P2P Foundation:Dispute Resolution

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Template:Policy Proposal Editor note: This is an important and large page and it was mostly borrowed from Wikipedia. This page is currently under heavy examination. If you hop in and simply delete red links your work will be reverted.


For the WikiProject on dispute resolution, see P2P Foundation:WikiProject Dispute Resolution. For easy access to filing dispute resolution requests, see P2P Foundation:Dispute resolution requests

Template:Procedural policy Template:Nutshell Template:Dispute-resolution

This policy describes what to do when you have a dispute with another editor. See P2P Foundation:Wikiquette and the essay Staying cool when the editing gets hot for more tips. Also please remember that P2P Foundation is not about winning.

For easy and direct access to dispute resolution requests, along with concise and accurate summaries of their respective guidelines, use P2P Foundation:Dispute resolution requests (WP:DRR). Note also that the "dispute resolution" sidebar (right) has direct links to filing requests for many of the dispute resolution levels, but requesting dispute resolution involves different guidelines and application processes for each level, and WP:DRR can familiarize you with each of them.

For dispute resolution involving edits by an Open-source Ticket Request System ("OTRS") volunteer, see our policy page on the volunteer response team.

Avoiding disputes

Template:Shortcut A variety of positive methods exist for helping to positively resolve disputes, before using formal processes or third-party intervention.

Focus on content

Template:Shortcut Template:See The most important first step is to focus on content, and not on editors. P2P Foundation is built upon the principle of collaboration and assuming that the efforts of others are in good faith is important to any community.

When you find a passage in an article that you find is biased or inaccurate, improve it if you can. If that is not easily possible, and you disagree with a point of view expressed in an article, don't just delete it. Rather, balance it with what you think is neutral. Note that unreferenced text may be tagged or removed because of our policy on Verifiability.

Always explain your changes in the edit summary to help other editors understand the reasoning behind them. If an edit is potentially contentious, explain why you made the change and how it improves the article. If your reasoning is complex, add a section to the talk page of the article to explain it and refer to that section in the edit summary. If your edit gets reverted, you can discuss the reversion with other editors on the talk page.

In summary: Don't take others' actions personally. Explain to them what you're doing, and always be prepared to change your mind.

Stay cool

Template:Policy shortcut Most situations are not urgent. Please give both yourself and the other party some time. Often it helps to just take a deep breath and sleep on it. Don't worry! You can always fix the problem later. (You can go back to the page history of an article at any time, to find the version of the article that you last worked on, and compare that to the current version to see whether there are still things that you'd like put in or taken out.)

Take a long term view. In due course you will probably be able to return and carry on editing it, when the previous problems no longer exist and the editor you were in dispute with might themselves move on. In the meantime the disputed article will evolve, other editors may become interested and they will have different perspectives if the issue comes up again.

This is particularly helpful when disputing with new users as it gives them a chance to familiarize themselves with P2P Foundation's policy and culture. Focus your contributions on another article where you can make constructive progress.

Discuss with the other party

File:Graham's Hierarchy of Disagreement.svg
Stay in the top three sections of this pyramid.

Template:See When discussing an issue, remember to stay cool. If you encounter rude or inappropriate behavior, don't respond likewise. Take the other editor's perspective into account. Assume that an editor is acting in good faith until it's absolutely clear that they're not. It's at that point where you should consider dispute resolution processes that involve third parties.

Talking to other parties is not a formality; it's an imperative to the smooth running of any community. Not discussing will make people less sympathetic to your position and may prevent you from effectively using later stages in dispute resolution. In contrast, sustained discussion and serious negotiation between the parties, even if not immediately (or even remotely) successful, shows that you are trying to find a solution.

Also consider negotiating a truce or compromise. This is also important if you intend to solicit outside opinions because it allows others to consider the issue fairly without the confusion of constant ongoing edits.

Resolving disputes

Template:See If the previous steps fail to resolve the dispute, try one of the following methods. Which ones you choose and in what order depends on the nature of the dispute and the preferences of people involved.

Sensitive and privacy-related issues

Template:See also

A small number of disputes involve sensitive or non-public information. These include issues where an Arbitrator, Checkuser or Oversighter has stated a privacy issue exists in the case, and disputes where there is a concern of a sensitive or private nature. Examples:

  • Non-public details - Issues where details and evidence are not accessible to all participants or to the community as a whole. This can also happen due to copyright or privacy reasons, BLP, or when the material is on an unsuitable external link;
  • "Outing" concerns - When discussion may in effect mean "outing", for example if there is a concern that a user is editing with a secret conflict of interest and the evidence would tend to identify them;
  • Serious matters - The issue involves legal concerns, harassment, or allegations that are very serious or perhaps defamatory;
  • Advice on divisive and sensitive issues - The issue may potentially be very divisive and advice is needed on how best to handle it. (sock-puppetry by an administrator is one example)

Disputes or issues of this kind should usually be referred to the functionaries mailing list or Arbitration Committee. In some cases it may be possible to seek advice from an uninvolved trusted administrator by IRC, email or other private means.

