Wikipedia:Review Board

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The review board is a proposed panel of five experienced and trusted editors selected jointly by the community and the arbitration committee. Its functions are:

  • To provide a means for independent review and monitoring of checkuser and oversight access and use;
  • To investigate credible complaints related to the above.

Background to the creation of the board[edit]

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. 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.

Oversight is a tool that allows certain trusted users the ability to remove page revisions from the database. Unlike deletion, which can be performed and reversed by any administrator, oversight removes page revisions so that admins can neither see nor restore them. Its use is governed by the WMF's oversight policy, which allows the tool to be used for the removal of copyright violations; material that violates the privacy of an editor or another person; and material that is potentially libelous.

The oversight and checkuser tools are granted by the arbitration committee to a limited number of trusted users. The committee is currently responsible for investigating complaints about misuse of the tools. Because several checkusers and oversighters are members of the committee, this review board has been set up as an independent body to monitor the use of the tools, to issue guidance and make public reports where appropriate, and to issue recommendations for removal of the tools if necessary.

Review board[edit]

The review board is responsible for the following functions:

  1. Investigating allegations related to misuse of checkuser or oversight
  2. Monitoring checkuser and oversight compliance with the WMF's checkuser and oversight policies, which are reflected in the related policies of the English Wikipedia; see Wikipedia:Checkuser and Wikipedia:Oversight.

Members of the review board are granted the following rights:

  1. Use of the checkuser and oversight functions.
    • They are not permitted to use oversight themselves, nor to take any action as a result of any log entry, except for the purpose of forming their view in a case.
    • They are not permitted to use checkuser themselves, except for the purposes of auditing a checkuser's previous checks.
  2. Access to checkuser-l, oversight-l, and any other relevant official mailing lists, and to be shown all e-mail and chat correspondence that may shed light on a given matter, including from the mailing lists, logs, the arbcom wiki, and other dialogs;
  3. To obtain a full explanation on every matter investigated, or (where there are overriding reasons why this is not practical) confirmation from a WMF staff or board member that full disclosure has been made to them, together with a rough description of the information disclosed; and
  4. To consult with other users, and to report to the community or the appropriate Wikimedia Foundation staff member as required, without breaching privacy or other applicable Wikimedia Foundation policies.

Monitoring of checkuser and oversight[edit]

Review board members will regularly check the checkuser and oversight logs. They may investigate complaints as they see fit, or approach checkusers and oversighters on their own initiative with suggestions as to how to use the tools in compliance with best practice and with WMF policy, which is as follows:

  • The checkuser policy limits the use of the tool to preventing damage to the project, namely by fighting vandalism, checking for sockpuppet abuse, and limiting general disruption. There must be a valid reason for each check. The tool must not be used for political control, to place editors under pressure, or as a threat in a content dispute. Notification to the account that is checked is permitted, but is not mandatory.
  • The oversight policy allows the removal of non-public, personally identifying material; potentially libelous material, either on the advice of the WMF counsel, or when the subject has requested removal so long as the case is clear and there is no editorial reason to keep the revision; and removal of copyright violations on the advice of WMF counsel.

Cases[edit]

Complaints and audits[edit]

Any user may submit a complaint to the board either on-wiki or privately. The board will make a preliminary assessment, then decide by majority vote whether to proceed with an audit. The board may also begin an investigation on its own initiative.

During an audit, board members will investigate the circumstances of check or oversighting, check for problematic patterns, and assess the validity of outstanding complaints. The investigation may include a review of logs, reviewing of mailing list archives, and discussions with the audited user. During a checkuser investigation, board members may conduct an identical check to verify previous results.

Board members will recuse whenever there is a reasonable suspicion of a conflict of interest or that their neutrality may be compromised. Business by the board as a whole is handled through majority votes with a two-member quorum.

Reporting[edit]

The board will produce a written report at the conclusion of each audit. This report will provide feedback to audited users and will determine what, if any, problems exist, and how they should be addressed. Methods for addressing problems may include a polite statement, a formal reprimand, a Request for Comment, or a recommendation that the tools be removed. Any party criticized in a report shall be given reasonable opportunity to respond. These reports may be distributed privately or publicly, in full or in part, at the board's discretion. The arbitration committee will always receive a complete report.

Additionally, the board is expected periodically to produce general data on checkuser and oversight permission use.

Members[edit]

Selection[edit]

The community maintains a pool or short-list of suitable candidates who would be trusted by the community for the role. Candidates should be users in good standing who are not currently serving on the arbitration committee, or otherwise as checkusers or as oversighters. They must be at least 18 years of age, of legal age in their place of residence, and willing to provide identification to the WMF. Appointments are for a term of up to two years.

The selection process is to be left to the community; it could involve a nomination and discussion similar to RfB, periodic election, or to some other standard. The community is urged to set high standards and to select a short-list of around ten users, rather than lower standards and a larger list. Unselected nominations expire after six months and must thereafter be re-selected or reconfirmed.

If the community cannot choose a decision process by consensus for the first tranche of candidates, the arbitration committee will choose one. It will be left to the community to vary it in future.

The arbitration committee will select candidates from this short-list of users to fill vacant seats on the board. This selection will not necessarily follow any ranking the members received during the election.

Removal[edit]

Members of the board are bound by the WMF's privacy policy, the non-public data policy, and the checkuser and the oversight policies. They are also bound to maintain the privacy of arbitration committee discussions. Board members are expected to be diligent, respectful, and proper at all times.

Members of the board will be removed if:

  • They oversight material for any reason;
  • They use the checkuser tool for any reason except auditing a previous check;
  • They disclose private information, except as strictly required to render a decision or with the recorded permission of all parties;
  • The remaining members of the board vote unanimously to remove a member;
  • An arbitration case remedy removes members from the board.

Policy change[edit]

This policy comprises a delicate balance between the community, the arbitration committee, and the WMF and its policies. As with any other policy, it should be edited with caution.