|This former Wikipedia policy, no longer backed by community consensus, is retained for historical reference. |
The Mediation Committee has been disbanded as a result of this discussion.
Other dispute resolution processes should be used for content issues.
A core principle of Wikipedia is to make decisions by consensus. Wikipedia's dispute mediation process includes a formal mediation system to help implement that principle. This policy regulates this formal mediation system.
Formal mediation addresses a dispute over article content by providing a dedicated page (for consensus-making discussion) and a third party (to lead this discussion). This discussion establishes a consensus about the disputed content. This third party, the mediator, co-ordinates the discussion by exploring arguments and suggesting alternatives that participants may agree with. In formal mediation, the mediator must be an appointed member of the Mediation Committee. Formal mediation may be requested at Wikipedia:Requests for mediation.
This policy outlines the operations of the Mediation Committee (which oversees and provides formal mediation) and its members, the process for requesting mediation, and the common aspects and required elements of the mediation process (although each mediator has their own approach to mediating). This policy is controlled by the Mediation Committee.
Mediation is a general process on Wikipedia, and refers to the involvement of an impartial third party in a dispute. Mediation in the general sense has a separate policy at Wikipedia:Mediation.
Formal mediation is mediation provided by the Mediation Committee. "Formal mediation" and "mediation" are used synonymously in this policy.
Chairperson or Chair is a member of the committee elected to act or speak on behalf of the committee in certain situations.
Mediators are members of the Mediation Committee are appointed through the nominations process. These terms are synonymous in this policy. (The Mediation Committee can assign a non-member to an open case if that non-member is a credible nominee. This is a trial mediation.)
Committee or MedCom is the Mediation Committee. Where this policy refers to the Arbitration Committee, "Arbitration Committee" or "ArbCom" is used.
Majority, as in internal decision-making, is when the number of votes in support of a resolution is greater than 50% of the total number of mediators who have voted in that decision. All decisions have a quorum equal to half of the total number of active mediators. The procedures for the majority and quorum of an expulsion vote are different.
Mediation is subject to several overarching principles, most of which mirror the principles which apply to general Wikipedia content discussion. Mediators must ensure that mediation proceedings comply with these principles.
In addition to Wikipedia's five pillars and other editorial policies, the following principles apply to formal mediation:
Mediated agreements are not binding. Any agreement achieved through mediation is not permanently binding. If consensus is achieved in a mediation case, the parties are expected by the community to honour the result. However, the consensus does not apply to articles outside the scope of the mediation, nor is it necessarily permanent. Consensus can change.
Mediation is voluntary. Mediation aims to settle a question about Wikipedia content through guided discussion. Its result therefore requires the consensus of the participants in a dispute. Forced participation is incompatible with the nature of the mediation process, so we cannot compel a party to participate in mediation. However, editors who refuse to take part in mediation and refuse to properly discuss their position on content may be edit warring or disruptively editing, to which the response is usually blocking by an administrator or sanctioning by the community.
Mediation is a means of seeking consensus. Mediators guide a dispute, using discussion, to a sensible conclusion. The aim of mediation is to produce a solution to which all the disputants consent. Mediators do not adjudicate disputes.
Mediation requires collaboration by all sides. Mediation has the same difficulties as regular editorial debate and discussion, in that it cannot be successful without a shared receptiveness to finding common interests among the disputants.
Mediation is not a stepping stone to arbitration. Mediation proceedings are privileged and cannot be used as evidence in an arbitration case or community user-conduct proceedings. Mediation fails when used as a stepping-stone to arbitration and to "victory" over the other disputants.
Mediation will never yield an illegitimate result. While the purpose of mediation is to discern common interests, the committee will not allow proposals that result in illegitimate positions on content. Views may be illegitimate because they contravene site policy, obvious fact, or common sense. If a case cannot proceed without allowing illegitimate positions to influence the proceedings, the mediator or the Mediation Committee will close the case and may refer the parties with illegitimate positions to an appropriate user conduct venue.
Mediators are not security guards. All parties must abide by Wikipedia's standards of conduct. Whilst mediators may use soft tactics (like removing or redacting argumentative or insulting remarks) to maintain focus during proceedings, they will not consistently enforce decorum or civility. If a mediator repeatedly has to enforce decorum, the committee or mediator may summarily close the case and refer the matter to an administrator, the community, or the Arbitration Committee.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a structured discussion about Wikipedia content, guided by an impartial editor (the mediator). Mediation has no prescribed structure, but common features of mediation proceedings are:
- The issue or issues in dispute will be established;
- The positions with regards to each issue will be established;
- The arguments for and against each position will be set out, where possible discerning the common interests of participants;
- Sensible alternatives between each arguments will be proposed (including sandboxing or producing multiple "drafts" of the article(s) or section(s) which are disputed);
- Arguments for and against each alternative will be set out; and
- A final agreed-on alternative will be selected.
