This Friday's office hours will feature Mike Godwin, the Wikimedia
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read about him at <http://enwp.org/Mike_Godwin>.
Office hours this Friday are from 2230 to 2330 UTC (3:30PM to 4:30PM
PDT). Mike will also be taking the following Thursday from 1600 to
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The next strategic planning office hours are:
Wednesday, 04:00-05:00 UTC, which is:
-Tuesday (8-9pm PST)
-Tuesday (11pm-12am EST)
There has been a lot of tremendous work on the strategy wiki the past
few months, and Task Forces are finishing up their work.
Office hours will be a great opportunity to discuss the work that's
happened as well as the work to come.
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Thanks! Hope to see many of you there.
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The number of admins on the English Wikipedia may possibly have
peaked, and the number of active admins is 20% down on its peak of a
couple of years ago.
Dec 2009, Jan 2010 and February 2010 had only 19 successful RFAs
between them, with December and January both equalling the previous
all time low of 6. March 2010 is not yet over, but with less than 7
days left and no-one running, it looks like 2 is a new record monthly
low for RFA, and 15 a new record low for a quarter.
Those who are becoming admins are mostly the tale end of the classes
of 2006/7, as we currently have only 34 admins who started editing in
2008, and only 4 from the class of 2009.
Are other projects experiencing a similar phenomena?
What are the likely results of a dwindling number of admins, and a
growing wikigeneration gap between admins and other editors?
On 31 May 2010 19:46, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd(a)lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
> These are issues that I've been thinking about for almost thirty
> years, and with Wikipedia, intensively, for almost three years
> specifically (and as to on-line process, for over twenty years). So
> my comments get long. If that's a problem for you, don't read it.
... Has it really not occurred to you that *you're* trying to convince
*us* of something? In which case, conciseness is likely more useful
than defiant logorrhea ... Oh, never mind.
At 06:11 PM 5/31/2010, David Goodman wrote:
>The assumption in closing is that after discarding non-arguments, the
>consensus view will be the correct one, and that any neutral admin
>would agree. Thus there is in theory no difference between closing per
>the majority and closing per the strongest argument. But when there is
>a real dispute on what argument is relevant, the closer is not to
>decide between them , but close according to what most people in the
>discussion say. If the closer has a strong view on the matter, he
>should join the argument instead of closing, and try to affect
>consensus that way. I (and almost all other admins) have closed keep
>when we personally would have preferred delete, and vice-versa.
My argument has been similar on this. Wikitheory would suggest that
no admin should close a discussion with a result that the admin does
not agree with, so it does a little further than what David suggests.
I'd even say that an admin who, after reading the discussion and
reviewing the evidence, is neutral, *should not close.* If there is a
consensus, say, for Delete, and that represents true broader
consensus, surely there will be an admin who agrees to close.
I agree that if the admin has a strong opinion or general position
making it reasonably possible that the decision will be biased (some
people can actually discern this!) the admin should instead comment.
Generally, an admin who comments with a position should not then
return and close, I've seen this violated only a few times. With a
ban discussion actually, and it was a real problem, in my view.
And the reason for this is quite simple. The least disruptive way to
review a deletion is to ask the deleting administrator to reconsider
it. The theory suggests that the one who closes has the authority to
change the decision based on new evidence or argument. When an admin
closed on the basis of "consensus" purely, we have a closer who will
often refuse to change the decision because "the community made the
decision, not me."
But when the administrator is part of that community, and closed on
behalf of that community, the administrator represents it in changing
his mind, based on new additional evidence and argument. This can
avoid a lot of DRV discussions! I've seen it work, and I've also seen
the "not my decision" response.
The theory of the adhocracy that is Wikipedia depends on the
responsibility of the executives -- the editors and administrators
who act -- for their own decisions. No decisions are properly made by
voting, per se, most notably because there is a severe problem with
participation bias. If we wanted to use voting, we'd need quite a
different structure, which may be advisable, in fact, as a hybrid,
used where it's necessary for voting to represent true community
consensus. In an organization that is the size of Wikipedia, that
would almost certainly be some kind of elected representative body,
and there are ways to do this without actual "elections" as we know
them. Simple ways, in fact.
