Training modules/Feedback/First draft

Feedback: Preliminary surveysFirst draftPilot testing
Dealing with online harassment
Keeping events safe
Handling private information
Overall goals
List of modules
Drafting/discussion spaces
Discuss design, accessibility, and formatting of modules
Previous research

This is a summary of feedback received during the Wikimedia Foundation's Support and Safety team's first round. It took place during the month of January 2017.

Keeping events safe


General comments


"All in all a good draft"

  • Guidance was offered about how not to overemphasize the formality of reporting for attendees; this could lead to people choosing not to report behaviour if they feel intimidated by the process.
  • Several sections were identified as having clear language and an appropriate level of detail; one was called out as not technical enough.
  • Module should include a checklist of items to remember/handle on the day of.
  • Any time there is a "Check the policy" or "Contact the foundation" action item, that should be linked inline.
  • "I was a little surprised that having and enforcing a Code of Conduct wasn't part of this process. I understand this may just be something that is outside of what you can do, but from other nerd-type conferences this is really one of the ways that sort of thing happens".
    • Module should emphasize Friendly Space Policy and how it informs the guidance the module is offering.

E4: "Preparing for an event"

  • This section received some helpful suggested additions for more steps organizers can take in preparing for the event, and team procedures once the event is in progress.

E5: "During the event"

  • The “Who may report” subsection of this was described as “muddled” and unclear as to what the point we were trying to communicate was

Dealing with online harassment


General comments

  • A suggestion was made that an expert ought to be hired to assist with creating and implementing these modules.
  • The use of the term "correct" in the question sections was called out, with more suitable terms offered like "suitable" or "most appropriate".
  • The quizzes were criticized for being dense with text and difficult to follow. Suggested instead were shorter, multiple choice questions in simpler English.
    • Other feedback highlighted the quizzes as among the best elements in the module, however
  • The use of the term "actionable" sounded like a legal term to some, which could cause issues on the projects where people are sensitive to this language anyway.
  • The use of the term "victims" was also commented upon, with notes that it isn't a dignified word to use to refer to targets of harassment. Suggested instead were "targets" or "editors".
  • Design - typeface size for the templated elements was too small.
  • Present module introduction not as a “the Wikimedia Foundation wants to…”, but rather as “here is why this module exists and why it is valuable to you, the users and your communities”
  • Module does “a GREAT job at explaining the nuances of how to manage these issues and what the tricky parts are”
  • Present module content authoritatively - “Speak from a position of authority, not like you're politely asking someone to agree with you.”
    • This comment specifically calls out things like “it is important to remember to” as unnecessarily weakened in tone.

H1: Introduction

  • It was noted that the text of this section might imply the harasser may also experience emotional strain, which may not be intended.
  • The use of the term "deal with" was noted to be a little soft compared to the tremendous ask of dealing with harassment: "something that indicates we're not talking about having people being harassed deal with it".
  • It was recommended that this section use bullet points, rather than paragraphs. (This piece of feedback seems to also continue into the following sections.)

H2: Basics

  • It was recommended this section do more to explain why harassment is something that needs to be cared about.
  • The term "characteristically repetitive" was highlighted, as it might bypass the possibility that harassment can be one-off incidents. A table of examples was instead recommended to help solidify what forms harassment can take for those reading the module.
  • More emphasis on the reasons for fighting harassment was recommended (we're losing editors, especially those in groups commonly harassed online).
  • Commenting on the language used, a couple of users questioned the use of the term "functionaries", arguing that a larger group should be able to take the training. Again the subject of hiring experts to deal with harassment came up. The counter to this was that functionaries routinely receive private reports, and as such administrators are not as likely to be dealing with the cases this training is built to assist with.
  • In the "Common forms of harassment" section, a suggestion was made that the publication of personal information should be used; "online stalking" was not considered the same.

H3: Handling harassment reports

  • The example used in this section was criticized for being too simple; an argument was made that immediate action to deal with the problem, followed by a definitive response, would be a better course of action than recommended in this section.
  • A comment was made that the phrase "your investigation and any outcomes will not be contingent on the target's approval" should be weakened, since it might discourage third-party reporters fearing they might expose the victims to more risk.
  • The use of the phrase "considering the reporter's community status" was noted as potentially invoking divisive subtext (that is, it implies reports from community members with poor reputations ought to be treated differently). An argument was made that poor reputation is often a result of erratic editing behaviours which in turn are a symptom of being harassed.

H4: Communicating with victims of harassment

  • "Nothing we can do" was noted as a response that is very common, especially when dealing with off-wiki harassment; often, this occurs on platforms with relatively laissez-faire policies on harassment.
  • Regarding safety for the functionaries, it was recommended that this section be expanded to include general web safety tips, such as the use of proxies, using one's real name in correspondence, and that situations which take place on-wiki can spill over if a functionary gets involved.
  • It was recommended that this section be more encouraging for those who are afraid to communicate with victims.

H5: Immediate action

  • There was a comment that some terms (like "sockpuppet") might be alien to some.

H6: Investigating reports

  • Concerns were raised over the use of terminology defining victims of harassment, and use of reputation as a metric to determine how one best handle a report. It was recommended that categorizing victims in terms of how they have acted on the projects not be done at all, even with the caveat of context.
    • It was noted that harassment victims have in the past been treated differently because of how they have reacted to this harassment – and often, this is erratically, forcing them outside the ideal of the "perfect victim". The idea that a victim might be "level-headed" in the face of harassment was also questioned.
  • It was noted that the wording in some areas of this section might encourage those investigating harassment to compile private dossiers on the victims or perpetrators involved.
  • There were comments that this section should include more victim-focused information, including:
    • Emphasis on protecting victims from their attackers (the current on-wiki processes for this are so open they do not offer the necessary levels of protection)
    • Discussion of how harassment may affect the victim, emotionally and behaviorally, rather than simply what harassment may appear like to an observer (and using this information to break through the “perfect victim” fallacy people reading the module might otherwise be affected by)
  • A number of past research studies/articles were suggested as sources for more detailed definitions of harassment or types of harassment than were provided in the module.

H9: Off-wiki harassment

  • There was a recommendation to include links to low-income legal assistance in the event of off-wiki harassment.

Handling private information

  • Some technical clarifications on steward rights as they apply to specific projects were offered.

General design/organization feedback

  • Consider "in a nutshell" style page or section headers, to make content more approachable and understandable at a glance
  • Consider including "relevant policies" links (i.e. hatnote-style) at the tops of sections, so users have easy access to the policies the section is based in
  • Avoid "walls of text" at all costs