Wikipedia:Volunteer Response Team
|This page documents a procedural policy of Wikipedia.|
It documents various processes by which the English Wikipedia operates.
|This page in a nutshell: The volunteer response team handles a range of liaison and assistance tasks across all Wikimedia projects. A dispute resolution process exists for any editor querying actions based on a VRT ticket.
To contact the volunteer response team, please see Wikipedia:Contact us.To agree to allow your material to be used under an open licence, see Wikipedia:Donating copyrighted materials.
The Volunteer Response Team (VRT) is a group of volunteers who answer most emails sent to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation. Before April 2021, the team used the Open-source Ticket Request System ("OTRS") software to organize and process the email it received. After the open-source version of OTRS was discontinued by its developer, the team now uses Znuny, which is an open-source fork of the OTRS software. OTRS was often used as a short-hand term to refer to the team itself, but the current short-hand term for the volunteer team is VRT.
The Znuny software provides an organized way for multiple people to categorize and respond to third party emails, so the team can be interpreted as a kind of Wikimedia-wide customer service email team. Volunteers must have an exceptionally good track record on Wikimedia projects, and are required to agree to the Confidentiality agreement for nonpublic information.
There are several different email addresses that reach the volunteer team. If you have been advised to "contact VRT" and were sent here, please read Wikipedia:Contact us for further advice, including suggestions for which email address to write to for particular problems as well as other possible ways to resolve your issue.
The volunteer response team receives a wide variety of emails:
- questions about Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects
- grants of license for donated media
- reports of article errors
- issues about biographies of living persons
- complaints of blatant vandalism
- inquiries about re-using text or media
- compliments and feedback
- information requests
Most requests relating to usual editorial matters are referred to normal on-wiki processes. Volunteers may provide more active assistance for defamation and privacy issues and for requests from the subjects of articles. The volunteer response team also acts as a point of contact for third parties unfamiliar with Wikipedia's editing process, who wish to notify Wikipedia about an article error or concern.
User right (global)
All editors with access to the VRT permissions and/or photosubmission queue are given the global VRT permissions agent user right. The user right itself includes only the permission to read pages (held by every IP and user account), access VRT wiki and the ability to enable two-factor authentication. The user right exists for an edit filter which prevents non-VRT members from adding or removing VRT permission templates.
Users, tickets and queues
- See meta:VRT for the main page, and a more complete list of queues and publicly listed volunteers
Tickets and queues
Incoming email requests in Wikimedia's VRTS system are known as "tickets" and are identified by a "ticket number". Emails are categorized on arrival by language and type of content to allow for improved service.
Team members are given access to designated categories of email (known as "queues") at the determination of the VRTS administrators. There are two main sets of queues which directly relate to the English Wikipedia:
- info-en, which handles general inquiries sent in the English language, including most copyright issues. This is a general set of queues, so tickets here may be related to any Wikimedia Foundation project in any language.
- Permissions, which handles tickets from copyright holders granting the Wikimedia Foundation permission to reuse text, images, or other media.
The VRTS system is also used by the Stewards and the English Wikipedia Checkuser and Oversight teams to handle incoming requests.
Membership of the volunteer response team
Team membership is under the direct supervision of the VRTS administrators (themselves approved by the Wikimedia Foundation), to individuals across all projects sufficiently trusted to give courteous and knowledgeable replies. Volunteer team work frequently involves being willing to work on difficult, sensitive, and at times hostile messages sent to Wikimedia; being sensitive to the needs of outsiders; and having exemplary discretion.
The complete list of user accounts on the VRTS system can be found at Meta-Wiki. If you have any doubts that an editor who is referencing an VRT ticket in an edit may not be an VRT respondent, please feel free to contact one of the VRTS administrators listed below via email to clarify, providing a link to the action which referenced the VRT ticket in the summary.
New volunteers are welcome to apply at meta:VRT/Volunteering. Other users are also encouraged to comment publicly or privately on applications listed on that page. The VRTS administrators will discuss all applications privately and decide whether to accept or decline the nomination at their own discretion.
List of volunteer response team leaders (VRTS administrators)
Note: For the complete list of VRTS administrators (including those not active on English-speaking issues) please see meta:VRT#Administrators.
Privacy and team members on the English Wikipedia
Team members must abide by the policies and guidelines of the individual wikis when carrying out tasks on those wikis related to requests received via the VRTS system. Most team actions on the English Wikipedia will be enacted under the Wikipedia:Copyrights and Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons policies.
The volunteer team requests that you contact the editor responsible prior to reverting. VRT agents are not above English Wikipedia policies and do not have any specific editorial control. However, the agent may be in possession of confidential information relevant to the action that should not be published in a public forum.
If you disagree with an edit or logged action that you believe may be related to an VRT ticket, you may initiate normal editorial review procedures as you would with any editor. Additionally, you have the option to:
- Contact the editor who made their change, preferably by email, otherwise on their user talk page. Private correspondence may provide more latitude for the team member to discuss privacy-related issues in confidence.
- If you disagree with the resulting view and would like a second opinion, you have the following options:
- Contact another VRT agent
- Leave a note on the VRT noticeboard
- Contact an VRTS administrator directly, if necessary. Several VRTS administrators are local to the English Wikipedia.
And again, remember that all actions are subject to Wikipedia guidelines, policies, and practices.
Disagreeing with a user's team membership
The volunteer response team is a cross-wiki effort and acts as a resource for all Wikimedia projects. As such, membership in the volunteer response team is not under the jurisdiction of any one particular Wikimedia wiki, its community, or its Arbitration Committee, but is purely determined by the VRTS administrators. Team members are accountable to the VRTS administrators for their actions when using the system. Because the system handles such a wide variety of emails, being sanctioned on one Wikimedia wiki does not automatically terminate users' access to the VRTS system; however, VRTS administrators will look at the underlying reasons for any sanctions to see whether the actions that led to them are incompatible with what is required from a respondent, and come to a consensus decision from that analysis. If you wish to bring any such issue or sanction to the attention of the VRTS administrators, please email one of the administrators listed above. If you have concerns about a pending volunteer nomination currently listed at meta:VRT/Volunteering, please leave a comment in the relevant section highlighting the reasons for your concern or speak to an VRTS admin.
- Wikipedia:VRT noticeboard
- Category:Wikipedia Volunteer Response Team templates
- Commons:VRT, instructions on how to file a permission letter to use an image freely
- meta:VRT/Users and meta:VRT/Personnel
- meta:Communications committee
- Wikipedia:Declaration of consent for all enquiries
- Wikipedia:Donating copyrighted materials
- Wikipedia:Requesting copyright permission
- Wikipedia:Access to nonpublic information
- Template:OTRS topicon, an icon that members of the Volunteer Response Team can add to their userpage to identify themselves