Wikipedia:Dispute resolution noticeboard/Volunteering

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Hello, and thank you for your interest in assisting with dispute resolution. The dispute resolution noticeboard (DRN) is one of the informal steps in the dispute resolution processes on the English Wikipedia. The main purpose of DRN is to mediate content-oriented disputes between editors. Resolutions obtained at DRN are not formally binding, but are often found to be a useful point of reference for subsequent discussions and actions on the disputed article.

This page is a guide for volunteers who want to assist in dispute moderation at DRN. There are no formal requirements so feel free to begin your participation right away as any editor may comment on any discussion. You are not required to add your name to the list of DRN volunteers before commenting at a dispute, but adding your name to the list below is recommended and helpful for the DRN bot that monitors the status of each case.

How to start[edit]

  • Add your name to the list of DRN volunteers - the DRN bot uses this list to perform some housekeeping chores.
  • Consider adding Template:DRN case status to your watchlist, so you can keep track of the disputes listed on DRN. This page keeps a listing of all cases currently at DRN, and is updated by a robot every half-hour. It sorts cases by age, and lists the amount of time since a volunteer edited a thread, and the current status of a dispute.
  • Pick a case from the list of DRN cases - The list is at the top of the WP:DRN page. Select a case that is marked as 'new', meaning no volunteer has yet volunteered for that case. Where possible, consider moderating older case submissions first, but it's also good to begin your DRN work with a case that interests you and doesn't look too complex regardless of its age. You can moderate any 'new' case provided that you are not involved with the case and that you have no strong conflicts of interest with the case or with the involved parties.

If you don't want to commit to being the moderator of a specific case, you can help at DRN by adding comments to a case or participating at the DRN Talk page. Additionally, one may assist with maintenance tasks such as making sure all parties in the dispute have been notified on their talk page. More experienced users may also make procedural closings, attend to formatting repairs and correct page links and user names.

Moderating a DRN case[edit]

Summary[edit]

  1. Locate a case without a DRN volunteer moderator.
  2. Check to see that there has been sufficient prior discussion and that the dispute is not active on other pages or dispute resolution venues. If not then you may want need to close the case using these instructions. When in doubt check with the DRN volunteer coordinator listed at the bottom of the DRN page header.
  3. Confirm that each participant listed in the case has been notified on their user talk page. If not, then you can manually add this template to their talk page: {{subst:Template:DRN-notice}}.
  4. If all parties have posted their opening comments you can introduce yourself as the DRN volunteer moderator in the case's Discussion section.
  5. Guide the discussion utilizing the suggestions below.
  6. After the case has run its course, close the case either as failed, resolved or closed.

Notifications to case participants[edit]

The DRN bot should have notified all participants on their user talk page when the case was created but additional reminders may be needed as the case progresses. To remind participants that a DRN case needs their input, post the {{DRN participation ping}} template on their user talk page as follows:

== DRN case reminder ==

{{subst:DRN participation ping}}

Refer to the DRN participation ping template page for options and details.

Opening[edit]

  • Locate a case marked 'new' (see below).
Symbol wait old.png – New.
  • Add a comment in the case's Discussion section introduce yourself as a DRN volunteer moderator.
  • Be alert for excessive or personalized opening comments and gently correct these tendencies by alerting the participant(s) in a patient and friendly manner.
  • Review the case information and any related talk page discussions.
  • Make sure all the necessary information has been provided by the filing party. Make corrections or request additional information as needed.
  • Disallow discussion by participants until all parties have made opening comments.
  • The DRN bot will automatically change the cases status once you have made a comment on the case (based on your signature) if your name is listed on the list of volunteers. The case status bar will then look like this:
Pictogram voting wait green.svg – Discussion in progress.

