|The fastest way to request oversight is to email the oversight team.|
|If you are a user who has a request for suppression, please note that details should not be posted in public. Use this form, email oversight-en-wpwikipedia.org or see Wikipedia:Requests for oversight for other ways to request suppression.|
|This page documents an English Wikipedia policy, a widely accepted standard that all editors should normally follow. Changes made to it should reflect consensus.|
Oversight on Wikipedia (also known as suppression) is a form of enhanced deletion which, unlike normal deletion, expunges information from any form of usual access even by administrators. It is used within strict limits to remove defamatory material, to protect privacy, and sometimes to remove serious copyright violations, from any page or log entry (including, if required, the list of users) on the English Wikipedia.
On the English Wikipedia, "oversight" (the power to suppress edits) is entrusted to a restricted number of users, who can suppress material if it meets the strict requirements below. Use of these tools is monitored by other oversighters who patrol the log, by the Arbitration Committee and, by extension, the Audit Subcommittee.
The permission is granted by the Arbitration Committee after community consultation and significant review of the user's contributions. Users authorized for Oversight must be 18 years of age or older, must be an administrator and must have provided personal identification to the Wikimedia Foundation. Once this information has been verified, the documents supplied to the Foundation are destroyed.
The original term "oversight" (for the function/tool) came from the Oversight extension, a revision removal function, whose log access was intended to allow oversight of its operation. The Oversight extension was intended to be a temporary measure; in 2009 the RevisionDelete system was enabled which fixes several problems with oversight (including causing misattribution of edits and its irreversibility) and added features not originally present (including account and log hiding). For historical reasons, the group of users with the ability to use the RevisionDelete and Oversight tools are still known as "oversighters" and suppression might still be referred to as "oversight." However, "oversight" might refer specifically to use of the Oversight extension, while suppression will not.
This feature is approved for use in these cases:
- Removal of non-public personal information, such as phone numbers, home addresses, workplaces or identities of pseudonymous or anonymous individuals who have not made their identity public. This includes hiding the IP data of editors who accidentally logged out and thus inadvertently revealed their own IP addresses as well as the IP data of editors without an account on request. Suppression is a tool of first resort in removing this information.
In the following cases, revision and/or log suppression may be used when justified by the circumstances. However, consideration should be given to whether administrative revision deletion is an adequate response:
- Removal of potentially libelous information, either: a) on the advice of Wikimedia Foundation counsel; or b) when the case is clear, and there is no editorial reason to keep the revision.
- Removal of copyright infringement, on the advice of Wikimedia Foundation counsel.
- Hiding of blatant attack names on automated lists and logs, where this does not disrupt edit histories. A blatant attack is one obviously intended to denigrate, threaten, libel, insult, or harass someone.
- Removal of vandalism. Suppression may be occasionally used to remove vandalism for which removal by normal administrative measures is insufficient. Such cases should be handled with suppression, rather than with the Oversight tool, so that they may be reversed if needed, and should be discussed in advance on the Oversight mailing list unless they are urgent or time-sensitive, in which case they should be discussed on the mailing list afterward. (Note: This criterion was enacted as an interim measure, due to limitations of administrator tools at the time.[notes 1])
The original meta:Oversight policy, containing only the first three criteria above, was adopted because the now-deprecated Oversight tool did not provide oversighters with the ability to restore oversighted revisions. The fourth criterion was adopted at meta:Oversight in November 2009. The fifth criterion was adopted after the implementation of RevisionDelete which allowed suppression actions to be easily reversed.
Oversighters can perform the following actions:
- Suppress and unsuppress elements of individual page revisions (any or all of the text, username, or edit summary) using RevisionDelete.
- Suppress and unsuppress log entries.
- Suppress and unsuppress user names when blocking.
- Review the suppression logs (one for each tool) and suppressed material.
Page revisions suppressed with the Oversight extension do not leave a placeholder in the page history and cannot be restored. Revisions suppressed with RevisionDelete leave a visible placeholder in the page history and can be restored if the situation calls for it.
The RevisionDelete extension can be used by both oversighters and administrators. Oversighters may select whether RevisionDelete will be used as a suppression action that prevents administrator access, or as an administrator action that any administrator can see and modify; administrators only have access to the latter. The action will be logged in the suppression log or deletion log accordingly.
- Page revisions and logged events that have been suppressed using the "also hide from administrators" checkbox are logged in the suppression log.
- Page revisions and logged events that have been deleted by an oversighter without using the "hide from administrators" checkbox or by an administrator, are logged in the deletion log.[notes 2]
- Accounts which are blocked with the "suppress user name from lists" checkbox are logged in the suppression log.
The logs list who made the removal, when, from which page, and a provided comment. A diff link to compare the previous live revision to the hidden one is available.
Assignment and revocation
On the English language Wikipedia, access to the suppress function of the RevisionDelete tool is controlled by the Arbitration Committee. Permission is generally automatically granted to members of the Arbitration Committee and retained by them when they leave the committee. Non-Arbitrators may be granted oversighter status at the discretion of the Arbitration Committee and are selected for trustworthiness and availability to handle requests. However only a very few appointments are typically made per year. See the above page for further information or for requesting oversighter status.
