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Wikipedia:Mediation acts as a guideline for the workings of the Mediation Committee. These policies are subject to amendment.
Mediation is the activity in which a neutral third party, the mediator, assists two or more parties in order to help them achieve an agreement, with concrete effects, on a matter of common interest; lato sensu is any activity in which an agreement on whatever matter is researched by an impartial third party, usually a professional, in the common interest of the parties.
There are two facets to Wikipedia's mediation policy:
General mediation is intended to be a preventative informal measure in the dispute resolution process. Mediators who primarily handle general mediation are volunteers who seek to assist parties in coming to an understanding using methods as they deem appropriate. Since this is an informal process there aren't any guidelines or rules as to how this process will operate, this is left at the discretion of the mediator.
General mediation can be requested by anyone including persons not a party to the dispute, anonymous editors, administrators, etc.. Similarly more than one mediator may help mediate a general mediation case although an agreement should be reached on how the case is coordinated. Disputants who agree to general mediation only need agree to discuss the dispute in good faith. However, all participants should be of the understanding that if disputes aren't resolved further dispute resolution steps, including referral to formal mediation, may be required.
Since general mediation cases are informal they are open or closed at the discretion of the mediator handling the case. Starting a case page for informal mediation cases is also at the discretion of the mediator handling the case.
See also: Wikipedia:Mediation_Cabal
Formal mediation is triggered by two types of disputes: disputes that have been referred by a mediator in a general mediation case which has broken down or cases referred to mediation by the Arbitration Committee.
In formal mediation, mediators reserve the right to comment on cases at their discretion. The following are general guidelines which will apply to most cases:
- A mediator will be assigned to the case by the Mediation Committee.
- The mediator will hear the cases brought before them and recommend appropriate action. This may include recommending that the case should first go to informal mediation or solved through other means as merited. Mediators can use any means to conduct the discussion but all discussion will remain private. Discussions held in formal mediation will remain private unless mediation breaks down and the case is referred to the Arbitration Committee at which point the mediator will prepare a summary of the formal mediation.
- As formal mediation is the last step before arbitration in the dispute resolution process and cases only go to formal mediation after earlier steps have failed, mediators in formal cases have the authority to serve as a referee in disputes and penalize parties who do not participate in good faith (i.e. temporarily block a user from editing disputed content).
- The mediator will primarily mediate and/or comment on content disputes/interpersonal disputes derived from content disputes.
- The Mediation Committee only reports to Jimbo Wales, but may forward cases to the Arbitration Committee if it is deemed that mediation has been unsuccessful, or one (or both) parties reject mediation.
- Given the nature of this proposal we believe a change is needed to the structure of the committee and how it operates -- this is a proposal as is the rest of this document. It makes the assumption the current committee would be disbanded as it will be serving a completely different function. The new committee would mimic the Arbitration Committee in terms of membership and duties. This is not intended in any way to serve as criticism of any members of the existing committee.
The Mediation Committee as it is now constituted consists of three members and was appointed by Jimbo Wales. In 2006, two additional members will be selected through elections, followed by two more in 2007 until 2008 when the original three positions will be up for election. Mediation Committee members serve three-year terms on a rotating schedule, so that at least two positions are up for election each year.
In case of early departures, new members will be selected by the committee to fill the seat until the next election. An election will then be held to fill the seat for the balance (if any) of the remaining term.
The duties of the Committee include:
- Appointment of mediators.
- Maintain the roster of mediators and determine if any mediators are away or inactive.
- Appointment of a chair or coordinator (at their discretion).
- Assigning formal mediation cases to qualified mediators.
- Certifying cases to be referred to the Arbitration Committee.
- Evaluate and make suggestions as warranted for changes in this policy.
- Hear requests for determination of a mediator conflict of interest.
- Consider charges of mediator misconduct.
Mediators are appointed by majority vote of the Mediation Committee. The qualifications for selection and the number of mediators required is at the sole discretion of the Mediation Committee. There are no terms for service but mediators may be removed from the roster for inactivity, as a punitive measure, or at their own request. Removal from the roster is also subject to a majority vote of the Mediation Committee.
Once added to the roster mediators may volunteer to take informal mediation cases as they wish. Formal mediation cases are assigned to qualified mediators by the Mediation Committee.
