Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Audit Subcommittee

The Audit Subcommittee (or AUSC) investigates complaints about the misuse or abuse of the advanced permissions CheckUser and Oversight (suppression). The subcommittee acts on behalf of the Arbitration Committee and is composed half of arbitrators and half of ArbCom-appointed community representatives. To file a complaint, please e-mail the subcommittee mailing list on the address specified below.


The Arbitration Committee established its Audit Subcommittee in 2009 to investigate complaints concerning the use of CheckUser and Oversight privileges on the English Wikipedia, to scrutinise the use on the English Wikipedia of CheckUser and Oversight (suppression) functions, and to ensure the tools are used in accordance with the applicable policies.

CheckUser is a tool that allows certain trusted users to see the IP addresses used by registered users, which are normally hidden. Its use is governed by the Wikimedia Foundation's (WMF) privacy policy and checkuser policy, and the English Wikipedia's own CheckUser policy. CheckUser is used primarily to fight vandalism, identify sockpuppets, and prevent disruption; the tool must not be used out of curiosity, for political control, to place editors under pressure, or as a threat in a content dispute. The subcommittee's remit is restricted to the use of checkuser on this Wikipedia (see list of users with checkuser access).

Oversight (or suppression) is a procedure by which revisions and log entries are removed from view by all users except oversighters (including administrators). The oversight privilege is governed by the WMF's oversight policy and the English Wikipedia's own Oversight policy, and is typically used to remove: copyright violations by request of the Foundation's General Counsel; violations of the privacy of an editor or another person; self-disclosures by apparent minors; and material that is potentially libelous. Unlike simple deletion and revision deletion (performed by any administrator), suppression hides material from view by almost every user. The subcommittee is only concerned with the use of suppression on the English Wikipedia (see list of oversighters).


The Audit Subcommittee is composed of three arbitrators selected by the Arbitration Committee and three community members appointed by the Committee following advisory processes. The terms of arbitrator members last six months; of community members, one year. Consecutive and multiple terms are allowed. Due to the Wikimedia Foundation's restriction on non-administrators being given access to deleted revisions without passing an RFA or RFA-identical process, editors who are not administrators are ineligible for community membership of the Audit Subcommittee (as of the 2013–2014 term). Most previous community auditors have in any event been administrators, but one (Bahamut0013) was not an administrator when he was appointed in April 2011.

Members of the Audit Subcommittee are identified to the Wikimedia Foundation, given the CheckUser and Oversight permissions, and have access to the Arbcom-audit-en, Functionaries-en, Checkuser-l, and Oversight-l mailing lists and archives, the CheckUser and Oversight IRC channels if requested, and the oversight-en-wp OTRS queue. Alternative (or reserve) members of the subcommittee do not have such rights unless they are appointed to the subcommittee during their reserve term.

Mailing list

The arbcom-audit-en mailing list is used by the subcommittee for internal discussion, communication with functionaries who are the subject of investigation, and to be a venue for the receipt and resolution of complaints. Membership includes current members of the subcommittee, plus two list admins. Any Arbitrator can subscribe to the AUSC list and can see the discussions there.

The interface page for the mailing list is located here, and the mailing list address is Messages sent to the list by non-members will initially be held for approval by the list administrators. Your email will only be distributed to the subscribers listed, but the content of the mailing list may be shared with the Arbitration Committee when necessary, is available to sitting arbitrators on request, and will be available to future subcommittee members in the list archives.


To submit a complaint or query to the Audit Subcommittee, please e-mail

  • Your e-mail must:
    • Concisely describe the situation that you wish to complain about;
    • Include links to relevant evidence or material; and
    • Use a descriptive subject.
  • Your e-mail will be held "in moderation" by our anti-spam mailing list software.
    • The software will immediately send an automated response to your message, to let you know it has been received into the system. This does not mean it has been received by the actual subcommittee.
    • Please write to us again if you do not receive a hand-written acknowledgement from a member of the audit subcommittee (rather than a boilerplate bounce from the software) within two days.
  • If you wish your identity to not be disclosed to the functionary or functionaries involved in the complaint, please remember to also state this clearly in your e-mail.
Click "show" to display the subcommittee's protocol for hearing complaints.
The procedure for handling complaints related to CheckUser or Oversight use, from Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Procedures#Auditing:
  1. All complaints about the use of CheckUser or Oversight privileges received by the Arbitration Committee shall be referred to the Audit Subcommittee by forwarding the complaint to the subcommittee's mailing list (
  2. The subcommittee shall investigate the matter and determine whether any breach of applicable Wikimedia Foundation or English Wikipedia policies took place.
    • The subcommittee shall be responsible for requesting statements, documents, and any other material of interest to the investigation.
    • During the investigation, the subcommittee should keep the complainant, the subject of the complaint, and the coordinating arbitrator or their deputy informed of its progress and expected date of completion.
    • The subcommittee shall provide the subject of the complaint with a reasonable opportunity to respond to any concerns raised.
  3. Within a reasonable time of a complaint having been referred to it, the subcommittee shall present their findings on the matter to the Committee by forwarding them to the Committee's mailing list (arbcom-l). The subcommittee may determine what constitutes a reasonable time for this purpose, which should not be less than one week, nor more than three weeks.
    • The subcommittee shall determine findings by majority vote. Members of the subcommittee disagreeing with the majority findings may attach dissenting views.
    • The subcommittee may, at its discretion, recommend a particular course of action with regard to the subject of the complaint.
  4. The Committee shall review the findings and determine what further action, if any, is to be taken in the matter. At a minimum:
    • The Committee shall distribute copies of the subcommittee's final report to the subject of the complaint and the complainant, unless doing so would substantially jeopardize the security of the project.
    • If the subcommittee report indicates that a breach of Wikimedia Foundation policy occurred, the Committee shall forward the report to the Foundation Ombudsman Commission for review.
    • The Committee shall announce the results of the investigation on-wiki in as much detail as is permitted by the relevant policies.
An arbitrator's service on the Audit Subcommittee is part of his or her official service as an arbitrator, and therefore shall not constitute grounds for recusal in a subsequent matter involving the complainant or the subject of the complaint.

See also

Reports of those investigations that were publicly reported, and anonymised summaries of all the subcommittee's cases, are retained at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Audit Subcommittee/Reports.

Statistical reports on Checkuser and Oversight are maintained at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Audit Subcommittee/Statistics.

The Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees maintains an ombuds commission to investigate the misuse of checkuser and oversight on all its projects. The ombudsman is a separate body from the Audit Subcommittee.