Help:Formal Mediation

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Formal mediation is stage four in an escalated conflict. It happens after a Mentor Intervention Request (MIR) and Mediation Request Form (MRF).

Conflicts that require mediation often involve two parties, but there may just be one.

This is a very structured process. Here are the steps for the volunteer Mediator to follow.


Your Role as Mediator

As the Mediator, you are a third or fourth voice in a conflict (after the initial Mentor). You have a more formal voice. One with authority, and no emotional involvement.

You may be able to do what the other parties could not do: find a way to settle the disagreement, possibly by finding the question or issue beneath the emotional argument. Sometimes, the recognition that one or both parties is getting closer to having their account closed will drive them to conform to WikiTree's rules or to decide that our community is not the right place for them.

Being a Mediator is a big responsibility. You need to write your messages very carefully, with unimpeachable courtesy to both parties. This is a hard job for a volunteer, but you wouldn't be a Project Leader if others didn't think you were capable of it.

Assume good intentions

This is very important. The entire conflict escalation procedure, right up until its conclusion, is based on the assumption that all parties have good intentions. This is part of our Honor Code.

There is no judge or jury during a mediation. Nobody is accused of wrongdoing. There are only parties to a misunderstanding. Your goal as the Mediator is to find the source of the misunderstanding.

Step One: Temporarily Stop All WikiTree Participation

During mediation the party or parties involved should not be using WikiTree or participating in any WikiTree-related forum or social media.

Parties involved in mediation should not be communicating directly with each other in any way. If anyone contacts them, they should forward the message(s) to the Mediator.

Account deactivation

In every mediation, the Mediator should temporarily deactivate the account(s) of the member(s) involved in the conflict. Click here for technical instructions.

A situation is easier to investigate if it's not ongoing. Mediation does not last long.

Send the opening message

There is a template for an opening message in the output of the Mediation Request Form. You shouldn't need to customize it much.

Address the message to and BCC the member or members. Using BCC discourages the parties from replying to each other, which they should not be doing at all during mediation.

Step Two: Gather Information

Communicate slowly

After the opening message, communicate with the member or members in as few messages as possible.

The opening message requests that the parties cease direct communication, send you additional information, etc., so you don't need to ask that again.

Don't send any other messages to the parties in the first two days. The mediation process is intentionally slow. This helps cool things down.

It's not unlikely that you will have questions for the parties. Instead of asking them as they occur to you, compose your thoughts and wait the two days.

After gathering information and considering the case for at least two days, either:

  1. if you feel ready, you can send your formal recommendation (step three),
  2. send separate messages to the parties asking for more information if you have questions for them, or
  3. ask for advice on the Mediators list (see below).

Ask other Mediators for advice

You don't need to do any of this on your own. Ask for help from another Mediator privately or on the Mediators email list.

However, keep in mind that understanding a full case requires careful examination of all the relevant materials and messages. You may be the only one who's done this.

WikiTree Team members may be able to help by pointing to an obscure help page or style page, or be able to find a G2G question that needs to be asked. But you are making the decision. Mediation is part of our volunteer community process for resolving conflicts. The team will not intervene unless there is a Terms of Service violation or legal issue. Team intervention means closing the account.

If there are questions of policy and procedure, please discuss them publicly on G2G. Others might be able to help you figure out what question to ask. Of course, you will not be mentioning the particulars of the conflict and those involved.

Update the parties if there is a delay

Mediation should not be a long process, but if there is a period of three or more days when you have not communicated with the parties, send them a message like this: "I just wanted to let you know that the formal mediation process on WikiTree is still ongoing. I'll email you soon."

You may want to reply with a similar message if anybody asks you questions. You don't want to reply with any specifics until the conclusion.

Step Three: Recommend a Solution

Your formal recommendation

This is one message, not a conversation.

Choose your words carefully. Make sure they describe what you believe to be the source of the mistake or misunderstanding, or the lack of clarity in WikiTree rules. Assign no blame.

Do not say that either party has done something wrong. Say "there was a misunderstanding on X" instead of "you were wrong about X."

Even though this is a formal recommendation, use the first person. Say "I feel X might have happened" or "I believe that there may have been a miscommunication on Y."

For example: "I think there was a misunderstanding related to privacy and collaboration. Even though one party's close family members were involved, they are also family members of the other party. Family members need to be able to collaborate unless it's on people that are subject to the Privacy Conflicts policy."

The bottom of the message should include this standard language: "This is the formal recommendation of the volunteer Mediator. Please respond to this message to tell the Mediator whether you understand and agree with the recommendation. The Mediator will then report either a successful or unsuccessful mediation."

Step Four: Conclusion Report

Record their response

The goal is for the parties to say that they understand and agree with your recommendation. If mistakes were made in the past, we want to know that they won't happen in the future.

If they ask questions for clarification you may want to answer them, but it's recommended that you keep the private back-and-forth to a minimum. A conflict that has escalated this far has already had quite a bit of back-and-forth.

You simply need to identify whether or not both parties understand and accept your recommendation.

Submit the Conclusion Report

A Conclusion Report should be filed within seven days.

  1. If all parties accept the recommendation you will report a successful mediation. The conflict will deescalate. The member(s) should be moved down to green or yellow on the private tracking document.
  2. If either party rejects or ignores the recommendation you will report an unsuccessful mediation. This escalates the conflict to the Mediators Council.

The report completes your involvement in the conflict.

This page was last modified 13:49, 7 March 2024. This page has been accessed 4,703 times.