Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Procedures

Advanced permissions

Use of advanced permissions by AUSC members

Adopted on 11 March 2013
Amended on 4 July 2014
AUSC dissolved on 14 January 2016
Previous text

Audit Subcommittee (AUSC) members are provided with the CheckUser and suppression tools in order to carry out their responsibilities. Historically, community appointees to the AUSC were discouraged from routine or regular use of either tool. Since appropriate procedures exist for excluding arbitrator or community AUSC members from cases in which they may be involved, there is not a compelling reason to continue to prohibit use of the CheckUser or suppression tools.

As such, members of the AUSC are explicitly permitted to use their advanced permissions for non-AUSC-related actions as allowed by the appropriate policies surrounding each permission, as members of the functionaries team. This is without regard to the presence of a backlog or time-sensitive situation.

CheckUser/Oversight permissions and inactivity

Adopted on 30 March 2011
Amended on 11 March 2013
Amended on 30 September 2018

Access to CheckUser and Oversight permissions is given sparingly. The permissions reflect the high trust placed in the holder. They are not granted in perpetuity and holders are expected to use them regularly for the benefit of the project.

Accordingly, the minimum activity level for each tool (based on the preceding three months' activity) shall be five logged actions. Consideration will be given for activity and actions not publicly logged, such as responding to requests on the CheckUser or Oversight VRTS queues; participation on list discussions; activity at Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations; responding to account creation requests; and responding to CheckUser or Oversight requests on administrative noticeboards, UTRS queue, and user talk pages. These activity requirements do not apply to: (a) sitting members of the Arbitration Committee; (b) holders using the permissions for audit purposes; or (c) holders who have temporarily relinquished access, including CheckUsers or Oversighters who accept appointment to the Ombuds Commission.[1]

Holders of the permissions are also expected to:

  1. Remain active on the English Wikipedia unless they have previously notified the Arbitration Committee of a significant expected absence and its likely duration.
  2. Consider temporarily relinquishing their permission(s) for planned prolonged periods of inactivity.
  3. Reply within seven days to email communications from the Arbitration Committee about their use of the permissions.

Holders who do not comply with the activity and expectation requirements – or who mark their accounts "semi-retired", "retired", or "inactive", or who announce their effective retirement by other means – may have their permissions removed by the Arbitration Committee. Prior to removal of access, two attempts will be made to contact the holder using the email address they provided to the Committee.

Permissions will usually be reinstated on the following bases:

  • Temporarily relinquished permissions will normally be promptly restored provided no issues have arisen in the interim.
  • Permissions removed for unannounced inactivity will normally be restored once (a) a satisfactory explanation for the unannounced inactivity has been given and (b) satisfactory assurances about future activity levels have been received.

Requests for reinstatement for any other reason will be considered on a case by case basis.

Note that Stewards and Wikimedia Foundation staff granted CheckUser and Oversight permissions by the WMF are outside of the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Committee.

Appointment to the Audit Subcommittee

Adopted on 5 April 2011
AUSC dissolved on 14 January 2016
Previous text

A candidate for the Audit Subcommittee will be appointed if:

  1. No serious concerns in relation to privacy violations or other breach of trust have been raised; and
  2. The candidate has been supported by at least 80% of the votes cast.

In the event of there being more candidates meeting this standard than there are vacancies, candidates will be ranked by percentage of support. If this still results in a tie for the last available place(s), the number of support votes will be used to break the tie. If this does not break the tie, a runoff election will be held.

The fourth ranked candidate passing criteria (1) and (2) will remain an alternate, to be appointed if one of the appointed candidates retires before the end of his/her term.

Auditing

Adopted on 19 April 2009
AUSC dissolved on 14 January 2016

The procedure for handling complaints related to CheckUser or Oversight use is as follows:

  1. The Arbitration Committee shall investigate the matter and determine whether any breach of applicable Wikimedia Foundation or English Wikipedia policies took place.
    • The committee shall be responsible for requesting statements, documents, and any other material of interest to the investigation.
    • During the investigation, the committee should keep the complainant and the subject of the complaint informed of its progress and expected date of completion.
    • The committee shall provide the subject of the complaint with a reasonable opportunity to respond to any concerns raised.
  2. Within a reasonable time of a complaint having been referred to it, the committee shall decide the matter. The committee may determine what constitutes a reasonable time for this purpose, which should not be less than one week, nor more than three weeks.
    • The committee shall determine findings by majority vote. Members of the committee disagreeing with the majority findings may attach dissenting views.
  3. The committee shall determine what further action, if any, is to be taken in the matter. At a minimum:
    • The committee shall distribute copies of the final report to the subject of the complaint and the complainant, unless doing so would substantially jeopardize the security of the project.
    • If the committee report indicates that a breach of Wikimedia Foundation policy occurred, the committee shall forward the report to the Foundation Ombuds 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 as an auditor is part of their 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.

Removal of permissions

Adopted on 23 April 2009
Amended on 10 April 2019
Amended on 19 November 2022

When an account with advanced permissions appears to be harming the project, the Committee may authorize expedient removal of these permissions via the procedures below. If the account in question has multiple sets of advanced permissions, removal will generally apply to all of them.

The use of these procedures by the Committee is not intended to constrain the authority of the Wikimedia Stewards to undertake emergency removal of permissions on their own discretion, pursuant to the relevant policies governing Steward actions.

Level I procedures

Level I procedures may be used if (a) an account appears to be obviously compromised, or is intentionally and actively using advanced permissions to cause harm in a rapid or apparently planned fashion, or (b) multiple accounts are actively wheel-warring.

