Policy:Universal Code of Conduct/Enforcement guidelines
This policy is approved by the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.
It may not be circumvented, eroded, or ignored by Wikimedia Foundation officers or staff nor local policies of any Wikimedia project.
1. UCoC Enforcement Guidelines
These Enforcement Guidelines describe how the community and Wikimedia Foundation will be able to achieve the goals of the Universal Code of Conduct (UCoC). This includes, among other topics: promoting understanding of the UCoC, engaging in proactive work to prevent violations, developing principles for responsive work to UCoC violations, and supporting local enforcement structures.
The UCoC applies to all online and offline Wikimedia spaces. Therefore, enforcing the UCoC is a shared responsibility. In line with the movement principle of decentralisation, the UCoC should be enforced at the most relevant local level possible.
The Enforcement Guidelines provide a framework for the interaction of current and future enforcement structures, seeking to create the groundwork for an equitable and consistent implementation of the UCoC.
1.1 Translations of the UCoC Enforcement Guidelines
The original version of the UCoC Enforcement Guidelines is in English. It will be translated into various languages used on Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia Foundation will make their best effort to have accurate translations. If any difference arises in the meaning between the English version and a translation, decisions will be based on the English version.
1.2 Review of the UCoC Enforcement Guidelines
Based on the Board of Trustees’ recommendation, one year after the ratification of the Enforcement Guidelines, the Wikimedia Foundation will host a community consultation and review of the UCoC Enforcement Guidelines and UCoC.
2. Preventive work
This section aims to provide guidelines for Wikimedia communities and affiliated individuals to be aware of the UCoC, to fully understand and adhere to it. To that end, this section will detail recommendations for raising awareness of the UCoC, handling translations of the UCoC, and promoting voluntary adherence to the UCoC where appropriate or necessary.
2.1 Notification and confirmation of the UCoC
The UCoC applies to everyone who interacts and contributes to Wikimedia projects. It also applies to official in-person events, and related spaces hosted on third party platforms as a baseline of behavior for collaboration on Wikimedia projects worldwide.
Additionally, the following individuals need to confirm their adherence to the UCoC:
- All Wikimedia Foundation staff and contractors, Board of Trustees members, Wikimedia affiliate board members and staff;
- Any representative of a Wikimedia affiliate or aspiring Wikimedia affiliate (such as, but not limited to: an individual, or group of individuals who is seeking to promote and/or collaborate a Wikimedia sponsored event, group, study, either on or off-wiki in a research setting); and
- Any individual who wants to use the Wikimedia Foundation trademark in an event such as, but not limited to: events branded with Wikimedia trademarks (such as by including them in the event's title) and representation of the Wikimedia organization, community, or project at an event (such as, but not limited to, a presenter or a booth operator).
2.1.1 Promoting UCoC awareness
In order to improve awareness, a link to the UCoC will be accessible on or at:
- User and event registration pages;
- Footers on Wikimedia projects and edit confirmation pages for logged-out users (where appropriate and technically possible);
- Footers on the websites of recognized affiliates and user groups;
- Prominently communicated at in-person, remote, and hybrid events; and
- Anywhere else deemed appropriate by local projects, affiliates, user groups, and event organizers
2.2 Recommendations for UCoC training
The U4C Building Committee, with support from the Wikimedia Foundation, will develop and implement training to provide a common understanding of the UCoC and skills for its implementation. It is recommended that relevant stakeholders should be consulted in the development of training, including, but not limited to: Affiliates, the Affiliations Committee, Arbitration Committees, Stewards and other Advanced Rights Holders, T&S and legal, and others as it deems beneficial to providing a complete view of the UCoC.
These trainings are intended for people who want to be part of UCoC enforcement processes, or those who want to be informed about the UCoC.
The training will be set up in independent modules covering general information, identification of violations and support, and complex cases and appeals. After the first U4C is onboarded, it will be responsible for maintaining and updating the training modules as needed.
Training modules will be available in different formats and on different platforms for easy access. Local communities and Wikimedia Affiliates who want to provide training at their community level will get financial support from the Wikimedia Foundation to implement training. This includes support for translations.
We recommend participants who complete a module should have the option of having their completion publicly acknowledged.
