Wikipedia:Office actions

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Office actions are official changes made on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, by members of its office staff. These are removals of questionable or illegal Wikimedia content following complaints. Office actions are performed so that the end result is a legally compliant article on the subject. Neither this policy nor actions taken under it override core policies, such as neutrality. Pages protected by office actions display a black padlock according to Wikipedia:Protection policy.

The most common complaints are defamation, privacy violations and copyright infringement.

Short explanation[edit]

Because "official edits" may seem strange in the context of an openly editable encyclopedia, some common causes for confusion should be clarified:

  • Office actions are extremely rare.
  • Office actions only occur by formal complaint made off-wiki (e.g. postal mail, electronic mail, telephone, or personal meetings).
  • Grievances must be grounded in the law or be violations of Wikimedia standards. Requests for preferential treatment or attempts at intimidation are not heeded.
  • The vast majority of cases are libel, unjustifiable invasion of personal privacy, and copyright infringement. Since these are all inappropriate on Wikimedia anyway, office actions are preventable: if you see such a violation on a wiki, correct it or delete it and there will be no cause for complaint and no need for an "office action".
    • {{BLP}}, {{Db-g10}}, and {{Db-g12}} templates have been established for the correction of these problems and are useful for this.


Office actions will be clearly indicated both during and after to prevent ambiguities. Office actions may be authorized by any representative or delegate of the Wikimedia Foundation – such as its chair (currently Christophe Henner), a member of the Foundation Board of Trustees, the Foundation's legal counsel, or a member of the Foundation office.

Black padlock

When a page is modified under this policy, the template {{Pp-office}} will be placed prominently on the page and the page will be protected. In some cases, an article may be reduced to a few sentences to remove questionable content, and people then invited to build it up to a more reputable state. This will be indicated by the template {{Pp-reset}}. In either case, the instructions on the template should be followed by everyone.

Administrators, who have the technical power to undo protections and deletions, are strongly cautioned against modifying these edits. Official statements and past incidents indicate that such unauthorized modifications will be actively reverted, and possibly the rights of the modifier will be revoked. When in doubt, consult the user applying the protection/template, or the Wikimedia Foundation.

Who initiates office actions[edit]

  1. Maggie Dennis (Director, Support and Safety), James Alexander (Manager, Trust & Safety), certain other senior staff members of the Wikimedia Foundation Office and the Wikimedia Foundation's legal counsel.
  2. Members of the Board of Trustees, and particularly Jimbo Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia and founder of the Wikimedia Foundation.

If there is any question as to whether an action is an authorized OFFICE action, please write to Maggie Dennis.

Currently under scrutiny[edit]

For images that have been deleted for copyright reasons, enter the name / description into a search engine to see what they looked like. If you see similar images bring them to the attention of the Office. The list below contains some pages or articles that are currently protected by the Office.

Page name Reason for office protection Date added
Talk:Derek Smart/Archive1 through Archive7. The legal team has agreed to a courtesy blank of those pages as an act of goodwill. The history remains intact. This courtesy blanking should not be undone without prior permission from the office. 2013‑04‑05

For an automated, up-to-date list derived from {{Pp-office}}, see Category:Wikipedia Office-protected pages.

DMCA compliance[edit]

In some cases, the Foundation may be required to remove content from a Wikimedia Project due to a USA DMCA take-down notice. In order to retain safe harbor status, the Foundation is required to comply with validly formulated notices even if they are spurious. It will also terminate in most cases the accounts of users who, upon being notified that content they have contributed has been removed as a result of a DMCA complaint, revert that removal, because reverting an office action is a blockable offense.

The Wikimedia Foundation may publish the take-down request at wmf:Category:DMCA.

As a matter of policy, the Wikimedia Foundation will terminate, in appropriate circumstances, the accounts of repeat infringers as provided under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. 512).

Responding to a DMCA takedown notice[edit]

In the event that material is removed due to a DMCA notice, the only recourse for restoring such material is to file a counter-notice with the Foundation. If you believe that a take-down notice which has been acted upon by the Foundation is without legal basis, please feel free to visit the following sites as a first step in learning about filing a counter-notice:

Please note that filing a counter-notice may lead to legal proceedings between you and the complaining party to determine ownership of the material. The DMCA process requires that you consent to the jurisdiction of a United States court. All notices should be sent to the Foundation's designated agent.


Jimbo's original comment, from 6 February 2006
In particular,
  • "Please note that this is official policy, and reverting a WP:OFFICE may be grounds for blocking. I do not recommend that admins block for this, I'm just saying... don't revert a WP:OFFICE edit unless and until you've asked and know what you are doing. There may at times be legal reasons for this."
  • "This quick action is in no way meant to override or replace the process of community consensus. There is still plenty of time, and there are still plenty of places, for the community to discuss and replace articles in due course."
Relevant mailing list discussions

See also[edit]

  • Decisions not subject to consensus of editors, discusses how certain policies and decisions made by the Wikimedia Foundation, its officers, and the Arbitration Committee of Wikipedia are outside the purview of editor consensus.
  • Superprotect, a level of protection that only allowed editing by Wikimedia Foundation staff, bypassing the office actions procedures. On November 5, 2015, the WMF removed the ability to superprotect from all Wikimedia wikis.