The procedure for removal of permissions is as follows:

  1. An arbitrator, on becoming aware of the situation, will send a message to arbcom-en (a) stating the name of the account, (b) briefly describing the issue, providing examples of inappropriate conduct, (c) recommending removal of permissions, and (d) specifying why removal should occur under Level I procedures.
  2. Any available arbitrators will respond using whatever communication medium is available, and will update the thread on arbcom-en to keep the remainder of the Committee informed.
  3. A request for removal of advanced permissions may be made when three or more arbitrators agree that a situation warranting the use of Level I procedures exists, and that removal of permissions is required, with no dissenting opinions from other arbitrators.
  4. Once removal has been approved, an arbitrator will (a) directly request removal from a bureaucrat, or steward if necessary, (b) make a formal statement on the bureaucrat noticeboard or Meta-Wiki permissions page as appropriate, to confirm that the request is based on the authority of the Committee, and (c) post a notice to the Committee's noticeboard, the administrators' noticeboard, and the user's talk page, including a brief explanation of the reason for removal and the names of the arbitrators who authorized it.
Level II procedures

Level II procedures may be used if (a) the account's behavior is inconsistent with the level of trust required for its associated advanced permissions, and (b) no satisfactory explanation is forthcoming.

The procedure for removal of permissions is as follows:

  1. The initiating arbitrator will contact the account via e-mail asking the account to contact arbcom-en and leave a message on the account's talk page alerting the account to the email. If email contact is not possible, the initiating arbitrator will leave a message on the account's talk page asking the account to contact arbcom-en.
  2. The initiating arbitrator will then send a message to arbcom-en (a) stating the name of the account, (b) briefly describing the issue, providing examples of inappropriate conduct, and (c) recommending removal of permissions.
  3. The Committee will then schedule deliberations on the matter.
  4. A request for removal of advanced permissions may be made once a motion to do so has been endorsed by a majority of active arbitrators.
  5. Once removal has been approved, an arbitrator will post a notice, including the text of the motion and the names of arbitrators endorsing it, to the bureaucrat noticeboard or Meta-Wiki permissions page as appropriate, the Committee's noticeboard, the administrators' noticeboard, and the user's talk page.
Return of permissions

Removal is protective, intended to prevent harm to the encyclopedia while investigations take place, and the advanced permissions will normally be reinstated if a satisfactory explanation is provided or the issues are satisfactorily resolved. If the editor in question requests it, or if the Committee determines that a routine reinstatement of permissions is not appropriate, normal arbitration proceedings shall be opened to examine the removal of permissions and any surrounding circumstances.

In cases where an administrator account was compromised, the committee will review all available information to determine whether the administrator followed "appropriate personal security practices" before restoring permissions. Factors used to make this determination include: whether the administrator used a strong password on both their Wikipedia account and associated email account; whether the administrator had reused passwords across Wikipedia or the associated email account and other systems; and how the account was compromised.

If the Committee determines the administrator failed to secure their account adequately, the administrator will not be resysopped automatically. Unless otherwise provided by the committee, the administrator may regain their administrative permissions through a successful request for adminship.

Prohibition of multiple roles

Adopted on 9 September 2020

To avoid any potential conflicts of interest, current arbitrators may not serve as members of either the Ombuds Commission or the WMF Case Review Committee while serving as arbitrators.

Arbitration proceedings

Expectation of prior dispute resolution

Adopted on 17 April 2011

The Committee usually expects editors to have exhausted the previous steps in the dispute resolution process before proceeding to arbitration. Exceptions include cases:

  1. Where the case involves allegations of administrator misconduct or an unusually divisive dispute among administrators;
  2. Where there has already been extensive discussion with wide community participation; or
  3. Where there is good reason to believe that engaging in the earlier steps of the dispute resolution process would not be productive.

Opening of proceedings

Adopted on 17 April 2011
Amended on 21 October 2012
Amended on 26 February 2021
Amended on 29 March 2022

A case is eligible to be opened when it meets all of the following criteria:

  1. Its acceptance has been supported by either of (i) four net votes or (ii) an absolute majority of active, non-recused arbitrators;
  2. More than 24 hours have elapsed since the request came to satisfy the above provision; and
  3. More than 48 hours have elapsed since the request was filed.

A proceeding may be opened earlier, waiving provisions 2 and 3 above, if a majority of arbitrators support fast-track opening in their acceptance votes.

Timetable and case structure

Adopted on 26 February 2021

Once a case has been accepted, the Arbitration Committee will instruct the clerks on the name, structure, and timetable for a case so they may create the applicable pages. The name is for ease of identification only and may be changed by the Committee at any time. The Committee will designate one or more arbitrators to be drafting arbitrator(s) for the case, to ensure it progresses, and to act as a designated point of contact for any matters arising.

The standard structure of a case will include the following phases and timetable:

  1. An evidence phase that lasts two weeks from the date of the case pages opening;
  2. A workshop phase, that ends one week after the evidence phase closes;
  3. A proposed decision which is published within one week of the workshop phase closing.

The timetable and structure of the case may be adjusted (e.g. a phase may be extended, closed early, added or removed) by the initiative of the Committee, at the discretion of the drafting arbitrator(s) during the case. Drafting arbitrator(s) shall also have broad authority to set case-specific rules regarding the running of the phases (e.g. enforce threaded discussions, set a word limit for participants in the workshop phase) to enforce the expectation of behavior during a case. Parties to the case may also petition for changes to the timetable and structure for a case.

Expectation of participation in proceedings

Adopted on 17 April 2011

Editors named as parties to an arbitration case, and duly notified of it, are expected to participate in the proceeding. Any editor named as a party to a case, or whose conduct otherwise comes under scrutiny during the course of a case, will be notified of this by the Committee or its clerks, and, except in exceptional circumstances, will be given a minimum of seven days to respond, calculated from the date the case opened or the date on which they are notified, whichever is later.

If a party fails to respond within a reasonable time of being notified, or explicitly refuses to participate in the case, or leaves Wikipedia just before or during the proceedings, the Committee may, at its discretion: (i) dismiss the case either in its entirety or only insofar as that party is concerned; (ii) suspend the case; (iii) continue the case regardless; or (iv) close the case by motion.

Actions by parties to a proceeding

Adopted on 17 April 2011

If an administrator who is a party to a case resigns their permissions just before or during the case affecting them, they are not entitled to reinstatement under standard resysopping procedures, but are required, unless otherwise directed by the Committee, to submit a new request for adminship.

