IRC office hours/Office hours 2021-10-14

The Community Resilience & Sustainability (CR&S) team at the Wikimedia Foundation hosted a conversation meeting (‘previously called ‘Office Hour’) on 2021-10-14, led by its Vice President Maggie Dennis. Topics within scope for this call included Movement Strategy coordination, Board Governance, Trust and Safety (and the Universal Code of Conduct), Community Development, and Human Rights. As anticipated there was interest in the September statement.

Details edit

This call was streamed and available on-demand at YouTube.

We hosted this office hour on Zoom, taking questions from Telegram and YouTube, as well as collecting them in advance over email at answers (with "Question for Maggie" in the subject line).

We took notes to go alongside the video recording, fielding questions from Wikimedians in good standing (that is, not Foundation or community banned), and have followed up with questions we couldn't get to during the meeting in writing after the call.

Topics edit

Maggie Dennis, Vice President of Community Resilience & Sustainability, a division of the Legal Department at the Wikimedia Foundation, hosted the office hour. Maggie oversees the functions of Community Development, Trust & Safety Policy, Trust & Safety Operations, Human Rights protection, and Movement Strategy. We anticipate there may be interest in the September statement.

As in previous calls, there is an important note from Maggie:

  • I can't and won't discuss specific Trust & Safety cases. Instead, I can discuss Trust & Safety protocols and practices and approaches as well as some of the mistakes we've made, some of the things I'm proud of, and some of the things we're hoping to do.
  • I will not respond to comments or questions that are disrespectful to me, to my colleagues, or to anyone in our communities. I can talk civilly about our work even if you disagree with me or I disagree with you. I won't compromise on this.

Notes edit

Live questions edit

  1. Can WMF publish some evidence of violation for all globally locked users?
    • No. We are limited in what we can say about globally banned users for legal reasons. We have been provided advice by external counsel that we need to be extremely strict, regarding information we post publicly on that.
  2. With respect to the office action on Chinese Wikimedians, knowing that there are limits to what you can share, can you explain what led to the decision, including what the trigger point was, why it was done now (rather than earlier or later), and why the situation couldn’t have been handled by the community? We’re also interested in hearing about these same things with respect to the office action on the Russian Wikimedian.
    • With respect to how we find ourselves here:

      As many of you may already be aware, Trust and Safety receives many concerns from users around the world about conflicts that they have within their communities. It is the team's practice, when most cases come in, to send people back to community processes, as their situations that communities are well equipped to handle. Sometimes, cases can rise to the level where the Foundation feels the need to get involved, often because the issues are extreme enough on the Terms of Use side that the Foundation is required to take action. This could be because it is unsafe for community members to take action themselves, or because the situation has become complex enough that a community may not have the capacity to handle it. When these situations occur, the challenge is to review the concerns and to determine at what point it has reached a level that the Foundation needs to get involved.

      With respect to the Chinese case, we as well as some in the community undoubtedly have also been hearing concerns for years about conflicts. Conflicts are normal in our communities, and disputes about what is accurate information are always going to be hard. It is not unusual for people to lose their temper with each other, (sometimes people speak in ways that I myself wish they wouldn't). But when these conflicts cross a line regarding physical safety may be in threat, or when core community policies may be overwhelmed, the Foundation feels a need to step in.

      As to why now, not sooner or later? There are basically two factors. First, the in-depth investigation into these concerns lasted for about a year. And the case reached a point where sufficient enough evidence had been assembled for the team to put together a recommendation for lawyers to review what seemed to be the correct course of action. It took a considerable amount of time to assemble the content, get it translated, and to make sure that everything was understood to the best of our ability. At the time where a determination is made that, for the sake of safety of others, action needs to happen, we have to act. For myself, I felt like every day we delay, once we know that people are in danger, is a day that we are morally responsible for people being in that danger. So, the instigation was we knew people were not safe. And once we knew that, and we knew what we could do about it, it was time for us to act.

