Wikipedia:Requests for mediation/Guide
Formal mediation is a process for resolving disputes about the content of encyclopedia articles. In formal mediation, the editors involved in the dispute present arguments in favour of their viewpoint; an uninvolved third party (known as the mediator, who is a member of Wikipedia's Mediation Committee) then assists the parties in reaching a compromise between their viewpoints and in drafting a new version of the disputed article.
Mediation must be requested through the requests for mediation process. Mediation is a voluntary process, and the Mediation Committee has stipulated a number of prerequisites to formal mediation. If you submit a request for mediation, your request will not be accepted (and a mediator will not be assigned) unless it satisfies these prerequisites.
This guide explains these prerequisites, the nature of formal mediation, and how to request formal mediation.
This guide deals only with formal mediation, as provided by the Mediation Committee, and not with informal mediation, which is provided by any Wikipedia editor and usually at the Dispute Resolution Noticeboard. The difference between formal and informal mediation is explained at Wikipedia:Mediation.
|If you have a dispute that you would like us to mediate, you must ensure that it satisfies the preconditions (or prerequisites) of formal mediation.|
For a request for mediation to be accepted, it must relate to a dispute between Wikipedia editors that satisfies the following conditions:
- Dispute must relate only to the content of one or more Wikipedia articles (or other content pages).
- Dispute must not relate to the behaviour of a Wikipedia contributor (which is the purview of arbitration, not mediation).
- Some attempt at utilising the other components of the content-dispute resolution process must have been made. For instance, we would expect to see an unsuccessful dispute resolution noticeboard thread or a requests for comment that failed to resolve the dispute. The dispute must also have been discussed on the article talk page(s), which are the first resort for all disputes about Wikipedia content. To quickly link to this bullet point, use WP:RFM/G#PRIOR.
- All involved editors are disputing the relevant article content in good faith.
- No involved editor is unwilling to engage meaningfully and constructively in mediator-directed discussion or to genuinely consider compromise and concession. Compromise is an integral part of mediation, and of editing Wikipedia.
For the original list of the prerequisites of formal mediation, see Wikipedia:Mediation Committee/Policy > Mediation > Prerequisites.
The first stage of the formal mediation process is to submit a request for mediation at Wikipedia:Requests for mediation.
|To file a request for mediation, use Wikipedia:Requests for mediation#File. Once you have filed your request, the other disputants will be given time to decide if they want to participate in mediation. If enough of them do, we will then decide if the dispute is suited to mediation.|
Open Wikipedia:Requests for mediation#File in a new tab. Follow the instruction there to submit a request for mediation. Mediation requests are created as a subpage of Wikipedia:Requests for mediation; for example, if you submit a mediation request and name it "Swimming", your mediation request would be located at Wikipedia:Requests for mediation/Swimming. For assistance in choosing an appropriate name for your mediation request, skip to the #next section of this guide.
Once you have submitted the request for mediation, the parties to the dispute will be automatically notified (by the committee's bot account) that the request has been filed. In that notification, they will be invited to indicate on the case page whether they agree to participate in mediation of the dispute.
If you, the filing party, wishes to withdraw a request for mediation, you should strike their initial agreement to mediate (as the editor who submits the request, it would be automatically added at "Parties' agreement to mediate" on the request page). The "Accept" comment and your signature, once stricken, should be followed by "Withdraw request", an explanation of why you are withdrawing the mediation request, and a new dated signature. The next member of the Mediation Committee to review the request would then close the request as withdrawn.
|Carefully choose the name of your mediation request. Names should reflect the scope of the dispute.|
The naming of the case is important and should accurately reflect the scope of the disagreement of which mediation is being requested:
- If there is one article involved in the dispute, that should be the name you use for the mediation request.
- If there is more than one article involved, use either the central article or an appropriate, more general name (for instance, the name of the wider topic area). You may like to browse an index of closed mediation cases to understand what is an appropriate name for a mediation request, but please do not hesitate to ask for guidance from a mediator if you aren't sure what to use as the name of your request.
If this is not the first Mediation Committee case relating to the article, set of articles, or topic area, you should append a number to the request name in order to distinguish your case from prior ones. (For example, if there had already been an Example and Example 2 case, you would use the title Example 3 when submitting your request for mediation). Numbering is unnecessary if a request was previously filed but was declined by the Committee: old requests that were not accepted and opened as a case are deleted monthly. If the rejected request was submitted recently and has not yet been deleted, you should, however, use numbering to distinguish between the cases—or, if possible, contact the Chairman to have the case deleted first.
Outcome of request
|Once the other disputants have decided if they want to participate in mediation of the dispute, we will decide whether to accept the mediation request (meaning we agree to assign a mediator).|
The Mediation Committee will respond to the request either after all the parties have responded to the request or after seven days have elapsed (whichever comes first). The Committee may make one of the following decisions:
- Accept request: The dispute can proceed to formal mediation and a mediator will be assigned as soon as possible.
- Reject (or decline) the request: The dispute cannot proceed to formal mediation and some other method of dispute resolution will have to be used.
- Suspend request: The request can be suspended, usually if a request for arbitration is filed whilst the mediation request is pending. Suspended requests will be re-evaluated at a later time.
