In general, Wikipedia operates based on consensus, and voting is discouraged as a method of settling content disputes (though well-designed surveys can be useful to gauge and develop consensus). However, in order to fill certain specific functions in the community, there are a few instances in which we have used elections to select individuals for particular positions.
The Wikimedia Foundation is the parent organization of Wikipedia. The affairs of the Wikimedia Foundation are handled by a Board of Trustees. Currently, three seats on the Board are elected by members of the Wikimedia community. The first election was for two positions that were held for one year. The second election was for two positions to be held for two years.
The first election was held from May 29 to June 12, 2004 and the second from June 28 to July 11, 2005. Both elections used approval voting. Angela Beesley and Florence Nibart-Devouard were elected as trustees between 2004 and 2005, and again between 2005 and 2007.
In August 2006, a special election was called to fill the vacancy left by Angela's resignation. Voting took place between September 1 and September 21, 2006; Erik Möller, also known as User:Eloquence, was elected to a term ending with the regular July 2007 election.
In December 2006, the board approved a resolution expanding the size of the board of trustees, including expanding the number of seats elected by the Wikimedia community to three. Elections were held in June 2007, for three positions, each for a term of two years.
During April 2008, the Board was restructured to include, most notably, two chapter-appointed seats. This resulted in elections held in June, 2008, appointing a single new member to the Board.
Further elections were held in July-August 2009, May-June 2011 and June 2013.
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The original Arbitration Committee were appointed by Jimbo Wales in December 2003, and consisted of 12 members. In making these appointments, Jimbo indicated that in the future, the Arbitrators would be elected. Until 2009 when the terms were reduced to two years, Arbitrators were appointed for three-year terms beginning on January 1. To stagger the terms, four of the original appointments (tranche alpha) were subject to re-election after one year, and four more (tranche beta) after two years; the remaining four (tranche gamma) serving for the full three years. This results in a third of the positions being open for election on an annual basis. Historically, elections to the Arbitration Committee only advised Jimbo on who to appoint, and were not binding, Jimbo being free to appoint other people to the committee, and not to appoint those elected. While Jimbo still holds reserve powers over the committee, the established community election process now selects committee members directly.
Of the original appointees, Eloquence refused the appointment, and UninvitedCompany withdrew from the Committee shortly after it began taking cases; both of these were from tranche alpha. In order to fill these vacancies, the first elections were held in July 2004 for two members to fill the unexpired terms through to the end of 2004. In his appointments, Jimbo selected Jwrosenzweig and Raul654 to serve as temporary Arbitrators.
The regular election cycle began with the December 2004 elections. This covered seven seats — the two especially-elected positions held by Jwrosenzweig and Raul654, the two tranche alpha positions whose terms expire at the end of 2004 (held by James F. and The Cunctator), and three vacancies created by additional resignations (Martin Harper, Gutza, and Camembert).
The second set of normal elections were held in January 2006, after delays. This covered eleven seats: the two still-sitting tranche beta positions of Fred Bauder and David Gerard, the tranche gamma mid-term seat of Grunt, and the two tranche alpha mid-term seats of Ambi and Sannse, all three of whom resigned, and three additional seats (one to each tranche).
In his appointments, Jimbo placed on alpha tranche: SimonP, Dmcdevit, and Fred Bauder; on beta tranche: James F., Mindspillage, Filiocht, Charles Matthews, and Morven; and on gamma tranche: JayJG, Sam Korn, and Mackensen.
The December 2006 elections began on December 4th and ran for 2 weeks. Candidates could nominate themselves and candidate statements were accepted until December 1. None of the four arbitrators (The Epopt, Jayjg, Theresa knott, and Sam Korn) in the previous Tranche Gamma ran for reelection. The vacant seat in Tranche Gamma (vacant since Mackensen's February resignation), the of arbitrator Mindspillage (who was appointed to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees), the replacement of Filiocht (who is on indefinite leave), and the seats of the four Tranche Gamma members led to a total of seven seats filled. FloNight, and Blnguyen were appointed to the vacant seats in Tranche Beta (terms expiring December 2008) and Flcelloguy, Kirill Lokshin, Paul August, UninvitedCompany, and Jpgordon were appointed to Tranche Gamma (expiring December 2009).
