Talk:Harassment consultation 2015/Ideas/Annual training

Latest comment: 7 years ago by Pbsouthwood

You realise that Wikimedia projects are run by volunteers? Natuur12 (talk) 17:21, 8 December 2015 (UTC)Reply

Yes. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 12:07, 9 December 2015 (UTC)Reply
This item is started by Rosiestep and the question was meanth for him/her. My apologies if I wasn't clear. Making courses mandatory goes against our we are volunteers and nothing is mandatory culture. Doesn't mean I am against free e-cources. Natuur12 (talk) 15:00, 9 December 2015 (UTC)Reply

@Natuur12 I support the idea of training sessions. The people who would be required to attend training would bethe people who are holding advanced permissions. Attaining and retaining advanced permissions would be linked to attending mandatory training sessions.

There would be motivation to get training because it is a type of knowledge that can be used in other situation, like a job. We would give certificates of completion that could be used for job promotions or admission to a related advanced degree program.

It is important for people who are handing the situation to understand the basics of good communications skills as well as how to be an ally when other volunteers are facing harassment. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 03:31, 11 December 2015 (UTC)Reply

@FloNight: Would you think that it is realistic to make such trainings mandatory? This goes against our open culture. Just like Commons admins don't have to follow some legal course regarding copyright. Having trainings that people can follow if they want to is something I would support. (Not mandatory, on a voluntarily basis just like everything else) I know that en-wiki has a problem with harassment but honestly but there is not much a sysop can do. You can block or ban someone. Arbcom can give some extra sanctions and that's about it. Yes, you can also have a chat with the victim, give him some advice and support him/her but if it continues via socks or even off wiki there is no course in the world that can make admins or any other volunteerly with advanced permission able to do something. And being an ally of an victim is severe and you can't expect that every admin is capable of doing so.
Honestly, I fail to see how such a training could give me better job opportunities. A lot of studies in my home country already cover most aspects related to communication for example. You don't know what kind of training people already had IRL. Also, letting people follow a course doesn't mean people know how to communicate all of a sudden. And such certificates sounds nice but they also need to be recognised by every country the participating admins are from. This is kind of a mission impossible unless you can find a university willing to give such a course. Natuur12 (talk) 18:19, 11 December 2015 (UTC)Reply
Natuur12, thank you for your thoughtful reply. Your vision of the wikimedia movement is outdated. Today there are expectations tied to holding both paid and unpaid positions in WMF affiliated organizations, and for positions like Visiting Scholars or Wikipedians in Residence, and people receiving Project and Event Grants or Individual Engagement grants, and people serving on grant committees. Now many of the contributions to the movement are made by people who already have specialized training or skills, or they receive on the job training and support.
If we were creating the position of administrator or checkuser or ArbCom member today, it seems highly unlikely that there would be no formal support given to the people in these positions including a formal orientation program with training about key aspects of the position. And good communication skills are a key aspect of being an administrator since they frequently must interact with people who are confused or upset.
I've had extensive training about communication in several different positions I've held, and I would not consider it a waste of time to have a refresher course about empathetic listening or ally skills training or dispute resolution, or dealing with threats and emergencies. Many administrators do not regularly patrol noticeboards where people report problems, but instead see issues that come up during the course of their regular editing. What these administrators do or do not say can have an impact on the situation. This is the reason that it is important that all administrators get high quality training about what to say and do immediately, and how to do appropriate follow up including reporting the issue to someone with more specialized experience in handling the situation and time allocated to manage the situation.
As a top website with millions of readers and thousands regular contributors, we have an obligation to create the best website possible. Regular training for users with advanced permissions is an important part of the answer. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 19:45, 11 December 2015 (UTC)Reply
@FloNight:Currently I am a sysop at two projects, crat at one project, OTRS-member and I am serving my second term as an Arb at the Dutch Wikipedia. (Ow dear, I sound like a hatcollector when I sum it up) When I started I didn’t had any real training besides some basic training regarding communications and yet I seemed to manage well enough when taking care of the more unpleasant jobs and the once that involve harassment. (I did had some training during my studies later but never regarding how to handle harassment.) I wouldn’t have applied for any of those positions if I had to do some mandatory training. Will others feel the same when they are forced to follow some kind of training? Likely. Will we lose people? Likely. Will I follow a E-course on a volunteer basis at the currect date? Yes, but not because I would want to but because I care about the community and the projects. Would I be willing to follow any IRL training? No.
Honestly, I don’t believe that it is an admins job to deal with people who are angry or upsets. It is the job of the community as a whole. Of course it is an Arbs job. Admins are mainly there to do some maintains work. Yes, there are also more complicated cases but this is a much smaller part of an admins job. Those can be taken care off by the admins who do have the required skill set. (Or who have followed a training on a volunteer basis).
I am also afraid that some projects would not be able to find enough people to keep their Arbcom running or that they won’t be able to find enough administrators. My home projects are Commons and the Dutch Wikipedia and both projects have a problem finding enough manpower to get the job done. And I fear that it will be worse if there are some mandatory trainings. Perhaps a large project like en-wiki will manage but will the smaller projects manage as well?
I still fail to see how training can help us fighting harassment. It is more a system error. The “oh, but it didn’t happen on our project so we don’t care mentality” some have. Plus like I said, we can’t keep disruptive people off our projects.
I would disagree that my vision of the Wikimedia movement is outdated though. What happens beyond the realms of the local notice boards and the local VP remains a mystery for many editors. Just like WIR’s, the WMF etc. Natuur12 (talk) 22:27, 11 December 2015 (UTC)Reply
Hi Natuur12, thank you for expanding your thoughts. One point to consider is that it is a basic and uncontroversial idea that people who have better training have higher job performance. Said another way, for people to regularly meet job expectations, they need proper training. By investing time and money to train volunteer administrators, it shows that volunteer administrators are an important to the wikimedia movement and that the work that they are doing is important to the wikimedia movement.
Additionally, it is equally as likely as the scenario that you suggest (loss of volunteers) that some people who have an interest in dispute resolution but minimal skills would volunteer to work in these positions if they could have better training and support. In any case, I would rather have a smaller but better trained group of volunteers who are capable of high performance in their volunteer positions than a larger pool of people who are less qualified and are making situations worse because of their lack of training.
Both paid and volunteers workers in crisis call centers successfully receive training about how to interact with callers to the service. I can't imagine a call center letting people take cases without proper training. Wikimedia Foundation needs to match or raise the standards for addressing dispute resolution and crisis intervention on the internet in order for us to fulfill the wikimedia mission. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk)
Admins are not mediators and/or highly trained crisis personnel. Or perhaps EN-wiki admins really are expected to be captain supermen? Yes, perhaps some people will perform better after a training (others will never learn though) but we may lose those who already have the proper skills. If an situation really turns into the kind of crisis where you reach out for a call centre specialised in crisses it is time to leave it to the professionals of the community advocacy team. Therefor your comparison seems to be a little bit unfair. I would rather compare it with sending the high school janitor to a masterclass in conflict mediation at a business university threatening to fire him if he doesn't go. Sorry but my vision (and my vision doesn’t differ much from the local consensus at my homewiki’s) regarding adminship seems to highly differ from yours. I am afraid that we won’t convince each other if I see an administrator as some guy or girl with tools and you as the person who has to resolve it all.
I do wonder, have you ever encountered situations at any wiki and though otherwise: “I wish I had some more training so I would have resolved the situation better?” Natuur12 (talk) 17:57, 7 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
Indeed, in my various volunteer role(s) including administrator on several wikis I have often thought that if myself and other administrators had more training that the situation would have been resolved better. I completely agree that other people than administrators play an important role in resolving issues on wiki. Stewards, checkuser, arbitrators, oversighters, OTRS volunteers, and mediators (formal and informal) all play an important role in identifying and resolving disputes and crisis situations. Everyone who has a formally selected role needs to have the proper training to carry out the role. Because of the permissions that they hold, administrators will often be placed in a position of seeing situations that would benefit from careful communication and short term strategies for addressing the problematic situation.
The wikimedia movement will always need to rely on administrators on local wikis to screen for crisis events, and to assist the local community and public with resolving local disputes about content and user conduct, and other problematic situations. The position of administrator is a social role that involves working with people from a large cross section of the world and some of them are going to be in the midst of serious problem that is related to Wikipedia (or a sister project.) The average person is not well equipped to interact with people who are in the midst of a dispute, crisis event, or other problematic situation. Fortunately, it possible to train people to do a better job than the average person on the street. And from my experience, my opinion is that annual training for administrators is the best approach for reaching the most people who could intervene and make a difference in the outcome of difficult situations on WMF projects. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 19:26, 7 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

