FamilySearch Wiki:Formal Mediation Policy

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Green check.png This page explains a policy, a widely accepted standard that all contributors should normally follow.

Please visit the talk page to add comments or suggestions for further development of the policy.

Dispute resolution
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Mediation Policy
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This policy governs the Mediation Committee, formal mediation proceedings, and the formal mediation policy. Where this policy refers to mediation, it means formal mediation.

The Mediation Committee
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The responsibility of the Mediation Committee is to resolve good-faith disputes about article content by mediation, where the dispute satisfies the preconditions of mediation.

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The Mediation Committee is comprised of those contributors whose nomination was successful, plus the contributors appointed as initial members at the committee's inception.

Contributors can join the committee by submitting a nomination in the format prescribed at Wiki:Mediation Committee. Nominees to the Mediation Committee must be: (i) trusted by the Wiki community; (ii) experienced contributors to the Wiki; and (iii) have the temperament and skills to resolve disputes.

Nominees must have the support of a majority of the mediators who vote in the nomination, and be opposed by no more than one member. In addition, the nominee is subject to veto by the Catalyst Team.

The Mediation Committee can solicit applications for new mediators, by posting a neutral message to appropriate community pages.

Conduct of mediators
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Mediators must:

1. Act with integrity and good faith at all times;
2. Respond promptly to questions from other mediators, or from parties to their mediation cases, or from the community, about conduct which appears to conflict with their role(s) as a mediator;
3. Participate conscientiously in the Committee's activities, advising the Chair of upcoming inactivity if that inactivity will affect their cases, and to promptly notify the Chair when they intend to stop all mediation activity for an extended period of time;
4. Abide by the principles the Mediation Committee's policy on mediation at all times when acting as a mediator, including those which govern the neutrality of a mediator.

Any mediator who repeatedly or grossly fails to meet these expectations can be suspended or removed by the Catalyst Team.

Assignment of mediators
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The Chair of the Mediation Committee will ensure that a mediator is assigned promptly to all accepted requests for mediation. No mediator is obligated to take a case, and a mediator may decline to be assigned to a case (with or without a stated explanation).

Recusal and de-assignment of mediators
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Members of the Mediation Committee must recuse themselves from a case in which they are not impartial. If they do not, the parties to the case can ask the Catalyst Team to de-assign (remove) the mediator by dictum. The Catalyst Team can also remove a mediator from a case summarily, without an accompanying request from a party to the case.

Standards for recusal
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Any mediator can specifically recuse himself from mediating a case, with or without a stated explanation. Mediators must recuse themselves from any case in which they have a significant conflict of interest - including, but not limited to, prior personal involvement with the dispute, or a significant personal involvement with one of the parties to the case. Previous formal mediation activity is not usually grounds for recusal, but previous administrator interaction with a party would be.

Petitions for removal of a mediator
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Parties to a dispute can petition for the removal of a mediator from a case if the mediator:

1. Is not impartial with relation to the case;
2. Has not been adequately active in the proceedings; or
3. Has mediated incompetently.

Petitions will not be accepted on any grounds other than bias, inactivity, or incompetence. Petitions on the grounds of bias or incompetence must be substantiated with clear evidence. Petitions for the removal of a mediator must be specify the grounds for the request, and must be sent in writing, by e-mail, to the Chair of the Mediation Committee. The Chair will promptly rule on the merits of the petition.

Before making a petition for removal on the grounds of non-impartiality, a contributor must first post a message on the mediator's talk page asking that mediator to recuse himself, and giving reasons.

The Chair of the Mediation Committee will undertake reasonable supervision of active mediation proceedings, and will reassign a case if a mediator is not satisfactorily active. The Catalyst Team can also remove a mediator from a case at its discretion for reasons other than inactivity. The Catalyst Team can refer the entire dispute to the Arbitration Committee for binding resolution or can summarily close a case.

Procedures and roles
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The Committee may create or modify its procedures, provided they are consistent with its scope.

The Catalyst Team will designate an individual to be the Chairman of the Committee. The role of the Chairman is one of co-ordination of Committee processes and representation of the consensus of the Committee, for example, in announcing selection of new members of the Committee.

Forms of proceeding
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In order to fulfill its role, the Mediation Committee administers three two types of proceedings:

Requests for mediation
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Contributors will request formal mediation through the requests for mediation process, which is maintained by the Chairman of the Committee.

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New members of the Committee are appointed through the nominations process, which is governed by the Selection and appointment section of this policy.