Submission of evidence

Adopted on 28 May 2012

Submissions of evidence are expected to be succinct and to the point. By default, submissions are limited to about 1000 words and about 100 difference links for named parties, and to about 500 words and about 50 difference links for all other editors. Editors wishing to submit evidence longer than the default limits are expected to obtain the approval of the drafting arbitrator(s) via a request on the /Evidence talk page prior to posting it.

Submissions must be posted on the case /Evidence pages; submission of evidence via sub-pages in userspace is prohibited. Unapproved over-length submissions, and submissions of inappropriate material and/or links, may be removed, refactored, or redacted at the discretion of the clerks and/or the Committee.

Elements of a decision

Adopted on 2 June 2012

For standard hearings, decisions are posted in the form of "Principles", "Findings of Fact", "Remedies" and "Enforcement".

Principles highlight key provisions of policy, procedure, or community practice which are relevant to the dispute under consideration; and, where appropriate, include the Committee's interpretation of such provisions in the context of the dispute.

Findings of fact summarize the key elements of the parties' conduct in the dispute under consideration. Difference links may be incorporated but are purely illustrative in nature unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Remedies specify the actions ordered by the Committee to resolve the dispute under consideration. Remedies may include both enforceable provisions (such as edit restrictions or bans) and non-enforceable provisions (such as cautions, reminders, or admonitions), and may apply to individual parties, to groups of parties collectively, or to all editors engaged in a specific type of conduct or working in a specific area.

Enforcement contains instructions to the administrators responsible for arbitration enforcement, describing the procedure to be followed in the event that an editor subject to a remedy violates the terms of that remedy. Enforcement provisions may be omitted in decisions that contain no independently enforceable remedies.

Voting on proposed decisions

Adopted on 17 April 2011
Amended on 2 June 2012

Proposed decisions will be posted with a separate vote for each provision. Where several substantive matters are combined in a single provision, they will be split into separate provisions for voting at the request of any arbitrator.

The final decision will consist of all proposed provisions which were passed by an absolute majority.

Motions to close

Adopted on 17 April 2011

Once voting on a proposed decision appears to have ended, an arbitrator will move to close the case. To be adopted, a motion to close requires the support of the lesser of (i) four net votes or (ii) an absolute majority.

A final consideration period of at least 24 hours will usually elapse between the casting of the fourth net vote to close the case and the implementation of any remedies. However, closure may be fast-tracked if (i) all clauses pass unanimously or (ii) there is an absolute majority vote in the motion to do so.

Motions to dismiss

Adopted on 17 April 2011

If, at any time, the Committee determines by an absolute majority that (i) issuing a formal decision serves no useful purpose; (ii) a majority decision is not achievable; or (iii) a case may best be resolved by a single motion rather than a full decision; it may close, dismiss or otherwise resolve the case by motion.

Passing of temporary injunctions

Adopted on 9 April 2004

An injunction is considered to have passed when it is supported by at least four net votes. A grace period of twenty-four hours is usually observed between the fourth affirmative vote and the enactment of the injunction; however, Arbitrators may, in exceptional circumstances, vote to implement an injunction immediately if four or more Arbitrators express a desire to do so in their votes, or if a majority of Arbitrators active on the case have already voted to support the injunction.

Withdrawn case requests

Adopted on 8 February 2013

If the filing party of a request for an arbitration case withdraws said request, the request may be removed after 24 hours if:

  1. No arbitrator has voted to accept the case; or
  2. There are four net votes to decline the case.

In all other circumstances, the request shall remain open until 24 hours after the above circumstances apply, or until the case can be accepted or declined through the procedures outlined in "Opening of proceedings".

Arbitrator activity and voting

Arbitrator activity

Adopted on 5 April 2011

Arbitrators are presumed active unless they are on a wikibreak, have not participated in arbitration within the past week, or have informed the Committee of their absence. An inactive arbitrator may become active by voting on any aspect of a proceeding. An active arbitrator may become inactive by so stating, in which case their votes will be struck through and discounted.

Unannounced arbitrator absence

Adopted on 5 April 2011

Any arbitrator who has not given prior notice of absence and who fails to post to the usual venues for seven consecutive days is deemed inactive in all matters with, where practical, retrospective effect to the date of the last known post.

Calculation of votes

Adopted on 5 April 2011

Arbitrator votes are calculated on the following basis:

  1. Each active, non-recused arbitrator may cast one vote; and
  2. Recused, abstaining, and inactive arbitrators are discounted.

The following expressions are used, with the following meanings:

  • "Four net votes": the number of votes to support or accept (or oppose or decline) is at least four greater than the number of votes to oppose or decline (or support or accept).
  • "Absolute majority": the number of votes to support or accept is greater than 50% of the total number of arbitrators, not including any arbitrators who are recused, abstaining, or inactive.

Ban appeals

Handling of ban appeals

Adopted on 12 May 2011
Amended on 15 November 2015

The Arbitration Committee will, for the time being, take appeals (i) from editors who are subject to an {{OversightBlock}} or a {{Checkuserblock}}; (ii) from editors who are blocked for reasons that are unsuitable for public discussion; and (iii) from editors blocked or banned by Arbitration and Arbitration Enforcement decisions.

Appeals of topic bans

Adopted on 7 May 2011

An editor who is indefinitely topic-banned or otherwise restricted from editing in a topic area under an Arbitration Committee decision may request an amendment to lift or modify the restriction after an appropriate time period has elapsed. A reasonable minimum time period for such a request will ordinarily be six months, unless the decision provides for a different time or the Committee subsequently determines otherwise. In considering such a request, the Committee will give significant weight to, among other factors, whether the editor in question has established an ability to edit collaboratively and in accordance with Wikipedia policies and guidelines in other topic-areas of the project.

Enforcement

Changes of username while subject to enforcement

Adopted on 18 June 2009

If an editor is subject to any sort of Arbitration Committee parole or restriction, and wishes to start a new account or to change their username with a suppressed redirect from the old name, they must notify the Committee of this before they proceed with editing under said new account/name. Failure to disclose this, if discovered, is grounds for a ban from the project.

