Wikipedia:Volunteer Response Team
|This page documents a procedural policy of Wikipedia.|
|This page in a nutshell: The volunteer response team handles a range of liaison and assistance tasks across all Wikimedia projects. A dispute resolution process exists for any editor querying actions based on an OTRS ticket.
To contact OTRS, please see Wikipedia:Contact us.
|Working with others|
The Volunteer Response Team is a group of volunteers who answer most e-mail sent to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation. The team uses Open-source Ticket Request System ("OTRS") software to organize and process the e-mail that it receives.
The OTRS software provides an organized way for multiple people to categorize and respond to third party e-mails, so the team can be interpreted as a kind of Wikimedia-wide customer service e-mail team. Volunteers must have an exceptionally good track record on Wikimedia projects, and may be required to provide personal identification to the Wikimedia Foundation.
There are several different e-mail addresses that reach the volunteer team. If you have been advised to "contact OTRS" and were sent here, please read Wikipedia:Contact us for further advice, including suggestions for which e-mail address to write to for particular problems as well as other possible ways to resolve the issue.
The volunteer response team receives a wide variety of emails:
- questions about Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects
- grants of license for donated media
- reports of article errors
- issues about biographies of living persons
- complaints of blatant vandalism
- inquiries about re-using text or media
- compliments and feedback
- information requests
Most requests relating to usual editorial matters are referred to normal on-wiki processes. Volunteers may provide more active assistance for defamation and privacy issues and for requests from the subjects of articles. The volunteer response team also acts as a point of contact for third parties unfamiliar with Wikipedia's editing process, who wish to notify Wikipedia about an article error or concern.
Users, tickets and queues
- See meta:OTRS for the main page, and a more complete list of queues and publicly listed volunteers
Tickets and queues
Incoming email requests in Wikimedia's OTRS system are known as "tickets" and are identified by a "ticket number". Emails are categorized on arrival by language and type of content to allow for improved service.
Team members are given access to designated categories of email (known as "queues") at the determination of the OTRS administrators. There are three main sets of queues which directly relate to the English Wikipedia:
- info-en, which handles general inquiries sent in the English language, including most copyright issues. This is a general set of queues, so tickets here may be related to any Wikimedia Foundation project in any language.
- info-en (Quality), a subset of info-en which has a more narrow membership relative to info-en. 'Quality' deals almost exclusively with sensitive tickets from subjects of articles.
- Permissions, which handles tickets from copyright holders granting the Wikimedia Foundation permission to reuse text, images, or other media.
Membership of the volunteer response team
Team membership is under the direct supervision of the OTRS administrators (themselves designated by internal community process and approved by the Wikimedia Foundation), to individuals across all projects sufficiently trusted to give courteous and knowledgeable replies. Volunteer team work frequently involves being willing to work on difficult, sensitive, and at times hostile messages sent to Wikimedia; being sensitive to the needs of outsiders; and having exemplary discretion.
The complete list of user accounts on the OTRS system can be found at Meta-Wiki. If you have any doubts that an editor who is referencing an OTRS ticket in an edit may not be an OTRS respondent, please feel free to contact one of the OTRS administrators listed below via e-mail to clarify, providing a link to the action which referenced the OTRS ticket in the summary.
New volunteers are welcome to apply at meta:OTRS/Volunteering. Other users are also encouraged to comment publicly or privately on applications listed on that page. The OTRS administrators will discuss all applications privately and decide whether to accept or decline the nomination at their own discretion.
List of volunteer response team leaders (OTRS administrators)
Note: For a list including those administrators not active on English-speaking issues, please see meta:OTRS#Administrators.
Privacy and team members on the English Wikipedia
Team members must abide by the policies and guidelines of the individual wikis when carrying out tasks on those wikis related to requests received via the OTRS system. Most team actions on the English Wikipedia will be enacted under the Wikipedia:Copyrights and Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons policies, and will have protection from immediate reversion because of this.
If you disagree with an edit whose summary or log referenced an OTRS ticket, the volunteer team strongly recommends that you contact the editor responsible prior to reverting, as the editor may be in possession of confidential information that should not be published on a public site such as Wikipedia. Doing this initiates the review procedures, which are (in order) as follows:
- Contact the editor who made their change, preferably by e-mail. Private correspondence provides slightly more latitude for the team member to discuss privacy-related issues in confidence (which they may otherwise be unable to present for the wider public on-wiki), or on their user talk page.
- If you disagree with the resulting view, it is encouraged that you open a request for comment on the issue. All Wikipedia edits must be supported by consensus; if a consensus exists after a reasonable time period at the RfC to undo the edits made in response to the OTRS ticket, then such edits should naturally be undone. Please note that the material should not be restored until after a consensus to support exists at the requests for comment, and that in certain cases full details will not be able to be posted on-wiki. The definition of "reasonable time period" should be more conservative than what would otherwise be expected for such proceedings, and in particular should allow sufficient time for the volunteer(s) in question to provide a statement.
- Ultimately, all English Wikipedia-based actions of team volunteers, just like those of all editors, are open to the scrutiny of the Arbitration Committee in its role as the final stage of dispute resolution on the English Wikipedia and as the body responsible for handling non-public information and privacy related issues on that wiki. If a request for comment is unable to fully resolve the dispute, and the reason for the action includes non-public information, then the Committee should be asked to look at the non-public aspects, before a final decision is made, although the committee itself will not make content decisions.
Disagreeing with a user's team membership
The volunteer response team is a cross-wiki effort, and acts as a resource for all Wikimedia projects. As such, membership in the volunteer response team is not under the jurisdiction of any one particular Wikimedia wiki, its community, or its Arbitration Committee, but is purely determined by the OTRS administrators. Team members are accountable to the OTRS administrators for their actions when using the system. Because the system handles such a wide variety of e-mails, being sanctioned on one Wikimedia wiki does not automatically terminate users' access to the OTRS system; however, OTRS administrators will look at the underlying reasons for any sanctions to see whether the actions that led to them are incompatible with what is required from a respondent, and come to a consensus decision from that analysis. If you wish to bring any such issue or sanction to the attention of the OTRS administrators, please e-mail one of the administrators listed above. If you have concerns about a pending volunteer nomination currently listed at meta:OTRS/Volunteering, please leave a comment in the relevant section highlighting the reasons for your concern or speak to an OTRS admin.
- Wikipedia:OTRS noticeboard
- Category:OTRS templates
- Commons:OTRS, instructions on how to file a permission letter to use an image freely
- meta:OTRS/Users and meta:OTRS/Personnel
- meta:Communications committee
- Wikipedia:Declaration of consent for all enquiries
- Wikipedia:Donating copyrighted materials
- Wikipedia:Requesting copyright permission
- Template:OTRS topicon, an icon that members of the Volunteer Response Team can add to their userpage to identify themselves