The following sets of trainings are proposed:
Module A - Orientation (UCoC - General)
- Help to ensure a common understanding of the UCoC and its implementation
- Explain concisely what the UCoC is and its expected enforcement, as well as what tools are available to help report violations
Module B - Identification and Reporting (UCoC - Violations)
- Give people the ability to identify UCoC violations, understand reporting processes and learn how to use reporting tools
- Detail the type of violation, how to identify reportable instances in their local context, how and where to make reports, and optimal handling of cases within UCoC processes
- Training will also focus on specific parts of the UCoC, such as harassment and abuses of power (as required)
Modules C - Complex cases, Appeals (UCoC - Multiple Violations, Appeals)
- These modules are a prerequisite to joining the U4C, and are recommended for prospective U4C applicants and advanced rights holders
- This module should cover two specific topics:
- C1 - Handling complex cases (UCoC - Multiple Violations): Cover cross-wiki cases, long term harassment, identifying credibility of threats, effective and sensitive communication, and protecting the safety of victims and other vulnerable people
- C2 - Handling appeals, closing cases (UCoC - Appeals): Cover handling UCoC appeals
- These modules will be instructor-led and tailored trainings, provided to U4C members and applicants, and community-elected functionaries who have signed the Access to Nonpublic Personal Data Policy
- When possible the materials for these instructor-led trainings, such as individual modules, slides, questions, etc., will be publicly available
3. Responsive work
This section aims to provide guidelines and principles for processing reports of UCoC violations, and recommendations for local enforcement structures dealing with UCoC violations. To that end, this section will detail important principles for processing reports, recommendations for the creation of a reporting tool, suggested enforcement for different levels of violations, and recommendations for local enforcement structures.
3.1 Principles for filing and processing of UCoC violations
The following principles are standards for reporting systems across the Movement.
- Reporting of UCoC violations should be possible by the target of the violation, as well as by uninvolved third parties that observed the incident
- Reports shall be capable of covering UCoC violations, whether they happen online, offline, in a space hosted by a third party, or a mix of spaces
- It must be possible for reports to be made publicly or with varying degrees of privacy
- Credibility and verifiability of accusations will be investigated thoroughly to properly assess risk and legitimacy
- Users who continually send bad faith or unjustified reports risk facing loss of reporting privileges
- Accused individuals shall have access to the particulars of the alleged violation made against them unless such access would risk danger or likely harm to the reporter or others’ safety
- Resources for translation must be provided by the Wikimedia Foundation when reports are provided in languages that designated individuals are not proficient
- Outcomes shall be proportional to the severity of the violation
- Cases shall be judged in an informed way, which makes use of context, in alignment with the principles of the UCoC
- Cases shall be resolved within a consistent time frame, with timely updates provided to participants if it is prolonged
- Where possible, the group that processed the UCoC violation will provide a public archive of those cases, while preserving privacy and security in non-public cases
- The Wikimedia Foundation will publish basic statistics about usage of the central reporting tool proposed in section 3.2, while honoring the principles of minimal data collection and respect for privacy.
- Other groups that process UCoC violations are encouraged to provide basic statistics about UCoC violations and reporting as they are able, while honoring the principles of minimal data collection and respect for privacy.
3.1.1 Providing resources for processing cases
Enforcement of the UCoC by local governance structures will be supported in multiple ways. Communities will be able to choose from different mechanisms or approaches based on several factors such as: the capacity of their enforcement structures, approach to governance, and community preferences. Some of these approaches can include:
- An Arbitration Committee (ArbCom) for a specific Wikimedia project
- An ArbCom shared amongst multiple Wikimedia projects
- Advanced rights holders enforcing local policies consistent with the UCoC in a decentralized manner
- Panels of local administrators enforcing policies
- Local contributors enforcing local policies through community discussion and agreement
Communities should continue to handle enforcement through existing means where they do not conflict with the UCoC.
3.1.2 Enforcement by type of violations
This section details a non-complete list of the different types of violations, along with the potential enforcement mechanism pertaining to it.