Logging

Adopted on 26 March 2017
Amended on 14 December 2022

All sanctions and page restrictions must be logged by the administrator who applied the sanction or page restriction at Wikipedia:Arbitration enforcement log. Whenever a sanction or page restriction is appealed or modified, the administrator amending it must append a note recording the amendment to the original log entry.

To be valid, sanctions must be clearly and unambiguously labelled as an arbitration enforcement action (such as with "arbitration enforcement", "arb enforcement", "AE" or "WP:AE" in the Wikipedia log entry or the edit summary). If a sanction has been logged as an arbitration enforcement action but has not been clearly labelled as an arbitration enforcement action any uninvolved administrator may amend the sanction (for example, a null edit or reblocking with the same settings) on behalf of the original administrator. Labelling a sanction which has been logged does not make the administrator who added the label the "enforcing administrator" unless there is confusion as to who intended the sanction be arbitration enforcement.

A central log of all page restrictions and sanctions (including blocks, bans, page protections or other restrictions) placed as arbitration enforcement (including contentious topic restrictions) is to be maintained by the Committee and its clerks at Wikipedia:Arbitration enforcement log.

Expectations of administrators

Adopted on 21 April 2017

Enforcing administrators are accountable and must explain their enforcement actions; and they must not be involved. Prior routine enforcement interactions, prior administrator participation in enforcement discussions, or when an otherwise uninvolved administrator refers a matter to AE to elicit the opinion of other administrators or refers a matter to the committee at ARCA, do not constitute or create involvement.

Administrators may not adjudicate their own actions at any appeal. However, they are encouraged to provide statements and comments to assist in reaching a determination.

Enforcing administrators are expected to exercise good judgment by responding flexibly and proportionately when they intervene. Except for the cases when the Arbitration Committee has predetermined the set of escalating sanctions to be imposed for violations of a final decision, the severity of the sanction imposed should be commensurate with all circumstances of the case at hand, including the seriousness of the violation and the possible recidivism of the editor in question. When dealing with first or isolated instances of borderline misconduct, informal advice may be more effective in the long term than a sanction. Conversely, editors engaging in egregious or sustained misconduct should be dealt with robustly.

Administrators do not need explicit consensus to enforce arbitration decisions and can always act unilaterally. However, when the case is not clear-cut they are encouraged, before acting, to seek input from their colleagues at arbitration enforcement.

When a consensus of uninvolved administrators is emerging in a discussion, administrators willing to overrule their colleagues should act with caution and must explain their reasons on request.

Dismissing an enforcement request

Adopted on 21 April 2017

When no actual violation occurred, or the consensus of uninvolved administrators is that exceptional circumstances are present, which would make the imposition of a sanction inappropriate, administrators may also close a report with no action; if appropriate, they may also warn or advise the editor being reported, in order to avoid further breaches.

Administrators wishing to dismiss an enforcement request should act cautiously and be especially mindful that their actions do not give the impression that they are second-guessing the Arbitration Committee or obstructing the enforcement of their decisions.

Dismissed requests may not be reopened. However, any interested users may, after discussion with the administrator in question, appeal the dismissal to the Arbitration Committee at "ARCA". Petitioners who forum shop by resubmitting denied enforcement requests without good reason may find themselves cautioned or sanctioned in return.

Standard provision: enforcement of restrictions

Adopted on 4 June 2012.
Amended on 3 May 2014.

The following standard enforcement provision shall be incorporated into all cases which include an enforceable remedy but which do not include case-specific enforcement provisions passed by the Committee:

"Should any user subject to a restriction in this case violate that restriction, that user may be blocked, initially for up to one month, and then with blocks increasing in duration to a maximum of one year."

Standard provision: appeals and modifications

Original version adopted on 15 March 2010.
Adopted on 03 May 2014.
Amended on 21 April 2017.
Amended on 13 December 2018.
Amended on 19 April 2019.
Amended on 18 January 2023

Appeals by sanctioned editors

Appeals may be made only by the editor under sanction and only for a currently active sanction. Requests for modification of page restrictions may be made by any editor. The process has three possible stages (see "Important notes" below). The editor may:

  1. ask the enforcing administrator to reconsider their original decision;
  2. request review at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard ("AE") or at the administrators’ noticeboard ("AN"); and
  3. submit a request for amendment at the amendment requests page ("ARCA"). If the editor is blocked, the appeal may be made by email through Special:EmailUser/Arbitration Committee (or, if email access is revoked, to arbcom-en@wikimedia.org).
Modifications by administrators

No administrator may modify or remove a sanction placed by another administrator without:

  1. the explicit prior affirmative consent of the enforcing administrator; or
  2. prior affirmative agreement for the modification at (a) AE or (b) AN or (c) ARCA (see "Important notes" below).

Administrators modifying sanctions out of process may at the discretion of the committee be desysopped.

Nothing in this section prevents an administrator from replacing an existing sanction issued by another administrator with a new sanction if fresh misconduct has taken place after the existing sanction was applied.

Administrators are free to modify sanctions placed by former administrators – that is, editors who do not have the administrator permission enabled (due to a temporary or permanent relinquishment or desysop) – without regard to the requirements of this section. If an administrator modifies a sanction placed by a former administrator, the administrator who made the modification becomes the "enforcing administrator". If a former administrator regains the tools, the provisions of this section again apply to their unmodified enforcement actions.

Important notes:

  1. For a request to succeed, either
(i) the clear and substantial consensus of (a) uninvolved administrators at AE or (b) uninvolved editors at AN or
(ii) a passing motion of arbitrators at ARCA
is required. If consensus at AE or AN is unclear, the status quo prevails.
  1. While asking the enforcing administrator and seeking reviews at AN or AE are not mandatory prior to seeking a decision from the committee, once the committee has reviewed a request, further substantive review at any forum is barred. The sole exception is editors under an active sanction who may still request an easing or removal of the sanction on the grounds that said sanction is no longer needed, but such requests may only be made once every six months, or whatever longer period the committee may specify.
  2. These provisions apply only to contentious topic restrictions placed by administrators and to blocks placed by administrators to enforce arbitration case decisions. They do not apply to sanctions directly authorized by the committee, and enacted either by arbitrators or by arbitration clerks, or to special functionary blocks of whatever nature.
  3. All actions designated as arbitration enforcement actions, including those alleged to be out of process or against existing policy, must first be appealed following arbitration enforcement procedures to establish if such enforcement is inappropriate before the action may be reversed or formally discussed at another venue.