To preserve neutrality mediators cannot be members of the AMA or AMI. However, mediators may serve on the Arbitration Committee with the understanding they may need to recuse themselves from hearing an arbitration case for which they earlier served as a mediator. Such decisions are at the discretion of the Arbitration Committee.
The Mediation Committee (or its designated coordinator) accepts Requests for Mediation from anyone, and will recommend ways to mediate and/or provide a mediator. The committee may request evidence to indicate whether earlier steps in the dispute resolution process have been attempted and make their recommendations based on this. Cases presented to the committee will be generally listed for 7 days. If there are no mediators offering to take an informal mediation case the case will be closed.
Anyone may make an informal mediation request but such requests are at the discretion of the Mediation Committee and a mediator who desires to handle the request. Formal mediation may only be requested by mediators of failed informal mediation cases and the Arbitration Committee.
In order to keep track of cases in formal mediation a case page will be created that will list the parties involved, the articles or contents in dispute, and whether the case is open or closed. No presentation of evidence, comments, or other information will be made unless formal mediation breaks down. Only the mediator assigned to the case may edit the case page and would post a summary if the case were to break down.
Informal mediation cases are not tracked except by the mediator handling the case. Case pages for informal mediation may be created at the discretion of the mediator but should only be done by agreement of all parties involved to maintain confidentiality if desired.
Comments by uninvolved parties are not to be made on case pages, they should be directed to the mediator handling the case.
Formal Mediation Process
Who takes part?
Mediators reserve the right to comment on any particular case. If a mediator believes they have a conflict of interest in a case, they will not be eligible to accept that case and will request for the case to be reassigned by the committee. Users who believe mediators have a conflict of interest should post an appropriate statement on the case page. Due to the absolutely necessity of neutrality, whether the parties will accept a mediator is solely up to the discretion of the parties involved.
Mediation is limited to the mediator assigned and the parties to the dispute. Mediation is intended to be discreet; third parties may not participate in the mediation process but are free to comment to users as they would were there not a case in mediation. Parties involved in mediation are encouraged to keep the discussions private unless all parties agree to make something public.
In formal mediation the mediator may enforce a certain authority in special circumstances. If the two parties in a dispute come to an agreement and/or consensus about a change in an article or agreement is reached on the general path the article is taking, they can "voluntarily" bind themselves to the agreement. If they do not, the mediator may step in and impose sanctions. The sanction will be determined by the mediator in charge of the case and all parties will be notified. If a case was closed it may be reopened and a sanction imposed.
Sanctions can also be imposed on parties who refuse to participate in formal mediation.
Actions taken by mediators are subject to review by the Mediation Committee. The committee is charged with overseeing the activities of mediators and taking appropriate action such as but not limited to: reassignment of cases, change in mediator status, and referral of misconduct to the Arbitration Committee.
Common Formal Mediation Steps
This process is two-fold. During formal mediation, the following points are helpful to remember:
- Articles may be reverted to their pre-dispute contents and closed to any editing while mediation proceeds for wide ranging disputes. Boilerplate text may be placed at the top of the article and the page may be protected.
- Mediators seek common ground among the disputants and try to clear up misunderstandings.
- Mediators make a special effort to consider the merits of the question involved without regard to the background or editing history of the disputants.
- Mediators set the pace to balance the benefits of "cooling off" with the goal of reasonably rapid closure. Most mediation efforts should be completed in a matter of 3-10 days.
- Mediators may propose solutions, which may include specific article text.
- The mediator may update the article with any changes that both disputants accept.
- When consensus is reached, the fact of article mediation and the agreement reached is documented on the article's talk page.
- The article is reopened to editing once mediation is complete if it was suspended during the dispute.
If mediation is successful:
- Once disputants make an agreement, they are expected to follow it. If they do not, the case may be reopened at the discretion of the mediator or referred to another step in dispute resolution if warranted.
If general mediation fails:
- The case will be referred to the Mediation Committee for a formal mediation assignment.
If formal mediation fails:
- The case will be referred to the Arbitration Committee.
- The mediator will file a report with the Arbitration Committee summarizing the mediation proceedings with any additional comments or suggestions as he/she deems as merited.