Mediating[edit]

See also WP:Consensus and Mediation Committee process

As a volunteer moderator, your role is to assist the participants in obtaining a mutually satisfactory resolution of their underlying content dispute. Some suggestions:

  • Be cordial and welcoming. Many editors involved in DRN cases are new to Wikipedia and may not be fully aware of all of its policies and guidelines.
  • Be neutral and professional. Being opinionated or flippant may undermine your credibility as a neutral moderator. If you have a strong opinion about the underlying topic in a case it may be better to allow another volunteer handle the case.
  • Guide the discussion by referencing Wikipedia policies and guidelines and avoid making value judgments and taking sides in the content dispute.
  • Avoid becoming a co-party by directly editing the article under discussion.
  • If you have had past dealings with the article or editors involved in the dispute which would bias your response, its best to leave the case to other, uninvolved, DRN volunteers. If someone objects to your involvement in a case, you should either withdraw from the case or initiate a discussion on the DRN talk page so the community can discuss the objection.
  • When starting a case, focus on asking questions rather than making pronouncements.
  • Make sure that everyone agrees to the details of the dispute. Sometimes, a simple misunderstanding can be the source of the problem.
  • Consensus does not mean that all the parties are fully satisfied with the resolution, it merely means that all the parties can live with the resolution as that is the nature of compromise.
  • If the parties are making progress without your assistance, avoid the temptation to comment and sidetrack their progress.
  • In complex cases, imposing a structure (such as a step-by-step process) may be useful to avoid chaos and circular discussions.

Ground rules for parties[edit]

In contentious disputes, establishing ground rules may help structure the discussion. Such ground rules might include:

  • Keeping comments focused on the issue at hand.
  • Insisting on civility and no personal attacks. DRN volunteer moderators may want to 'collapse' comments that personalize the discussion. An explanation for the collapse and a gentle warning will help communicate to the participants your ground rules and expectations. If a volunteer's collapse or removal of content is reverted by a participant, the volunteer should not revert the reversion. If the collapse or warning is disputed then the DRN volunteer may want to discuss and explain the issue further on the participant's talk page.
  • Let the participants know that resolution often comes only through compromise which is an integral part of the Wikipedia collaborative process.
  • When there are multiple issues suggest that they be discussed one at a time. Discussion that veers off course may be 'collapsed' by the volunteer to keep the discussion productive and on track.
  • DRN is not a formal dispute resolution process, and does not result in binding decisions. Nevertheless, participants should generally agree that they will abide by the outcome of the case.

Closing[edit]

Volunteer moderators should close their cases when they have concluded. A case may be closed at 'resolved' or 'failed' (or 'closed' when there is no clear outcome). To close a case, first set the case status to either "resolved" or "failed" or "closed" within the {{DR case status}} template. Second, collapse the entire case by enclosing it in an archive box with a comment explaining the reasons for the closure. Example:

== History of Russia case ==

{{DR case status|closed}}<!-- Bot Case ID (please don't modify): 000 -->

{{drn filing editor|Wiki-editor|00:00, 0 August 2013 (UTC)}}


{{DRN archive top|reason=Reason for closing. ~~~~}}

Filing request and discussion.

{{DRN archive bottom}}

There are three ways to close a case: "resolved", "failed" and "closed".

Resolved[edit]

When all involved parties have agreed on a resolution in an unambiguous manner, the case filing may be closed and the DRN case status template changed to "resolved":

{{DR case status|resolved}}

The case status bar should then look like this:

Pictogram voting keep-green.svg - Dispute resolved successfully.

Failed[edit]

If it becomes apparent that resolution is not possible at this time, mark the case status as "failed". Advise the parties to continue discussing the issue in the article talk page, and/or pursue other methods of dispute resolution such as Request for Comment or WP:Meditation. To close a case as "failed" set the DRN case status template as follows:

{{DR case status|failed}}

The case status bar will look like this after closed:

Pictogram voting delete.svg – Closed as failed.

