My name is Maggie Dennis, and I am the Vice President of the Community
Resilience and Sustainability group at the Wikimedia Foundation. Among the
teams I oversee is the Trust & Safety
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Trust_and_Safety> unit. This team ensures
that our projects are compliant with applicable law and also explores ways
of keeping the Wikimedia community safe and works to minimize exposure to
harm for volunteer and reader communities.
I’m reaching out today to discuss a potential gap in volunteer community
policy that my teams observed while evaluating and acting on a Trust &
Safety investigation. We wanted to bring this up in case volunteer
community members would like to consider if this is indeed a concern that
you wish to address. Before getting to that, let me give you a little
context on the case.
As many of you know, we are not usually able to talk about office actions
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Office_actions> due to legal limitations.
However, I am able to speak a little more to this situation since the
majority of the information around this case is already public. Today, the
Foundation issued four global bans and three conduct warnings following an
investigation into the activities of individuals found to be linked to the
“WikiZédia” network. Based on our investigation, we concluded that this
network attempted to use Wikimedia platforms for a targeted disinformation
campaign engineered to influence the outcome of a national election. The
banned users’ actions, which took place over an eight-month period until
their community-backed blocks in February 2022, violated several of our
Many of our projects have excellent policies and systems in place to handle
such situations. Certainly French Wikipedia was on top of this. We greatly
admire and appreciate the leadership of community members in identifying
and confronting this situation locally. Wikimedians who work directly with
content are often the first to see evidence of such campaigns, and there
are many volunteers with much experience in identifying problem behaviours
and stopping them. By the time Trust & Safety was asked to investigate by
some of those volunteers, much of the work on the local level had already
However, one of the questions Trust & Safety asks itself in any case
investigation (disinformation or behavioral) is whether appropriate
community options exist that meet the needs of the movement and community
members across it. In this case, we wondered if the current community
processes support cases where individuals are behaving in ways that suggest
they will never be good faith contributors on any project.
To go more into depth on what I mean: It is not uncommon for users who
create problems on one project to move to another, and for some communities
it is even regarded as a potential path to rehabilitation. Community
applied global bans are, under the existing policy
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Global_bans>, “exclusively applied where
multiple independent communities have previously elected to ban a user for
a pattern of abuse.” (emphasis in original) If an individual is here as
part of a concerted group effort to undermine our very mission, should it
be easier for community members to assess global banning before they carry
that behavior from one project to another?
Foundation policies do permit banning individuals for behavior on one
are egregious and threats of or acts of violence are involved. This is a
gap where we can step in. Our goal is to support communities where we are
needed and where we can.
However, we wanted to call out the question of whether community global
bans should be allowed in cases where the behavior is severe but limited to
one project, in case volunteer community members thought it worth
discussing the existing community ban policy. Especially in cases of
disinformation , these are not always the kinds of situations governed by
our Universal Code of Conduct (UCoC), which speaks to the way users treat
each other but not the content.
If there is a desire for the Foundation to support a conversation about
making such a change to community global ban policy, I hope we would be
able to do so in the near future, as our Trust & Safety Policy team is
dedicated to supporting the evolution of community policy as well as
Foundation policy. However, I’m not suggesting that the Foundation needs to
be involved at all. Trust & Safety Policy is a small team, currently very
busy with the UCoC, and if they are not needed, there is no reason that
this conversation can’t happen spontaneously. We will support if needed,
but really just wanted to bring this question up for your consideration.
In this case, again, we do want to thank the French Wikipedia contributors
who protected their communities and our collective readers by identifying
and addressing the issue first as well as bringing the matter to us.
We encourage those who feel unsafe on Wikimedia projects to use local
community processes or, absent such, to contact the Wikimedia Foundation
for assistance. The Foundation and the community will work, together or in
parallel, to enhance the safety of all users whenever necessary with
whatever means we can. To contact the Trust & Safety team about a safety
issue, you can write to ca(a)wikimedia.org. To contact the Trust & Safety
Disinformation team about a specific disinformation issue, you can write to
Vice President, Community Resilience & Sustainability
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.