Requests for Comment/Abolish the Code of Conduct Commission

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Brief history of the Commission:

  • Code of Conduct was enacted as policy on May 6th, 2017. There was no specific enforcement authority, much rather it was left to platform moderators/Stewards as appropriate.
  • An RfC was launched to establish a Commission to manage all violations of the Code of Conduct - this was formally adopted in October 2017 after it was deemed the Code of Conduct was 'unenforceable' by platform moderators.
  • A reform RfC was closed in July 2020 after the Commission self-recognised it was ineffective and dysfunctional in resolving Code of Conduct complaints.

In this RfC, I will outline my rationale for proposing the abolition of the Commission, reasons why the reforms in 2020 have not produced an effective Commission and why the Commission is still ineffective today. Firstly, let's discuss the 2020 reform and why the proposals did not address the problem and address some user comments on the 2020 RfC:

  • 2020 RfC: Scope (Proposal 1.1): Users that do not show previous dispute resolution methods have been attempted will be redirected to the other groups and will not be heard by the CoCC. If we consider the self-declared statistics from the Commission, 9/10 complaints to the Commission were redirected elsewhere - with no information stating that a complaint was received further about the handling by appropriate first-level moderation systems, this suggests first-level moderators have a 100% resolution rate of complaints directed to them in the first instance.
  • 2020 RfC: Transparency & Accountability (Proposal 1.7): The CoCC are required to disclose at least every 90 days the following [...], this is interesting as the Commission failed to report these statistics for the first 213 days and no satisfactory reason was provided for this delay, especially why the first 90 day report was missed - considering the Commission had no open or active cases in the first 90 days. It is important to note, that I repeatedly requested these statistics be reported by the Commission and was always given a positive response without a positive follow up. I can only postulate whether there was a lack of motivation to be transparent or whether there was a disregard for the Communities authority here. I would also like to highlight that two of the four current Commissioners supported this proposal - given the slow reaction to being transparent, this would also suggest the attitudes of the Commission as a whole are either difficult to change or not deeply rooted in the transparent manner both members voted for.
  • 2020 RfC: Comments from Proposal 2, Abolishment: Considering what I am proposing, I feel it is appropriate to respond to these comments pre-emptively:
    • Final Review Body - the information I have shared above coming from the public reporting directly from the Commission suggests there have been no appeals to any action taken.
    • Stewards not handling things correctly - Stewards are accountable to the community, any complaint regarding the effective working of Stewards or the review of a decision would be open to community scrutiny. If we have a Commission to review this, and the Commission support the Stewards (of which 50% of Commission members are), this would prevent the community scrutinising Stewards as current policy states a decision by the Commission is binding for a minimum of three months.

Let us now have a quick look back at the reason for why a Code of Conduct Commission was created in the first place - from the original RfC in 2017 it states - We really had no way to enforce the Code of Conduct. The Enforcement abilities pre RfC were:

  • System Administrators have responsibility for enforcement (context: System Administrators formed a majority of Stewards and had total moderation responsibility for Phabricator and IRC at the time)
  • IRC Operators control IRC-violations
  • Phabricator Admins control Phabricator-violations.

Post the RfC, the Commission became the sole arbitrators of all violations on all platforms. Following the 2020 RfC, initial enforcement was passed back to Platform moderators (essentially, Enforcement was reverted back to pre-Commission). If this is the case, haven't we provided a reason for having the Commission, and then three years later gone 'that was a really bad decision we made to introduce the Commission, the previous system worked'.

Finally, a comment regarding the effectiveness of the current Commission - the on-going case the Commission is dealing with was filed by myself in November 2020. Since November, I have received repeated assurances by the Commission that the case was actively being dealt with, to only find out the Commission took over a month to reach a point where it was able to begin considering the wider scope of the report. In the weeks following this, I kept receiving assurances the Commission would provide a final report within weeks, at the end of January, this changed to the Commission providing two separate reports in parts. Four months later, to my knowledge the Commission have not made any real progress since January and are instead delaying and prolonging the first real case it has had in over 4 years. As a user, I have lost confidence in the Code of Conduct Commission as I made the careful decision to escalate the case to the Commission to ensure it was given due diligent thought. As a platform moderator, I feel I have been mislead by the Commission - promising to deal with complaints 'with urgency and confidentiality'. I would like to invite the Commission to comment on the 'confidentiality' aspect as I have been passed information which suggests the Commission did not treat my complaint in a confidential manner - with one member of the Commission attempting to actively sabotage the complaint.

