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Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/SPI/Clerks

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For the clerking co-ordination page, see the Clerks' Noticeboard.

The sockpuppet investigations clerks are editors with proven experience and judgment of English Wikipedia policy and practice, especially in the area of sock puppetry and situations needing CheckUser assistance. As a team, they assist the CheckUsers and community by managing the day-to-day running and housekeeping tasks of sock puppetry investigations and its sub-pages and cases ("SPI").

Clerkship is open to any user in good standing after an extended period as a trainee. Administrators are also welcome to help at SPI by patrolling.

List of clerks

The following is the list of all SPI clerks, currently active or inactive; they are listed here for ease of contact and coordination with the CheckUsers. The list of CheckUsers is located here.

Last updated by: Vanjagenije, 9 September 2017

Active clerks

Admins
Non-admins

Temporarily inactive clerks

Clerks who are on a period of temporary absence from clerking.

Inactive clerks

Clerks who were removed from the above list due to long term inactivity. This list is far from exhaustive. Inactive clerks may be welcome to rejoin the team as an active clerk, but they must consult the checkuser or clerk team before doing so.

Role and responsibilities of SPI Clerks

Any user in good standing can ask to be considered for clerkship. SPI Clerks are initially accepted upon consensus of the current clerk membership following a request to any clerk. Clerks begin as a trainee until they have gained the experience and judgment to clerk without supervision, at which point a current clerk may recommend full clerkship to the CheckUsers who decide the matter. Clerks and other users who persistently make problematic comments on requests or otherwise violate decorum may be asked by the CheckUsers to cease contributing at SPI.

Clerks help to ensure the smooth operation of SPI pages, cases and processes
  • Ensuring SPI cases and processes stay in good order, including obtaining reasonable and productive conduct by participants - the admin patroller guidance (below) gives more details;
  • Flagging when CheckUser requests are reasonable and ready for Checkuser attention, to avoid wasting Checkuser time, and flagging CheckUser requests independently or upon request from other users;
  • Ensuring cases contain proper evidence (especially for CheckUser requests) and requesting such evidence when not provided;
  • Assisting with housekeeping tasks, including closing, archiving, merging and formatting of cases;
  • Assisting with non-private, operational aspects of cases;
Some SPI tasks should be done by Clerks and Checkusers only
  • Determining whether or not requests for CheckUser attention appear reasonable and within Checkuser policy and community norms, and provisionally endorsing for Checkuser attention if so, or declining CheckUser in favor of traditional means and on-wiki evidence (i.e. community attention and administrator handling). This is done so as not to waste the CheckUsers' time on requests that are not valid, as the time for a CheckUser to investigate any SPI case can range from a couple of minutes to several hours and even longer.
    Note that CheckUser requests do not need to be endorsed in order to be run, nor is an SPI case required for the tool to be used; this process is purely intended to make best use of Checkuser time at SPI. Ultimate discretion to use or not use the tool in any matter remains solely with individual CheckUsers. Also Clerks may at times request and self-endorse Checkuser attention by their own judgment.
  • Archiving cases; this is to ensure cases are not closed inappropriately and that any "loose ends" can be dealt with. For this reason non-clerks can mark cases as ready for closing but leave the closure itself to a clerk.
SPI clerks must have the following qualities
  • They are users who are in good standing within the community, and are experienced with Wikipedia.
  • They have a good working knowledge of Wikipedia policy and practice, especially in the area of sock puppetry and in situations that need CheckUser assistance.
  • They show a high standard of mature and thoughtful behavior within Wikipedia, are likely to communicate well with participants, and if needed will consult over contentious issues and/or decline to act.
  • They are trusted by the CheckUsers in their knowledge and judgment, and the CheckUsers should not feel that they must continually check over their work.
Finally, SPI clerks do not
  • Have any special authority over the general community; their actions can be overturned by the community or by any CheckUser;
  • Have any special status or any immunity with regard to consensus or other policies;
  • Have any privileges with, or additional access to, non-public information, including evidence available via the CheckUser tool (this is Checkusers' responsibility and is very restricted).