- Violations involving threats of any sort of physical violence
- Handled by the Wikimedia Trust & Safety team
- Violations involving litigation or legal threats
- Sent to the Wikimedia Foundation Legal team, or, when appropriate, other professionals who can appropriately evaluate the merit of the threats
- Violations involving the nonconsensual disclosure of personally identifiable information
- Generally handled by users with oversight or edit suppression permissions
- Occasionally handled by Trust & Safety
- Sent to the Wikimedia Foundation Legal team or, when appropriate, other professionals who can appropriately evaluate the merits of the case if this kind of violation invokes a legal obligation
- Violations related to affiliate governance
- Handled by the Affiliations Committee or equivalent body
- Violations in technical spaces
- Handled by Technical Code of Conduct Committee
- Systemic failure to follow the UCoC
- Handled by U4C
- Some examples of systemic failure include:
- Lack of local capacity to enforce the UCoC
- Consistent local decisions that conflict with the UCoC
- Refusal to enforce the UCoC
- Lack of resources or lack of will to address issues
- On-wiki UCoC violations
- UCoC violations that happen across multiple wikis: Handled by global sysops and stewards and the bodies that handle single-wiki UCoC violations or handled by the U4C where they do not conflict with these guidelines
- UCoC violations that happen on a single wiki: Handled by existing enforcement structures according to their existing guidelines, where they do not conflict with these guidelines
- Simple UCoC violations such as vandalism should be handled by existing enforcement structures through existing means, where they do not conflict with these guidelines
- Off-wiki violations
- Handled by the U4C where no local governance structure (eg. ArbCom) exists, or if the case is referred to them by the enforcement structure that would otherwise be responsible
- In some cases, it may be helpful to report the off-wiki violations to enforcement structures of the relevant off-wiki space. This does not preclude existing local and global enforcement mechanisms from acting on the reports
- Violations at in-person events and spaces
- Existing enforcement structures often provide rules of behavior and enforcement in off-wiki spaces. These include friendly space policies and conference rules
- Enforcement structures handling these cases can refer them to the U4C
- In instances of events hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, Trust & Safety provides event policy enforcement
3.2 Recommendations for a reporting tool
A centralized reporting and processing tool for UCoC violations will be developed and maintained by the Wikimedia Foundation. It will be possible to make reports through MediaWiki with this tool. The purpose is to lower the technical barrier for reporting and processing UCoC violations.
Reports should include relevant actionable information or provide a documentation record of the case at hand. The reporting interface should allow the reporter to provide details to whomever is responsible for processing that particular case. This includes information such as, but not limited to:
- How the reported behavior violates the UCoC
- Who or what has been harmed by this violation of the UCoC
- The date and time at which the incident(s), occurred
- The location(s) of the incident(s)
- Other information to allow enforcement groups to best handle the matter
The tool should operate under the principles of ease-of-use, privacy and security, flexibility in processing, and transparency.
Individuals charged with enforcing the UCoC are not required to use this tool. They may continue to work with whatever tools they deem appropriate, as long as cases are handled according to the same principles of ease-of-use, privacy and security, flexibility in processing, and transparency.
3.3 Principles and recommendations for enforcement structures
Where possible, we encourage existing enforcement structures to take up the responsibility of receiving reports of and dealing with UCoC violations, in accordance with the guidelines stated here. To ensure that enforcement of the UCoC remains consistent across the movement, we recommend that the following baseline principles should be applied when handling UCoC violations.
3.3.1 Fairness in process
We encourage enforcement structures in developing and maintaining supportive conflict-of-interest policies. These should help admins or others determine when to abstain or disengage from a report when they are closely involved in the issue.
All parties will usually have the opportunity to give their perspective on the issues and evidence, and feedback from others can also be invited to help provide more information, perspective, and context. This may be limited to protect privacy and safety.
3.3.2 Transparency of process
The U4C, in line with its purpose and scope as defined in 4.1, shall provide documentation on the effectiveness of UCoC enforcement actions and their relation to common violations throughout the movement. They should be supported by the Wikimedia Foundation in conducting this research. The goal of this documentation is to aid enforcement structures in developing best practices for enforcing the UCoC.
Wikimedia projects and affiliates, when possible, shall maintain pages outlining policies and enforcement mechanisms in line with the UCoC policy text. Projects and affiliates with existing guidelines or policies in contradiction to the UCoC policy text should discuss changes to conform with global community standards. Updating or creating new local policies should be done in a way that does not conflict with the UCoC. Projects and affiliates may request advisory opinions from the U4C about potential new policies or guidelines.
An action taken by an individual advanced rights holder will be appealable to a local or shared enforcement structure other than the U4C. If no such enforcement structure exists, then an appeal to the U4C can be permissible. Aside from this arrangement, local communities may allow appeals to a different individual advanced rights holder.