Short of that, we have the efficiency of ad hoc decision-making by
individual administrators, expected to self-select for initial neutrality.
I've seen closing admins change their mind and undelete based on new
evidence and argument, and a Delete voter in the AfD discussion got
upset that the admin was "defying consensus." But I"ve never seen
such a decision reversed at DRV, nor by a new AfD with a different
closer. Perhaps it's happened, but, if the admin was truly following
arguments and policy, it should be rare. Thus the disruption of
another discussion is avoided unless someone is really pissed and
pursues it, and, after a while, this can become obvious, such editors
don't last long, usually.
On 31 May 2010 23:17, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd(a)lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
> You are not that important, and your influence is rapidly fading.
No indeed I'm not, and I am most pleased that it is, because I get
annoyed a lot less. However, I hope I can tell the obvious, e.g. that
bringing interesting ideas to wikien-l is most useful for debugging
ideas - in terms of influence, you can only get consensus for changes
on the wiki itself. (Something I point out to Marc Riddell when he's
at his worst, and note his strange reluctance to actually engage
himself with the community he champions so strongly.)
So if you want your ideas to go anywhere in finite time, I would
suggest you would have to convince people on the wiki. And if you want
to run them past wikien-l first, knock yourself out, but epic novels
are likely to get a tl;dr.
You are of course under no obligation to listen to a word of this, and
I fully expect you won't change your behaviour a dot. Ah well.
At 05:51 PM 5/31/2010, David Lindsey wrote:
>The key is not making it easier to remove adminship. This proposal gets us
>closer to the real problem, but fails to fully perceive it as does the
>common call to separate the functions of adminship.
Generally, Mr. Lindsey has written a cogent examination of certain
aspects of the problem. Let me reframe part of this. What is needed
is not exactly "making it easier to remove adminship," but making it
easier to regulate and restrain administrative action. His proposal
is one approach to that, dividing actions into types. I suggested
something *somewhat* similar in pointing out that bureaucrats were a
group that might be trusted to make decisions about use of admin
tools, i.e., to receive and judge, ad-hoc, complaints, and warn the
admin when it was considered there was a problem, or, in the extreme,
remove the tools.
Expanding the bureaucrat role is one fairly obvious and reasonable
solution, and it seems to work like this, with bureaucrats or
stewards, on the smaller wikis that don't have an ArbComm.
Given clear rules regarding recusal, when it's necessary, and when
it's not, and what to do if there is any reasonable possibility of an
appearance of bias, most admnistrators will quite properly restrain
However, I'm not necessarily exercised if a long-time user is
short-blocked, because a long-time user should understand it and see
it as no big deal. It all depends on how it's done. If a long-time
user engages in behavior that would cause a short-time user to be
blocked, what, exactly, is the problem with being blocked? If there
is a problem, if the user will go away mad, abandoning years of
effort because of one possibly bad block, there is, right there, a
sign of a serious problem, ownership of the project or of an article.
Maybe its time for that user to do something else. If it was a short
block, he or she can come back any time they want, after the block expires.
Short blocks are very different from longer blocks. Short blocks are
true police actions, equivalent to a sergeant-at-arms conducting a
disruptive member of an assembly from the room when they get too hot.
It's no big deal, and nobody is sanctioned for it, unless they truly
get violent in the process. If an admin blocks *any* user and abuses
the user in the process, without necessity, that's a problem, and
it's a problem even if the block was correct as a block.
> At 03:28 PM 5/31/2010, David Gerard wrote:
>> On 31 May 2010 19:46, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd(a)lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
>>> These are issues that I've been thinking about for almost thirty
>>> years, and with Wikipedia, intensively, for almost three years
>>> specifically (and as to on-line process, for over twenty years). So
>>> my comments get long. If that's a problem for you, don't read it.
