Wikipedia:Oversight


The Oversight logo

Suppression on Wikipedia (also known as oversight for historical reasons) is a form of enhanced deletion that, unlike normal deletion, expunges information from any form of usual access, even by administrators. It is used within strict limits to protect privacy, remove defamatory material, and sometimes to remove serious copyright violations, from any , revision, page, or log entry (including, if required, the list of users) on the English Wikipedia.

On the English Wikipedia, "oversight" (the power to suppress s) is entrusted to a restricted number of users, who can suppress material if it meets the strict requirements below. Use of these tools is monitored by other oversighters who patrol the log, and by the Arbitration Committee.

The permission is granted by Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee, after community consultation and vetting of the or by the committee's members. Although Oversighters are not required to be administrators,[notes 1] nearly all Oversighters up to this point have been. Oversighters must also be 18 years of age or older and have signed the Wikimedia Foundation's confidentiality agreement for nonpublic information before being appointed. The use of the Oversight tool on the English Wikipedia is monitored and controlled by the Arbitration Committee, and Oversighters may have their permissions revoked by the Arbitration Committee for misuse or abuse of the Oversight permission.

This policy supplements the global oversight policy and applies only to the English Wikipedia.

Nomenclature[]

The original term "oversight" (for the function/tool) came from the Oversight extension, a revision removal function, whose log access was intended to allow oversight of its operation. The Oversight extension was intended to be a temporary measure; in 2009 the RevisionDelete system was enabled which fixes several problems with oversight (including causing misattribution of s and its irreversibility) and added features not originally present (including account and log hiding). For historical reasons, the group of users with the ability to use the RevisionDelete and Oversight tools are still known as "oversighters" and suppression might still be referred to as "oversight." However, "oversight" might refer specifically to use of the Oversight extension, while suppression will not.

Page revisions suppressed with the old Oversight extension did not leave a placeholder in the page history and could not be restored, and revisions that were suppressed using the old Oversight extension were logged at Special:Oversight; Oversight, however, has been superseded by RevisionDelete with the new version and deployment of the MediaWiki software. With the replacement of the old extension with the updates and changes to the MediaWiki software, revisions suppressed with RevisionDelete (the new suppression workflow) leave a visible placeholder in the page history and can be restored if the situation calls for it. All visibility changes that were made on Wkikpedia using the old Oversight extension were migrated over to the updated workflow and hence are visible and reversible.

Policy[]

This feature is approved for use in these cases:

  1. Removal of non-public personal information, such as phone numbers, home addresses, workplaces or identities of pseudonymous or anonymous individuals who have not made their identity public. This includes hiding the IP data of ors who accidentally logged out and thus inadvertently revealed their own IP addresses, and hiding the IP data of ors without an account on request. Suppression is a tool of first resort in removing this information.

In the following cases, revision and/or log suppression may be used when justified by the circumstances. However, consideration should be given to whether administrative revision deletion is an adequate response:

  1. Removal of potentially libelous information, either: a) on the advice of Wikimedia Foundation counsel; or b) when the case is clear, and there is no orial reason to keep the revision.
  2. Removal of copyright infringement, on the advice of Wikimedia Foundation counsel.
  3. Hiding of blatant attack names on automated lists and logs, where this does not disrupt histories. A blatant attack is one obviously intended to denigrate, threaten, libel, insult, or harass someone.[notes 2]
  4. Removal of vandalism. Suppression may be occasionally used to remove vandalism for which removal by normal administrative measures is insufficient. Such cases should be discussed in advance on the Oversight mailing list unless they are urgent or time-sensitive, in which case they should be discussed on the mailing list afterward.[notes 2]

The original meta:Oversight policy, containing only the first three criteria above, was adopted because the now-deprecated Oversight tool did not provide oversighters with the ability to restore oversighted revisions. The fourth criterion was adopted at meta:Oversight policy in November 2009. The fifth criterion was adopted after the implementation of RevisionDelete which allowed suppression actions to be easily reversed.

Operation[]

Actions[]

Oversighters can perform the following actions:

  1. Suppress and unsuppress elements of individual page revisions (revision text, username, or summary) using an extended option on the RevisionDelete function page.
  2. Suppress and unsuppress elements of log entries (action / target user or page, log summary, or the username / IP of the user that performed the action) using an extended option on the RevisionDelete function page.
  3. Suppress the target account user name from all s and logs when applying a block using the block function page.[notes 3] [notes 4]
  4. Suppress all s to a page when deleting it using the delete function page.[notes 5]
  5. Review the suppression log containing a list of actions taken by all other oversighters involving suppression, as well as the material that was suppressed by that other user.
  6. View all suppressed s and log entries.

Logging[]

The RevisionDelete extension can be used by both oversighters and administrators. Oversighters have an extra option that, when ticked, indicates that the visibility change is a suppression action that prevents administrator access, or (if left unticked) as an administrator action that any administrator can see and modify; administrators do not have access to this extra option. The action will be logged in the suppression log or deletion log accordingly.