      As to why the community couldn’t deal with itself:

      There are some situations that community members can deal with, some that they hopefully will be able to deal with as we build better and safer systems, and, finally, some that are not safe for them to deal with in any shape or form. In terms of the Chinese community, the evidence that we looked at showed that some of the people who have attempted to deal with this at the community level have faced retaliation and have been put in danger because of their efforts to get involved, and asking people to put their safety on the line to work out a community problem, I believe is irresponsible for the Foundation. I believe we have a responsibility to help. In such cases, we stepped up.

      This question was also with regards to a Russian action. There have been two actions that have impacted Russian users in the last month, but I assume we're talking about the most recent one, with respect to Wikinews. I have to be more careful about that because, as I mentioned at the top of the call, for legal reasons we don't talk about global bans. I was able to come out and say a whole lot more about the situation in China because it involved a lot of people, so I am not accusing a single individual of doing a single thing. We're talking about a pattern of behavior that involves different people in different ways. When it comes to the Russian Wikinews situation, that is not the case. But I will say, because the Trust and Safety Office team have already revealed it, that this investigation began in July, it was brought to us by three different people, including one Russian community member. We evaluated to determine whether or not there was a threat to the safety of the users or the integrity of the software system. And the concluding recommendation was that we could not allow a risk to continue. It was submitted to our lawyers to review and our lawyers agreed, and thus we acted, and once again, we acted when the investigation was complete in order to prevent any future risk of harm.

  3. After the Office Action of September 2021, some users permanently left Wikimedia Projects like Wikipedia. What does WMF think about this?
    • I speak for myself personally but also as a Foundation executive, but not on behalf of all the Foundation executives. It is terrible when people leave the projects for any reason other than that they have contributed all they want to, including when they feel driven away by other users or because they don't trust the Foundation. I wish there were better ways to avoid that.
  4. What are the short to medium term practical initiatives to minimize or avoid toxic communication and conflict? What are the short-to-medium term practice initiatives to encourage the cordial exchange of ideas and create a healthy or cooperative community while keeping the communities independent?
    • In the most immediate, as many of you are aware, we are working on figuring out a universal code of conduct that can help guide people in how to behave, how to treat each other, and what they can expect in terms of how others treat them. We are also working towards how to enforce that, in ways to hopefully include a ton of community initiative, and a ton of ownership at the local level. I myself am not guiding the enforcement pathways, and I'm not personally involved in that workflow although I'm keeping an eye on it at a high level. I think that for us to be fully successful in the long run, we have to have ways to help people as they work on the projects. I think that one of the big pain points I've seen as a Wikipedian myself ('m a volunteer as well as a staff member, although not very active these days) is that we need to help people learn how to handle conflict before it gets too far, that we have lost good people who could have been able to work more collegially and civilly with others if they had been given more support in handling problems before they became crises (If there were better practices, encouraging them to take the right tone).

      The problems in our communities can be very hard, and it is a lot to expect that everybody who comes to participate is going to know how to resolve hard problems without getting angry or saying things that they regret.

      I hope that over the next couple years, either through the enforcement or through follow up to the enforcement pathway, mentorship and mediation becomes an increasing focus for the movement.

