Requests for comment/WMF-community trust person

The following request for comments is closed. After more than six months, there is no consensus for this proposal. Should another request for comment on this matter be opened at a later point in time, consider utilizing available options for notification of communities to ensure a global discussion with input from all shareholders. ~riley (talk) 06:07, 15 January 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Following the ban of Fram on enwiki, here's an idea.

The community on each project can select one or more candidates for this position. No project will be forced to select a candidate. Candidates should:

  • Be known to respect privacy
  • Be a highly trusted community member
  • In general preferably not be an admin, as admins are more likely to be involved
  • Be reasonably skeptical of the WMF
  • But not outright hate the WMF
  • Not be on WMF's payroll (well doh!!)

The community is allowed to revoke their trust in any candidate at any time.

From the candidates put forward, the WMF selects one. If they select more than one, any additional trust persons will only be used when the primary trust person is unavailable or the primary trust person is involved in the conflict. (this avoids cherry-picking) In case of multilingual projects (like Commons or Wikispecies), a primary trust person could be selected for every language. WMF selected candidates:

  • Are appointed for life. They will have no fear of being "fired" if they say the WMF did something unreasonable.
  • Will not share any identifying information about the accuser.
  • Will be given all the diffs and other reasons that resulted in the ban of a community member.
  • Don't have to be told who the accuser(s) are, but this information may or may not be inseparable from the ban rationale.

Note that a NDA may not be desirable, or even legally sufficient. If the accuser(s) agree to have the required information shared with the WMF-community trust person, there will be no legal issues. The accuser should be very motivated to agree to this, because if they don't the WMF will ban someone for seemingly no reason which, as we've seen with Fram, may well result in a pitchfork-wielding mob.


  • The accuser(s) will be asked to agree to the sharing of necessary information with the WMF-community trust person. If they don't, well, pitchfork-wielding mob.
  • The WMF shares the full ban rationale with the WMF-community trust person.
  • This person drafts a statement.
  • The WMF reviews this statement and redacts identifying information if needed. Ideally, the statement doesn't have to be redacted.
  • If the statement is redacted, the WMF-community trust person will be given an opportunity to alter the statement. This may go back-and-forth between the trust person and the WMF a few times times if needed.
  • If no agreement can be reached or the WMF-community trust person agrees to the redacting of the statement, the redacted statement will be used. The redacting must be visible, for example: "This is when *REDACTED* contacted the.."
  • Along with the ban notice (unless time does not allow that, in which case the statement will be released later), the WMF releases the statement on-wiki. WMF also states the number of accusers that were involved and the number that agreed to share information with the WMF-community trust person.
  • The WMF-community trust person confirms this was their statement and no non-identifying information has been redacted.

In addition:

  • If all the accusers agreed to have information shared with the WMF-community trust person and after the statement has been published some community members still start to speculate about the identity of the accusers, those users will be warned (if they were plausibly unaware such speculation is not allowed) or locally blocked for up to one month by a local admin. If overlooked, the WMF will report the user to the local admins.

Please comment. - Alexis Jazz ping plz 20:47, 21 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]