Enforcement structures will set standards for accepting and considering appeals based on relevant contextual information and mitigating factors. These factors include, but are not limited to: verifiability of the accusations, the length and effect of the sanction, and whether there is a suspicion of abuse of power or other systemic issues, and the likelihood of further violations. The acceptance of an appeal is not guaranteed.
Appeals are not possible against certain decisions made by the Wikimedia Foundation Legal department. However, some Wikimedia Foundation office actions and decisions are reviewable by the Case Review Committee. The limitation, specifically on appeals from office actions and decisions, may not apply in some jurisdictions, if legal requirements differ.
Enforcement structures should seek informed perspectives on cases in order to establish a basis to grant or decline an appeal. Information should be handled sensitively, with care for the privacy of the people involved and the decision making process.
To achieve this goal, we recommend that enforcement structures should consider different factors when reviewing appeals. These may include, but not be limited to:
- The severity and harm caused by the violation
- Prior histories of violations
- Severity of sanctions being appealed
- Length of time since the violation
- Analysis of the violation in contact
- Suspicions of a possible abuse of power or other systemic issue
4. UCoC Coordinating Committee (U4C)
A new global committee called the Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee (U4C) will be formed. This committee will be a co-equal body with other high-level decision making bodies (e.g. ArbComs and AffCom). Its purpose is to serve as final recourse in the case of systemic failures by local groups to enforce the UCoC. The U4C’s membership shall be reflective of the global and diverse makeup of our global community.
4.1 Purpose and scope
The U4C monitors reports of UCoC breaches, and may conduct additional investigations and take actions where appropriate. The U4C will regularly monitor and assess the state of UCoC enforcement. It may suggest suitable changes to UCoC and the UCoC Enforcement Guidelines for the Wikimedia Foundation and the community to consider, but may not change either document on its own. When necessary, the U4C will assist the Wikimedia Foundation in handling cases.
- Handles complaints and appeals in the circumstances outlined in the Enforcement Guidelines
- Performs any investigations necessary to resolve said complaints and appeals
- Provide resources for communities on UCoC best practices, such as mandatory training material and other resources as needed
- Provides a final interpretation of the UCoC Enforcement Guidelines and the UCoC if the need arises, in collaboration with community members and enforcement structures
- Monitors and assesses the effectiveness of UCoC enforcement, and provides recommendations for improvement
The U4C will not take cases that do not primarily involve violations of the UCoC, or its enforcement. The U4C may delegate its final decision making authority except in instances of severe systemic issues. The U4C’s responsibilities are explained in the context of other enforcement structures in 3.1.2.
4.2 Selection, membership, and roles
Annual elections, organized by the global community, will select voting members. Candidates may be any community member who must also:
- Meet the Wikimedia Foundation's criteria for access to nonpublic personal data and confirm in their election statement they will fully comply with the criteria
- Not be currently sanctioned in any Wikimedia project or have an event ban
- Comply with the UCoC
- Meet any other eligibility requirements determined during the election process
In exceptional circumstances, the U4C may call interim elections, if it determines that resignations or inactivity have created an immediate need for additional members. Elections will be in a format similar to that of the regular annual elections.
Individual members of the U4C do not have to resign from other positions (eg. local sysop, member of ArbCom, event safety coordinator). However they may not participate in processing cases they have been directly involved in as a result of their other positions. Members of the U4C will sign the Access to Nonpublic Personal Data Policy to provide them access to nonpublic information. The U4C Building Committee should decide on appropriate terms for U4C members.
The U4C may form subcommittees or designate individuals for particular tasks or roles as appropriate.
The Wikimedia Foundation may appoint up to two non-voting members to the U4C and will provide support staff as desired and appropriate.
The U4C will decide on how often it will convene and on other operating procedures. The U4C may create or modify their procedures as long as it is within their scope. Whenever appropriate, the Committee should invite community feedback on intended changes prior to implementing them.
4.4 Policy and precedent
The U4C does not create new policy and may not amend or change the UCoC. The U4C instead applies and enforces the UCoC as defined by its scope.
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.
