Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/June 2008 announcements/Appeals Review List

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Following a June announcement by the Arbitration Committee, a new Appeals Review Committee (or List, or Panel - styling to be decided) is created, subordinate to and supervized by the Arbitration Committee.

The remit of the committee/list is to assist the Arbitration Committee in carrying out its role as "route of last resort" for users who are appealing a ban, users who were banned and wish to return, and allegations of misconduct by administrators ("admin abuse") which are also not infrequent in terms of appeals.

The styling (whether as a committee, list, panel, group, or the like) and a number of process-related matters will be finalized shortly.

Summary

One of the Arbitration Committee's main functions is its role as "venue of last appeal" for ban appeals and admin abuse claims. As the community has grown, these have become a major task that need handling in a way that scales better. Provided the key aims of the current system are retained, for the most part, these reviews can readily be done by experienced, uninvolved, and seasoned administrators.

It is proposed to offload the majority of the work in this area to a delegated Appeals Review List (or Panel, or Committee), answerable to and directly working alongside the Arbitration Committee.

Potential issues considered:

  • Appeals may need information from arbitrators or checkusers, that are private within the meaning of Wikimedia Foundation privacy policy, or not private but slightly sensitive. They may also need insight or comment Arbitrators and ex-Arbitrators who dealt with those involved. When needed, these will be given in a redacted form that does not breach privacy policy. The position has an above average level of trust, due to the nature of its work, but most cases do not involve significant pivacy information.
  • The Arbitration Committee may want to (or be asked to) handle some matters ourselves, where significant privacy, sensitivity, controversy, or other matters we are looking into make this appropriate.
  • It should not create another "layer" (that gets appealed to the Arbitration Committee anyway).
  • The work of the committee/list should not obviate the responsibility of the Arbitration Committee as decision-making body. It is intended to give better handling and responsiveness, by providing assistance in a similar manner as Arbitration Committee Clerks, and not to remove responsibility.

One way or another, these need a larger team handling them. Bans and appeals are serious to the community and to the users concerned and need improved speedy handling. The aim of this decision is that ban and "bad admin" review handling can be scaled easily, and in the vast majority of cases better handled this way. Arbcom maintains its close supervisory role by being on the list and able to watch their discussions and comment, by responding to requests for help if asked, and by being the decision-makers if ARC's view is endorsed.

Overview of structure

The Appeals Review List (ARC) is delegated by and answerable to Arbcom. Its role is to handle all ban appeals, all "blocked by unfair admin" appeals, and all routine admin abuse appeals, which are sent to the Arbitration Committee, except for cases Arbcom specifically decide or agree (see below) to take over. The list's deliberations are then considered one final time by the Arbitration Committee, who will decide to accept them, or at times may modify them.

All arbcom-l members will sit on ARC-l automatically (ex-arbitrators often have better knowledge of some bans that go back a year or more, for example). Their role is:

  1. General input:
    Provide input, knowledge, and arbitration committee based experience, where useful.
  2. Summarize arb-l/private information:
    If there has been previous arb-l discussion, or checkuser fidnings, these would be private in many cases and most committee/list members will not have access to CheckUser. But arbitrators can sum up what we know in most cases for them, or (in exceptional cases where we can't) we can take back the case from them if it needs arbcom alone to handle it.
  3. Final decisions:
    To decide if they accept the findings and decision of ARC in a case; or else, if the case should be taken back to Arbcom if it's one that really must be considered by arbitrators.

The ARC will not review a matter recently decided by Arbcom. Its role is to assist in the review of cases where Arbcom would open a case now, rather than creating some new layer of bureaucracy. This may involve reviewing the case and any basis of appeal, examining the background for the appeal, and verifying whether in fact the user was fairly treated in accordance with reasonable good practice.

