|This page in a nutshell: Mediation is a process that creates valid consensus with the aid of a neutral third party skilled in dispute resolution.|
Mediation is a component of the Wikipedia content-dispute resolution process. During mediation, a content dispute between two or more editors is subjected to the involvement of an uninvolved third party (who is the mediator). The role of the mediator is to guide discussion towards the formation of agreement over the disputed elements of content.
Scope of mediation
The basic aim of mediation is to help Wikipedia editors to contribute willingly together by helping to resolve their good-faith disagreements over article content. As above, the mediation process is unsuitable for complaints about the behaviour of other editors; these should be directed to a project administrator (e.g. at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard) for evaluation. Mediation equally is not suited to parties who are disagreeing "for the sake of disagreeing" or who have no intention of compromising or discussing the thinking behind their positions. It is not an aim of mediation to produce mutual amity between the disputants, but increased tolerance and respect is an important goal.
Mediation in any form will have the following features:
- Editors enter into mediation voluntarily and may withdraw from mediation at any time
- The role of the mediator is to facilitate consensus-building discussion, not to arbitrate or adjudicate disputes or issue binding decisions
- The mediator is a neutral third-party in relation to both the dispute and all the involved parties
- Mediation must relate exclusively to disputes over the content of a Wikipedia page: grievances relating to the conduct of another editor are not suitable for mediation
- Where the position of one disputant is clearly unreasonable, the mediator will not subvert the integrity of the encyclopedia in order to reach a resolution
Parties may request mediation on Wikipedia from one of these venues:
- Any Wikipedia editor can act as a mediator to a dispute
- The Mediation Committee provides formal mediation for advanced content disputes. The Mediation Committee's methods for mediation are governed by its mediation policy
- Most discussions at the Dispute Resolution Noticeboard take the form of mediation
- Opinions given through the Third Opinion Project are not mediation
Forms of mediation
You may invite any uninvolved editor, including an administrator, to mediate your dispute. Mediation is simply a process where a neutral party guides disputants towards forming a compromise; no process is needed for that.
In the case of advanced content disputes which regular talk-page discussion has been consistently unable to resolve, the formal mediation process may have to be used. Editors can request formal mediation by filing a request with the Mediation Committee at Wikipedia:Requests for mediation#File. The mediators which handle Mediation Committee cases are all appointed members of the committee, which means they have been vetted for their experience in mediation and dispute resolution.
Each mediator is granted the freedom to develop his or her own method of mediating a dispute they are called into. The role of a mediator is unlike the role of a Wikipedia arbitrator; mediators are facilitators of voluntary discussion, whilst arbitrators hear evidence and issue binding rulings (including the ability to issue sanctions against users).
Wikipedia mediators are permitted and encouraged to use their own best judgement to recommend a solution to the disputants, one that is in the best interests of the project. Critically, the parties to a case should note that where the position of one disputant is clearly unreasonable, the mediator is not required to subvert the integrity of the encyclopedia in order to reach a resolution.
The only requirement of an informal mediator is that they be Wikipedia editors with some clear ability to foster an agreement (clearly incompetent or seriously inexperienced users should not mediate) with no prejudice with respect to the dispute in question (users who are parties to the case or who have some provable prejudice regarding the parties or the subject matter also should not mediate). The Mediation Committee only permits approved members to mediate its cases, because the nature of the disputes it handles often requires careful handling or at least a proven ability to mediate effectively.
Control of mediation
One purpose of mediation is to provide a controlled venue in which a discussion can proceed towards consensus without the incivility, disruptive elements, and drama which sometimes accompany discussions on article and user pages. To achieve that control, a user who agrees to be a mediator may establish procedural and behavioral rules under which the discussion will proceed on the mediation page, the mediation page's talk page, and any subpages of those pages. All participants in the mediation are required to either conform to those rules or to withdraw entirely from the mediation. A mediator may not, however, impose any restrictions on any participant's actions at any other place within Wikipedia, including the place at which the dispute being mediated was taking place. In order to further control the discussion, a mediator may also edit the mediation page, the mediation page's talk page, and any subpages of those pages in the same way and to the same extent that a user may edit his or her own talk page. Additionally, a mediator may strike out, collapse, delete, or otherwise close all or any part of any posting on those pages which is incivil or which comments upon or seeks to discuss user conduct. Any administrator may upon request by a mediator, and after a single warning by either the mediator or the administrator, block, ban, or otherwise sanction a participant who continues to participate in mediation in a manner which violates the rules established by the mediator or the editing rights granted to the mediator.
In addition, a mediator may also condition the continuation of the mediator's participation in the mediation upon whatever conditions the mediator may see fit to require, and those conditions may include restrictions upon participants' actions in other places within Wikipedia.
Rules, conditions, edit control, and closures of incivility or conduct comments may restrict the manner and sequence in which participants in a mediation present their positions and the manner and sequence in which discussion is conducted, but rules, conditions, and edit control must not be otherwise formulated or applied in a manner which prevents a user from participating in the mediation or which prevents a user from fully presenting their position regarding their content issues. If a user feels that a mediator is formulating or applying the rules in an unfair manner, the user should first discuss the matter with the mediator. With a Mediation Committee case, if the user is still not satisfied, the user should discuss the issues with the Mediation Committee as a whole.
While rules and conditions should, to the greatest degree practical, be clearly stated as part of the mediator's offer to accept the mediation, a mediator may modify or supplement the rules and conditions during the process of the mediation to meet new or unforeseen difficulties or to better manage the mediation. The purpose of mediation is to secure a result that benefits the encyclopedia—not to ensure fairness for any one contributor. Mediators work with disputants but for the encyclopedia.
- The rules in this section presume that the mediation will be carried out on a page or venue other than the page at which the dispute is taking place.
- That is, impose solely as a mediator. This provision is not intended to restrict the scope of authority of a mediator who is also an administrator to act as such either within the mediation or elsewhere.
- Notwithstanding any effect of the talk page guidelines to the contrary. At least one warning (which may be to one or more individuals or to all individuals involved in a dispute), stating that this remedy may be used, should be given before utilizing this remedy.
- Including the mediator himself or herself if he or she is an administrator (though the better practice is to request enforcement from another administrator).
- Subject in the case of formal mediation under the Mediation Committee to such standardized rules and conditions or restrictions on rules and restrictions as may be established by the Mediation Committee.
- Especially, but not only, in regard to civility, disruption, and compliance with Wikipedia policy and guidelines.