The Committee can also, as an interim action, extend the seven day deadline, to allow the parties more time to respond to the request.
Accepted requests will enter the next phase of formal mediation.
|If we decide not to accept the mediation request, then we will reject or decline the request—meaning no mediator will be assigned and you will have to use another method of dispute resolution. There are several reasons why we might reject your mediation request, which are explained in this section.|
Requests which are rejected will not proceed to formal mediation. Requests can be rejected for failing to satisfy the conditions of mediation (see #Preconditions above and Wikipedia:Mediation Committee/Policy#Prerequisites of mediation). The mediator who processes your request may give a reason for the rejection, but is not obligated to do so. The mediator can suggest what stage of dispute resolution be pursued in lieu of formal mediation, and in special cases can defer the matter directly there (although this would be extraordinary and does not usually happen). Common reasons for the rejection of mediation requests are:
- Not enough disputants agreed to mediation.
- Mediation is a voluntary process that relies entirely on the willingness of the parties to participate. If so few parties agree to mediation that the mediator would be unable to forge a resolution, the Mediation Committee will decline your request.
- The committee uses a standard format for all requests for mediation, to ensure that we are given all information we require. If your request deviates from the format in such a way that it is difficult to evaluate, your request will probably be delisted as malformatted.
- If you do not fix the format of the request, it will be declined.
- Requests which use the required format but do not provide all the required information are also considered malformatted.
- Scope of dispute unclear.
- You must clearly and plainly explain the aspects of content that are disputed. If you do not, we cannot evaluate whether mediation will be of use to your dispute, and we will decline your request.
- Dispute not appropriate for mediation.
- Only disagreements over the content of an article will be mediated.
- Complaints about an editor's conduct or behaviour are the remit of the community's conduct-regulation processes (and ultimately the Arbitration Committee). Thus, requests such as "please stop this editor from making POV edits," "a mediator is needed to convince this editor he is wrong," "you need to mediate this issue before I have to take him before the ArbCom," and others of this nature are not appropriate issues for mediation.
- All parties must come to mediation with the understanding that both sides will have to compromise to reach an agreement, and that neither side will "win."
- If some other dispute resolution process is pending and has not been completed, the dispute is not appropriate for mediation. This ordinarily refers to Third Opinion, Dispute Resolution Noticeboard, and Request for Comment, but can also apply to matters such as formal requests at Administrator's Noticeboard for a consensus evaluation. Also within this category are processes, whether or not actually begun, which have their own built-in dispute resolution processes such as article deletion, draft review, and requested moves.
- Not a good-faith request.
- The MedCom only accepts a request if the associated dispute could benefit from the involvement of an impartial mediator. Do not request mediation if you do not honestly want to resolve the dispute.
- We will notice rather quickly if you are engaging in "battleground" behaviour, and requests for mediation of a dispute that involves such behaviour will inevitably be declined. That would be wasting your time, and ours.
You may request mediation of your dispute at a later time, even if an earlier request was declined. You may not make more than one request in a short period of time unless your request is substantively different from a previous request. There is usually no method of appealing the committee's decision to decline a mediation request, but you should always feel welcome to write to us if you think we have made a mistake.
|When a request for mediation is accepted, the "request" becomes a mediation "case". We will list it as "unassigned" until a mediator is found, at which point the mediator will take charge of the case and the case will become "assigned".|
Cases will be initially listed as unassigned, and will remain so until a Committee mediator becomes available. Mediators will periodically review the Committee's unassigned cases and will take on a case when and if they wish to. No mediator is obligated to take on a case, and cases are not assigned to mediators by the Chair. When a mediator elects to take the case, the mediator will introduce him or herself on the case talk page. Parties should add that page to their watchlist and/or check the page regularly. After the mediator introduces him or herself, the mediation proceedings will be started on the same page.
Parties are welcome to seek out a mediator and proactively ask mediators to take on their case. Where a case is listed as unassigned for longer than two weeks, the parties should request an update at Wikipedia talk:Requests for mediation, at which point the Chair should then query individual mediators and ask (though he cannot instruct) them to take on the case.
When a mediator becomes available, the case is listed as assigned and control of the cases passes to the mediator. The features of an actual mediation are summarised Wikipedia:Mediation Committee/Policy#What is mediation?; a copy of that section is included in the collapsed box below:
|Click "show" to read the Mediation Policy's summary of "What mediation is".|
|The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.|
Mediation is a structured discussion about Wikipedia content, guided by an impartial editor (the mediator). Mediation has no prescribed structure, but common features of mediation proceedings are:
If there is support for this final compromise, that compromise is implemented. If no compromise can be formed in regards to any issue, then "no consensus" is the result and the mediation is unsuccessful. If there are several issues and a compromise is reached in respect of some but not all issues, the mediation is "partly successful". If a compromise is reached in respect of every issue, the mediation is "successful".
Any compromise formed through mediation will be presumed to have a current consensus and can therefore be implemented by any editor.
While mediation is not binding, mediators are authorised to ask each party to explicitly indicate their consent to the result of the case. Parties should not expect a compromise that accords precisely with their own preferences: consensus requires compromise, and consensus is the objective of mediation.