If there is support for this final alternative, that agreement is implemented. If no agreement can be formed in regards to any issue, then "no consensus" is the result and the mediation is unsuccessful. If there are several issues and an agreement is reached in respect of some but not all issues, the mediation is "partly successful". If agreement is reached in respect of every issue, the mediation is "successful".
Any agreement formed through mediation will be presumed to have a current consensus and can therefore be implemented by any editor.
While mediation is not binding, mediators are authorised to ask each party to explicitly indicate their consent to the result of the case. Parties should not expect an agreement that accords precisely with their own preferences: consensus requires consideration of all viewpoints but not necessarily unanimity; consensus is the objective of mediation.
While mediators do not enforce conduct, they may establish standards of conduct at the beginning of proceedings, and they may ask that the parties read (or explicitly sign their agreement to) these standards.
Requests for mediation may only be accepted if these conditions are satisfied:
- Acceptance of the request will benefit both the article and Wikipedia;
- The dispute relates to the content of a Wikipedia article or other content page;
- The dispute is not exclusively about the behaviour of a Wikipedia editor;
- The parties must have first engaged in extensive discussion of the matter in dispute at the article talk page and discussion only through edit summaries will not suffice;
- A majority of the parties to the dispute consent to mediation;
- Among the parties who have consented to mediation, every major viewpoint concerning the dispute is represented;
- No legal or office action directives prohibit the dispute; and
- No related dispute resolution proceedings are active in other Wikipedia forums.
- Although disputes that satisfy the first eight prerequisites may be mediated by the Committee, the Committee has the discretion to refuse or refer back to other dispute resolution venues (e.g. dispute resolution noticeboard, third opinion, request for comment, or additional talk page discussion) a dispute which would benefit from additional work at lower levels of the dispute resolution process. Refusals or referrals of this nature may be made if so decided by the Committee chairperson or by two other active members of the Committee, and may be overruled by a majority vote of the active mediators.
Common reasons for rejection of mediation requests are listed in the guide to mediation.
Mediation of a dispute may be requested at the requests for mediation process.
One editor (the "filing party") will submit the request for mediation, in the required format and providing any information about the dispute that the committee requests. The other parties to the dispute will be notified of the request for mediation upon its submission, and must then indicate whether or not they wish to participate in mediation of the dispute.
The Mediation Committee will decide whether the request should be accepted or declined. The request will be accepted only if the prerequisites listed above are satisfied. If a request is accepted, a mediator (or multiple mediators) will be assigned to the case and will then be responsible for conducting proceedings on the talk page. Complaints about the timely or competent conduct of a mediation case are a matter for the Committee's Procedures, so editors with concerns that a mediator is inactive or performing inadequately should refer to that page for the relevant, current procedure.
Location of mediation
Mediation will primarily take place on the "Wikipedia talk:" page of the mediation case information page and its subpages, and not elsewhere on the project. Limited discussion about the case may take place outside of Wikipedia at the mediator's sole discretion, but mediation proceedings must only take place on the case talk pages. Communications outside of Wikipedia is subject to all rules governing off-wiki communication, including emails.
Parties may decline to participate in off-wiki mediation even if they have agreed to on-wiki mediation. No party is compelled to participate in off-wiki discussions, just as no party is compelled to participate in mediation at all. Parties who decline off-wiki mediation need not give any reason and will continue to be able to play a full and equal part in the mediation process through the normal Wikipedia editing process. Declining off-wiki mediation will not be considered disruptive to the mediation process.
Mediation communications are privileged
To encourage participants to speak candidly, Wikipedia has adopted the policy that statements made during mediation cannot be used against the participants in subsequent dispute resolution proceedings. This protection is called "privilege" or "the privileged nature of mediation". All communications during mediation are privileged. The Mediation Committee will protect all interactions made as part of the mediation proceedings, and will prevent such communication being used as evidence in other dispute resolution proceedings, including (but not limited to) arbitration.
For disputes that the Committee directly refers to arbitration, this committee's involvement will end once the arbitration request concerning the dispute is accepted, and will not extend beyond the submission of a balanced summary of the dispute at the "requests for arbitration" stage. No evidence will be submitted by this Committee or its members. The Arbitration policy prohibits the content of mediation proceedings from being used as arbitration evidence without this committee's consent.
Protecting the integrity of mediation does not extend to protecting users who deliberately subvert the mediation process. Therefore, if a party engages in disruptive or bad-faith conduct during mediation, and that conduct later becomes the subject of Wikipedia disciplinary proceedings, the Mediation Committee will decline to protect the privileged nature of that party's communications.
Only members of the Mediation Committee may act as a mediator in formal mediation proceedings, except for authorised trial mediations.
Responsibilities and jurisdiction
The Mediation Committee exists only to provide a recognisable body of users who are authorised to be mediators in disputes brought to formal mediation. The Mediation Committee is not an editorial adjudicator nor a Wikipedia governance body. The Mediation Committee will have jurisdiction over its pages (any Wikipedia, talk, and Category pages relating to Requests for mediation or the Mediation Committee).
