Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Clerks

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Co-ordination of clerking duties takes place at Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee/Clerks. The clerks' procedure guide is at /Procedures.

The Clerks of the Arbitration Committee (usually known as the arbitration clerks or simply the clerks) are editors selected by the Arbitration Committee to assist with the administration and running of the arbitration process. The position of clerk was created by the Committee in January 2006.

Personnel

The following is a list of current arbitration clerks; attached are lists of the inactive and the former clerks. Active clerks who have "(t)" prepended to their list entry are trainees, and may not yet be qualified to deal with all clerk issues. If you require the assistance of a clerk for a general matter, you should post to WT:AC/C (or e-mail the clerks' mailing list if discretion is required); for assistance with a specific and currently-open case, then in the first instance contact the designated case clerk (who is listed at the top of each case page) on their talk page or by e-mail.

This list is accurate as of 22 September 2014.
Active clerks
Temporarily inactive clerks
Inactive clerks
Automated Bots

Remit

The basic purpose of the clerk office is to complete all necessary administration of the arbitration process so as to lessen the workload of the arbitrators. Such administration has a broad scope, but is always at the direction of the Committee and only includes routine and administrative tasks such as: maintaining the Committee's proceedings and documentation; organising and tidying Arbitration cases and request pages; enforcing basic etiquette standards for participants in arbitration cases; implementing the Committee's decisions, and opening and closing cases; and serving notifications of new case requests, case closures, motions, and such.

Things that the clerks normally do include:

  • Opening arbitration case requests that the Committee has voted to accept;
  • Maintaining and organising the Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests subpages, including enforcing Committee guidelines on statements and comments;
  • Delisting requests for arbitration that the Committee has declined to hear;
  • Closing arbitration cases that the Committee has passed a motion to close in relation to, and publishing the final decision (by porting proposals that pass from the "Proposed decision" subpage to the case page in line with standard procedure);
  • Offering procedural and other advice to parties and to those participating in an arbitration case; and
  • Maintaining good order and format on arbitration cases (using, as necessary, their authority to issue formal cautions and bans—enforceable by block—from arbitration pages).

Most of these tasks are very routine in nature, and are regularly undertaken at the explicit direction of an arbitrator on the clerks' mailing list.

To help carry out their tasks, the clerks can write to the Arbitration Committee's mailing list without having their e-mails held for moderation. Clerks are also permitted to edit proposed and final decision pages for purposes such as making clerical changes and drafting implementation notes. They are not granted any other privileges, such as posting proposals to the Proposed decision page or voting on cases. Former clerks do not retain clerk privileges; inactive ones can return to active status with the consent of the clerks (and ultimately the arbitrators).

The clerks are, because of the nature of their role, familiar with arbitration matters, and are frequently consulted by the parties on administrative matters relating to open cases—whether they are officially assigned to them or not. Some clerks have indeed gone on to be elected Arbitrators: FloNight (elected 2006), Newyorkbrad (elected 2007, reelected 2010 and 2012), Rlevse (elected 2008), Coren (elected 2008 and 2012), Jayvdb (elected 2008), Hersfold (elected 2009 and reelected 2011), KnightLago (elected 2009), Mailer diablo (elected 2009), AGK (elected 2011), Worm That Turned (elected 2012), NuclearWarfare (elected 2012), and Salvio giuliano (elected 2012). However, the clerks are most definitely not "arbitrators" in any sense, and clerkship should not be sought—nor viewed—as a springboard to being elected to the committee.

Recusal

Clerks must recuse on any item of arbitration business on which they have a conflict of interest. Full guidance on this issue was written by an arbitrator, on behalf of the committee, and can be read here (clerks' mailing list subscription required).

As may all members of the community, clerks may participate in arbitration cases (including by making proposals on the workshop and by commenting on the talk, Evidence talk, Workshop and Workshop talk, and Proposed decision talk pages). Comments made by clerks on the merits of a case are submitted in their individual capacity, and not as clerks of the Committee, and have no priority over comments by any other editors.

Clerks should not add evidence to the Evidence page of a case that they are clerking, and a clerk that did so would be expected to recuse from clerking duties on that case. Clerks also should not perform clerk duties in cases in which they have been involved in the dispute being considered, or if they have had significant prior negative interactions with any of the parties. Clerks can request feedback from other clerks and can request reassignment of cases where necessary on the clerks' noticeboard or on the mailing list.

If an editor is concerned that a clerk is acting in a manner that would require him to recuse, that editor should open communications with the clerk to relay his concerns. If the matter is not resolved satisfactorily as a result of direct discussion, then the editor should contact the clerk body (on the mailing list or at WT:AC/C). The Arbitration Committee is the final authority on matters of clerk recusal, but the Clerk office usually handles such internal matters without the need for direction or involvement from the arbitrators.

Co-ordination

The activities of the clerks are coordinated for the most part on the clerks' mailing list. An on-wiki co-ordination page also exists at Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee/Clerks (previously at a page called the clerks' noticeboard), although the primary function of that today is to allow non-clerks to solicit clerk assistance in an on-wiki forum. An IRC channel, #wikipedia-en-arbcom-clerks, also exists, for informal coordination and discussion of routine business (and for monitoring the feed of changes to Committee pages from the clerks' IRC bot, arbcombot), although it is not ordinarily used for co-ordination today. There is no head clerk or chairperson position.

Mailing list

The clerks have a mailing list, called clerks-l, that is the primary venue for clerk co-ordination and that is used for:

  • coordination of clerking duties;
  • direction of the clerks by the committee; and
  • internal clerk discussion (including clerk appointments).

Previously, most clerk coordination was done on-wiki (as described above), but e-mail is used almost exclusively as the clerk office has grown larger and as the current clerks and arbitrators have come to prefer it for its ease of use.

The subscribers to the clerks' mailing list, as of 30 July 2014, are:

Clerks (Active or Away)
Bbb23, Callanecc,[1] Hahc21,[2] Ks0stm,[3], Lord Roem, Penwhale,[4] Seddon[5], Sphilbrick
Clerks (Former)
Lankiveil
Arbitrators
AGK,[6] Beeblebrox, Carcharoth, David Fuchs, GorillaWarfare, LFaraone, NativeForeigner, Newyorkbrad, Roger Davies, Salvio giuliano, Seraphimblade, Timotheus Canens, Worm That Turned
Former arbitrators
Hersfold, NuclearWarfare, SirFozzie
^ These subscribers also administer the mailing list (in mailman nomenclature, they are list owners).

Some subscribers may fall into multiple categories, in which case they are rather arbitrarily assigned to one.

The mailing list's archives are private because topics not appropriate for public discussion are very occasionally discussed. However, the list is primarily used for coordination.

Appointments

The process of becoming a Clerk is not as regimented as appointments are to most other Wikipedia functions and there certainly is nothing similar to Wikipedia:Requests for adminship. New clerks are first appointed as trainees, by agreement of the clerk body. Trainee clerks will complete a period of mentorship, which includes being taught how to complete all clerking tasks, and can then be appointed as full clerks by the Arbitration Committee—usually at the request of the clerk body (when the full clerks agree that the trainee has completed their training). The Committee has no obligation to accept the clerks' recommendation that a trainee be appointed, although they have never ignored such a recommendation. The clerks or the Committee can terminate a traineeship upon majority agreement of either body.

Editors interested in becoming a clerk should contact a current full clerk and ask that they be considered. Editors who had their clerk application declined may be added to a list of potential trainees.

Clerking requires a balanced blend of diplomacy and firmness and demands more caution than expected of the typical Wikipedia editor. Potential clerks are also expected to be competent (clueful), trustworthy, non-controversial (because clerks will have to work with many different parties from many backgrounds), and good communicators. Generally the clerks will look for an editor who has:

  • been active for around a year,
  • made more than 1000 edits
  • experience working in heated areas
  • no current or recent sanctions imposed by an administrator, the community or the Committee
Note: This list is not all encompassing, generally discussion among the clerks focus on whether they think the applicant will be able to be an effective clerk based on their interactions with other editors.

It was standard practice in previous years for there to be no traineeships but for there to be an informal group of non-clerks (referred to as "helpers") who assisted with clerking matters and on the arbitration pages, having expressed their interest in becoming a clerk; then, there were only full clerks and they were only appointed by the Arbitration Committee. Many of the currently active official Clerks got their start at performing Clerk tasks in this way. But today, because the more structured paradigm of traineeships has emerged, the clerks no longer solicit informal assistance from Wikipedia editors and would instead ask that those who are interested in clerking please consider applying for a traineeship; more staff is always welcome! In addition to this general discouragement, and because the official Clerks are the appointed representatives of the Arbitration Committee and act on behalf of the Committee in some circumstances, there are some things that should be done only by clerks and trainees:

  • Opening and closing cases;
  • Make announcements on behalf of the Committee;
  • Archiving or removing motions;
  • Removing threaded comments from the main requests for arbitration page (but helpers may move comments into the section of the person making the comments);
  • Removing or shortening excessively long presentations on the main page or on the evidence page;
  • Removing rejected cases from the main page within the 10-day period for consideration (a Clerk or Arbitrator may remove a case that has been listed for less than 10 days if there is a clear majority to reject and no chance of acceptance);
  • Editing the /Proposed decision subpages, except for correction of obvious typographical or numbering errors;
  • Editing the case status templates, or other maintenance templates transcluded from Arbitration requests or case pages; and
  • Making policy-like statements, such as announcing the procedure for handling the changeover of ArbCom members (eg. [7] [8]).

Procedures

A procedural guide for clerking operations is at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Clerks/Procedures.