Mediation proceedings
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Definition[edit | edit source]

Mediation is the assignment of a mediator to a dispute over article content, at the request of the contributors involved in the dispute. The role of the mediator is to direct and facilitate the discussion between the parties, in order to achieve agreement and establish a compromise. The mediator is a contributor who is uninvolved in the dispute and impartial to the subject matter, and must be a member of the Mediation Committee.

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Mediation proceedings have no prescribed structure, and each mediator is granted wide latitude to develop and use his or her own method of mediation; but most cases have the following structure:

1. The listed issues to be mediated will be reviewed by the mediator and the parties. The mediation may request more specificity if the request for mediation does not outline in adequate detail the specific areas of article content which are being disputed;
2. The position each party has or opinion each party holds, in turn, on the various issues will be formally established;
3. The various stances on each issue, and the rationale for holding each position, will be established;
4. Possible compromises between the defined stances will be explored, and the merits of each stance will be examined;
5. The results of this exploration will be transferred into a draft agreement or compromise (often in written form);
6. This draft agreement will become the final agreement provided for in Outcome.

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At the end of mediation proceedings, the mediator can set out a formal agreement (the final agreement) for the parties to accept, or guide the parties in developing their own agreement. Parties who consent to participate in mediation are not obligated to accept any proposed final agreement.
The mediator will use his or her judgment to recommend a final agreement to the disputants that serves the best interests of Family Search:Wiki. The final agreement is a formal codification of the result of mediation proceedings, but does not carry binding weight, because mediation is only as binding as the parties make it. Mediation is a tool for reaching agreement, and is never binding.
In cases where the position of one or more disputants is clearly unreasonable, the mediator is not required to subvert the integrity of the encyclopedia in order to reach a resolution.

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Request for mediation will be declined unless the following preconditions are satisfied:

1. The dispute concerns the content of a Wiki article, template page, or image;
2. The dispute does not relate directly to the conduct of a Wikipedia contributor;
3. There has been substantial previous discussion of the disputed content;
4. Earlier steps in the content dispute resolution process, such as requests for comment, have been utilized without success;
5. The parties to the dispute are contesting the relevant content in good-faith.

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The Committee has jurisdiction over disputes over article content (and the content of other pages used on article entries, including templates) on the FamilySearch:Wiki.
The Committee has no jurisdiction over grievances about the conduct of contributors of the Wiki.
The Committee has no jurisdiction over grievances about the processes or policies of the Wiki or grievances between contributors and bodies such as WikiProjects, the Arbitration Committee, or FamilySearch.

Requesting mediation
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Requests for formal mediation must be presented as set forth at Request mediation. Requests for mediation must satisfy the preconditions of mediation set out at Preconditions. If the preconditions have not been satisfied, the Chairman of the Mediation Committee will set forth the reason and suggest steps that might be taken to qualify for formal mediation.

Participation of mediator
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Mediators may volunteer to be assigned to new cases, and can be excluded from new cases, as set down at Recusal and assignment of mediators. If no mediator has volunteered, the Chair will identify a mediator who is willing to serve. If more than mediator has volunteered, the Chair will designate the mediator.

Role of mediator
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The role of the mediator is as set out in the Definition of mediation proceedings, and is to foster agreement between parties on matters of article content. Mediators are not:

1. Emissaries. It is not the job of mediators to pass messages between individuals who are not able to communicate. Mediators work to establish the trust and common ground to allow direct communication.
2. Private investigators. Mediators do not "work for you", nor will they work to build a case against someone or research the facts in an article. Mediators will examine the facts surrounding the dispute in an attempt to understand what each party is looking for and to determine what may help to resolve the dispute amicably.
3. Psychologists or social workers. Mediators work with all parties as a neutral third party; they cannot and will not counsel or give advice to either party involved in the dispute.
4. Advocates. Mediators will not take sides in the dispute or promote one person's point of view or request over those of another person.

Parties can object to the participation of a particular mediator using the process at Recusal and assignment of mediators.

Outcome of mediation
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Mediation cases will be closed as successful or unsuccessful at the discretion of a majority of the parties or of the mediator.

Mediation cases closed as successful can result in a formal summary of the agreements reached during mediation, which the mediator can invite the parties to sign off on. Agreements are as binding as the parties make them, and a contributor who violates the mediation agreement is protected, by the privileged nature of mediation, against penalties for doing so. Agreements will be written in clear concise standard English and will (i) re-state the aspects of content that were in dispute, and (ii) set out, for every aspect of content, what variant was agreed upon. Where the meaning of any provision is unclear to any party or other interested contributors, it will be clarified upon request.

Mediation cases closed as unsuccessful will not result in a summary of the agreements. When formal mediation is unsuccessful, the mediator will produce a case analysis that will be sent to the Arbitration Committee.

This indicates the end of the proposed mediation policy.
Adapted from