Helping at SPI and requesting to join the clerks team

Becoming a trainee clerk

Anyone in good standing may request to become a trainee clerk on the Clerks' Noticeboard (this page's discussion page). Please keep in mind that new SPI clerks are selected on an as needed basis; it is not unreasonable that clerk nominees who are otherwise knowledgeable and in good standing be turned down if there is no need at the time.

Although anyone in good standing with an account can ask to train for clerkship, SPI is a complex area involving users alleging or being alleged to have engaged in (often deliberate and deceptive) misconduct, so it requires considerable experience and judgment at times. Other useful skills include good communication with other editors, a calm and thoughtful approach, and ideally prior experience with SPI or other disputes between users. A majority of SPI clerks are already administrators; non-admin trainees usually show good experience and working knowledge of the community's policies and practices at the point they request traineeship. Users lacking much experience or whose editing history doesn't suggest they are ready to undertake traineeship or clerking roles may be asked to re-request after several months when they can show consistent involvement, experience and reliable judgment within the Wikipedia community.

Trainees perform all clerking duties. Because SPI is an area that can require skill, tact, and considerable experience, traineeship is usually for an extended period, until the Checkusers (at the recommendation of a clerk) feel the trainee's track record demonstrates sufficient judgment and experience to be relied upon without supervision.

Admin patrollers

As well as clerks, a number of administrators help patrol the SPI pages and cases. Administrators are not SPI clerks by default and generally should not perform "clerk" actions, however there are very useful administrator tasks at SPI which any administrator can perform, and any administrator wishing to clerk is also welcome to request traineeship if desired.

Examples of tasks any administrator (whether or not a clerk) can usefully perform at SPI:

Participant conduct/disruption
  • Help ensure that case pages are not disrupted, off topic, "muddying the water" with over-vague or unsubstantiated claims, violating privacy or other policies (NPA, AGF, CIVIL, OUTING, etc), and that they do not turn into a mess of attacks;
  • Help ensure that case pages remain as SPI intends - users setting out useful evidence related to account and IP abuse concerns, easy to follow, and productive discussion;
  • Help ensure case statements comprise good concise evidence (users may lack experience and be over-vague, off topic, or don't understand what's needed);
  • Address disruptive conduct or clearly inappropriate posts, or (rarely) "drama" pages that are getting out of hand.
Note: The full range of admin tools and actions is available as usual to address conduct issues or page disruption, if needed.
Also, in some cases clearly excessive and off-topic text could be summarized and/or moved to the talk page (linked).
Case input
  • Provide useful analysis or further information on cases where applicable;
  • Provide "extra eyeballs" to make case suggestions, request CheckUser if required (do not endorse CU requests unless a clerk!), to highlight important points or overlooked process issues, to express disagreement if any with other users' conclusions, and to add useful missing information about parties (other likely socks or past accounts, other relevant history about the user or case, etc);
  • Draw Clerk or Checkuser attention to incipient problems.
Administrator actions
  • Determine on the evidence whether sock puppetry appears likely to have taken place in a case, and leave a clear summary of your view and (proposed or actual) action, as with any dispute decision.
  • Take any appropriate administrative actions resulting from SPI cases - these may include blocks but could (rarely) also include any other appropriate action, up to and including discussion or notification on other pages in Wikipedia, Arbitration Committee communication, requests for desysopping or other sanctions, or "exhaustion of patience" ban proposal. The case does not need to be complete for actions to be obvious or appropriate.
  • Check if cases are complete and mark them for close if they are. Let clerks archive cases, however.

DO NOT act as a clerk unless you are a clerk or trainee, and aim to work smoothly with the SPI clerk team. If there is a problem that you cannot resolve with the clerks, try to respect their concern and if needed ask a Checkuser's opinion.

IRC channel

There is a public IRC channel #wikipedia-en-spi connect for coordination among clerks and other users. If you have a question for the clerks feel free to ask it there.

Historical note

Prior to the present clerking system being implemented, a team of appointed clerks performed these functions. A table of editors who served as clerks under the old system is kept for historical interest at Wikipedia:Requests for checkuser/Clerks/Table. The current system is similar but is not built with a command structure.