Contentious topics

See also: Wikipedia:Contentious topics.
Original version adopted on 7 May 2011
Prior version adopted on 3 May 2014
Amended on 20 January 2015
Amended on 16 November 2016
Amended on 4 June 2017
Current version adopted on 14 December 2022

A special set of rules applies to certain topic areas, which are referred to as contentious topics (abbreviated CT). These are specially-designated topics that have attracted more persistent disruptive editing than the rest of the project and have been designated as contentious topics by the Arbitration Committee.[a] Not all topics that are controversial have been designated as contentious topics – this procedure applies only to those topics designated by the Arbitration Committee (list). When editing a contentious topic, Wikipedia's norms and policies are more strictly enforced and Wikipedia administrators have additional authority to reduce disruption to the project.

Editing a contentious topic

Within contentious topics, you must edit carefully and constructively, refrain from disrupting the encyclopedia, and:

You should err on the side of caution if you are unsure whether making a particular edit is consistent with these expectations.

Within contentious topics, administrators have the ability to set editor restrictions (restrictions on editing by particular editors) and page restrictions (special rules on how particular pages can be edited). Some of these abilities may be exercised by a single administrator while others require a consensus of administrators. All editor and page restrictions may be appealed.

Contentious topic restrictions

Administrators are authorized to impose contentious topic restrictions in contentious topic areas. Those contentious topic restrictions take the form of editor restrictions and page restrictions.

Editor restrictions prohibit a specific editor from making edits described in the restriction and may be imposed on editors who do not follow the expectations listed in #Editing a contentious topic in a contentious topic. Page restrictions prohibit all editors on a particular page from making edits described in the restriction and may be imposed to minimize disruption in a contentious topic.

Unless otherwise specified, contentious topics are broadly construed; this contentious topics procedure applies to all pages broadly related to a topic, as well as parts of other pages that are related to the topic.[b]

Single administrators may only impose restrictions in the standard set of contentious topic restrictions. A rough consensus of administrators at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard ("AE") may impose any restriction from the standard set and any other reasonable measures that are necessary and proportionate for the smooth running of the project.

Standard set

The following editor restrictions constitute the standard set of editor restrictions which may be imposed by a single uninvolved administrator:

The following page restrictions constitute the standard set of page restrictions which may be imposed by a single uninvolved administrator:

  • page protection,
  • revert restrictions,
  • the "consensus required" restriction,[c]
  • the "enforced BRD" restriction,[d] and
  • other restrictions that have been specifically designated by the Arbitration Committee for use by a single administrator in a particular contentious topic.
Warnings

Administrators may warn editors for conduct that falls short of the expectations in a contentious topic. Administrators may choose to log warnings in the arbitration enforcement log. Warnings that are logged in the arbitration enforcement log may be appealed like other editor restrictions. An editor may be warned even if the editor was not previously aware that their editing occurred in a contentious topic.

Duration of restrictions

Contentious topic restrictions may be imposed for any fixed length of time, or for an indefinite period.

However, one year after being imposed (or last renewed, if applicable), contentious topic restrictions which were imposed by a single administrator may be amended or revoked without going through the appeals and amendments process in the same way as an ordinary administrator action.

Additionally, sitewide blocks become ordinary administrator actions one year after imposition, whether or not imposed by a consensus of administrators at AE.

Restriction notices

An administrator who imposes an editor restriction must provide a notice on the restricted editor's talk page specifying the reason for the restriction and informing the restricted editor of the appeal process.

An administrator who imposes a page restriction (other than page protection) must add an editnotice to restricted pages using the standard template ({{Contentious topics/page restriction editnotice}} or a derived topic-specific template), and should generally add a notice to the talk page of restricted pages.

Renewal of page restrictions

If an uninvolved administrator (including the original enforcing administrator) decides that a page restriction is still necessary after one year, the administrator may renew the restriction by re-imposing it under this procedure and logging the renewal. The administrator renewing a page restriction then becomes the enforcing administrator. This does not apply to page restrictions imposed by consensus at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard.

Logging

Contentious topic restrictions must be recorded in the arbitration enforcement log by the administrator who takes the action.[e] Administrators who renew, change, or revoke a contentious topic restriction must append a note recording the amendment to the original log entry.

Administrators should clearly and unambiguously label their actions as contentious topic restrictions (such as in the block summary, page protection summary, edit summary, or talk page message announcing the action, whichever is appropriate).[f]

Enforcement of restrictions

Editors must comply with contentious topic restrictions. Editors who disagree with a contentious topic restriction may appeal it, but the restriction remains in effect until it is revoked or modified by an administrator.

Edits that breach an editor or page restriction may be reverted.[g]

Editors who breach an editor or page restriction may be blocked or subjected to further editor restrictions.

However, breaches of a page restriction may result in a block or editor restriction only if:

  1. The editor was aware that they were editing in a contentious topic, and
  2. The restricted page displayed an editnotice ({{Contentious topics/page restriction editnotice}} or a derived topic-specific template) specifying the page restriction.

Appeals and amendments

All contentious topic restrictions (and logged warnings) may be appealed. Only the restricted editor may appeal an editor restriction. Any editor may appeal a page restriction.

The appeal process has three possible stages. An editor appealing a restriction may:

  1. ask the administrator who first made the contentious topic restrictions (the "enforcing administrator") to reconsider their original decision;
  2. request review at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard ("AE") or at the administrators' noticeboard ("AN"); and
  3. submit a request for amendment ("ARCA"). If the editor is blocked, the appeal may be made by email.

