The latest chapter of the Universal Code of Conduct process continues with some promising development. After the Universal Code of Conduct was ratified by the Board of Trustees in February 2021, the next step meant identifying Enforcement Guidelines. The first time the community voted on whether the draft Enforcement Guidelines were ready to implement in March 2022, there was majority support, but based on areas of concern identified by volunteers, the Board asked for further review of several sections of the Enforcement Guidelines. This led to where the UCoC process is now: following a vote where 76% of voters are in support of using the Enforcement Guidelines as revised. As such, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees unanimously voted to ratify the Enforcement Guidelines earlier this month. But what happens next?
First, let’s take a look at what brought us to this point in the process. During the Wikimedia 2030 discussions, a Universal Code of Conduct repeatedly came up in the conversation. Increasing the understanding of safety, harassment and the collaboration it would take to build the world’s knowledge meant a future of inclusion of both people and knowledge. Identifying acceptable behaviors across a globally distributed community with diverse values and perspectives proved challenging but not insurmountable. Communities from across the Wikimedia movement came together to create a UCoC with respect to context, existing local policies, as well as enforcement and conflict resolution structures.
After the Board ratified the UCoC, the next step included creating an enforcement framework for the code of conduct policy. The process for developing the Enforcement Guidelines began in February 2021. A committee came together with deep experience in policy development and the support and enforcement of community policies. This committee combined the broad knowledge from various stakeholder groups in our movement by including volunteers from the smallest and largest communities and Foundation staff members. In March 2022, the Enforcement Guidelines underwent a community review and voting process. Fifty-eight percent (58.6%) of total voters (2283) voted yes on the Enforcement Guidelines. Of the total voters, 657 left comments. After reviewing the comments, the Board of Trustees asked the staff and Enforcement Guideline Drafting Committee to review and consider comments impacting several areas of the Enforcement Guidelines. After months of discussion and engagement with the community about the Enforcement Guidelines, the most recent vote in January 2023 led the UCoC to where it is now.
Striving for equitable engagement
As part of our efforts to make the UCoC and the Enforcement Guidelines texts accessible and have a wide and inclusive reach, the Foundation invested efforts in translating all texts into 35 languages, with 32 of them outside North America, Western and Northern Europe. This included translations into about 25 medium and small-sized languages. In addition to this, the UCoC Project team reached out to fellow staff and volunteers to get the SecurePoll text translated into about 25 more languages. Translations were also completed by community members who are familiar with and understand wiki terminologies and context. The Trust and Safety Policy team carefully curated this language list to have a wide and inclusive reach through gathering insights from experienced community members and facilitators seasoned in community engagement.
The UCoC project team held numerous panels and consultations with community members to discuss the relevance of the UCoC and Enforcement Guidelines, particularly to small and medium-sized wikis. One of these sessions was published on Youtube and shared on a Diff post. Foundation staff shared the video with leadership of community groups interested in diversity, equity and inclusion so they could better educate their members about the Enforcement Guidelines and vote process. This outreach likely led to increased participation in both voters and wiki communities represented.
The vote was held using SecurePoll, a MediaWiki extension allowing for encrypted votes and elections. It is usually used for large elections around the movement, most notable being the Board of Trustees selections. For this vote, eligible voters — those with a certain number of edits on the projects, or who met other criteria — were asked whether or not they supported the enforcement of the Universal Code of Conduct based on the revised guidelines. The vote was open for two weeks, after which a group of volunteer scrutineers reviewed the votes for inconsistencies, like duplicate votes or ineligible voters, before the vote was tallied.
All of this preparation resulted in 3097 votes from 146 wiki communities. Like all statistics, there can be nuance behind the numbers. The 146 wiki communities may be inaccurate because SecurePoll captures the home wiki of the voters. The home wiki is the wiki where people first signed up for an account, which may be different from their actual home wiki. A person may edit on a certain wiki, but may not consider that wiki their ‘home wiki.’ The Movement Charter Drafting Committee has asked for the functionality for voters to select their home wiki in SecurePoll when submitting votes. While the number of home wikis is not a precise measure at this time, this information indicates the number of communities participating in the vote increased by nearly 20.
What is next for the UCoC and the Enforcement Guidelines?
The Board of Trustees met in-person in mid-March. During this meeting, they discussed the results of the Enforcement Guideline vote and the comments collected during the voting process. The Board moved to ratify the Enforcement Guidelines as they are currently written and the decision to ratify the Enforcement Guidelines was unanimous. Next steps will be announced in April 2023. In the meantime, staff will continue to prepare for the work to come. A large part of the work includes developing training materials for the community to use. These training materials must be accessible and supportive of a global community. Similar to the other parts of the UCoC process, community members will be integral to the development of these training materials.
How amazing it is to confidently say the Universal Code of Conduct is moving forward. Stay informed about what comes next and how you can get involved by watching the Universal Code of Conduct page on Meta-wiki.
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