While mediators do not enforce conduct, they may establish standards of conduct at the beginning of proceedings, and they may ask that the parties read (or explicitly sign their agreement to) these standards.
Additionally, the following points will apply to almost every mediation case, including yours:
- Who will be assigned as your mediator: A mediator will be assigned to a case within two weeks of the Chairman accepting the associated request. Mediators are always uninvolved in the dispute, have no conflict of interest in relation to the subject matter of the dispute (or in relation to the parties to the dispute), and are appointed or approved by the Mediation Committee. Parties can object to the mediator who is assigned to their case by following the method set down at Wikipedia:Mediation Committee/Procedures#Requests for change of mediator.
- The privileged nature of mediation: All communications during mediation are privileged. In the interests of facilitating open communication between parties, the Mediation Committee pledges to protect any and all communications made during mediation, and in particular will attempt to prevent such communications being used as evidence in other dispute resolution or similar discussions, including (but not limited to) arbitration and the administrators' noticeboard.
- Blocking parties during Mediation: Parties are reminded that while mediators generally do not issue blocks for conduct in a case they are mediating, other mediators (or any uninvolved admin, for that matter) may take action if they deem it appropriate. Mediation pages are not a free-for-all; the usual rules of conduct and professionalism apply to them as they do to all Wikipedia community pages. Administrators are especially likely to issue sanctions or blocks for misconduct that takes place on the article or page that is the subject of the dispute being mediated, because misconduct during mediation proceedings is especially disruptive to the dispute resolution process. Gaming the system, having a battleground mentality, and edit warring during mediation proceedings may also result in the mediation case being closed and the matter referred for binding, punitive dispute resolution.
- Confidential mediation: The page on which mediation will take place is almost always the talk page of the mediation case. Mediation can—with the consent of the Committee—be hosted off-wiki, for instance by e-mail, but usually may not take place on another on-wiki page (such as the article talk page). In any event, the holding of mediation proceedings at a location other than the case talk page would be extraordinary.
|The goal of every mediation is to work towards a solution that is acceptable to all parties. The mediator will make every effort to see that all parties are heard and that a reasonable solution is adopted. Parties are not obliged to accept any proposed solution, and are encouraged to submit counter-proposals. When a solution is reached, the case will be closed as "successful". If the mediator determines a solution is unreachable (for whatever reason), the case will be closed as "unsuccessful".|
Reasons for closure
The case may be closed as successful, which means the parties to your case have come to an agreement about how to resolve their dispute. If a case closes successfully, the mediator will usually draw up a formal summary of the solution, and he or she may ask the parties to your case to sign their agreement to the solution. This is merely so that the solution reached in the case is clear, and does not usually constitute a binding resolution; the solution reached through mediation is as binding as the parties make it (though the Mediation Committee would hope that the parties would not throw away their own hard-earned fruits of their discussion and effort during the mediation case). However, if the parties to your case refuse to honour the agreement, then they still have a perpetual obligation to refrain from pursuing the dispute or to pursue dispute resolution and reach a consensus. Parties that break a mediation solution would usually not be permitted to use the mediation process again.
Alternatively, your case may be closed as unsuccessful or failed. This means that the parties have failed to agree on a solution to the dispute. In a case closed as unsuccessful, the Mediation Committee may recommend the parties pursue some other method of binding dispute resolution (such as arbitration or a community request for comment). The Mediation Committee also reserves the right to summarily refer the matter to these venues, rather than to merely recommend to the parties that the case be referred as such; in this case, the result would be Unsuccessful – Referred to arbitration or Unsuccessful – Referred to other venue.
Cases which are unsuccessful because too many parties stopped participating in the mediation proceedings, on the article in question, or in Wikipedia in general will be closed as Unsuccessful – Stale. Cases that become stale because the mediator stopped participating will usually be restarted by the Mediation Committee, which will assign a different mediator. The committee also proactively monitors cases for mediator absence, so that a new mediator can simply pick up where the previous mediator left off—rather than have to restart the case completely. Parties are actively encouraged to contact the Mediation Committee if their mediator is not attending the case as often as they ought to.
Formal mediation is as binding as the parties make it. Whilst the mediator will often have the parties sign their agreement to whatever compromises are reached in the course of mediation, this is not an obligating or binding agreement and the parties cannot be punished for later breaking with these compromises. For that reason, all parties are strongly encouraged to only consent to compromises with which they are fully satisfied: it is a waste of time to say one agrees with a compromise when one will most probably decide otherwise three or four months later, and thus drag the dispute back to square one. The community may also hold as culpable a party who agrees to a reasonable mediation solution, then changes their mind and resumes edit warring or arguing repeatedly for their previously preferred state of the article; that would, however, be a matter for the community which is outside the committee's direct control.
Mediation can be re-requested if the dispute is not fully resolved and problems emerge at a later date. It is recommended that if a mediator closes a case as stale or unsuccessful, that the parties disengage from the actual article for some months and that mediation of the dispute not be re-requested for at least three months (this is known in dispute resolution as the principle of "fresh eyes").