Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Audit

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Blue check.svg This page is a guide detailing an Arbitration Committee process on the English Wikipedia. Please see the Arbitration Policy and the Arbitration Committee's Procedures for authoritative information. This page is maintained by members of the Arbitration Committee and their Clerks. Editing requires considerable forethought and usually (for major changes) arbitrator agreement.
To submit a complaint, please go to the #Procedure section.

The Arbitration Committee investigates complaints about the misuse or abuse of the advanced permissions CheckUser and Oversight (suppression). To file a complaint, please e-mail the mailing list on the address specified below.

These complaints were previously heard by the Audit Subcommittee, which was disbanded by motion on January 14, 2016.

Purpose[edit]

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. These complaints are now addressed by the Arbitration Committee.

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 committee'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 committee is only concerned with the use of suppression on the English Wikipedia (see list of oversighters).

Procedure[edit]

To submit a complaint or query to the Arbitration Committee, please send an e-mail (arbcom-en@wikimedia.org)

  • 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 committee.
    • Please write to us again if you do not receive a hand-written acknowledgement from a member of the committee (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 committee's protocol for hearing complaints.
The procedure for handling complaints related to CheckUser or Oversight use, from Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Procedures#Auditing:
  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 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 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.

See also[edit]

Reports of those investigations that were publicly reported, and anonymised summaries of all the subcommittee's cases from before the Audit Subcommittee was disbanded in 2016, are retained at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Audit Subcommittee/Reports.

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

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