Appeals submitted at AE or AN must be submitted using the applicable template.

A rough consensus of administrators at AE or editors at AN may specify a period of up to one year during which no appeals (other than an appeal to ARCA) may be submitted.

Changing or revoking a contentious topic restriction

An administrator may only modify or revoke a contentious topic restriction if a formal appeal is successful or if one of the following exceptions applies:

  • The administrator who originally imposed the contentious topic restriction (the "enforcing administrator") affirmatively consents to the change,[h] or is no longer an administrator;[i] or
  • The contentious topic restriction was imposed (or last renewed) more than a year ago and:
    • the restriction was imposed by a single administrator, or
    • the restriction was an indefinite block.

A formal appeal is successful only if one of the following agrees with revoking or changing the contentious topic restriction:

  • a clear consensus of uninvolved administrators at AE,
  • a clear consensus of uninvolved editors at AN,
  • a majority of the Arbitration Committee, acting through a motion at ARCA.

Any administrator who revokes or changes a contentious topic restriction out of process (i.e. without the above conditions being met) may, at the discretion of the Arbitration Committee, be desysopped.

Standard of review
On community review

Uninvolved administrators at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard ("AE") and uninvolved editors at the administrators' noticeboard ("AN") should revoke or modify a contentious topic restriction on appeal if:

  1. the action was inconsistent with the contentious topics procedure or applicable policy (i.e. the action was out of process),
  2. the action was not reasonably necessary to prevent damage or disruption when first imposed, or
  3. the action is no longer reasonably necessary to prevent damage or disruption.
On Arbitration Committee review

Arbitrators hearing an appeal at a request for amendment ("ARCA") will generally overturn a contentious topic restriction only if:

  1. the action was inconsistent with the contentious topics procedure or applicable policy (i.e. the action was out of process),
  2. the action represents an unreasonable exercise of administrative enforcement discretion, or
  3. compelling circumstances warrant the full Committee's action.

Procedural summary

Imposed by: Single administrator Rough consensus of administrators at AE
Authorized restrictions
  • The "standard set" of individual or page restrictions; and
  • Any other restrictions designated by the Arbitration Committee for use by a single admin in a particular contentious topic.
  • Any action available to single administrators; and
  • Any other reasonable measures that are necessary and proportionate for the smooth running of the project.
Maximum length Indefinite; reversible by any uninvolved administrator after one year. However, page restrictions may be renewed. Indefinite.[j]
Modifications by
  • Any administrator, if the administrator who first imposed the contentious topic restriction (the "enforcing administrator") affirmatively consents to the change, or is no longer an administrator;
  • A clear consensus of uninvolved editors at the administrators’ noticeboard;
  • A clear consensus of uninvolved administrators at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard; or
  • A majority of the Arbitration Committee voting on a motion in response to a request for amendment filed with the Arbitration Committee.

Awareness of contentious topics

When an editor first begins making edits within any contentious topic, anyone may alert the editor of the contentious topic designation using the {{Contentious topics/alert/first}} template. Only the officially designated templates should be used for an editor's first contentious topic alert, and these templates may not be placed using a bot or other form of automated editing without the prior approval of the Arbitration Committee. When alerting an editor who has previously received any contentious topic alert, the {{alert}} template may be used, but any message that conveys the contentious topic designation is acceptable.[k]

If the enforcing administrator believes that an editor was not aware that they were editing a designated contentious topic when making inappropriate edits, no editor restrictions (other than a logged warning) should be imposed.[l] Once alerted to a specific contentious topic, editors are presumed to remain aware but may attempt to refute this presumption on appeal.[m]

Administrators' role and expectations

Administrators should seek to create an acceptable collaborative editing environment within contentious topics. Administrators are expected to use their experience and judgment to balance the need to assume good faith, to avoid biting genuine newcomers and to allow responsible contributors maximum editing freedom with the need to keep edit-warring, battleground conduct, and disruptive behaviour to a minimum. Before imposing a contentious topic restriction, administrators must consider whether a regular administrative action would be sufficient to reduce disruption to the project.

While contentious topic restrictions give administrators necessary latitude, administrators must not:

  1. impose a restriction when involved;
  2. modify a restriction out of process;
  3. repeatedly fail to properly explain their enforcement actions;
  4. repeatedly fail to log restriction or page restrictions; or
  5. repeatedly issue significantly disproportionate restrictions or issue a grossly disproportionate restriction.

Administrators who fail to meet these expectations may be subject to any remedy the committee considers appropriate, including desysopping. Administrative actions may be peer-reviewed using the regular appeal processes.

Before imposing a delegated enforcement action, administrators must consider whether a regular administrative action would be sufficient to reduce disruption to the project.

Former administrators – that is, editors who have temporarily or permanently relinquished the tools or have been desysopped – may neither act as administrators in arbitration enforcement nor reverse their own previous administrative actions.

Arbitration enforcement

Noticeboard scope
This section is transcluded from Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Procedures § Noticeboard scope. It applies to all enforcement decisions, including in contentious topics.
Adopted on 14 December 2022

The arbitration enforcement noticeboard may consider:

  • requests for administrative action against editors violating a remedy (not merely a principle) or an injunction in an Arbitration Committee decision, or a contentious topic restriction imposed by an administrator,
  • requests for an individual enforcement action against aware editors who engage in misconduct in a contentious topic,
  • requests for page restrictions (e.g. revert restrictions) on pages that are being disrupted in contentious topics,
  • appeals against arbitration enforcement actions (including contentious topic restrictions), or
  • requests or appeals pursuant to community-imposed remedies which match the contentious topics procedure, if those requests or appeals are assigned to the arbitration enforcement noticeboard by the community.

For all other matters, including content disagreements or the enforcement of other community-imposed sanctions, editors should use the other fora described in the dispute resolution process. To appeal decisions made directly by the Arbitration Committee, editors should submit a request for clarification or amendment.