Those of us in leadership roles today cannot continue to do things in 2016 (or 2026 or 2036), the way we did them in 2006. The challenges and demands facing our leadership have increased, and I do not believe these challenges will abate. So I feel strongly that this call for "Harassment Consultation 2015" isn't a request to "play it safe". It's about being bold and bringing in ideas from outside the wiki movement in order to improve the editor experience and diminish the hostile "workplace" vibe some have been subjected to, and which the international press has chronicled for over a year. So while this annual training idea may seem unmanageable to some, especially to those who haven't spent time in commerce/industry, it's not. It's the right thing to do and we're over-due with implementing it. And if we don't implement it in 2016, how long do we wait until we do so -- 2026? 2036? -- because, eventually, we will implement it, of that I am certain. P.S. As for 'volunteers' being required to complete 'mandatory training', it is not unusual in the outside world; it is commonplace. --Rosiestep (talk) 03:16, 12 December 2015 (UTC)Reply

  • I absolutely support this proposal. If physical training (involving travel) is Natuur12's and others' concerns, this ought to be very do-able using technology... though it shouldn't be something as impersonal as watching a video or reading a document and taking a test. There should be paid, qualified WMF instructors (at least two) who lead the groups. Group members should be as diverse as possible, based on article subject and/or project task preferences, and including non-admins. (Advertise this training. Use a lottery if non-admin interest is high.) Those who successfully complete the training can display a "Graduate, 2016 Wiki Leadership Training" (or whatever the class is called) badge on their user pages. Lightbreather (talk) 16:55, 31 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

There are people who can do good technical admin work and there are people who can do good arbitration work/ dealing with people. They are not always the same people. Forcing square pegs into round holes will not work. Split Admin responsibilities into tech and HR to get around this problem. HR Admins must be able to deal with people well, Tech Admins must stick to tech work if they cant deal well with people. If there are reasonably founded complaints about an Admin they should either do the training or stick to tech. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 09:19, 7 June 2016 (UTC)Reply

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