee and only in exceptional circumstances.
Evidence may be submitted privately, but the Committee normally expects evidence to be posted publicly unless there are compelling reasons not to do so. The Committee will decide whether to admit each submission of private evidence on its own merits and, if admitted, the evidence will be considered at a private hearing.
At any time between the request for a case being made and the closure of the case, the Committee may issue temporary injunctions, restricting the conduct of the parties, or users generally, for the duration of the case.
Format of decisions
Decisions are written in clear concise standard English and usually: (i) outline the salient principles, (ii) make findings of fact, (iii) set out remedies and rulings, and (iv) specify any enforcement arrangements. Where the meaning of any provision is unclear to any arbitrator, the parties, or other interested editors, it will be clarified upon request.
Policy and precedent
The arbitration process is not a vehicle for creating new policy by fiat. The Committee's decisions may interpret existing policy and guidelines, recognise and call attention to standards of user conduct, or create procedures through which policy and guidelines may be enforced. The Committee does not rule on content, but may propose means by which community resolution of a content dispute can be facilitated.
While the Committee will typically take into account its earlier decisions when deciding new cases, previous decisions do not create binding precedent. As community policies, guidelines and norms evolve over time, previous decisions will be taken into account only to the extent that they remain relevant in the current context.
Appeal of decisions
Any editor may ask the Committee to reconsider or amend a ruling, which the Committee may accept or decline at its discretion. The Committee may require a minimum time to have elapsed since the enactment of the ruling, or since any prior request for reconsideration, before reviewing it. Remedies may be appealed to, and amended by, Jimbo Wales, unless the case involves Jimbo Wales' own actions.
Ratification and amendment
Once adopted by the Committee, this policy will undergo formal ratification through a community referendum and will enter into force once it receives majority support, with at least one hundred editors voting in favour of adopting it. Until this policy is ratified, the existing arbitration policy remains in effect.
Amendments to this policy require an identical ratification process. Proposed amendments may be submitted for ratification only after being approved by a majority vote of the Committee, or having been requested by a petition signed by at least one hundred editors in good standing.
The Committee is responsible for formulating its own processes and procedures under this policy, which do not require ratification.