Beginning in 2009, the Arbitration Committee held periodic elections that allowed the community to have a voice in choosing oversighters. Candidates were vetted by Arbcom, and a list of pre-approved candidates is presented to the community for a vote. The previous election was August 2009. The May 2010 election resulted in no new oversighters, and thereafter appointments were made directly by the Committee with community consultation.
Oversighter status may be revoked by the Arbitration Committee at any time. Generally, permission is revoked only "for cause", such as abuse of suppression to remove items that do not qualify under the stated policy, or for unauthorized release of suppressed information. The Arbitration Committee has also ruled that permission will be revoked from oversighters who do not meet the minimum activity level.
As on all Wikimedia Foundation wikis, the technical assignment of the permission to the user account is made by a Steward, acting on instructions from the Arbitration Committee as posted at requests for permission on Meta-wiki. Emergency requests based upon clear evidence may also be made in exceptional circumstances, the same way. In an exceptional case, and for good cause, a Steward may temporarily remove the permission, pending a decision by the Committee. The steward should check the matter is well founded, and make clear immediately that it is a temporary response only, since such an action could lead to controversy.
Complaints or inquiries about potential misuse of the oversighter flag should be referred to the Audit Subcommittee.
An automatic list is available at Special:Listusers/oversight. As of 29 August 2015, the following editors comprise the Oversight team on the English Wikipedia:
- Appointed community oversighters
- Alison, Avraham, Daniel Case, DoRD, Dweller, Elockid, Fluffernutter, Foxj, GB fan, HJ Mitchell, Julia W, Keegan, Keilana, Kelapstick, Ks0stm, Lankiveil, Mentifisto, Mike V, Ponyo, Richwales, Ronhjones, Snowolf, Someguy1221
- Current arbitrators
- AGK, Courcelles, DeltaQuad, DGG, Doug Weller, Euryalus, GorillaWarfare, Guerillero, LFaraone, NativeForeigner, Roger Davies, Salvio giuliano, Seraphimblade, Thryduulf, Yunshui
- Former arbitrators
- Beeblebrox, David Fuchs, Deskana, FloNight, Jdforrester, Mailer diablo, PhilKnight, Risker, Timotheus Canens, Worm That Turned
- On this project, oversighters are appointed by ArbCom.
- This user was granted Oversight access as a member of the Audit Subcommittee prior to being appointed as a member of the Oversight team.
- Held prior to appointment to Arbitration Committee.
- Current member of the Audit Subcommittee
- This user was granted Oversight access as a member of the Audit Subcommittee prior to being elected to the Arbitration Committee
- Community members of the Audit Subcommittee (AUSC) are elected once per year to three of the six positions as Auditors, and together with the three arbitrator members hear complaints about the use of CheckUser and Oversight permissions on the English Wikipedia; their role is separate from the Wikimedia Foundation's Ombudsman Commission. Unless they already held the permission, community subcommittee members are given the CheckUser and Oversight permissions (and associated access rights) for the duration of their term.
- Appointed to continue in role after AUSC term ends
- Held oversight access prior to being appointed to the Audit Subcommittee
- "Others" includes users who require access for WMF reasons, and WMF officers.
The list above is served from Template:Functionaries.
- Criteria #4 and #5 were implemented as an interim solution to certain serious vandalism and grossly disruptive abuses that administrators would expect to address, but could not with their tools (due to previous software limitations). Since tools have since been developed so that administrators can apply deletion norms to all public logs and data fields on the wiki, these criteria might be considered for removal.
- The reason for this behavior is that RevisionDelete is configured to allow administrators to delete page revisions from regular editors but not other admins, while allowing oversighters to delete page revisions from regular users and admins. Only when an oversighter uses their tool to remove material from access by administrators is the action referred to as "suppression." Admin revision deletions are logged in the deletion log and are viewable and reversible by other admins, while revisions suppressed by oversighters are inaccessible to admins as well and logged in the suppression log.
- Wikipedia:User access levels: Wikipedia page outlining the various user access levels, including oversighter;
- m:Oversight: Master copy of this page, on Meta-Wiki;
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not censored
- Wikipedia:Requests for oversight: For requesting that a revision, log entry, or account be suppressed. Requests should be made by email, not on that page. Please read the instructions there.
- Wikipedia:Oversight/FAQ: Wikipedia page outlining questions and answers regarding the policy.
- m:Requests for permission: The permissions requests page ("RFP") on metawiki, where the Arbitration Committee will direct user rights changes, including oversighter appointments.
- m:User rights log: Shows oversighter assignments and removals. Enter
User:USERNAME@enwikiin the "Title" box.
- mail:oversight-l: Mailing list administration
- Email address for suppression requests: oversight-en-wpwikipedia.org
- Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Audit Subcommittee/Statistics: Tracks usage of this tool over the previous 6 month period.
- mw:Extension:Oversight: Oversight extension documentation on MediaWiki.org.
- mw:RevisionDelete: More detailed description of how the Revision/Log entry hiding feature works.
- mw:Bitfields for rev deleted: How the bitfields for revision deletion are implemented and a list of who-can-see-what.
- Wikipedia:Selective deletion