>> ... Has it really not occurred to you that *you're* trying to convince
>> *us* of something? In which case, conciseness is likely more useful
>> than defiant logorrhea ... Oh, never mind.
on 5/31/10 6:17 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax at abd(a)lomaxdesign.com wrote:
> It's occurred to me that you'd think that and claim it. I'm not
> writing for you, David. I'm writing for certain others who want to
> read this, and there may still be some left. If I considered it worth
> my time to write polemic, i.e, the "useful conciseness" that you seem
> to want, I'd do it. I know how to do it. It simply takes about three
> times as much time to cover the same topic in a third of the length.
> And I don't have that time. I really don't have the time to write this....
> Or to say it more clearly, even:
> I don't think convincing you is a worthwhile use of my time.
> You are not that important, and your influence is rapidly fading. You
> were not personally the cause of Wikipedia's problems, though you
> typify certain positions that are part of the problem itself. Those
> positions are effectively created by the structure, or the lack of it.
> You could possibly be a part of the solution, but you'd have to
> drastically review and revise your own position, coming to understand
> why it is that power is slipping from your grasp or the project is
> becoming increasingly frustrating.
> No, I'm writing to this entire list, even if it seems I responding to
> a single post. I know there are some here who get what I'm saying,
> and they are the ones I care about. It's even possible that I'm
> writing for someone who will read this after I'm dead. I'm old
> enough, after all, to see that as coming soon, and I have cancer.
> Slow, to be sure, and I'm more likely to die from something else,
> but.... it makes me conscious of my mortality. Do you really think I
> care about what you think?
> I know myself pretty well, and I'm definitely not trying to convince
> you, I'm not in a relationship with you and I'm demanding nothing of
> you, not even that you read this. I just write what I see, it's what
> I've always done, and there have always been people who very much
> didn't like it. And others who very much like it. I don't normally
> write to this list, but I saw that some were really trying to grapple
> with the problems, so I made some comments reflecting my experience
> and ideas. They have always been unwelcome, largely, from those whose
> positions are untenable when examined closely.
> There have been others like me, in some way or other, who did this on
> Wikipedia. If they were unable to restrain themselves, or didn't care
> to, they've been blocked or banned. Wikipedia doesn't like criticism,
> but the *large* consensus is that it's necessary. Unfortunatley, the
> large consensus almost never is aroused, it takes something big to
> get their attention.
> To summarize a recent incident:
> You can take away our academic freedom, we don't really care that
> much about it, and those were troublesome editors anyway, but take
> away our pornography, you're in trouble!
> Same issue, really. But the meta RfC on removal of Jimbo's founder
> flag, based on his action at Wikiversity, was stagnating at about 2:1
> against it until the flap at Commons, when editors started pouring
> in, and it's currently at about 4:1 for removal, last time I looked,
> with huge participation.
> And Jimbo resigned the intrusive tools (block and article delete)
> that he'd used. In spite of his prior threat that effectively said
> "I'm in charge." Don't assume my position on this! I commented,
> though. I commented on the problem at Wikiversity in a few places,
> and got a confirming email from Jimbo as to what I'd said about it,
> and certainly no flak from him. I neither oppose consensus, nor the
> needs of administrators and managers of the project. I'm trying to
> assist, but, I know to expect this from long experience, there are
> always people who don't want such assistance, because it serves them
> that things are the way they are. If anyone actually wants
> assistance, write me privately. I do know pretty much what could be
> done. But I certainly can't do it alone! and I wouldn't even try,
> other than putting a toe in the water and tossing a little yoghurt in
> the lake to see if it's ready to take.
> you never know.
Bravo! And thank you for your honesty - and your perception.
On Sun, 30 May 2010 21:49:49 -0400, Abd wrote:
> And I feel that I did. I've watched the community, in a few cases,
> adopt as consensus what I'd proposed to jeers and boos, there is
> some satisfaction in that....
Maybe the initial reaction you get to your proposals, even ones that
eventually become community consensus, is due in large part to your
personal style, such as your tendency to overwhelm people with huge
walls of text, and to be negative in tone to everybody else involved
in the issues you're discussing?
== Dan ==
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