The Arbitration process exists to impose binding solutions to Wikipedia conduct disputes (i.e., not content disputes requiring Mediation) that neither community discussion, Administrators, nor Bureaucrats have successfully resolved. Arbitration on the English Wikipedia is conducted by a panel of experienced users, named the Arbitration Committee (ArbCom), which is elected annually by the community and bound by the Arbitration Policy (ARBPOL). In addition to adjudicating serious disputes, this committee also resolves issues by private hearings if factors such as privacy may preclude public consideration. The Committee has significant autonomy to address unresolvable issues among the community, but at the same time does not exist to subvert community consensus, adjudicate matters of article content (Wikipedia has no "content committee"), or to decide matters of editorial or site policy. This Arbitration Committee's jurisdiction extends only to the English Wikipedia, although some other Wikimedia projects have their own committees.
Selection and appointment
Elections are conducted annually, in December. Nominations usually open about a month beforehand, in November. The successful candidates are typically long-term, experienced editors of Wikipedia. No candidate has ever been appointed who is not an administrator (usually with years of experience), although there is no prohibition against appointments of non-administrators. However, candidates must be adults in their country of residence in order to be appointed.
Scope of arbitration
The Committee accepts cases related to editors' conduct (including improper editing) where all other routes to resolve the conduct issues have failed, and will make rulings to address problems in the editorial community. However it will not make editorial statements or decisions about how articles should read ("content decisions"), so users should not ask the Committee to make these kinds of decisions. It will not do so.
Arbitration is the last step in the dispute resolution process: it is a last resort, only to be employed when all else has failed or there is very good cause to believe they will not help. Try other steps first, including discussion between disputants and, where appropriate, mediation. The Arbitration Committee only deals with the most serious, entrenched, or persistent disputes and cases of rule-breaking, where all other reasonable means have failed.
To request that a dispute be arbitrated, see the arbitration request page.
Requests for Arbitration can also be used to present questions and requests related to previous closed cases. These include clarification of the intent and scope of a decision, appeals of past sanctions, and requests to amend remedies and enforcement measures.
Prior dispute resolution
The Committee will generally accept cases without any previous formal dispute resolution measures being followed if, and only if, the case would:
- Review emergency actions to remove administrator privileges;
- Examine unusually divisive disputes among administrators or the community; or
- Arbitrate a dispute directly referred to the Arbitration Committee by Jimbo Wales
For information about requesting Arbitration, and how cases are accepted and dealt with, please see Wikipedia:Arbitration guide, which contains important information. You may also wish to review the following:
- Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Enforcement: Violations of existing arbitration decisions are referred to the Committee's enforcement process. Although enforcement is within the jurisdiction of ArbCom, the actual process is staffed by Wikipedia administrators. Further instructions on requesting enforcement of an arbitration decision are on that page.
- Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard: Noticeboard of general announcements related to the Arbitration Committee's business.
- Wikipedia:Arbitration/Index: Archive of closed proceedings of the Arbitration Committee.
The current members of the Arbitration Committee (and more information on the Committee itself) is at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee. Information on the panel of clerks appointed by the committee to administrate the arbitration process is at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Clerks.