  5. The purpose for the Office to take the series of actions is to avoid "community capture". However, I have personal reasons to know that, besides the WMC, there are other people who would like to control the Chinese Wikipedia and use it as a propaganda platform...for instance, for anti Chinese government propaganda. With the removal of one group, what is the Foundation’s plan to ensure that other groups don’t take advantage of the opportunity to bias content in another direction?
    • Well, it's not a surprise to me that the Chinese language projects have more people who are interested in content saying what's advantageous to them than for WMC. (I'm sorry that that makes it sound like I think everybody who has taken part in the WMC is problematic. I do not.) I think in some ways the fact that there are different opinions on the community of projects is part of the design, and it's healthy, that people come with different perspectives and work together to figure out what accurate information is. In terms of the potential for a power vacuum that with the removal of one group, other groups may influence in another direction: I hope that members of the Chinese community who remain active in the project will feel safe, helping us to see as problems evolve that need our support. My goal would be that we would be able to offer that support before we reach a point where that support comes in the form of banning people, and that instead, we might be able to help come up with new processes, new approaches. I also know I'm pinning a lot of hope on the universal code of conduct. I have always dreamed that someday we would have a body of volunteers from across wikis who can help when crises and individual projects go beyond the ability of local communities to support. We've depended a lot on the stewards for that, and I've heard from some of the stewards that this is not a role they think they should serve. And I really hope that we will be able to work together to create a better system of supporting people across projects. In the meantime, I invite people to reach out to the Trust and Safety team. They, in addition to doing office actions, have a disinformation team now who are supposed to work with community members to identify problems and we are still figuring out how best to support you with that.
  6. How will the implementation of the UCOC on Chinese and Croatian Wikipedia differ from most language versions of Wikipedia? The "right to be heard" seems to be missing from the UCoC enforcement guidelines so far.
    • UCoC is meant to be universal, and customization on a local level is meant to use it as a base. It is possible for the community to add more elements to that. Implementation will probably not be as customizable, but we are still finding that out. No definitive answer for that. Enforcement pathways need to make sense.

      With respect to the universal code of conduct, and the right to defend themselves, I'm not in charge of what the enforcement guidelines are going to look like. We have a drafting committee who are working on that with input from communities. There will be a ratification process, I don't know yet what that will be, but once the ratification process has been completed, we will be trying it. Whether there's a right to defense that's included or not, what that looks like I don't know.

      I'm going to expand a little bit on this right to be heard to talk about how it works with Trust and Safety Office actions, because I'm sure that is also a matter of concern. When Trust and Safety began its office actions, they were strictly limited to what I'm going to call the worst of the worst cases. They were, by and large, people who violated our Terms of Use in such a way that they could not, for, for reasons of liability be permitted to continue on the projects. We do not need to ask to hear from such people. We do not communicate with them in the same way that we do with trusted community members. Over time, as with any process, things started to get a little less clear. People would reach out to us that were not (what I would call) bright line cases, and that is what we created our own appeals committee for. We are still trying to make sure that we do the right balance of hearing from the people who are involved, and responding to them. There are some limitations, and some of those limitations have to do with the limitations that Trust and Safety has. The Trust and Safety team has a limited toolkit. When Trust and Safety gets involved there are only a few actions that can be taken because the community has so far stated a strong preference that we not step into some of the lesser sanctions. They can warn a user, they can ban them from events, or they can ban them entirely. Because of this, we currently do not have a protocol that allows us to say, you're a great Wikimedian, but you won't stop harassing people. Therefore, we would appreciate it if you would not do activities on this project, or wherever they're having problems. Currently, we don't have that ability. So within the tools we have, we try to work with people safely to understand their side, to understand the safety of others, and to consider what the best response is to ultimately keep our people and our platform safe. It's a balance that we're still working to get right, particularly as we transition, and sometimes the line between borderline and bright line also gets a little soft where something is almost over the borderline, and then it gets tipped over by something worse.

  7. At present, the Case Review Committee cannot review some cases which are those conducted because of statutory, regulatory, employment, or legal policies as defined by Wikimedia Foundation attorneys. Does this put the Wikimedia Foundation in the power of being judge and jury? Is it possible to allow a community body, like the Case Review Committee, to review all cases?
    • WMF looks like a single entity for some people, but not for me. I don't see it that way because I'm inside of it. So I see some of the distinctions.

