Wikipedia:Association of Members' Advocates
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It claimed to be mindful of due process, fundamental justice and fairness and the principle of audi alteram partem (hearing both sides) in dispute resolution. However, in discussions here and here, it was found by many Wikipedians to be bureaucratic, and prone to wikilawyering. Some reform was suggested. Two months later, when this reform failed to surface and most cases were not responded to for a long time, the project was shut down. This page is maintained as a historical reference of the group's design and activities.
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is that process in which an individual (an Advocate) provides assistance to a particular Wikipedian or group of Wikipedians involved in a dispute. This assistance includes advice, assistance during the negotiation phase of Wikipedia's dispute resolution process, or:
- Providing access to and explanations of, Policy (particularly pages like Wikipedia:Conflict resolution, Wikipedia:Tutorial, Wikipedia:Help desk, M:Foundation issues, etc...)
- Communicating on article discussion pages and the user talk pages in question; Occasionally advocacy may require directly involving oneself in the article involved in a dispute.
- Assisting in the Wikipedia:Conflict resolution process (assuming it is necessary) and seeking out additional assistance as necessary. It is preferable to achieve an equitable solution to the problem at hand which does not involve escalation to a formal dispute resolution process.
- Understanding and articulating the advocee's viewpoint in the dispute and assisting/representing that viewpoint during Mediation or Arbitration, when necessary.
- Being an example of policy accordance and civility, especially when involved in Advocacy of an "official" nature.
What Advocacy is NOT
- Advocacy is not mandatory, neither the advocate nor the advocee is obligated by wikipedia policy to engage in the advocacy process. Some editors appreciate the informality that this optional nature affords the advocate.
- Advocacy is NOT a lawyer-client relationship. - An Advocate should see their Advocacy relationship more like that of an older sibling, or an informal wardship or charge; Advocates should at all times stand against WikiLawyering. To illustrate this, Advocates do not take on clients, they take on advocees.
- Advocacy is NOT an official Wikipedia procedure. - The AMA is a voluntary user-group and, as such, Advocates will take cases on a volunteer basis. It is the advocates themselves, by consensus and as individuals who determine how to best solve disputes.
- Advocacy is NOT a method to coerce the breaking up of a dispute by Administrative action. -- Some Advocates are Administrators, others are not. The advocacy process as a rule of thumb will NOT involve the use of any special 'admin powers' on the part of an advocate.
- Advocacy is NOT a Complicated and Difficult Wikipedian Procedure -- For those requesting an Advocate's help, the procedure is usually as simple as talking to a friend who will listen. For the Advocate, the process is often as simple as giving good advice to a friend. For more difficult cases, an Advocate can obtain help or advice from other Advocates. New and unique problems rarely arise, and almost anything can be solved with good communication between all parties concerned.
Information for users who want an advocate
Generally, the scope of, and appropriate methods for advocacy will be determined by the Advocate, based upon consultation with the person requesting assistance (the 'advocee'). Advocacy is an informal and voluntary process: there is no "right" (or obligation) to use the services of an Advocate.
The AMA will attempt to find a suitable Advocate for you. Advocates make an effort to preserve your privacy and to maintain a level of confidentiality and professionalism expected of counseling professionals. With some exceptions, however Advocates are not trained professional counselors, but volunteers. Though Advocates are volunteers, in some cases an individual advocate may (because they are a lawyer or social worker etc.) have an independent obligation to maintain confidentiality to varying degrees. If you desire a high degree of privacy, it is possible for you to consult with an advocate through email or other "off-wiki" methods. Please note that due to the open nature of Wikipedia, communications with the AMA or individual Advocates "on-wiki" cannot be considered confidential, as most areas within the wikipedia are available for anyone to read.
Assistance during formal resolution processes
It is preferable to reach a resolution -- through advocacy alone -- which does not escalate to more formal dispute resolution procedures, however an Advocate can assist you in presenting your case during more formal processes such as Mediation or Arbitration. Because mediation is a consensual process, the involvement of an Advocate in the actual process may depend on the approval of the other party and the Mediator. Advocates can also help gather information and discuss your options with you and give advice on a more informal basis. In the latter case their identity does not have to be revealed to anyone if you wish the consultation to remain anonymous.
Rules of the Association
At present, the rules are provisional and incomplete, and due to the informal nature of advocacy advocates are guided more by good judgement than a formal set of rules and procedures, but our informal "Constitution" (aka "ABC") is an attempt to give a little of order to these rules. The Guide to Advocacy and the AMA Handbook can also provide more insight into what it is an Advocate does, focused mainly on how members should behaive on a case.
Should informal advocacy procedures fail to reach an acceptable solution, and in the interests of fairness and impartiality -- considered "core concepts" of advocacy -- during formal dispute resolution, the following guidelines have been adopted. These may be considered to be fundamental rules:
- A user should decline to act as Mediator in a case where the user has previously acted as an Advocate.
- A user should decline to act as Advocate in a case where the user has previously acted as a Mediator.
- A user should decline to act as a Mediator if that user has recently acted as an Advocate for or against one of the parties in the Mediation.
- When participating in Mediation, users who are both Advocates and Mediators should state clearly the capacity in which they are acting.
- Users who are also Arbitrators should not serve as Advocates while they are members of the Arbitration Committee. (This is to avoid putting Arbitrators in the position of deciding cases in which they have already supported one side.)
- Alex756 (Founder, Coordinator) -- 30 Apr 2004 - 16 Jan 2006, also the founder of the AMA (no longer an advocate member, (and no longer a member of Wikimedia because there is no membership as of Dec. 11, 2006) but please see his user page and feel free to contact him if necessary, he is available and willing to help, if necessary)
- Rebecca (Coordinator, formerly known as Ambi) -- Jan 2006 - 28 Jun 2006
- Wikiwoohoo (Deputy - Dealt with complaints and other proceedures within the AMA; Resigned in April 2007)
- Æon Insanity Now!EA! (Deputy, Resigned to help reform the AMA)
- Martinp23 (Deputy - resigning to reduce bureuacracy in the AMA) 19:32, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
- אמר Steve Caruso (desk/AMA) (Coordinator) -- Jun 2006 - May 24 2007 - Resigned due to irreconcilable issues with Wikipedian politics. Questions can be directed to his talk page.