I hope the information I have provided above shows that the Commission is ineffective, poor and beyond all else, beyond reform. I heavily recommend that the Commission is abolished as it makes a mockery of the process. John (talk) 21:43, 26 March 2021 (UTC)

I'm sorry to read about the challenges you have faced.
I'm sure the tone and details you have provided will help you get a resolution for your concerns. Rsterbal (talk) 19:47, 27 March 2021 (UTC)

Proposal 1: Abolish the Code of Conduct Commission[edit | edit source]

The Code of Conduct Commission is abolished formally when the current terms of all members ends on July 31st, 2021.

Support[edit | edit source]

  1. Per all of my comments above. John (talk) 21:43, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  2. I do not know how it was before, but since i joined - The (whole) current commission is bad (i don't want call them incompetent) and I do not believe that there will be better candidates for the next term,--MrJaroslavik (talk) 21:59, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  3. Somewhat regretfully supporting this, but as I articulated in my proposed proposal 1.6c in the July 2020 RfC, this was one of the reason(s) for that proposal, which, unfortunately, didn't pass, as I did foresee problems not only with a lack of independent oversight of Stewards and Global Sysops but also with the time commitment of the sitting Commission members at the time, all of whom were either SRE or Steward members. It was this time commitment that is largely to blame for the current state of the Commission generally being dysfunctional. I did join as an independent Commission member last summer, but the Commission only really had one local case it was investigating, which was superceded by the Steward closure of four Reception wikis for systemic Content Policy violations. When I became a Steward, the Commission was again composed of the same SRE/Steward makeup as the previous Commission, all of whom were encumbered with myriad responsibilities. We could try to reform the Commission with Proposal 2 below, requiring some or all members to be independent, but I would just point out that when the Commission's membership expanded to five members last year, only four were elected because there were only four candidates. As such, it is unlikely we could find the number of active Mirahezians, ideally with some activity level on Meta, who don't hold either SRE, Steward, or Global Sysop roles. So, with regret, Proposal 1 as articulated does make the most sense at this time, and would allow the Commission to conclude any open cases and provide an orderly wind up of the Commission. Dmehus (talk) 22:14, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  4. Despite the work attempted to reform the commission, I do sadly believe that its continued operation is unsustainable. It has been unable to handle the only case that it has ever dealt with, struggles to get new volunteers to work with it and mostly ends up referring cases elsewhere. ~ RhinosF1 - (chat)· acc· c - ('}) 22:45, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  5. Supporting per reasons above.
  6. Support I don't really like commenting on RFC but I've read the details John gave and I could in no conscious support a commission that has members actively sabotaging, a commission which keeps giving positive replies but never acting and a commission that misleads or down right lies. Paladox (talk) 23:12, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  7. Supporting per the reasons above. Joritochip (talk) 04:26, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  8. Supporting per reasons stated. Drgng (talk) 05:35, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  9. Symbol support vote.svg Support Per the reasons stated above and by the proposer, I unfortunately must agree that moving forward, abolishing the commission would be the most sensible idea. Reception123 (talk) (C) 06:04, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  10. Symbol support vote.svg Support - For reasons stated above. ― C.Syde (talk | contribs) 09:43, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  11. Symbol full support vote.svg Strongest support I'm strongly supporting this abolition, as it has already reached its breaking point. There's no sense of keeping this around, as the Code of Conduct could be handled much better without this. DarkMatterMan4500 (talk) (contribs) 10:41, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  12. Symbol support vote.svg Support As three of the current members of the Code of Conduct Commission have themselves voted to abolish their own commission I cannot see a reason for me to oppose this. I think that while the idea of the CoCC was good in theory the evidence presented by John shows to us that in practice it has not been functional, from what I understand also unprofessional and has in consequence not lived up to the community's expectations when it decided to create it. However I do wonder (and I hope someone can answer this) how appeals will be handled after the commission is abolished. As an example if I was sanctioned by a Steward for violating the Code of Conduct and the same Steward declined my appeal what could I do to appeal my case further? Would the "body" of Stewards collectively review my case or would my chances be over after I appealed to the sanctioning Steward? DeeM28 (talk) 11:24, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
