[Wikimedia-l] 2014 Ombudsman Commission

Maggie Dennis mdennis at wikimedia.org
Fri Jan 17 17:35:25 UTC 2014

Hello, everyone.

I'm writing with information about the Ombudsman Commission (OC), the small
group of volunteers who investigate complaints about violations of the
privacy policy, and in particular concerning the use of CheckUser tools, on
any Wikimedia project for the Board of Trustees.

I apologize for the length of the announcement. :)

The application period for new commissioners for 2014 has recently closed.
The Wikimedia Foundation is extremely grateful to the many experienced and
insightful volunteers who offered to assist with this work.

Last year, the WMF made a change to the number of the OC on a trial basis.
Although the OC is kept intentionally small due to the high level of trust
required of its members, we expanded the commission from five members to
seven. This expansion had two primary purposes. First, the commission bears
a heavy responsibility of ensuring that users are granted the privacy that
is their due under the Wikimedia Foundation's privacy policy. We hoped that
an expansion of the commission would help them remain swiftly responsive to
issues sent to them even when some of the commissioners had pressing
matters beyond their volunteer work. Second, commissioners had
traditionally been asked to surrender their checkuser functions on their
home wikis during their term on the commission, a request that helped to
reduce the potential for conflict of interest between the roles but which
we also believed placed an undue burden on smaller projects that had fewer
checkusers to assist. With a larger commission, commissioners were able to
continue in that also critical function, only recusing if issues were
raised relating to their direct colleagues.

At the beginning of this application period, we polled the current
Ombudsman Commission, and their consensus is that the seven number
functions very well for the role. We share that view. We believe that the
benefit the additional two members brought to those areas is sufficient to
the functioning of the OC to warrant the growth. However, since we believe
it is important to carefully balance the need to keep this group small
against the requirements that they remain flexible and available, we will
continue to monitor this need going forward.

With this in mind, I am pleased to announce the composition of the 2014 OC.

Returning to the commission are two members who joined in 2013:

*User:Huji, who primarily edits Farsi Wikipedia, where he is an
administrator, bureaucrat and former CheckUser. He has also contributed
substantially to Simple Wikipedia, English Wikipedia and Meta and is a
Wikimedia developer.

*User:Levg, who primarily edits Russian Wikipedia, where he is an
administrator, oversighter and bureaucrat and where he has twice served as
an arbitrator.

Their willingness to remain, to bring their familiarity with processes and
their experience to the new arrivals, is greatly appreciated!

Joining them are:

*User:Avraham, who primarily edits English Wikipedia, where he is a
CheckUser, oversighter, admin and bureaucrat. He also serves on Commons as
an admin and oversighter and is a steward.

*User:Gnom, Lukas Mezger, who primarily edits German Wikipedia. Lukas, a
licensed attorney, has previously served Wikimedia as a legal intern for
the Wikimedia Foundation.

*User:M7, Mario Benvenuti, who primarily edits Italian Wikipedia, where he
is also known as M/.  Mario is also an admin and bureaucrat on Meta and a
steward. He is a former CheckUser.

*User:Polimerek, Tomasz Ganisz, who primarily edits Polish Wikipedia (where
he is an admin and former arbitrator), Polish Wikibooks and Wikimedia
Commons. He also serves the Wikimedia movement as the president of
Wikimedia Poland and on the Grant Advisory Committee. He is a former

*User:Stryn, who primarily edits the Finnish Wikipedia and Wikidata,
serving as an admin on both and as an oversighter on Wikidata

2013 saw other changes in the Ombudsman Commission. The WMF was able to
bring the majority of the OC together in person in San Francisco to discuss
the best functioning of their role and how the Wikimedia Foundation could
more fully support their work. Among other things, this resulted in a
Request for comment on Meta concerning the OC's scope (
which is now before the Board. Particularly since the OC may be evolving,
with new processes and practices created, and since 2014 may be a
particularly important year for the OC with the proposed changes to the
Privacy Policy (https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Privacy_policy), we felt it
was a good idea to ask two additional members of the OC to serve the 2014
commission in an advisory capacity. User:Sir48 and User:Thogo, who have
both served the OC for three years, have consented to offer their guidance
to the new commission and also, if necessary, to fill in in the unlikely
event that the Ombudsman Commission is unable to act due to incapacity or
recusal of seated commissioners.

*User:Sir48 primarily edits the Danish Wikipedia, where he has previously
served as a CheckUser. He also has focused on Meta and Commons, especially
in translation. He joined the OC in 2011.

*User:Thogo primarily edits the German Wikipedia, where he is an
administrator and former arbitrator, and has also focused on the German
Wiktionary and Meta. He is a steward and has served as an administrator on
several other projects. He joined the OC in 2011.

Please join me in thanking the following volunteers, who have given
substantially of their time to serve the commission, and who are not

* User:FloNight primarily edits English Wikipedia, where she is an
administrator, CheckUser and oversighter and a former arbitrator. She has
also focused on Commons, English Wikiquote and English Wikisource. She
serves on the Funds Dissemination Committee. She joined the OC in 2011.

* User:Erzbischof primarily edits German Wikipedia, where he is an
administrator and former arbitrator. He joined the OC in 2013.

*User:Deskana primarily edits English Wikipedia, where he is an
administrator, CheckUser, oversighter and bureaucrat as well as a former
arbitrator. He jointed the OC in 2013, but left in September after taking a
position at the Wikimedia Foundation.

I'd also like to say a hearty thank you to those returning and those coming
aboard for the first time, as well as to all those applied. Again, it was
an extremely able group of volunteers, and while this mix of users may best
serve the need for this year, I hope that those who applied will consider
applying again for future commissions.



Maggie Dennis
Senior Community Advocate
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

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