Noticeboard outcomes
This section is transcluded from Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Procedures § Noticeboard outcomes. It applies to all enforcement decisions, including in contentious topics.
Adopted on 14 December 2022

Requests and appeals at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard may not be closed with a "rough consensus" or "clear consensus" outcome without at least 24 hours of discussion.

Referrals from Arbitration Enforcement noticeboard to the full Committee
This section is transcluded from Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Procedures § Referrals from Arbitration Enforcement noticeboard to the full Committee. It applies to all enforcement decisions, including in contentious topics.
Adopted on 14 December 2022

A consensus of administrators at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard may refer an arbitration enforcement request to the Arbitration Committee for final decision through a request for amendment.

Dismissing an enforcement request
This section is transcluded from Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Procedures § Dismissing an enforcement request. It applies to all enforcement decisions, including in contentious topics.
Adopted on 21 April 2017

When no actual violation occurred, or the consensus of uninvolved administrators is that exceptional circumstances are present, which would make the imposition of a sanction inappropriate, administrators may also close a report with no action; if appropriate, they may also warn or advise the editor being reported, in order to avoid further breaches.

Administrators wishing to dismiss an enforcement request should act cautiously and be especially mindful that their actions do not give the impression that they are second-guessing the Arbitration Committee or obstructing the enforcement of their decisions.

Dismissed requests may not be reopened. However, any interested users may, after discussion with the administrator in question, appeal the dismissal to the Arbitration Committee at "ARCA". Petitioners who forum shop by resubmitting denied enforcement requests without good reason may find themselves cautioned or sanctioned in return.

General provisions

Decorum

Certain pages (including the arbitration enforcement noticeboard ("AE"), the administrators' noticeboard ("AN"), and the Arbitration Committee's requests for amendment ("ARCA")) are used for the fair, well-informed, and timely resolution of individual and page restrictions. Editors participating in enforcement cases must disclose fully their involvement with parties (if any). While good-faith statements are welcome, editors are expected to discuss only evidence and procedure; they are not expected to trade insults or engage in character assassination. Insults and personal attacks, soapboxing and casting aspersions are as unacceptable in enforcement discussions as elsewhere on Wikipedia. Uninvolved administrators are asked to ensure that enforcement cases are not disrupted, and may remove statements or restrict or block editors to address inappropriate conduct.

Designation

Contentious topics may be designated either as part of the final decision of an arbitration case or by Arbitration Committee motion. When it becomes apparent that a particular contentious topic designation is no longer necessary, the Committee may rescind it. Any editor may request that the Committee review a contentious topic designation by submitting a request for amendment ("ARCA"). Unless the Committee specifies otherwise, after rescinding a designation, all restrictions previously-issued under that designation remain in force and continue to be governed by the contentious topics procedure.

Continuity

Any restrictions imposed under the prior discretionary sanctions procedure to date remain in force. Any changes to or appeals regarding previously-imposed restrictions will be governed by the current contentious topics procedure, subject to the following transitional rules:

  • Previously-enacted single-admin page restrictions are now subject to renewal, modification, and revocation in the same way as ordinary administrator actions after one year in accordance with #Duration of restrictions and #Renewal of page restrictions.
  • Previously-enacted single-admin editor restrictions do not, as a result of #Duration of restrictions, become subject to modification and revocation in the same way as ordinary administrator actions after one year.

Notes

  1. ^ The community has its own version of a contentious topics system. These are most often referred to as general sanctions (GS), but are sometimes referred to as community sanctions or community discretionary sanctions.
  2. ^ This procedure applies to edits and pages in all namespaces. When considering whether edits fall within the scope of a contentious topic, administrators should be guided by the principles outlined in the topic ban policy.
  3. ^ On pages where "consensus required" is in effect, an edit that is challenged by reversion may not be reinstated without affirmative consensus on the talk page.
  4. ^ On pages where "enforced BRD" is in effect, an edit that is challenged by reversion may not be reinstated by the editor who originally made it until the editor (a) posts a talk page message discussing the edit and (b) waits 24 hours from the time of the talk page message.
  5. ^ Other administrators may log the contentious topic restriction on behalf of the original administrator. When this happens, the original administrator is still considered the "enforcing administrator".
  6. ^ If an enforcing administrator clearly intends to impose a contentious topic restrictions but forgets to label their action, other administrators may label the action (such as through a null edit or reblocking with the same settings) on behalf of the administrator. When this happens, the original administrator is still considered the "enforcing administrator".
  7. ^ An uninvolved administrator who enforces a restriction by reversion is performing an administrative action and does not thereby become involved for administrative purposes.
  8. ^ The administrator may indicate consent at any time before, during, or after imposition of the restriction.
  9. ^ This criterion does not apply if the original action was imposed as a result of rough consensus at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard, as there would be no single enforcing administrator.
  10. ^ Unless the restriction is a block, in which case the maximum length is one year.
  11. ^ Editors should exercise caution before re-alerting an editor to the same contentious topic as a previous alert, as there is a presumption that an editor remains aware.
  12. ^ Edits made before an editor was aware of a contentious topic designation may still be considered as part of a pattern of behavior in future enforcement processes if those processes primarily concern post-awareness conduct.
  13. ^ An editor who has not received an alert may also be presumed to be aware of a contentious topic if the editor:


Extended confirmed restriction

Adopted on 20 September 2021

The Committee may apply the "extended confirmed restriction" to specified topic areas. When such a restriction is in effect in a topic area, only extended-confirmed editors may make edits related to the topic area, subject to the following provisions:

A. The restriction applies to all edits and pages related to the topic area, broadly construed, with the following exceptions:
1. Non-extended-confirmed editors may use the "Talk:" namespace to post constructive comments and make edit requests related to articles within the topic area, provided they are not disruptive. Should disruption occur on "Talk:" pages, administrators may take enforcement actions described in "B" or "C" below. However, non-extended-confirmed editors may not make edits to internal project discussions related to the topic area, even within the "Talk:" namespace. Internal project discussions include, but are not limited to, AfDs, WikiProjects, RfCs, RMs, and noticeboard discussions.
2. Non-extended-confirmed editors may not create new articles, but administrators may exercise discretion when deciding how to enforce this remedy on article creations. Deletion of new articles created by non-extended-confirmed editors is permitted but not required.
B. If a page (other than a "Talk:" page) mostly or entirely relates to the topic area, broadly construed, this restriction is preferably enforced through extended confirmed protection, though this is not required.
C. On any page where the restriction is not enforced through extended confirmed protection, this restriction may be enforced by other methods, including page protection, reverts, blocks, the use of pending changes, and appropriate edit filters.
D. Reverts made solely to enforce this restriction are not considered edit warring.