    Thank you for the constructive and helpful comments, DeeM28, as always. Your question is a good one, though based on the community's currently authorized setup for the Code of Conduct Commission, it's not that much different from the status quo in that whenever a user had appealed their global sanction to the Commission, they were referred to the local platform moderators (i.e., Stewards, if it occurred on-wiki, or applicable Discord/IRC platform moderator, if it occurred on either of those channels) to ask for a reconsideration of their sanction. We would further advise them that if the local platform moderator(s) declined their appeal, or they had not received a response from local platform moderator(s) within a reasonable period of time (say 3-4 weeks), they could resubmit their appeal to the Commission for consideration. No appeal(s) have been heard thus far in this Commission's mandate, so I can only surmise the original requesting user(s) were either satisfied with local reconsideration or haven't yet applied for local reconsideration. Essentially, yes, though, to answer your question, Stewards collectively would discuss appeals by Steward- or Global Sysop-imposed sanctions in much the same way the Commission would've considered sanction appeals. Hope that helps. Dmehus (talk) 14:48, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  13. Symbol support vote.svg Support Per all reasons stated above.  —Lakelimbo (talk)  14:04, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  14. Symbol full support vote.svg Strongest support They recognized that they couldn't enforce the Code of Conduct. MarioMario456 (talk) 14:33, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  15. Symbol support vote.svg Support Everyone is enthusiastic about cracking down on misconduct, but proposer makes an airtight case that the Commission has not worked because it cannot work. Spıke (talk) 14:55 27-Mar-2021
  16. Symbol support vote.svg Support Sounds like an idea that didn't pan out, give it a retirement. GethN7 (talk) 15:14, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  17. Symbol support vote.svg Support Per reasons stated above. Fredster33 (talk) 17:39, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  18. Symbol support vote.svg Support Though I have not been on Miraheze for all that long, the reasoning presented above looks sound in my eyes, and I find myself agreeing with the proposal based off of the argument, as well as other points presented by community members. Turtle84375 (talk) 18:42, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  19. Symbol support vote.svg Support per nom. KMFStudios (talk) 00:16, 28 March 2021 (UTC)
  20. Symbol support vote.svg Support If the committe themselves are for it, and for the clearly laid out reasons above, it makes sense to disolve it. --Aquatiki (talk) 01:38, 28 March 2021 (UTC)
  21. Symbol support vote.svg Support I have designed committees that failed before. There's no shame in trying things out and then ending them when they don't work. --Labster (talk) 07:34, 28 March 2021 (UTC)
  22. blarb Naleksuh (talk) 07:37, 28 March 2021 (UTC)
  23. Regretfully. The commission is a curious combination of being unneeded most of the time, and being too inefficient to actually function when needed. This I feel is in large part due to the nature of it being a volunteer run body. Most of us, who have multiple roles on Miraheze alone, simply don't have the time to collaborate quickly and effectively on the complex issues that we actually have reviewed. Even then, these cases have also been extremely difficult to resolve, as they would require the commission to effectively enforce an imposition upon the community or other group. In these situations, I would always prefer for the other body to review the problem and resolve it themselves, which entirely negates the purpose of the commission. Furthermore, one of the original reasons we instated the commission at all was so that we had a body to deescalate issues. However, the commission (largely as a result of the issues I have already stated, but there have been other contributing factors as well) has failed at this purpose. Membership as well, has been falling. We're down at four members, and I doubt (even had this proposal been soundly shot down by the community) that membership would be increase for next year. Due to my own personal commitments, I hadn't really been planning on sitting on the commission for as long as I have. -- Void Whispers 17:55, 28 March 2021 (UTC)
  24. Symbol support vote.svg Support per nom. --Firestar464 (talk) 06:43, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
  25. Symbol support vote.svg Support per the above commission members. — Arcversintalk 21:24, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
  26. Symbol support vote.svg Support Per above. HeartsDo (Talk / Global / Wiki Creator) 15:13, 4 April 2021 (UTC)

