The arbitration process exists to impose binding solutions to Wikipedia conduct disputes that neither community discussion nor administrators have successfully resolved. Arbitration on the English Wikipedia is conducted by a panel of experienced users named the Arbitration Committee (ArbCom), which is elected annually by the community and governed by the arbitration policy (ARBPOL). In addition to adjudicating serious disputes, this committee also resolves issues by private hearings if factors such as privacy may preclude public consideration. The Committee has significant autonomy to address unresolvable issues among the community, but at the same time does not exist to subvert community consensus, to adjudicate matters of article content (Wikipedia has no "content committee"), or to decide matters of editorial or site policy. This Arbitration Committee's jurisdiction extends only to the English Wikipedia, although some other Wikimedia projects have their own committees.
Selection and appointment
Elections are conducted annually, in December. Nominations usually open about a month beforehand, in November. The successful candidates are typically long-term, experienced editors of Wikipedia. No candidate has ever been appointed who is not an administrator (usually with years of experience), although there is no prohibition against appointments of non-administrators. However, candidates must be adults in their country of residence in order to be appointed.
Scope of arbitration
The Committee accepts cases related to editors' conduct (including improper editing) where all other routes to resolve the conduct issues have failed, and will make rulings to address problems in the editorial community. However, it will not make editorial statements or decisions about how articles should read ("content decisions"), so users should not ask the Committee to make these kinds of decisions.
Arbitration is the last step in the dispute resolution process; it is a last resort, only to be employed when all else has failed or there is very good cause to believe they will not help. Try other steps first, including discussion between disputants and, where appropriate, mediation. The Arbitration Committee only deals with the most serious, entrenched, or persistent disputes and cases of rule-breaking, where all other reasonable means have failed.
To request that a dispute be arbitrated, see Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests, which contains all open requests for arbitration. But please read Wikipedia:Arbitration/Guide to arbitration before doing so.
Requests for arbitration can also be used to present questions and requests related to previous closed cases. These include clarification of the intent and scope of a decision, appeals of past sanctions, and requests to amend remedies and enforcement measures. It can also be used to request enforcement of a previous case or motion.
- Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case: Use this page to request a new arbitration case.
- Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Clarification and Amendment: To request clarification or amendment of an existing closed case. This includes requests to lift sanctions previously imposed.
- Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Motions: Arbitrator-initiated motions, not specific to a current open request. Only arbitrators may propose or vote on motions on this page. However, you may add your own statement to the motion, and threaded discussion is allowed in the section titled "Community comments".
- Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Enforcement: Violations of existing arbitration decisions are referred to the Committee's enforcement process. Although enforcement is within the jurisdiction of ArbCom, the actual process is staffed by Wikipedia administrators. Further instructions on requesting enforcement of an arbitration decision are on that page.
The Arbitration Committee may impose sanctions, either as a result of remedies accepted during cases, or during requests for clarification or amendment, or as a result of motions. These sanctions may be imposed on particular topic areas of Wikipedia, or they may be imposed on particular editors. Some sanctions may be indefinite, but these can be rescinded at a later date.
A list of active sanctions imposed by the Arbitration Committee is at Wikipedia:Arbitration/Active sanctions. It partially transcludes from the following pages:
- Wikipedia:General sanctions: Lists general sanctions on all editors working in a particular topic area, imposed by the Arbitration Committee and the Wikipedia community. It also lists the various general sanctions available.
- Wikipedia:Editing restrictions: Lists particular editors subject to restrictions placed by the Arbitration Committee and the Wikipedia community. It also lists the various types of editor restrictions.
General sanctions to topic areas may include discretionary sanctions, which are listed at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Discretionary sanctions. Discretionary sanctions are a list of sanctions that are applied to the most contentious and strife-torn areas of Wikipedia. There is a log of enforcement at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Discretionary sanctions/Log. Other general sanctions include article probation and revert restrictions.
Prior dispute resolution
The Committee will generally accept cases without any previous formal dispute resolution measures being followed if, and only if, the case would:
- Review emergency actions to remove administrator privileges;
- Examine unusually divisive disputes among administrators or the community; or
- Arbitrate a dispute directly referred to the Arbitration Committee by Jimbo Wales
For information about requesting Arbitration, and how cases are accepted and dealt with, please see Wikipedia:Arbitration/Guide to arbitration, which contains important information. You may also wish to review the following:
- Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Noticeboard: Noticeboard of general announcements related to the Arbitration Committee's business.
- Wikipedia:Arbitration/Current: Open and recently closed proceedings of the Arbitration Committee.
- Wikipedia:Arbitration/Index: Archive of closed proceedings of the Arbitration Committee.
The current members of the Arbitration Committee, and more information on the Committee itself, is at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee. Contact details are at User:Arbitration Committee. Information on the panel of clerks appointed by the committee to administrate the arbitration process is at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Clerks. History of the Arbitration Committee is at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/History.
The Arbitration Policy is at Wikipedia:Arbitration/Policy. Procedures based on this policy are listed at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Procedures. The internal procedures of the Arbitration Clerks are at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Clerks/Procedures.