Submissions:2023/Reflections on Eight Years at ArbCom: Policy, Structure, and Reform

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This submission has been accepted for WikiConference North America 2023.


Reflections on Eight Years at ArbCom: Policy, Structure, and Reform


Equity / Inclusion / Community Health, Governance

Type of session:



Often described as "Wikipedia's Supreme Court", the Arbitration Committee (ArbCom) is the English Wikipedia's dispute resolution body of final resort. ArbCom plays a significant role in resolving serious conduct disputes, supervising administrator conduct, selecting and managing the ranks of functionaries, hearing block and ban appeals, and designing enforcement processes. Composed of 15 elected volunteers and assisted by a panel of appointed clerks, ArbCom's essential functions affect every part of the English Wikipedia.

Drawing on my eight and a half years of experience with ArbCom — six as a clerk and 2.5 years as an elected member — we will discuss ArbCom's functions on the English Wikipedia and explore its structural strengths and weaknesses. We will seek to understand how effectively ArbCom addresses the needs of various stakeholders, including case participants, users attempting to appeal blocks, editors within ArbCom-designated contentious topics, participants at other dispute resolution fora, and the arbitrators themselves. And we'll discuss possible reforms that might be worth exploring — alongside the tradeoffs they present.

Be prepared to participate actively, as the session concludes with a brainstorming and ideation exercise on ways in which ArbCom's processes could better serve its stakeholders and the Wikipedia community at large.

Slides: File:WCNA 2023 - L235 - Reflections on Eight Years at ArbCom.pdf

Author name:

Kevin Li

E-mail address:

Wikimedia username:


Affiliated organization(s):

Estimated time:

1 hour or more as available

Special requests:

(Note that the abstract is very tentative for now — when does it need to be finalized? Also, I'm open to conducting this as a roundtable rather than lecture.)

Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?:


Okay to livestream?

Livestreaming is okay

If your submission is not accepted, would you be open to presenting your topic in another part of the program? (e.g. lightning talk or unconference session)