Enforcement templates and procedural documents

Adopted on 14 December 2022

Arbitrators and arbitration clerks may, after consultation with the Arbitration Committee, update and maintain templates and procedural documents related to arbitration enforcement processes (including the contentious topics system).

Noticeboard scope

Adopted on 14 December 2022

The arbitration enforcement noticeboard may consider:

  • requests for administrative action against editors violating a remedy (not merely a principle) or an injunction in an Arbitration Committee decision, or a contentious topic restriction imposed by an administrator,
  • requests for an individual enforcement action against aware editors who engage in misconduct in a contentious topic,
  • requests for page restrictions (e.g. revert restrictions) on pages that are being disrupted in contentious topics,
  • appeals against arbitration enforcement actions (including contentious topic restrictions), or
  • requests or appeals pursuant to community-imposed remedies which match the contentious topics procedure, if those requests or appeals are assigned to the arbitration enforcement noticeboard by the community.

For all other matters, including content disagreements or the enforcement of other community-imposed sanctions, editors should use the other fora described in the dispute resolution process. To appeal decisions made directly by the Arbitration Committee, editors should submit a request for clarification or amendment.

Noticeboard outcomes

Adopted on 14 December 2022

Requests and appeals at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard may not be closed with a "rough consensus" or "clear consensus" outcome without at least 24 hours of discussion.

Referrals from Arbitration Enforcement noticeboard to the full Committee

Adopted on 14 December 2022

A consensus of administrators at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard may refer an arbitration enforcement request to the Arbitration Committee for final decision through a request for amendment.

Incoming mail

Adopted on 2 May 2009
Amended on 15 November 2015 (reference to Ban Appeals Subcommittee removed)

The procedure for handling incoming mail to arbcom-en is as follows:

Once incoming mail has cleared list moderation, each message shall be acknowledged with a standard message and processed by the coordinating arbitrator or their deputy within 24 hours of receipt:

  1. Complaints regarding CheckUser or Oversight use can be forwarded to the Arbitration Committee via the Arbitration Committee mailing list (arbcom-en). In the event of a committee member being the subject of the complaint, the complaint may be forwarded to any individual committee member. That committee member will initiate a discussion on one of the alternate mailing lists, with the committee member who is the subject of the complaint unsubscribed from the list for the duration of the discussion. Over the course of the investigation, the Arbitration Committee may draw upon the experience of members of the functionaries team to aid in the investigation.
  2. Notifications of secondary and alternate accounts shall be recorded on the private wiki and closed; no further action shall be taken unless requested by an arbitrator.
  3. Submissions of private evidence in an open case shall be recorded on the private wiki and closed; no further action shall be taken unless requested by an arbitrator.
  4. Informational notifications and comments which are determined by the coordinating arbitrator or their deputy to require no further action from the Committee shall be closed; no further action shall be taken unless requested by an arbitrator.
  5. All other messages shall be flagged for further action by the Committee.

Clerks

Terms

Adopted on 26 April 2022

Trainee clerks will have a term of up to 1 year after their appointment as a trainee to be promoted to full clerk. This term may be extended by the Committee.

Full clerks will be asked to confirm their desire to stay a clerk every 2 years, from the date they were appointed as a full clerk. There are no term limits for full clerks.

Motions

Modification of procedures

Adopted on 7 June 2012

Significant or substantive modifications of the Arbitration Committee's procedures shall be made by way of formal motions on the Committee's public motions page; shall be announced on the Committee's noticeboard and the administrator's noticeboard by the clerks when first proposed; and shall remain open for at least 24 hours after those announcements are made.

Committee resolutions

Adopted on 12 May 2011

The Committee will consider and adopt resolutions as follows:

  1. All proposed resolutions will be posted for voting on the discussion board of the arbitration wiki.
  2. The arbitrator initiating the proposal will notify arbcom-en of the proposal, and is responsible for sending any subsequent reminders as necessary.
  3. A resolution will be considered to have passed when it is endorsed by an absolute majority of active, non-recused arbitrators.
  4. When a resolution has passed, it will be announced on arbcom-en.

Resolutions intended for public dissemination will be published to the Arbitration Committee noticeboard. Internal resolutions will be retained in the Committee's internal records.

Quorum for urgent resolutions

Adopted on 12 May 2011

The Committee sometimes needs to act urgently and it may do so as an interim measure, without a formal vote of the entire Committee, once a resolution proposing urgent action and explicitly stated as such has been unanimously supported by a quorum of the Committee, comprising a third of all active non-recused arbitrators. Such resolutions will be interim measures, pending review by the entire Committee.

Requests for amendment

Format of requests for amendment

Adopted on 28 June 2009

A request for amendment of a closed case must clearly state the following:

(a) The name of the case to be amended;
(b) The clause(s) to be modified, referenced by number or section title;
(c) For each clause in (b), the desired modification; and
(d) The rationale for the requested amendment, comprising no more than 1000 words.

Any request which does not comply with these criteria will be summarily removed.

Closing

Adopted on 8 January 2023

A request for clarification or amendment is eligible to be closed by an arbitrator if:

  1. A rough consensus has been reached among arbitrators participating in the request; and
  2. The rough consensus does not require a vote to implement (e.g. modifying the remedy to a case).

The closing arbitrator should include a summary of the rough consensus when closing the request for clarification or amendment.

Notes

  1. ^ Refraining from use of tools is optional for Ombuds Commission appointees, effective February 2013.