  1. Page revisions and logged events that have been suppressed using the "also hide from administrators" checkbox are logged in the suppression log; no entry is added to the deletion log.[notes 6]
  2. Page revisions and logged events that have been deleted by an oversighter without using the "hide from administrators" checkbox, or by an administrator, are logged in the deletion log.[notes 7]
  3. Accounts which are blocked with the "suppress user name from lists" checkbox ticked are logged in the suppression log; no entry is added to the block log.
  4. Accounts which are blocked without the "suppress user name from lists" checkbox ticked (a normal block without suppression) are logged in the block log.
  5. Pages which are deleted with the "suppress all s" checkbox ticked are logged in the suppression log; no entry is added to the deletion log.
  6. Pages which are deleted without the "suppress all s" checkbox ticked (a normal admin page deletion) are logged in the deletion log.

Each entry in the log will list the account who made the visibility change, a timestamp of when the change was saved, the page, s, or logs that the changes were saved to, and the summary that the performing user entered when applying the change. Log entries regarding the visibility of an include a diff link to compare the previous live revision to the modified one.

Assignment and revocation[]

On the English language Wikipedia, access to the suppress function of the RevisionDelete tool is controlled by the Arbitration Committee. Permission is generally automatically granted to members of the Arbitration Committee and retained by them when they leave the committee. Non-Arbitrators may be granted oversighter status at the discretion of the Arbitration Committee and are selected for trustworthiness and availability to handle requests. However, only a very few appointments are typically made per year. See the above page for further information or for requesting oversighter status.

Beginning in 2009, the Arbitration Committee held periodic elections that allowed the community to have a voice in choosing oversighters. Candidates were vetted by Arbcom, and a list of pre-approved candidates is presented to the community for a vote. The previous election was August 2009. The May 2010 election resulted in no new oversighters, and thereafter appointments were made directly by the Committee with community consultation.

Oversighter status may be revoked by the Arbitration Committee at any time. Generally, permission is revoked only "for cause", such as abuse of suppression to remove items that do not qualify under the stated policy, or for unauthorized release of suppressed information. The Arbitration Committee has also ruled that permission will be revoked from oversighters who do not meet the minimum activity level.

As on all Wikimedia Foundation wikis, the technical assignment of the permission to the user account is made by a steward, acting on instructions from the Arbitration Committee as posted at requests for permission on Meta-wiki. Emergency requests based upon clear evidence may also be made in exceptional circumstances, the same way. In an exceptional case, and for good cause, a steward may temporarily remove the permission, pending a decision by the Committee. The steward should check the matter is well founded, and make clear immediately that it is a temporary response only, since such an action could lead to controversy.

Complaints[]

Complaints or inquiries about potential misuse of the oversighter flag should be referred to the Arbitration Committee.

Oversighters[]

An automatic list is available at Special:Listusers/oversight. There are currently 45 users with the Oversight permission on the English Wikipedia. As of 19 February 2019, the following ors comprise the Oversight team on the English Wikipedia:

Appointed community oversighters[1] 
Amorymeltzer, Daniel Case, DoRD, Dweller, Fox, GB fan, HJ Mitchell, Julia W, Keegan, Lofty abyss, Oshwah, Ponyo, Primefac, Richwales, Someguy1221, There'sNoTime, TonyBallioni, Vanamonde93
Current arbitrators 
AGK, BU Rob13, Callanecc[2], Courcelles[2], GorillaWarfare[2], Joe Roe, KrakatoaKatie[2], Mkdw, Opabinia regalis, Premated Chaos, RickinBaltimore, SilkTork, Worm That Turned
Former arbitrators 
Beeblebrox[2], DeltaQuad, DGG, Doug Weller, Drmies, LFaraone[2], Mailer diablo[2], PhilKnight, Risker, Salvio giuliano[2], Timotheus Canens, Thryduulf, Yunshui
Others[3] 
Jimbo Wales, some Wikimedia staff members
  1. ^ On this project, oversighters are appointed by ArbCom.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Held prior to appointment to Arbitration Committee.
  3. ^ "Others" includes users who require access for WMF reasons, and WMF officers.

The list above is served from Template:Functionaries.

Notes[]

  1. ^ The current appointment process satisfies the WMF requirement, see here
  2. ^ a b Criteria #4 and #5 were implemented as an interim solution to certain serious vandalism and grossly disruptive abuses that administrators would expect to address, but could not with their tools (due to previous software limitations). Since tools have since been developed so that administrators can apply deletion norms to all public logs and data fields on the wiki, these criteria might be considered for removal.
  3. ^ This option is only available when applying an indefinite block to a Wikipedia user account.
  4. ^ This action cannot be undone by unticking the suppress option and updating the block. The action can only be reversed by modifying the visibility settings on all affected s and logs.
  5. ^ This action can only be reversed by modifying the visibility settings on all affected s.
  6. ^ This includes changes to visibility settings that untick the suppression option and change it to be accessible by administrators, or that restore public visibility alltogether. These changes are recorded in the suppression log, not the deletion log.
  7. ^ The reason for this behavior is that RevisionDelete is configured to allow administrators to delete page revisions from regular ors but not other admins, while allowing oversighters to delete page revisions from regular users and admins. Only when an oversighter uses their tool to remove material from access by administrators is the action referred to as "suppression"; all other actions are referred to as "revision deletion" or "RevDel". Admin revision deletions are logged in the deletion log and are viewable and reversible by other admins, while revisions suppressed by oversighters are inaccessible to admins and logged in the suppression log.

See also[]

Background

Suppression requests

Frequently-asked questions

Oversighter status

Statistics

Technical