4.5 U4C Building Committee
Following ratification of the UCoC enforcement guidelines, the Wikimedia Foundation will facilitate a Building Committee to:
- Determine the procedures, policy, and use of precedent of the U4C
- Draft the remainder of the U4C process
- Designate any other logistics necessary to establish the U4C
- Help facilitate the initial election procedures for the U4C
The Building Committee shall consist of volunteer community members, affiliate staff or board members, and Wikimedia Foundation staff.
Members will be selected by the Vice President of Community Resilience and Sustainability of the Wikimedia Foundation. Volunteer members for the committee should be respected community members.
Members shall reflect the diverse perspectives of the movement’s enforcement processes with experience in things such as, but not limited to: policy drafting, involvement in and awareness of the application of existing rules and policies on Wikimedia projects, and participatory decision making. Its members shall reflect the diversity of the movement, such as but not limited to: languages spoken, gender, age, geography, and project type.
The work of the U4C Building Committee will be ratified either by the Global Council or by a community process similar to the ratification of this document. Following the establishment of the U4C through the work of this Building Committee, the Building Committee should dissolve.
- Administrator (sysop or admin)
- See definition on Meta-Wiki.
- Advanced rights holder
- user who holds administrative rights above typical editing permissions, and is generally elected through community processes or appointed by Arbitration Committees. This includes, as a non-exhaustive list: local sysops / administrators, functionaries, global sysops, stewards.
- Affiliations Committee or Affcom
- See definition on Meta-Wiki.
- Arbitration Committee or ArbCom
- group of trusted users who serve as the final decision making group for some disputes. Each ArbCom's scope is defined by its community. An ArbCom may serve more than one project (e.g. Wikinews and Wikivoyage) and/or more than one language. For the purposes of these guidelines, this includes the Code of Conduct Committee for Wikimedia Technical Spaces and administrative panels. See also the definition on Meta-Wiki.
- Binding verbs
- When drafting the Enforcement Guidelines, the drafting committee considered the words ‘create’, ‘develop’, ‘enforce’, ‘must’, ‘produce’, ‘shall’, and ‘will’ as binding. Compare this to recommendation verbs.
- Case Review Committee
- See definition on Meta-Wiki.
- Refers to a project’s community. Decisions made by a project’s community are generally determined by consensus. See also: Project.
- Affecting or occurring on more than one project. See also: Global.
- Event safety coordinator
- a person designated by the organizers of an in-person Wikimedia-affiliated event as responsible for that event’s safety and security.
- Referring to all Wikimedia projects. In the Wikimedia movement, “global” is a jargon term referring to Movement-wide governing bodies. It generally is used to contrast against “local”.
- Global sysops
- See definition on Meta-Wiki.
- High-level decision making body
- A group (i.e. U4C, ArbCom, Affcom) beyond which there can be no appeal. Different issues may have different high-level decision making bodies. This term does not include a group of users participating in a discussion organized at a noticeboard and resulting in a decision, even if the results of that discussion cannot be appealed.
- Referring to a single Wikimedia project, affiliate, or organisation. This term usually refers to the smallest, most immediate governing body applicable to the situation.
- Generally refers to online spaces that are not hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, even if Wikimedia community members are present and actively using the space. Examples of off-wiki spaces include Twitter, Whatsapp, IRC, Telegram, Discord, and others.
- Personally identifiable information
- is any data that could potentially identify a specific individual. Any information that can be used to distinguish one person from another and can be used to deanonymize previously anonymous data is considered PII.
- Project (Wikimedia project)
- A wiki operated by the Wikimedia Foundation.
- Recommendation verbs
- When drafting the Enforcement Guidelines, the drafting committee considered the words ‘encourage’, ‘may’, ‘propose’, ‘recommend’, and ‘should’ as recommendations. Compare this to binding verbs.
- Related space hosted on third party platforms
- Websites, including private wikis, not operated by the Wikimedia Foundation but where users discuss project matters relevant to Wikimedia. Often moderated by Wikimedia volunteers.
- Employees of and/or staff members assigned to a Wikimedia movement organization or contractors of such a movement organization whose work requires interaction with Wikimedia community members or in Wikimedia movement spaces (including third-party spaces such as off-wiki platforms dedicated to Wikimedia movement activity).
- See definition on Meta-Wiki.
- Systemic issue or failure
- An issue for which there is a pattern of failing to follow the Universal Code of Conduct with participation of several people, particularly those with advanced rights.
- Wikimedia Foundation Office Action Policy
- The policy or its equivalent successor policy.