The Mediation Committee, through its Chairperson, is responsible for deciding the result of requests for mediation.
The Mediation Committee as a whole is responsible for:
- (i) Providing an adequate mediation service to disputants whose requests are accepted;
- (ii) Deciding complaints about the performance of a mediator; and
- (iii) Referring mediation cases that are closed as unsuccessful to a more appropriate venue.
The Mediation Committee's individual members will decide nominations by non-members to join the committee.
Decision-making in cases
The Mediation Committee does not vote on the outcome of its cases, because its mediators do not adjudicate disputed content. Instead, resolutions to open cases are achieved by discussion and consensus-building among the named parties.
The mailing list exists for co-ordination, mutual support among mediators, and to provide a venue for mediators to obtain feedback and second opinions on their cases. Limited discussion about other issues, like open nominations, may take place on the mailing list (though ultimately decisions regarding nominations must go onto the nomination page). As a group of experienced users, the mediators may also use the mailing list to discuss Wikimedia issues that relate to dispute resolution, because ultimately these may affect the formal mediation process. E-mails between members of the Committee sent through the mailing list are confidential, and no non-member is authorised to access these e-mails. However, current members must remember that future appointees to the Committee are always given full access to the mailing list (and therefore to its archives, which are a full and complete record of mailing list threads and which cannot be deleted).
Membership and appointment
The Mediation Committee was originally appointed by Jimmy Wales and is self-perpetuating. Users may only be admitted to the committee through submission of a "nomination" or "candidacy" and with the consent of a majority (with no more than one oppose vote) of the mediators who choose to opine on their candidacy. Mediation requires a unique and nuanced set of skills. Therefore, only members of the committee may vote in nominations. The mediators welcome community statements or comments and will take them into account, but will not be bound by them.
Members may be expelled from the Mediation Committee by a vote of the mediators if that vote has the (a) support of a supermajority (two-thirds) of those who vote and (b) participation of a number of mediators equal to at least two thirds of the number of active mediators. Inactive mediators may vote and will count towards this "number of mediators". The mediator whose expulsion is being proposed may not vote. Expulsion votes will last no longer than five days. The result of expulsion votes will default to unsuccessful.
Members must be expelled if they:
- (a) Lose the trust of the community;
- (b) Perform as a mediator to a grossly inadequate standard; or
- (c) No longer serve the interests of the encyclopedia by retaining their membership.
Expelled members lose the ability to mediate cases for the Mediation Committee (as well as the right to perform any tasks exclusive to formal mediators). Expelled members are not emeriti members. Emeriti members are simply inactive, and are not expelled.
On occasion, a party must question the actions, attendance, or competence of the mediator assigned to his or her case. In order to ensure that such questions do not detract from the timely, effective conduct of an open case, the Mediation Committee only accepts complaints about the actions of a mediator outside of the case proceedings. Do not make such complaints on the mediation case or case talk pages; to do so will be considered disruptive. The Mediation Committee has adopted procedures for submitting a complaint about the conduct of a mediator in an open case; you must use these procedures to submit your complaint.
Objections to the mediator who is assigned to your case, if raised at the beginning of proceedings and at the time the mediator is assigned, are separate from complaints about the actual conduct of a mediator. Parties who wish to object to the mediator assigned to their case may do so in writing to the Chair of the Mediation Committee.
The Mediation Committee may designate one member to be its Chairperson. The role of Chairperson is to speak on behalf of the Mediation Committee and to represent its interests to the wider community; the Chairperson speaks on behalf of the committee, not for it, and usually designates actions of his or hers that are on behalf of the committee with the text "For the Mediation Committee".
The Chairperson decides the result of open nominations, and will promptly induct successful nominees. The Chairperson is also solely responsible for accepting or declining requests for mediation (which are evaluated against this policy), or making temporary decisions as set down in the committee's procedures. However, other members of the committee may act in lieu of the Chairperson in the event of the Chairperson's absence or as part of pre-arranged cover of the Chairperson's duties.
The Chairperson is elected on the mailing list, and must have the support of a majority of those mediators who choose to vote in the Chairperson elections. The term of the Chairperson will not exceed six months. At the end of a Chairperson's term, a new election will be held. No limit is imposed upon how often one mediator may be Chairperson, even consecutively.
Minor procedural matters that relate to the proper administration of the committee's processes do not require ratification on this Policy, and are codified on the Procedures page from historical practice and convention.
Ratification and amendment
This policy was ratified in September 2012 by a majority vote of the active mediators of the Mediation Committee. That vote is preserved on the ratification page. Several procedures relating to future edits to this policy were adopted during that vote, and are preserved at /Ratification#Sub-procedures.
The preceding version of this policy has been stored on the /Old policy page. Drafting of the current policy took place, variously, on the ratification subpage and at /Draft.
In chronological order, the previous versions of this policy are:
- /Old policy: 2010–2011
- From inception of committee–2004