      For example, I know that Trust and Safety actually doesn't have the power to impose sanctions. Trust and Safety makes recommendations, they make these recommendations to lawyers who come in after the fact, read the cases and make a determination, and when the lawyers who make this determination, they make a recommendation to the executive staff. In many cases, we've recently modified some of our policies so that the brightest of bright line cases, cases that are clearly statutory like death threats or child pornography, that doesn't have to go to executive review, there's no reason for that. We are particularly interested in making sure that we hold ourselves firmly to account on cases that do impact community members, particularly long term and who may otherwise be in good standing. Is the foundation in the power of being judge and jury despite that collectively. Yes, in some cases the Foundation has a legal responsibility to uphold its terms of use and where statutory, regulatory employment or legal policies are involved, the foundation's attorneys have said that it is not possible to share all of these with the case review committee for legal and liability reasons. Again, we consulted with an external firm to help us determine how to talk about some of these cases, in a way that protects movement resources. But I will say that we have to continue to figure out the best way to allow review, and it is very possible that we may in the future, be able to create a system where there is a more routine review. We are also trying not to overwhelm community volunteers. When we created the case review committee, I was scared that they were going to be reviewing cases every 10 minutes, and we were going to be taking these volunteers out of their regular workflows. It hasn't turned out that way. So, we see that at the very least right now, they probably have a good bit more capacity than we thought they would. It is possible that someday we may have a committee advisory group, who routinely reviews and monitors everything that is not statutory, regulatory, employment or legally mandatory.

  8. I would like to know how you investigate cases in the Wikimedia Community in non-English languages for which you have nobody on staff speaking that language?
    • We have the ability to work across teams. Movement strategy and governance has currently built up a pretty robust language support group. Trust and Safety also has a fairly robust language support group. Butith over 300 languages in our system, we're nowhere near having all the languages. So it varies, it varies by the complexity of the case. There are times we use professional translation. There are times we use other staff from outside of the community resilience and sustainability team. We have a list of who speaks what language that people volunteer themselves for, and sometimes we can get support from them. There have been times when we have used trusted community groups to support, particularly community groups that have non-disclosure agreements, who can be relied upon to protect the privacy of all individuals involved.
  9. The UCoC Draft guidelines propose that more Arbitration Committees should be created in the movement. Does every project need an ArbCom?
    • Well, okay, my opinion, no, at least not immediately. The amount of bureaucracy any project supports should depend on the capacity of that project to support it, and the necessity of it.

      Smaller projects may be able to handle these issues in a much more informal way or we may have some sort of general International Arbitration Committee that can stand to support groups that don't have their own. So I don't know, and I don't believe that every project needs an ArbCom but other people may feel differently. And I would perhaps say to them, maybe the question is, when do they need it? At what stage in their development?