Actions tagged as CheckUser, Oversight, or OTRS

These should not be reverted without careful checking beforehand. The presumption is that they have a good reason, and those aware of the reason may need time to recheck, consult, and respond. Sometimes the relevant talk page or other wiki pages will have more details and these are always a good first place to check. Such actions, if disputed, should initially be raised (by email if necessary) with the agent or functionary concerned. If they cannot be resolved in this manner, then after a reasonable time they may need to be referred for review to Arbcom or the functionaries mailing list (for CheckUser and Oversighter).

Ultimately, all English P2P Foundation-based actions are open to the scrutiny of the Arbitration Committee, as the final stage of dispute resolution on the English P2P Foundation, and as the body ultimately responsible for non-public information and privacy related issues on the wiki.

Editor assistance

Editor assistance helps editors find someone experienced to provide you one-on-one advice and feedback. While not a required part of dispute resolution, it is designed to help you understand how to clearly and civilly express your views and work toward consensus. You may request an assistant's help at any time, whether you're involved in dispute resolution or not. Assistants can also help you find the best way to resolve your dispute or issue.

Ask for a third opinion

If you need neutral outside opinions in a dispute involving only two editors, turn to P2P Foundation:Third opinion.

Ask about the subject

Ask at a subject-specific P2P Foundation:WikiProject talk page. Usually, such projects are listed on top of the article talk page.

Ask about a policy

Ask at a policy talk page relevant to the issue.

Ask for help at a relevant noticeboard

Template:Policy shortcut If your dispute is related to one of the following topics, you may wish to post about it in one of these locations, to get the opinions of other editors familiar with similar disputes:

For incivility

Turn to P2P Foundation:Wikiquette alerts for problems with uncivil editors. First, however, consider ignoring it – you can often get much more accomplished by rising above uncivil comments, and staying focussed on the task at hand.

Request a comment

Turn to P2P Foundation:Requests for comment, the main avenue for disputes about user conduct. While Request for Comment can be used for disputes about user conduct, you can also request comments on articles, templates, categories, policies and guidelines. Requests for Comment about user conduct require that at least two users have tried but failed to resolve the problem by contacting the user on the user's Talk page.

Informal mediation

If things are getting a bit tricky, it might be useful to ask some cool heads to look in and help out. Sometimes editors who provide third opinions or respond to requests for comments may be willing to help mediate a dispute, if it is requested. The Mediation Cabal also assists in settling disputes without turning to formal mediation, and is a good place to learn dispute resolution techniques.

Formal mediation

Request formal mediation of the dispute from the Mediation Committee. Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral person works with the parties to a dispute. The mediator helps guide the parties into reaching an agreement that can be acceptable to everyone. When requesting formal mediation, be prepared to show that you tried to resolve the dispute using the steps listed above, and that all parties to the dispute are in agreement to mediate. Mediation cannot take place if all parties are not willing to take part. Mediation is only for disputes about Article Content, not for complaints about user conduct.

Conduct a survey

If consensus is difficult to gauge from discussion alone, consider conducting a survey of opinion to clarify the issues in the discussion. Note that a survey cannot generate consensus, but is helpful for understanding it. Similarly, if you believe that users are ignoring a consensus, a survey cannot force those users to accept your proposed consensus – although a survey might assist users in understanding the balance of opinions and reasons for those opinions on a given dispute, it can also easily degenerate into an argument over whether a particular survey is fairly constructed or representative. See P2P Foundation:Polling is not a substitute for discussion for reasons why discussion is necessary and superior to voting.

If the situation is urgent

If a user's conduct needs other urgent attention from an administrator, report it to the Administrators' Noticeboard. The Administrators' Noticeboard is not the place to raise disputes over content, or reports of abusive behaviour. Administrators are not referees, and have limited authority to deal with abusive editors.

Last resort: Arbitration

Template:See Template:See also If you have taken all other reasonable steps to resolve the dispute, and the dispute is not over the content of an article, you can request Arbitration. Be prepared to show that you tried to resolve the dispute by other means. Arbitration differs from Mediation in that the Arbitration Committee will consider the case and issue a decision, instead of merely assisting the parties in reaching an agreement. If the issue is decided by Arbitration, you will be expected to abide by the result. If the case involves serious user misconduct, Arbitration may result in a number of serious consequences up to totally banning someone from editing, as laid out in the Arbitration policy. Note that Arbitration is normally for disputes about user conduct, while Mediation is normally for disputes about article content.

Words of caution

Dispute resolution is sometimes used by editors to try to the system|game the system. This generally backfires badly. Remember that dispute resolution mechanisms are ultimately there to enable editors to collaboratively write an encyclopedia – not to win personal or political battles.

See also

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  1. Some of the text below was derived from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Dispute_resolution under CCBYSA3.0