Wikipedia:5-minute guide to ArbCom elections

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

During an Arbitration Committee election, Wikipedia elects new arbitrators for either a two-year or one-year term. Those elected join the remaining members of the previous year's committee, replacing members whose terms have expired, who resigned from the committee, or were otherwise removed.

What is the Arbitration Committee?[edit]

The Arbitration Committee (ArbCom) is Wikipedia's last resort to resolve disputes with editor conduct (content disputes are outside its scope). The goal of arbitration is to definitively settle the dispute. While ArbCom has the authority to act on its own initiative, it typically acts within the scope of a formal case requested by the community. Cases are accepted only when the community has shown an inability to resolve the underlying dispute; for example, ArbCom accepted seven case requests in 2018. It also provided clarifications or follow-up rulings in a handful of prior cases.

To deal with disputes, the Arbitration Committee can impose editing restrictions, also known as sanctions, on specific editors or all editors making changes related to a given topic. Types of remedies have included preventing new users from editing in a topic area, or limiting the number of reverts editors can make on articles in the topic area. Sanctions placed by ArbCom are binding and administrators are deputized to enforce them.

The Arbitration Committee has the responsibility on behalf of the English Wikipedia community to review the use of administrative privileges. It can issue restrictions on a given administrator's privileges or remove them entirely. (Administrative privileges can otherwise only be removed due to inactivity or, on rare occasions, by the Wikimedia Foundation.)

Arbitrators are trusted to receive confidential information required by English Wikipedia procedures, such as evidence that would connect Wikipedia editors with their offline identities or which cannot be made public for legal reasons (see Wikipedia:Access to nonpublic information). ArbCom is also the final step in the appeals process for banned users who have lost the ability to appeal through other means. While holding administrator privileges is not necessary to run for the Arbitration Committee, historically almost every person who has been elected to ArbCom has been an admin.

Arbitrators are given access to the CheckUser and oversight tools upon request to assist in their work. ArbCom is also responsible for selecting new CheckUsers and oversighters, which it does after a period for community comment on the candidates, and also has authority to remove these permissions for inactivity or misuse.

How do the elections work?[edit]

Each September, a Request for Comments discussion is held to allow the community to propose changes to the election rules, including how many people may be elected. For example, see the request for comments on the 2023 election.

An Electoral Commission is selected to deal with any unforeseen issues that arise during the electoral process. For 2023, nominations for the commission can be made from 19 May – 18 May 2023, and voting on the electoral commission will run until 18 May.

For 2023, nominations and elections for the Arbitration Committee occur according to the following schedule:

  • Nominations: Sunday 00:00, 19 May to Tuesday 23:59, 18 May (10 days)
  • Setup period: Wednesday 00:00, 19 May to Sunday 23:59, 17 May (5 days)
  • Voting period: Tuesday 00:00, 19 May to Monday 23:59, 18 May (14 days)
  • Scrutineering: begins Tuesday 00:00, 19 May

Who can be a candidate?[edit]

An editor meeting the following criteria is eligible to be a candidate:

  1. has a registered account and has made at least 500 mainspace edits on English Wikipedia before 1 November
  2. is in good standing and not subject to active blocks or site-bans
  3. meets the Wikimedia Foundation's criteria for access to non-public data, is willing to sign the Foundation's non-public information confidentiality agreement
  4. has disclosed any previous or alternate accounts in their election statements (legitimate accounts which have been declared to the Arbitration Committee before the close of nominations do not need to be publicly disclosed)

All editors are invited to discuss the candidates and ask them questions. See the guide for voters for more details.

Voting process[edit]

Voting is done using the SecurePoll Extension. This records your vote using a secret ballot process. While some technical information, such as IP address and user agents, is recorded, no one, including the scrutineers, can associate your username with your votes.

An editor meeting the following criteria is eligible to vote:

  1. has registered an account before 00:00, 1 October
  2. has made at least 150 mainspace edits before 00:00, 1 November
  3. has made at least 10 live edits (in any namespace) within one year of 00:00, 1 November
  4. is not blocked from the English Wikipedia at the time of their vote

You will be given 3 options for each candidate: Support, Oppose, and Neutral. Candidates will be ranked based on S/(S+O), where S is the number of support votes they received, and O is the number of Oppose votes they received. Voting neutral is effectively an abstention from voting with respect to that candidate. In 2023, the top 8 candidates on that list will receive two-year terms, provided that they received at least 60% of the non-neutral vote, and one-year terms if they got at least 50% but less than 60%. Seats will remain vacant if there is an insufficient number of candidates with at least as many supports as opposes (to date, this has not occurred in any previous election).

If you wish to change your vote after you have already cast it, you can vote again and your previous vote will be discarded. There is no limit on the number of times you may change your vote.

A number of voter guides are typically produced by independent editors which you may find helpful in evaluating the candidates.


Following voting the scrutineering process begins. Stewards whose home wikis are not English Wikipedia ensure the voting process was sound, and the integrity of the result. This process includes using the checkuser tool to view voter IP addresses. This process requires checking every user who voted and takes a couple of weeks. Results are posted to the elections page.