  10. The Draft Guidelines for enforcement still have a lot of open questions. How can the communities see and discuss what the Drafting Committee is developing as they make their revisions?
    • The modifications are ongoing, and the drafting committee will be coming together to work on their revisions, I think, within the next couple of days. And that work will be happening in public. There will be revisions happening as they go, as I understand it, and I would encourage people to keep an eye on it, stay engaged.
  11. On the action and investigation taken against some Chinese Wikipedia users, has the WMF been able to rule out the possibility that any of the problematic WMC users were linked to the Chinese government?"
    • No. It was not the investigation's focus to rule it out. It’s hard to do it. What really matters is how they behave against other users on the projects.
  12. The Movement Charter Candidates Election have started, but with a lot of mistakes. 8 users had to revote for example. It seems that a lot of time pressure may have been the cause. Is this true? Either way, how can we avoid this in the future?
    • [Quim answers] MCDC elections were meant to start on Monday, but we hit a problem. We had to restart it on Tuesday. Before we were able to take it offline, people had voted, and we had to scratch those votes. We have contacted those to revote, 5 already did it. Could this have been prevented in the future? Technical details are available, but a combination of project management and technical skills. We use SecurePoll, which is a very fragile system. Its experts suggest the most hands-off approach possible (ie not doing changes). To avoid this was to don't start anything big on Monday that would necessitate people working on Sunday and to avoid a WMF holiday (Monday was US staff holiday). Time zone is also an issue. Other parts: we want to do our best. Even if the process is already clear since July. The AoE suggestion did not work on SecurePoll. WMF staff participation is also a factor; we did not anticipate that it pressures communities from where they came from, but this also necessitates removing them from the candidates pool. A candidate swap also happened. Combined with SecurePoll fragility, it was a ticking problem. We reacted quickly and only had to strike eight votes from the record and introduce a 24-hour delay.
  13. The current CheckUser procedure on Chinese Wikipedia is complicated and not conducive to sockpuppet investigation. Can checkuser access be restored to those users from whom it was removed in April 2018?
    • I talked to the Trust and Safety team about this, and my understanding is that, with the recent policy change CheckUsers can once again become operational on Chinese Wikipedia, as long as they are eligible to sign the NDA. This means there needs to be a reasonable expectation that they can't be easily identified, and exploited. I don't know all the CheckUsers from him that permission was removed in 2018, but what I do know is, after three years, they would need to go through a community selection process again, just to ensure that the community continues to have trust in them. It's an important role. It's a role with access to a lot of data, and it would be important to understand if the community still thinks that they're good candidates for that role.
  14. What does Trust & Safety feel is the right approach to take when they are reviewing a complaint where a person has violated the Terms of Use but their actions were at least partly in response to situations beyond their control? For example, in one recent T&S case it’s well known that the individual caused repeated server issues trying to work outside the known technical limitations that were preventing important work being done. They had requested a solution to the technical issue before, but a solution was not produced.
    • In the example, it sounds like a legitimate frustration. Trust and Safety, as part of their practice, tries to consider the context in which everything happens. As I mentioned earlier, the work we do here is hard, and hard work sometimes causes people to react badly in a given moment. I myself have certainly done things I'm not proud of, when I'm frustrated or upset when things go wrong.

      We try to ensure that the Foundation respects that people are not always perfect and don't always make the best choices. If a person's response to frustration goes so far beyond the realm of what can be permitted on the site, we may still have to take action. So, causing widespread technical issues, server issues, maybe, depending on why and how it happened, enough of an issue that we are required to act, threatening people harming other people there are, basically, we can all react badly, but there's a question about how badly we react. Hopefully in the future... As I mentioned, I think eventually we need some systems that will allow people to learn better conflict resolution skills, and hopefully in the future as we get there we can help people learn how to deal with these frustrating situations in a way that is productive and doesn't get themselves or others into trouble.

  15. Regarding NDA policy change, is any plan or proposal of the long-term solution to mitigate the security threat?
    • For context, the "NDA" (officially the confidentiality agreement for access to nonpublic information) allows people to access personally identifiable information.

      For example, CheckUsers need to sign this to see the IP addresses of users. A recent change was made to refuse NDA signatures from individuals in countries where there is a high risk of exploitation, both for the user accessing it and the users accessed, that they may be forced to disclose this information. The risk here is how we keep as open as we can while recognising that our work sometimes puts real people in real danger, and we want to know who is trying to know that. We want to have trusted people access it without putting them or others at risk. We don't have a long term plan yet, but I think we really need to focus on better digital security training for people. In my years during this work, I’ve seen some people who have become targets of bad actors in their own contexts, because they didn't fully understand how much about them was visible and discoverable and how vulnerable they were to attack. That's why we hired a human rights lead.

      Doing this work is dangerous. In some places, there's frankly no guarantee that where it is safe today will still be safe tomorrow. We really do need to think as a movement, about how to be safe in this world, and how to keep each other safe, and especially how to protect the vulnerable people who trust us, staff to not put them in danger.

  16. In recent days, Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) failed to join the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as an observer, as China consecutively rejected for the second time, cited the existence of Wikipedia Taiwan chapter. Here are the questions: how does WMF strike an appropriate balance between the WIPO admission and Wikipedia Taiwan in the face of continuous rejection from China? If possible, would WMF prompt the Chinese government to unblock the Wikimedia projects in Mainland China?
    • My answer to this might be different from the answer you'd get from those who appealed for the observer status. The Wikimedia Foundation's mission is to support the community in creating online information resources and distributing it to the world. That first thing there is not an accident. We're here to support the people. I believe that Wikipedia Taiwan takes precedence over observer status to the World Intellectual Property Organization.