Oppose[edit | edit source]

  1. Weak Oppose.png Weak oppose Abstain. From what has been presented here, this proposal has been made because the proposer doesn't like the pace of the commission's investigation and deliberation of a single case brought before the commission. If this is the only justification to bring this proposal forward, then there is an obvious conflict of interest here. --Robkelk (talk) 14:37, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
    • @Robkelk: That is not the only justification. There are many other issues with the CoCC that were listed above. Additionally, I believe that particular issue was included because it highlights their lack of organization in some sense, as they were unable to produce the final report that they had promised to produce on multiple occasions. Joritochip (talk) 15:51, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
      • There are multiple issues, really, but for me they mainly revolve around organizational design of the Commission, the lack of apparent need, and in regards to the Commission's final report on the case, that will still be delivered as part of the Commission's conclusion of existing cases. The main reason why it has not been delivered is because of the fact that the composition of the current Commission (and indeed, most past Commissions) is all or nearly all Stewards, SRE, and/or Global Sysops, so each member has multiple conflicting priorities. So, in short, I would characterize the main issues as being organizational design, functional duplication/lack of apparent need, and lack of volunteers to put their names forward on a consistent basis. Dmehus (talk) 15:58, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
        • In that case, I change my vote to "abstain". --Robkelk (talk) 16:13, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
    • It's also one of the very few cases that have ever been handled. ~ RhinosF1 - (chat)· acc· c - ('}) 16:13, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  2. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose I don't want to convert this into BS like FANDOM, where you're banned just for saying some random insult or defending your friends. FtosorciM (talk) 14:40, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
    • @FtosorciM: This request for comment does not change the Code of Conduct itself, it just changes who enforces it. Currently, the team that is tasked with handling cases related to the Code of Conduct has many issues, which is why this RfC is proposing it is abolished. Joritochip (talk) 02:57, 4 April 2021 (UTC)

Comments[edit | edit source]

  1. Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment: Could you maybe clarify on what you mean when you said it makes a complete mockery of the process? DarkMatterMan4500 (talk) (contribs) 21:54, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
    Sure, essentially my argument revolves around the fact we have a Code of Conduct Commission that can't resolve Code of Conduct investigations, can't maintain the confidentially of them, can't maintain timelines and can't meet community expectations on transparency. We have a Commission set up to 'solve the fact the Code of Conduct is unenforceable' which itself fails to enforce the Code of Conduct. If you had filed a complaint under the pretence the complaint would be investigated with urgency and confidentially, how would you feel to find out that after four months, there is little to no progress, that a Commissioner is attempting to prevent other members of the Commission from investigating the complaint and to top it all of, information you submitted and shared in confidence, is being shared to people who shouldn't have access to it? John (talk) 22:07, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
    @John: That makes total sense now. What you're saying is that it's just as ineffective as teaching a baby to not cry. In other words, even if we enforce it, it's not truly showing off its effectiveness, but rather the opposite effect. So what this means, it could potentially backfire and cause quite a ruckus for both parties. Just recently (going off-topic, but still somehow relates to the Code of Conduct), I've investigated 3 wikis (although one of them is already deleted) with serious violations of not only that type of violation, but also the Content policies. I'm sure you're probably know which wikis I'm talking about as I heard the Stewards (aside from you and Doug), are reviewing on what to do with them. DarkMatterMan4500 (talk) (contribs) 22:31, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
    @John:, it's extremely difficult to have both confidentiality and transparency - one precludes the other. But you've cited lack of both as reasons to abolish the commission. Perhaps the underlying issue here is with expectations rather than with the commission's effectiveness. --Robkelk (talk) 14:33, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
    It is not difficult at all to have confidentiality of reports but transparency in reporting the progression of reports. In the last RfC, the community mandated that every 90 days the Commission needs to be transparent in reporting the number of cases open, number of cases closed and number of cases declined - I don’t believe providing these figures breaches confidentially but is definitely transparent. The issue of confidentiality I raised was that my report was shared with members not part of the Commission, without my consent or without the Commissions consent either - one member chose to discuss material with someone else who wasn’t privy to the confidential report I thought I filed. I do not believe it is an unreasonable expectation that the Commission state the number of open requests and don’t share a confidential report without consent of either the reporter or the Commission deciding it is necessary or beneficial to do so. John (talk) 17:43, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  2. Why Abolish it ROSHAN SHANU OFFICIAL (t) 13:12, 28 March 2021 (UTC)
  3. Symbol neutral vote.svg Abstain I originally wanted to oppose this and suggest changes to the policy instead. But considering there is not enough apparent need, I am abstaining from this RfC instead. It's obvious that this proposal would pass anyway. R4356th 3,210 Local Contributions Logged Actions Rights CentralAuth (talk) 09:19, 29 March 2021 (UTC)

Proposal 2: Reform Initiative[edit | edit source]

There is a recognised problem with the current Code of Conduct Commission, but rather than abolish, another attempt should be made to reform the Commission. If this proposal is passed, a discussion on reform must have taken place prior to the end of the current Commission's terms ending on July 31st, 2021. If no reform RfC has taken place, the Commission is suspended until such a reform RfC has concluded.