As with present handling, there will be a presumption that the community's decision on bans, and decisions of its administrators, are broadly likely to be of good quality unless actually shown flawed or substandard, in which case the emphasis will be on drawing attention to it, and dialog with the appealing and blocking users to discuss any concerns. Appeal therefore focusses upon whether a reasonable result was obtained, or whether significant factors were ignored or marginalized. If more serious matters come to light, then the Arbitration Committee will be aware.

Requesting traditional handling

An appellant who contacts the Arbitration Committee showing genuine reason, may ask that the Committee hear the case themselves. This may be relevant, for instance, when there are private or sensitive issues to be raised, or when one of the parties on the list is involved to a point that we agree it may affect how neutrality is perceived. The decision is at the Committee's discretion.

Small print

It should be clarified that this is not "another level of appeal". ARC is doing the research, review and case management of bans and appeals, and case review for and on behalf of Arbcom. The final decision though, is in each case by the Arbitration Committee - to either endorse and enact their decision, or discuss the conclusion and workings, or take over the case if deemed better. In this sense, appeal handling is a delegated role, to help the flow of cases and ensure better service to users and less dispute over certain blocks, and which Arbcom supervises by access to the list, ad hoc input as needed, and enacting the decisions if the decision is agreed.

This approach also gives banned users and complainants a faster response and probably, better case management, which is just, and may well cut down on stress too, and it is far more easily scalable if needed.

It should also be noted that ARC is a direct extension and responsibility of the Arbitration Committee, being a group of users who work alongside and supervized by the Committee on one of its tasks.

Process provisions such as size, appointment, removal, term duration, creation of a list, and the like, are to be finalized. It is likely that ad-hoc requests to join, subject to some kind of consensus or approval, will be possible - the list will be more "permeable" in that sense. Initially, any reasonably experienced administrators (needs access to deleted material) with competence at dispute resolution are asked to email their username and brief information, to the Committee - see below. If the proposal at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/June 2008 announcements/Activation of view-deleted-pages is adopted by the community, then it is anticipated that seasoned non-administrators in good standing would be eligible to apply as well.

This will allow almost all ban and "admin abuse" cases to be streamlined. It is also immediately scalable, as a large number of administrators could do this role. For serious cases, or cases where much of the evidence is private, it allows the Arbitration Committee to take the case back or to determine a view on it, thus avoiding handicapping the Committee if it needs to run the case. Even if Arbcom do take a case on, ARC can still be assist with any non-contentious and non-private aspects in a collaborative manner. Finally (indirect bonus) it may be seen as more neutral and a slight beneficial de-centralization of role, in certain cases, as essentially a case may be heard by two groups that do not have the same profile.

Nominations and commencement

The initial members of ARC will be appointed directly by the Arbitrators, based upon inquiries by interested users, to kick-start the list going. Beyond that, an 'ad hoc' basis by request is likely, not dissimilar to other lists and committees where an element of skill and discretion is needed (eg, the Mediation Committee, the unblock-en list, etc). Any user who is interested in being considered for the shortlist please email us. Please do not suggest others (although you may wish to make them aware), and please do not advertise nominations on the wiki.

Rough criteria include (but are not limited to) - trust and ethos, discretion and judgement, communal standing, experience with disputes and non-trivial disruption cases (especially backed by experience at ANI / AE / RFAR / unblock-l where cases like this are common), ability to both make decisions and to discuss, willingness to examine own conclusions critically, existing/likely future workload, wiki experience, and approach to analyzing data with care.


Process - Administrators who are interested should email their account names, and any summary they wish to provide on or before midnight Wednesday July 2 (6 days), to be sure of being considered. To avoid 'spamming' the arbcom mailing list, please send emails to ex-Arbitrator Theresa knott (email) who will forward them intact to the Committee. As with today's other appointments announced, a shortlist will be posted and opportunity provided to submit comments of a factual nature which users are prepared to discuss with Arbitrators if necessary. Interested users are requested to submit their names by email only in order to avoid querulous wikidrama.

FT2 (Talk | email) 14:29, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

For and on behalf of the Arbitration Committee