      Do we care about that? We do, because our legal team is fighting very hard to make sure that the laws remain favorable to our work. So it's not that it isn't important. They really want to be sure that internationally, laws are not changed that make our work impossible. But I'm here for the people. I would not cut off any part of the movement to make happy a nation that wants to impose their political strife on our organization, and by our organization I don't mean the Foundation, I mean the movement. That said, if possible, would the Foundation prompt the Chinese government to unblock the Wikimedia projects in mainland China? Well, I sure would. I don't believe that anybody should be denied access to information. We live in an era where so much garbage information is circulating online that I understand that there are some people who may be afraid that Wikimedia projects can be used as a source of disinformation itself. But most of those people don't understand how we work, they don't know how to check the sources, how to check the reliability of the sources, and they don't understand how to participate. But yes, if it were up to me, I would very much prompt the Chinese government to unblock Wikimedia projects in mainland China.

  17. Are there plans to reform trust and safety based on the feedback and opinions you receive from the community? It would be interesting to see it implemented.
    • Yes, we reform Trust and Safety constantly, we're constantly changing our policies and approaches based on feedback and opinions we receive from the community. I like to tell people, based on what I see — because of course I mostly read the more complicated cases, as I mentioned, if they come to me they're complicated — there is no normal Trust and Safety investigation, everything is uniquely hard. And every time we get one of those cases we have to stop and think, are we doing this right? Is this the best way to do things? What can we do with the tools we have, with the evolving landscape of our movement? So yes, we reform it constantly.
  18. Do you think there will be any trust and safety implications of IP masking?
    • That question starts to get technical to a level that I myself am probably not the best person to address. But I can share with you what I understand. I will have to ask somebody who understands IP masking and its implications better than I do to follow up. There are probably people attending this call who can answer this question better than I can. Yes, I think, just like I was talking earlier about the trade off, and being open to allow anyone to help govern anyone to add content with the need of understanding the risks. IP masking has pros and cons for our movement. It makes individuals safer, it makes it harder to identify vandals. It makes it more compliant with the evolving legal landscape in the world, but it makes it harder to identify vandals. My understanding is that we are supposed to be working hard to create tools that make it as easy as possible for functionaries and administrators to continue to do the work even with IP masking. So, there are Trust and Safety implications on both sides. Yes, individuals will be harder to doxx. Those of you who are editing, it should be harder for people to say where specifically in the world you are, and who specifically you are. This is good news. Bad news, it will be harder for us to control, long term and repeat vandals, and we need to figure out how to do that well.
  19. Is this imposing American laws on the movement? For example many people can't receive grants because WMF is constrained by American law.
    • Without knowing exactly what action we're talking about, I’ll try to get to the core of the question, which I heard as: Are we imposing US laws on the movement?

      The Foundation is obligated to follow US laws. So, to a certain extent, imposing ourselves on the movement is unavoidable. Wherever we are located, we will be imposing whatever laws exist in that jurisdiction on the movement.

      However, I do think I have to understand what action we're talking about. I will say that it is not the intention of the Foundation to impose US legal values on the movement. We have our own values as a movement that don't necessarily align with any one jurisdiction. And while we do have to follow laws inn the US in some cases, even in other areas, I think our goal is to meet our mission and our movement's values and do the best job we can to share information. I hope that helped.