The December 2007 elections commenced on December 3, 2007. Voting ran for two weeks. The prior members of Tranche Alpha were SimonP, Raul654, Mackensen, Neutrality, and Fred Bauder. Thanks to the election, the new Tranche Alpha consists of Newyorkbrad, FT2, FayssalF, Sam Blacketer, and Deskana.
Additionally, a seat vacated by Deskana in Tranche Alpha was left unfilled, leaving 5 (instead of 6) members of Tranche Alpha for the time being.
The seventh elections to the English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee were held after two RFCs: one in which secret ballots were approved and one for other committee structure and election issues, in which Tranche Gamma was eliminated, and committee terms were reduced to two years. Self-nominations were accepted from 10 to 24 November 2009 through the submission of a candidate statement. Voting was open from 1 December 2009 to 14 December 2009 using the SecurePoll extension for a secret ballot with the traditional options of support/abstain/oppose. The appointments were by Jimbo Wales on 24 December 2009. The new Arbitrators took their seats on 1 January 2010.
The Mediation Committee was closed by RfC in November 2018 after not accepting any cases for over a year.
The Mediation Committee was created and appointed at the same time as the Arbitration Committee, but no election procedure was specified. Instead, the Mediation Committee was structured so that new people were free to nominate themselves for membership on the Committee; members could withdraw from active mediating (become emeriti) and become active again at their convenience.
The Committee did not use a fixed number of positions, so elections were unnecessary. New mediators were nominated and duly promoted, subject to approval by the existing Committee members under their practices for outcomes of nominations. The community could comment on nominations, but approval for membership lay within the Committee. There was no strict deadline on time for a nomination and it changed depending on the status of the nomination, but they generally lasted between two and four weeks. The one official rule with nominations to the Committee was the "two oppose rule", by which any candidate receiving two opposes from members of the Committee could not be promoted.
In addition, the Committee internally elected a Chair to help with coordination and facilitation of the Committee's duties. There was initially no limit on the length of terms, nor the maximum number of times a person could serve, and frequently the Chair held his or her position until they chose to step down or become inactive. More recent Committee chairs were required to have their status as chair "confirmed" every six months, by means of an internal discussion, although every confirmation was a matter of routinely supporting the Chairperson continuing for another six months.
The coordinator of the Association of Members' Advocates (AMA) was an elected position. It was the first position on Wikipedia to actually go through an election process. The election, held in April 2004, resulted in the selection of Alex756, a founder of the association, as the first elected AMA Coordinator on April 30, 2004.
The AMA was nominated for deletion in April, 2007. The nomination was closed as "no consensus," but sparked discussion about the function and organization of the AMA, including proposals to "de-bureaucratize" the group. Nothing of this was achieved, and in May 2007 the AMA was closed with its page marked as historical.
Historically, checkuser and oversight permissions have been handled by the Arbitration Committee. In 2009 and 2010 the committee changed to a model that incorporated direct elections during the selection of checkusers and oversighters. There were three such elections before the selection model reverted to an application-appointment model after requests for community input.
The first open checkuser and oversight elections were held in February 2009. Kylu, Lucasbfr, and Versageek were granted checkuser permission. Daniel Case, EVula, Luna Santin, and Mailer diablo were granted oversight permission.
The second open checkuser and oversight elections were held in August 2009. Brandon, Hersfold, and J.delanoy were granted checkuser permission. Avraham, Dweller, Howcheng, Keegan, Happy-melon, Hmwith, Mr.Z-man, Nishkid64, and Thatcher were granted oversight permission.