  • @Alexis Jazz: I like it, however I must say that in my original post (which was poorly worded due to my general lack of time (and sleep) lately) I wished to placed some certain responsibilities on the WMF Office to notify the community in the village pump and make a list on the users they've banned. A middle (wo)man in this regard can share to the community why the ban was made and while I must admit that the Wikimedia Foundation has a huge issue with communicating generally speaking I think that WMF partial bans (if not indefinite) are a good alternative to the permanent WMF global bans, but we should impose scrutiny and the ability to scrutinise the Wikimedia Foundation on it. A more specific reaction to this proposal is that community trust can be taken away, which is a must, but it also opens up "mob justice", let's say that Fæ would get WMF partial banned today for unknown reasons (I am using them as an example because they are openly critical of the WMF's office actions and is the most active Commonswiki contributor) and the WMF-community trust person will just forward what the WMF told them, they could be "crucified" by the mob because they want a better outcome, or the WMF-community trust person could become the target of community outrage rather than the WMF themselves. --Donald Trung 『徵國單』 (No Fake News 💬) (WikiProject Numismatics 💴) (Articles 📚) 21:45, 21 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • Donald Trung's comments copied from my user page where I first drafted this idea. Alexis Jazz (talk) 22:39, 22 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • This is an intriguing idea, however if it or any similar community-WMF liason type position is considered it must be representative of all communities. Therefore, it would only make sense to have one liason from each community, possibly defined as projects with bureaucrats. Vermont (talk) 00:12, 23 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
@Vermont: yes, each project should have its own WMF-community trust person. (really gotta come up with a better name for that..) I changed the text to reflect that. Someone who is fully trusted and well-known on enwiki can be a complete stranger on enwikinews. A trusted Commons user may well be unknown over at dewiki. In the case of Commons, multiple trust persons may be needed because it's a multilingual project. In such a case, there would be a primary trust person for a particular language. Alexis Jazz (talk) 02:43, 23 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
In regard to a name, how about "community liason"? As a note, I don't particularly support your current plan, but there should be a person or entity that more efficiently links the WMF and communities. Vermont (talk) 03:43, 23 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
@Vermont: Liason is a misspelling of liaison and not a very common English word. If even you as a native English speaker are misspelling it, I'm not sure it's the best choice. As for not supporting this plan, it's not set in stone. Isn't that the idea of an RfC? Get input and improve an idea before actually proposing anything? So speak up, what's wrong with it? Alexis Jazz (talk) 04:57, 23 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
There allready are community liaisons at WMF. Their job is to communicate between developers and the community. So, that name will not work.--Snaevar (talk) 09:06, 23 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Hm. I'll note I typed this message on my phone, so no spell check unfortunately. On @Cohaf:'s point, perhaps a definition of community could be non-global sysop wikis. This would limit community-WMF people down to a few dozen, and only on the medium-large sized projects. Vermont (talk) 13:01, 23 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I will rather not use GS wiki as there are non-GS wikis which are way too small (and they opted out of GS so we can't easily add in). I think a better guidelines are those with CU/OSs. --Cohaf (talk) 14:01, 23 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • I just took a quick glance at this RFC, for every community, what's the definition of community? For smaller wikis, some don't have even have more than a few active members. As of @Vermont: suggesting it to be crats, we do have wikis that used to have crats (some previously large enough or others used for renaming before SUL), I don't think this is a good idea to define community too. Regards,--Cohaf (talk) 07:16, 23 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
@Cohaf: I think it's simply every project. Enwiki, Commons, eswikiversity, dewikibooks, etc. In case of multilingual projects, each language could be considered a community. It doesn't really matter how small. No project will be forced to select a candidate. In fact, if a project community has full faith in the WMF they could symbolically nominate WMFOffice. If they have few active members, they could also ask the trust person from a bigger sister project to make statements for their wiki as well, if the need ever arises. (which is considerably less likely for tiny projects) Alexis Jazz (talk) 17:22, 23 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Oppose Oppose This is just another calling of "Hey, IP users are untrustful", which I would always oppose such anti-IP users comments. -- 06:13, 27 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
How? Vermont (talk) 12:16, 27 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
@ Sounds like 9/11 was an inside job! (seriously, wut?)Alexis Jazz (talk) 21:14, 27 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Good to be thinking of things like this, and I can tell that expertise went into crafting the details. But it might be too specialized to be often-usable. Basically, it's job is to prepare the explanation for mysterious otherwise-unexplained actions by WMF. North8000 (talk) 20:08, 27 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Thank you. It would indeed not be used often, though in time perhaps this trust person would get more tasks. However, even if they don't, the times this trust person is used, they will be invaluable. Alexis Jazz (talk) 21:14, 27 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • So how will this fix anything.. I mean Arbcom people are trust people and one just resigned because there was no assumption of good faith from its own community. These 'trust' people will be exposed to the very same problems. Foundation will trust them, candidate will be reasonable, community will burn both of them down regardless, tears and anger all around, rinse, repeat. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 14:22, 28 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
@TheDJ: First of all, not all wikis have an ArbCom. Second, the community has to pick this trust person, pretty much for this purpose. Some people may be elected for ArbCom despite being rather loyal to the WMF, because for ArbCom it doesn't matter. Also, if the whole trust person concept turns out not to work, I'd be happy to see it go again.. but not before it's had a chance. Alexis Jazz (talk) 13:21, 29 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
@Alexis Jazz: Well, i'm willing to try, but based on experience so far, you can file mine under 'highly skeptical'. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 10:13, 30 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • Comment Comment Would it be worth combining this roll with the community elected WMF trustees? Especially if they are an overseer role to guarantee that processes are all followed even if information has to be kept private? T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 07:16, 3 August 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • "If they don't, well, pitchfork-wielding mob." This just sounds like creating a lot of red tape to try to convince parties one and two to share information with a third party, then trust that single individual. A single person is much more of a lightning rod and way more likely to be pressured unreasonably than an ArbCom or Ombuds. A single person can be effectively harassed into going one way, much more so than a group. ~ Amory (utc) 14:56, 13 October 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • I'm not sure this is really productive in any real sense. This RfC seems to call for a person of very particular and subjective ideologies, which could induce a lot of sidetracked debate and frustration for very little real benefit. There's already positions (ombuds, stews, arbcoms (for some wikis), trustees, etc.) that are supposed to offer governance and accountability in many various ways. More governance isn't really what I see being needed, simply better communication, trust, and most importantly collaboration through existing channels. That's my two cents. Waggie (talk) 22:35, 23 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]