      Yeah, that is hard. I mean it's just like when we try to hire people, we try to hire people internationally through our hiring partners, and it's hard. If US law doesn't allow us to send money to somebody and in some cases even through a proxy, we haven't figured out how to solve that one yet. That's a big problem that is still in the future for us to work out. Will the Global Council play a role? I don't know, I've heard ideas maybe but I've also heard that, like I say, there are problems with giving money to a proxy organization to give money. Another big problem we have to figure out how to manage. And as somebody noted in the chat, by the way, I just want to reiterate what they said — really it doesn't matter where we're based — the law, wherever we are, is going to apply to us and we're going to have to work within the law. We may solve some problems if we were in a different locale but then we'd have other problems. It's part of the reason why our advocacy team is working so hard to make sure that the laws are favorable to our movement, it's because laws are constantly shifting and laws all over the world impact the way we can operate. Somebody else noted in the chat that the restriction is not always from the US, sometimes it's from the receiving country. That's also true.

  20. Are there any suggestions to the Chinese Wikipedia community to improve the vote of Administers and Bureaucrats?
    • My understanding is that the Trust and Safety team has been talking with the Chinese community directly. I don't know how much talk that has been, but one of the suggestions that I've heard is perhaps using SecurePoll.

      I was asked by a reporter recently regarding this, because we removed the admin status of some of the administrators in circumstances where we have discovered influence in their elections and questionable use of their tools, whether it was undemocratic of us. I want to say that a democratic election requires safety. It requires the ability for people to vote without fear of retaliation if somebody disagrees with the way you vote. This is another one of those areas where we're going to have to struggle as a movement to figure out how to be open and transparent — which are core to our values — but also protect people's safety. On Chinese Wikipedia,we know that some of the actions that were taken by some of the people who've been banned include physical harm to voters who were not aligned. We have to figure out as a group, how it works, and whether that's the same everywhere, I don't know. but I do think that what must be present, is the ability for people to vote freely, without fear of harm.

  21. Show fragile systems like SecurePoll more love re: tech debt
    • Tech debt is outside of my area of influence. I mentioned the teams that I work with earlier, but I do know that our Product team had quite a lot on their plate getting SecurePoll ready for the Board elections. They had to defer a lot of work in order to do that. But yes, tech debt is something that I hear people talk a lot about in terms of concerns on how we catch up. I agree that's a problem, and I will carry that recommendation up and out because I care about that too.

