Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/CheckUser and Oversight
|This page is a procedural policy, and documents an extension of the arbitration policy developed by the Arbitration Committee in consultation with the Wikipedia community. Any significant edit to this page should have approval from the Arbitration Committee. If in doubt, consider discussing changes here.|
|This page in a nutshell: Access to privacy-related tools on English Wikipedia is supervised by the Arbitration Committee. This page describes the procedures and practices for granting and revoking access to these tools.|
While most current and some former arbitrators hold CheckUser and/or Oversight permissions, the Arbitration Committee recognizes the need for additional and independent coverage and also appoints other suitably qualified candidates to these roles. In accordance with Wikimedia global policies (meta:CheckUser and meta:Oversight), the committee retains jurisdiction over the granting and revoking of access to these advanced permissions.
This page describes how the committee manages the CheckUser and Oversight teams, and describes methods for both appointment and removal. The permissions reflect the high trust placed in the holder, but are not granted in perpetuity; holders are expected to use them regularly for the benefit of the project. On this project, users with access to these advanced permissions are part of a larger group collectively known as functionaries.
Interested parties may apply for advanced permissions by:
- watching Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard for an announcement about a call for applications; or
- making a good case to the Arbitration Committee by contacting the mailing list or any active arbitrator.
While applying following a call for applications is the typical route, expressions of general interest are possible at any time. With the understanding that new functionaries are not always being sought and only exceptional applications would be considered, users with good reason to seek these tools sooner than a possible next call for applications may apply directly by contacting the committee via email to sound out interest, discuss suitability, and check whether there is a need for additional personnel.
Appointments that are confirmed by the Arbitration Committee will be posted to the noticeboard and to Steward requests/Permissions on Meta-Wiki at which time a Steward will assign the permission after confirming the user has signed the Wikimedia Foundation's confidentiality agreement for nonpublic information.
This describes the proposed method to be used in determining which suitably qualified and trusted editors are recommended to the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) for granting of CheckUser and Oversight permissions. This process is not set in stone: it will inevitably change based on experience and evolving best practise and suggestions for improvement are welcome.
Please note that CheckUser and Oversight permissions are subject to periodic review.
- The committee's role is to evaluate potential candidates (including an initial assessment of technical competence, familiarity with applicable policy, and whether they have obtained a level of trust commensurate with the granting of access to private data) and then to allow suitably qualified candidates to be reviewed by the community.
- The community's role is to vigorously scrutinise the candidates presented and determine whether the users presented are suitable for appointment to the CheckUser and/or Oversight team(s), at which time they are encouraged to submit their comment on the candidates publicly or privately.
- For legal and policy reasons, the Wikimedia Foundation retains the final authority over access to CheckUser and Oversight permissions.
- The committee will announce the calls for applications at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard inviting applications from the community for CheckUser and Oversight permissions.
- The committee carefully vets all applications; very clear consensus among the committee members is needed for a candidate to be presented for consideration to the community.
- Once the candidates are put forward, there will be a period during which time community comments may be submitted publicly or privately concerning the candidates presented.
- Following community consultation, the committee shall review all the comments submitted and other relevant factors prior to finalizing an official appointments motion to be posted to the noticeboard.
- After confirming the user has signed the Wikimedia Foundation's confidentiality agreement for nonpublic information, the committee will submit a request to assign the necessary permissions to successful candidates at meta:Steward requests/Permissions.
Previous appointment methods
From the creation of CheckUser and Oversight, until early 2008, appointments of non-arbitrators were made by internal discussion of the Arbitration Committee only, based upon requests, and private discussion with potential candidates. Both the decision and timing were not public matters, a policy in part selected to prevent "gaming" of the system, given the seriousness of such matters.
In 2008, this method was changed. There was a specific invitation from the Arbitration Committee to any administrators interested in CheckUser permissions to volunteer themselves privately, following which the resulting shortlist was publicly announced and community feedback and comments were solicited - again via private email to ensure neutrality and full openness. The same method was used, with slight modification, to appoint an additional oversighter in October of that year.
In 2009 the method was again modified following a requests for comments on the desirability having a community based election as the final stage. While the committee retained final jurisdiction over the eventual appointments, the appointments were made in accordance with the results of an election. This method was endorsed by the community and used in February and August. Voting was public.
The May 2010 elections were conducted using SecurePoll instead of public voting. Only one candidate was successful, which was deemed insufficient given the demand. Following a requests for comments the committee announced that until there was a strong consensus for an alternative approach, the committee would resume making the final selection after seeking input from the community concerning potential candidates. This method was used for the appointments made in the third quarter of 2010 and again in 2011.
Recent appointment rounds
- August 2008 CheckUser appointments
- October 2008 Oversight candidacy; appointment
- February 2009 election
- August 2009 election
- May 2010 election
- July 2010 call for applications; August 2010 appointments motion
- 2011 appointments
- 2012 appointments
- 2013 appointments
- 2015 appointments
- 2016 appointments
- 2017 appointments
- 2018 appointments
- 2019 appointments
- 2020 appointments
Just as users with CheckUser and Oversight are appointed by the committee, so too can they be removed by the committee. The Arbitration Committee may request that Stewards withdraw advanced permissions if they lose confidence in an editor's ability to serve as a functionary; feel they have abused their privileges (such as by performing checks or oversighting edits that do not qualify under the criteria); or feel they have violated global privacy policies (such as inappropriately disclosing privacy related information obtained via their advanced privileges). Users appointed to this role are also subject to activity expectations.
Complaints regarding the use of Oversight or CheckUser permissions should be emailed to the Arbitration Committee at arbcom-enwikimedia.org.
Emergency requests based upon clear evidence may also be made directly to Stewards in exceptional circumstances. In an exceptional case, and for good cause, a Steward may temporarily remove the permission, pending a decision by the Committee. The Steward should check the matter is well founded, and make clear immediately that it is a temporary response only, since such an action could lead to controversy and contact the committee immediately following the removal of permissions.