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 resolve 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 below - the DRN bot uses this list to perform some housekeeping chores. You may also, if you like, add information about yourself to our "social" page, but doing so is not required.
  • 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 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 filing party is responsible for notifying all participants on their user talk page but the filing party may need to be reminded. 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]

  • Don't open a case unless you're fairly certain that other matters in your online or offline life will not prevent you from giving it daily or near-daily attention until it is resolved or closed. Remember that though the ordinary lifespan of a DRN case is 14 days from the date it was filed that they can sometimes run longer.
  • Locate a case marked 'new' (see below).
Symbol wait old.png – New.
  • Make sure the filing party has notified all the listed parties using the {{subst:drn-notice|name of DRN case}} template.
  • Make sure that there has been extensive talk page discussion about the content matter in dispute (discounting all discussion about procedure and conduct); close the case for lack of discussion if there has not. Remember that while we prefer discussion at the article talk page that discussion on user talk pages or elsewhere will usually suffice.
  • Change the cases status by replacing the word "new" with the word "open" in the case status template at the top of the case filing.
  • Add a comment in the case's Discussion section introducing 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 case's status in the summary box at the top of the DRN page after you have manually changed the case status in the case status template. It will also list you as having made the last volunteer edit 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.

Processing[edit]

See also WP:Consensus

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.
  • If you're not going to give attention to the case at least once a day, let the parties know your schedule.
  • 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.
  • No particular method of dispute resolution is required. Mediation such as that used by the Mediation Committee is most commonly used and is ordinarily the most appropriate method, but other methods such as opinion-giving, such as is done at Third Opinion, or a combination of those methods may be appropriate in particular cases.
  • Guide the discussion by referencing Wikipedia policies and guidelines and avoid making value judgments and getting caught up in the content dispute. When policies and guidelines give a clear resolution, it is fine to advance them (but be sure that you're right before doing so); when they are unclear or their application to the particular facts of the case is unclear, then propose them for discussion and help to narrow the conversation to the most relevant points or issues.
  • 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.
  • If you find that real world or other matters have come up which may prevent you from giving regular attention to the case please do not simply abandon it or let it hang while you seek to resolve those matters. Let the parties know and either get their consent to whatever attention you can give to the case or resign from the case and put a note on the DRN talk page asking for another volunteer to take over the case.

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 as '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:Mediation. 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==

{{DR case status|closed}}

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

... 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 resolution 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. Sometimes the parties may be stuck and need another opinion or the involved parties may have lost interest. In those situations, additional help from other volunteers may be desirable. Likewise the case may have stalled because the moderator has not followed through. In this situation you may want to read through the case and comment or even assume the role of DRN volunteer moderator.
  • Alternately a case may have been resolved or the parties have lost interest and the case is stale. 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.

Templates[edit]

While moderating or serving as a volunteer at DRN, the following templates may be useful:

Case status options[edit]

Full DRN status details

The state of each case is indicated by a rectangular status box at the top of the case. The bot will maintain the status on all but three, which require a volunteer to manually do so (see "Closing a dispute filing" below). The status boxes include the following:

Symbol wait old.png – New discussion. This marks a new case that needs a volunteer. You do not normally need to manually set this case status (the form wizard will do that automatically when the filing is posted. However, a volunteer can add or re-add this status manually if needed). Before opening a case, read over the parties' opening comments and the article talk page. Assess the situation. Make recommendations on how to resolve the dispute based on the above suggestions.
Pictogram voting wait green.svg – Discussion in progress. This marks a discussion that has been opened by a volunteer.
Pictogram voting keep-green.svg -Dispute resolved successfully. This marks a discussion that was resolved successfully and has been closed. If you feel a case has been resolved, ask the parties if they agree with the resolution. You can also ask for guidance on the DRN talk page. To mark a case "resolved", change the status at the top of the case to {{DR case status|resolved}} and post an explanation at the bottom of the discussion. Any volunteer can mark a case resolved (it does not have to be the same editor that opened the case).
Pictogram voting delete.svg – Closed as failed. This marks a discussion that was not resolved successfully and has been closed because of inactivity. This may be that the participants couldn't come to a consensus on the issues that were being discussed. The participating editors may have requested that the case should be closed. Dispute resolution was attempted, but the process was not successful. To mark a case as "failed", change the status at the top of the case to {{DR case status|failed}} and post an explanation at the bottom of the discussion.
Symbol comment vote.svg – General close. See comments for reasoning. This marks a discussion that has been closed, because the discussion is unsuitable for DRN. This may be that the issues are too complex, that prior discussion has yet to occur, or that another forum like WP:MEDCOM is more appropriate. If you think that any of these are the case, ask a few questions on the thread to see if others agree. Feel free to ask on the DRN talk page too. To close the discussion, change the status at the top of the thread to {{DR case status|closed}} and leave a comment at the bottom of the discussion.
Time2wait.svg – Dispute inactive. This marks a discussion that has been opened, but hasn't been commented on by anyone in a day. The noticeboard can clog up with cases if inactive threads are left open. If you see a dispute that's marked as stale, read over the discussion: the dispute may be resolved but hasn't been closed. Otherwise, leave a comment on the thread asking if it still needs assistance.
Pictogram voting wait red.png – Needs assistance. This marks a discussion that has been opened, but needs assistance from a volunteer. Sometimes a thread gets forgotten, and the participants will continue discussion without the assistance of a volunteer. If the bot notices such a situation, it will flag the thread for attention. It's advisable to ask the participants to hold off discussing the issue any further until you've had time to review the thread and given suggestions based on the situation.

List of the DRN volunteers[edit]

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. If you list your name here, please do so with the intention of taking a case (and seeing it through) or helping with administrative chores here at least one time per calendar month unless you are new to dispute resolution and are indicating that you wish to help here after observing for a month or two.

If you later choose not to participate, please remove your name from this list.

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, please specify that you are participating solely as an involved party and not in you usual role of DRN volunteer moderator. This may be done either in your response section of the case filing, and/or in the discussion section of the case filing.

In order to determine the number of current potentially active volunteers, this list may be purged from time to time (but not more often than one time per six months) by the DRN coordinator calling a roll call and removing the editors who do not respond to that call. A copy of the volunteer list immediately prior to the purge may either be found in the page history here or on the roll calls page. Individuals whose names are removed should feel free to re-add their names to the list, but are requested not to do so unless they are willing to take part in moderating cases or assisting in administration at least one time per month. No one is going to be monitoring to see if you live up to that commitment, but we do respectfully ask that you either live up to it or remove your name from the list.

Your support is very much appreciated.

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