Written questions edit

  1. Why have all administrators who are from Wikimedians Mainland China User Group (hereinafter referred to as WMC) had their permissions revoked? Does this mean the WMF will banish all users who are from WMC?
    • I do not know if all of them have. I know some of them have, but the group indicated at one point at least that it had hundreds of members, and I have not viewed any member list. I can say that the Foundation has no objections to users, including admins, organizing themselves as they think is useful for them, including through the WMC as an entity. What is unacceptable is misconduct and there was evidence of systemic misconduct by those administrations who had their permissions removed. The Foundation is not currently undertaking any additional investigations involving WMC, although some reports of threats of retaliation from some of the sanctioned individuals have been communicated to us. We do not presume that every individual who identified with the group was taking part in misconduct; based on the numbers reported by the group itself on Meta, it seems to be significantly less than half.
  2. Do you believe that these office actions have any chilling effect on other communities, including those with internal conflicts?
    • I certainly believe they can and worry they do. Whenever people don’t have full information on why something happened, they may worry whether something similar may happen to them. I wish that were not the case. However, I have to say I also know that taking no action when people appeal for assistance can also have a chilling effect on communities. Some in the Chinese community have openly called for support for years, support which the Foundation was not then in position to provide. Seeing such concerns unaddressed also doesn’t provide much sense of safety and courage. :/ I think it requires a careful balance of acting properly to the best of our abilities and continuing to work to create systems together with communities that people do believe are fair and can trust, such as those I hope to see emerge from and even after the UCoC enforcement.
  3. The Foundation’s inability to provide detailed reasons and evidence for Office actions can cause trust issues with community members. In the case of the Sept 2021 office action regarding China, some explanation was provided. Is it possible for the office to send notice to the community when experienced users are involved? Can you disclose a little bit of detail or evidence to trusted community groups or members, like Oversighters or Checkusers?
    • During the call, somebody asked me if the Foundation takes into account community feedback and changes our Trust & Safety practices. Yes. This communication around China is an example of that. It is a level of engagement around an office action that we have never taken before, and while I have no illusions that it can make everyone feel happy and satisfied with the action, I hope that it will help at least some. Trust & Safety actually does disclose a little bit of information to trusted community groups, especially those under NDAs, like the stewards and some arbitration committees. This has been long practice. I have to think hard about the question of sending notice to the community when experienced users are involved. All Foundation bans are posted on Meta at the time they occur. As I mentioned earlier, explanations cannot be given of why actions are taken with regards to individual users which makes it considerably harder to discuss cases involving one person...which most cases are. We can’t even post publicly whether or not cases are appealable, although we do notify individuals who are banned of their options in that regard.
  4. [no question text]
    • Several questions were asked about the reasons for individual bans. I can’t speak to those, I’m afraid, and I’m sorry that I can’t answer your concerns. I *can*, however, address the concerns about the user who said they received a note that they were banned for physical assault. This is a misunderstanding of the note they received. Because of the need to have the notices translated and to ship them quickly with non-Chinese staff having to send many emails in a short window of time, the notice sent to all banned users was written to indicate: “We regret that due to the need to translate this notice and due to the number of individuals involved, we cannot provide you individual information about the reasons for your ban, but collectively they include” [followed by a list of four of the factors observed within the group]. We did not intend this to confuse people into thinking that their ban was for all of those factors, and I hope that our translation quality did not contribute to any confusion. We have recently hired a facilitator for the CR&S team who has Standard Mainland Chinese as a language, but unfortunately due to the short notice the translation we obtained for our Wikimedia-L notice was not, as I had understood, from a Mainland Chinese native speaker. I do not know if there were issues with the notices sent to the users as well.
  5. Is it against Terms of Use or other rules to post links to WMC from user pages?
    • There are a great many questions I received in the immediate aftermath of this action. This was among them, although it was part of a lot of other questions and my answer wasn’t very succinct. For convenience, I point to those: Talk:Office actions/September 2021 statement. The Foundation has not taken action to bar the group as an entity, and we think it is for the Chinese community to determine if the actions of the group are a net positive based on the current information we have. There is no specific rule in the Terms of Use against posting links to any WMC pages, although it is regarded as “proxying” to edit on behalf of a banned user. For that reason, I would ask individuals to think about what pages they are linking to and why. I personally hope the group will recover and continue and thrive or, if it is deemed better by the community, reconfigure in a new form that will allow them to continue to grow Wikimedia in Mainland China without the prior issues demonstrated by a subset of members of canvassing and hostile engagement with others.
  6. Could you please explain why there is an interest in obfuscating IP addresses now? There have been some announcements from the WMF, but I still think users are confused." [What is the reason for the IP masking project?
    • I have to respond to this one by pointing at attorney statements. My teams are supporting explorations of how to meet the needs of functionaries with this change, but are not driving the policy change. My understanding is that the shifting legal landscape and the vulnerability of users to harm if the information is misused are both key factors.
  7. What if such agreement (with the Chinese government) would come with 'string attached'"
    • Since this question was presented without context (because after the call), I’m assuming it refers to the Chinese government making Wikipedia available within their national boundaries. I was speaking to the fact that I personally would be happy to ask them to do that because I think people deserve access to free knowledge, and Wikimedia exists to try to provide good knowledge resources to everyone, everywhere. I’m not the kind of person who would say, “No way will I ever accept strings!” It’s not in my nature. Instead, I would ask, “What kind of strings are we talking about?” For instance, we can’t display media content that is not freely licensed in the US unless we have an exemption policy on a local project and an explanation for how the content qualifies. That’s a string we accept. We accept that content about living people must have reliable sources. Before I myself would ever say “No, never!” I’d have to start with “What.” And in most cases, I suspect it would be up to the international community to decide. If it is not a string with which we MUST comply (like US copyright), is it a string with which we SHOULD?