In general, Wikipedia operates based on consensus, and voting is discouraged as a method of settling content disputes (though well-designed surveys can be useful to gauge and develop consensus). However, in order to fill certain specific functions in the community, there are a few instances in which we have used elections to select individuals for particular positions.
The Wikimedia Foundation is the parent organization of Wikipedia. The affairs of the Wikimedia Foundation are handled by a Board of Trustees. Currently, three seats on the Board (out of ten total) are elected by members of the Wikimedia community. The first election was for two positions that were held for one year. The second election was for two positions to be held for two years.
The first election was held from May 29 to June 12, 2004, and the second from June 28 to July 11, 2005. Both elections used approval voting. Angela Beesley and Florence Nibart-Devouard were elected as trustees between 2004 and 2005, and again between 2005 and 2007.
In August 2006, a special election was called to fill the vacancy left by Angela's resignation. Voting took place between September 1 and September 21, 2006; Erik Möller, also known as User:Eloquence, was elected to a term ending with the regular July 2007 election.
In December 2006, the board approved a resolution expanding the size of the board of trustees, including expanding the number of seats elected by the Wikimedia community to three. Elections were held in June 2007, for three positions, each for a term of two years.
During April 2008, the Board was restructured to include, most notably, two chapter-appointed seats. This resulted in elections held in June, 2008, appointing a single new member to the Board.
Further elections were held in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2021.
The Mediation Committee was closed by RfC in November 2018 after not accepting any cases for over a year.
The Mediation Committee was created and appointed at the same time as the Arbitration Committee, but no election procedure was specified. Instead, the Mediation Committee was structured so that new people were free to nominate themselves for membership on the Committee; members could withdraw from active mediating (become emeriti) and become active again at their convenience.
The Committee did not use a fixed number of positions, so elections were unnecessary. New mediators were nominated and duly promoted, subject to approval by the existing Committee members under their practices for outcomes of nominations. The community could comment on nominations, but approval for membership lay within the Committee. There was no strict deadline on time for a nomination and it changed depending on the status of the nomination, but they generally lasted between two and four weeks. The one official rule with nominations to the Committee was the "two oppose rule", by which any candidate receiving two opposes from members of the Committee could not be promoted.
In addition, the Committee internally elected a Chair to help with coordination and facilitation of the Committee's duties. There was initially no limit on the length of terms, nor the maximum number of times a person could serve, and frequently the Chair held their position until they chose to step down or become inactive. More recent Committee chairs were required to have their status as chair "confirmed" every six months, by means of an internal discussion, although every confirmation was a matter of routinely supporting the Chairperson continuing for another six months.
Association of Members' Advocates
The coordinator of the Association of Members' Advocates (AMA) was an elected position. It was the first position on Wikipedia to actually go through an election process. The election, held in April 2004, resulted in the selection of Alex756, a founder of the association, as the first elected AMA Coordinator on April 30, 2004.
The AMA was nominated for deletion in April, 2007. The nomination was closed as "no consensus," but sparked discussion about the function and organization of the AMA, including proposals to "de-bureaucratize" the group. Nothing of this was achieved, and in May 2007 the AMA was closed with its page marked as historical.
Checkuser and oversight
Historically, checkuser and oversight permissions have been handled by the Arbitration Committee. In 2009 and 2010 the committee changed to a model that incorporated direct elections during the selection of checkusers and oversighters. There were three such elections before the selection model reverted to an application-appointment model after requests for community input.
- Election, February 2009
The first open checkuser and oversight elections were held in February 2009. Kylu, Lucasbfr, and Versageek were granted checkuser permission. Daniel Case, EVula, Luna Santin, and Mailer diablo were granted oversight permission.
- Election, August 2009
The second open checkuser and oversight elections were held in August 2009. Brandon, Hersfold, and J.delanoy were granted checkuser permission. Avraham, Dweller, Howcheng, Keegan, Happy-melon, Hmwith, Mr.Z-man, Nishkid64, and Thatcher were granted oversight permission.
- Election, May 2010