Support[edit | edit source]

Oppose[edit | edit source]

  1. Per my comments above, we can not reform a system which doesn't work at a fundamental level - we can only make it a little less broken, but that does not mean it works. John (talk) 21:43, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  2. I don't think reform can help and also I don't think there can be something reformed with success,--MrJaroslavik (talk) 22:04, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  3. Regrettably, I also don't feel reform is feasible, as this would require the current Commission members, encumbered with other responsibilities, to draft such a plan. The Commission was a good-faith idea, but functionally, I just don't think it is fit for its purpose, and there's simply a lack of willing volunteers to put their names forward, who don't hold other (and multiple, in some cases) global responsibilities. Dmehus (talk) 22:20, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  4. As has been said above, the commission has ran out of rope and reform is long past feasible. ~ RhinosF1 - (chat)· acc· c - ('}) 22:46, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  5. Doesn't seem feasible at this point.
  6. Symbol full oppose vote.svg Strongest oppose After having a look at the Code of Conduct Commission, it seems that I will cast my vote here as it does seem to be out of commission itself. Such irony, isn't it? DarkMatterMan4500 (talk) (contribs) 22:59, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  7. Oppose: As I said above I cannot support a commission that has active members sabotaging, a commission which misleads or down right lies. I would support creating a total new commission under a new name and ran differently. But the current commission cannot be reformed. It has lost the support of the community. Paladox (talk) 23:15, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  8. Oppose: Unfortunately it sounds like the Commission has no interest in reforming themselves following the failed attempt at reform in 2020. Joritochip (talk) 04:26, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  9. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose - For reasons stated above. ― C.Syde (talk | contribs) 09:43, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  10. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Given the airtight case for repeal made above, this counterproposal calls for us to tread water while we await more paperwork, to decide not to decide. Repeal, already! A persuasive RfC to re-create the Commission, along lines more likely to work, will remain in order. Spıke (talk) 14:58 27-Mar-2021
  11. Symbol oppose vote oversat.svg Strong oppose Reasons stated above. --Matttest (talk) 09:28, 29 March 2021 (UTC)

Comments[edit | edit source]

  • What if the requirement for a discussion by a stated deadline is met by a positive acknowledgement but no positive follow-up, much like the work of the Commission itself? Spıke (talk) 15:00 27-Mar-2021
    Interesting hypothetical question. My understanding from the reading of Proposal 2 is that an RfC would need to have been initiated and underway (if not closed and in the implementation phase) by the Commission by the stated deadline otherwise the Commission would be functionally suspended with no current members of the Commission after their terms expired on July 31, 2021. Hope that helps. Dmehus (talk) 15:07, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting question.svg Question: Why can't reform initiatives be taken on this RfC? R4356th 3,210 Local Contributions Logged Actions Rights CentralAuth (talk) 15:04, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
    • Because no one has any idea what reform would look like nor a desire to implement it. ~ RhinosF1 - (chat)· acc· c - ('}) 16:16, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
      • You cannot say that with certainty. I do not agree with the idea of abolishing anything that does not work out well just on the basis of a failed Commission elected for one single year. I will elaborate on this and share my ideas in a comment later. R4356th 3,210 Local Contributions Logged Actions Rights CentralAuth (talk) 07:39, 28 March 2021 (UTC)
        • The commission has been failing ever since it started. That's why we attempted to reform it. If anyone has ideas, they should share them. I can't say no one has with certainty but the fact none have been presented gives me that opinion. ~ RhinosF1 - (chat)· acc· c - ('}) 07:44, 28 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Frankly, if it does get abolished, will the Code of Conduct Commission be replaced with an advanced role? DarkMatterMan4500 (talk) (contribs) 14:36, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
    • DarkMatterMan4500 No, the Code of Conduct Commission would conclude its term on July 31, 2021, and local platform moderators would handle any appeals and restrictions. In both cases, practically speaking, this was in many respects the status quo in that the Code of Conduct Commission was always to be a final point of dispute resolution, arbitration, and appeal. Abolishment of the Commission would not preclude some successor committee from being proposed for discussion, if the community felt it was needed to fill a gap, though. Any future proposal would be well advised to take heed from this RfC and consider the shortcomings of this Commission. Hope that helps. Dmehus (talk) 14:50, 3 April 2021 (UTC)

Administrative Point[edit | edit source]

If all proposals fail - the Commission continues to operate as-is. This is effectively the 'Status Quo', but rather than vote on the status quo, rejection of change should effectively identify the status quo as being the preferred route.