0. Preamble

Arbitration is a big responsibility of the Support Team. This note describes how to handle it.

0.1 Authority

This document gives guidelines as to how Arbitration is currently handled by Support Team. It is a "Practices" authorised under Security Manual 8.5. See also SP8.5.

0.2 Responsibility

Triage is responsible for filing all disputes into Arbitration.

On acceptance of the case by Arbitration (whether by Case Manager or Arbitrator) SEs are then responsible for responding to instructions from the Arbitrator and implementing them where system operations are required.

SEs may be required to act as Case Manager in the event that no CMs are available.

0.3 References

See also:

1. Selecting Arbitration

1.1 Conceptual Decision

At a high level, the decision to file Arbitration can happen in several ways:

  1. The user can clearly mark a support request as a request for dispute.
  2. As first responder, Triage may decide immediately to file to disputes (as opposed to sending it to SEs).
  3. at the second line of support, Support Engineer may decide that this case is really a dispute.
  4. A final possibility is that a member of the Help Team in the open list decides to facilitate the process.

1.2 Workflow

Notwithstanding the high-level choices above,

all disputes are filed directly through support's single email address.

Triage is then responsible for forwarding the dispute email to the dispute channel.

This ensures that all disputes go through one major channel, and that the major channel is fully available and efficient for all people. This is a deliberate decision to avoid short-cuts and expediting; if there is a problem with Triage then it has to be fixed, not bypassed. Monitoring the one channel means we are in total control, and we can prove to for example an auditor that the dispute system is running properly.

1.3 What is a Dispute?

As per Security Manual 8.5, a support event becomes a dispute when:

In the above cases, Triage immediately forwards the event to the dispute channel. In the event that it is not clear, Triage has to make a judgement call between sending it to the dispute channel, and sending it to the SEs for further investigation. There is no firm line, just a set of guidelines to help.

When the SE is in control of the event, it may then become a dispute, in which case the SE mails support and states that this is a dispute (so the event becomes the first case above). From the SE's point of view, an event may escalate to a dispute in these ways:

1.4 Support Engineer's process

SE decides what to do:

On deciding to file a dispute, SE would generally confirm with Member whether she wants to go to Arbitration. By asking, if it is not already clear.

Support Engineer may consult with other more experienced SEs, with the Team Leader, or with the Arbitration people. Also, alternatively, policy group and board may be able to help (but note that these people are outside the circle of privacy that can be expected when dealing with the roles under formal policies.)

2. Interaction with Arbitration

2.1 Initiating the Case

Once initiated, the process is in the hands of the Arbitration system. The SE should monitor it until the Case Manager or Arbitrator takes control. If the case is declined, then the SE should advise the Member.

When an Arbitrator accepts the case, the situation changes significantly. From this point on, control and primary responsibility passes to the Arbitrator. Unlike most things in the Community, the Arbitrator is in total control.

The Arbitrator notifies all parties of the Arbitration, probably by instructing the Case Manager to do it. This means the Arbitration has formally started.

2.2 Declining

Failiure to Accept. If a case is not accepted after a period of 1 month, the SE should change its status to "NOT ACCEPTED". This means that the Arbitrators have declined to hear it; this might happen in the case of a frivolous case, or one that has nothing to do with the Community (no jurisdiction), or is repetitive.

2.3 New Instructions

Once filed, the SE then follows any instructions from Arbitrator. This can apply to any SE. In practice, either the SE works directly with the CM on the case, or the CM writes to support with a request for a task by SE.

Each instruction from the Arbitrator should come with a TOKEN. The support engineer enters the TOKEN into the support action (in any convenient box...). This TOKEN is the SE's authority to do the support action.

The TOKEN is a suggested/emerging procedure and has not yet been tried. Later on, the software will have this as a proper feature.

2.4 Older rulings ("precedents")

What to do about support people applying the ruling to similar instances later on???

A1 -- Process of Arbitration

This was written with CM==SE in mind. Probably should be merged into the CM's guide.

2.1 Initiation

The process for initiating Arbitration is this:

  1. select the case number using the Decision Numbers method. Example:
    In words, the lower-case letter 'a', followed by the date in sortable format, followed by a dot, then the index number for this case on this day.
  2. open the wiki page
  3. send mail to the arbitrator's list and request for Case Manager + Arbitrator to take the Arbitration.
  4. Decide whether the Member should be named on the wiki page above.

Up until the acceptance by the Arbitrator (next section) the Arbitration Manager may intervene and instruct on details.

2.3 Case Manager

The Arbitrator may appoint a separate Case Manager, or may confirm the SE as Case Manager. According to DRP, the SE acts as Case Manager by default, unless one is appointed. If the SE acts as the Case Manager, read up on the Case Manager's Guidelines / Handbook The Case Manager's essential job is to coordinate the case for the Arbitrator, do the administration necessary, and provide a four eyes check over the good conduct.

2.5 Closing

When the ruling is done, the Case Manager does: