Wikipedia:Dispute resolution noticeboard/FAQ

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This FAQ page may be developed or changed over time.

Q1. Why was I invited to the discussion?
  • You have been listed by a filing editor in hopes that the discussion of content can be continued here with the guidance of a volunteer. You do not have to participate but are encouraged to.
Q2. Are resolutions enforceable?
  • The dispute resolution noticeboard is informal, and resolutions formed here are neither binding nor enforceable. DR/N relies on all involved parties to self-enforce the agreed upon resolution. Should the dispute continue with all or some involved parties ignoring the resolutions that they participated in, this may be considered as part of the next step of the DR process. Editors who continue a dispute after accepting a resolution may be perceived as disruptive by refusing to engage collaboratively on consensus.
Q3. If resolutions are not binding, why should I participate?
  • Wikipedia only works when editors collaborate to form a consensus. Disussion is as important in the editing process as editing itself. While participation is not a requirement at DR/N, refusing participation can be perceived as a refusal to collaborate, and is not conducive to consensus-building.
Q4. How long does a case last?
  • While cases may be resolved or closed sooner, our maintenance bot will automatically archive and, in effect, close a case after fourteen days unless there is at least one edit to it every twenty-four hours after the fourteen day period has passed. The fourteen day period runs from the date the case is first posted. Volunteers may extend the automatic closing date if significant progress is being made towards resolution, but are encouraged to try to resolve cases whenever possible in two weeks or less or, if they cannot be resolved during that time, to refer them to a request for comments or to formal mediation.
Q5. Why are the volunteers not responding to my case?
  • The noticeboard has to handle a large number of cases, despite having only a small pool of volunteers. Some volunteer editors will not open a case if they are uncomfortable with or unfamiliar with the subject matter. The bot will flag the case after a set period of time if a volunteer's attention is still required.
Q6. Why was I asked to step back from a discussion?
  • Participants who go off-topic or become uncivil may be asked step back from the discussion if warnings for disruptive behavior go unheeded. This is to keep the discussions civil and focused on the goal or resolution and discourage further disputes from arising out of the DR/N filing. Generally an editor will receive a warning first and will be given the opportunity to contribute in a civil and respectful manner. Should warnings not be heeded, comments may be collapsed and/or personal attacks removed entirely in some cases after warnings as well.
Q7. What is the role of a volunteer?
  • Volunteers are editors that assist in resolving disputes as neutral third parties. Volunteers do not have any special powers, privileges, or authority on the noticeboard or on Wikipedia.
Q8. Are there any requirements for volunteering?
  • No. All editors on Wikipedia are invited and encouraged to participate. The noticeboard is always looking for new volunteers.
Q9. Why are disputes over an editor's conduct not allowed?
  • Other boards are better equipped to handle behaviourial disputes. If you need immediate assistance or intervention from administration due to conduct issues, use the Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents or Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard, which may result in offending users being temporarily blocked. Long-term conduct issues, especially those that interfere with resolution of content issues, are typically dealt with by formal arbitration, and may result in disruptive users being banned. Topic areas that have already been dealt with by formal arbitration because of frequent disruptive editing may be subject to a procedure known as discretionary sanctions for dealing with conduct issues in those areas. In such cases the best way to deal with continuing conduct issues is usually Arbitration Enforcement, which has a dedicated group of administrators who deal with conduct issues.
Q10. Why was my case closed?
  • The noticeboard is only for content disputes that have been extensively discussed. Conduct disputes, disputes with no discussion, and disputes that are already under discussion at other dispute resolution forums, should not be brought to DRN. (Other dispute resolution forums include the third opinion noticeboard, any open Requests for Comments, which normally run for 30 days, specialized noticeboards, WP:ANI, and arbitration enforcement.) However, don't be afraid to post a request; if it's outside of the noticeboard's scope, our volunteers will point you in the right direction.
Q11. Why is prior discussion required?
  • The dispute resolution noticeboard is not a substitution for talk pages. Editors must attempt to resolve the dispute between themselves before seeking outside help as part of a collaborative effort to form consensus.
Q12. How extensive should the prior discussion be?
  • While time may not be a deciding factor, discussions that have only gone on for a day, and/or consist of only one or two responses, do not qualify as extensive. Edit summaries are not considered discussions.
  • While we accept disputes with discussions on individual user talkpages, discussions that focus on editor conduct or that only involve a minority of the dispute's participants may not qualify as extensive.
  • It is always recommended that discussions on content take place on the relevant article talkpage to involve as many editors as possible to form a local consensus for the subject. Sometimes editors will request discussion on their own talkpage in order not to disrupt the flow of other discussions on the subjects talkpage when a dispute is between only a small group or just two contributors.
Q13. The other editor refuses to discuss. What should I do?
Q14. I don't want to waste time discussing with the other editor. I would like to start mediation immediately. Can that be done?
  • In a word, no. Discussion on the article talk page is considered a precondition to any other dispute resolution process. Often discussion on the talk page can resolve the dispute, which saves our volunteers time and effort, so there must be evidence that it has at least be tried. (Assuming that it won't help is a failure to assume good faith.)
Q15. I don't want to engage in lengthy discussion. I would like the moderator to act as an impartial decision-maker. Why can't the moderator just decide the dispute?
  • In either informal dispute resolution at this noticeboard or formal mediation at the Mediation Committee, the mediator is not a decision-maker or "judge" (though he or she may express support for certain arguments in the discussion), but is, as the title implies, a mediator— a person not previously involved in the dispute who will listen to all sides of the discussion and give a considered response. Other editors might not agree with the opinion that gets expressed by the moderator or mediator, and that is fine. The purpose of this noticeboard is to facilitate discussion, not to decide the dispute unilaterally. If you want binding resolution of a content dispute, perhaps you would like to file a Request for Comments, the outcome of which will be decided by the community without a mediator and is considered a more or less definitive process.