General close[edit]

Some cases never reach a clear degree of success or failure and may qualify for a 'general' close. For example the involved parties may lose interest during the moderation process etc. In some instances a case may need to be closed preemptively even before a DRN volunteer accepts the case for moderation. Reasons for a preemptive close may include:

  1. Parties have not had extensive discussion on an article or user talk page.
  2. The case is currently being discussed in a Request For Comment or in a Wikipedia noticeboard such as WP:ANI, WP:AN, or WP:RSN.
  3. There is already a consensus at another venue such as WP:RFC, and the DRN case has been filed by an editor who is unhappy with the outcome (see WP:Forum shopping).
  4. Involved parties have indicated they are not willing to participate (or they are blocked etc.).
  5. The dispute was resolved on the article talk page while the case was awaiting moderation.
  6. The dispute is primarily about user conduct not content.

To close a case, edit the DRN case section and place the word "closed" in the case status template, and archive the case with the {{DRN archive top}} template, as shown in this example:

== Moon landing conspiracy case==

{{DRN archive top|reason=The parties have not had extensive discussion of the issue on a talk page. ~~~~}}

{{DR case status|closed}}

... entire DRN case here ....

{{DRN archive bottom}}

After closing the case status box will look like this:

Symbol comment vote.svg – General close. See comments for reasoning.

Joining a case already in progress[edit]

If you would like to contribute to a case that already has a volunteer moderator, feel free to add your insights regarding the content under discussion. Identify yourself and state that you are merely contributing as a regular editor, not as a volunteer. If you wish to assist in leading the mediation process, it may be best to contact the DRN volunteer moderator on their talk page and express your desire to help. A case is not "owned" by any one volunteer however, this is one way of showing respect for the current moderator and avoiding an interruption of the resolution strategy already underway. If you feel that a case is not being handled or moderated properly by another DRN volunteer then bring your concerns to the moderator's talk page or to the DRN talk page for community discussion. If you are moderating a case but cannot continue for some reason, post a notice in the case's Discussion section and on the DRN talk page asking for another volunteer to take over the discussion you have started.

Sometimes a case will be opened by a volunteer, and then become inactive. In those situations, additional help from other volunteers may be desirable. The table of cases at the top of the WP:DRN page will be color-coded to indicate inactive cases that may require intervention and will look like this:

Pictogram voting wait red.png – Needs attention.

This means that it needs the attention of a volunteer. Sometimes the parties may be stuck and need another opinion or the involved parties may have lost interest. Likewise the case may have stalled because the moderator has not followed through. In either situation you may want to read through the case and comment or even assume the role of DRN volunteer moderator.

Another case status is the following:

Time2wait.svg – Dispute inactive.

This case status indicates that the case may have been resolved or the parties have lost interest. Any volunteer may close a stale dispute, as long as a warning has been given that the case will be closing in 24 hrs if no further comments are made.

Awards[edit]

Awards are available for faithful and meritorious service, and one award is also available to give to participants in a dispute who deserve special praise. See the award page for details. Volunteers are encouraged to distribute awards to those who deserve them.

Case status options[edit]

List of the DRN volunteers[edit]

Shortcut:

If you volunteer at the noticeboard, even if only for a short period of time, add yourself to the list of volunteers below. This list helps the DRN bot do its job. The list may also be used by editors to find someone willing to help with a DRN case or other dispute resolution issues.

In addition to the adding your name to the list, consider adding the {{User DRN}} userbox to your user page, or including yourself in Category:Wikipedians who assist at the dispute resolution noticeboard.

If you list yourself here, and later become a party to a DRN case, the DRN bot may become confused and think that the first comment posted by you means a volunteer has taken the case. To avoid this, you can either:

a) Refrain from posting any comments in the case (not even an opening statement) until another volunteer opens the case; or
b) Sign your comments with an unofficial signature that contains your name, but won't be recognized by the bot; or
c) Remove yourself from the DRN volunteer list while the case is starting up.

Your support is very much appreciated.

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