I'm not quite sure if this responding to what I wrote or to other bits
above, but it seems in part to apply to what I said, so I will respond
accordingly. First of all, my proposal was not meant, in any sense, to
suggest supplanting consensus with the arbitrary judgement of bureaucrats.
To the contrary, it's meant to help capture consensus. The fact of the
matter is that, in contoversial matters (which are the ones where admins get
in trouble) it is difficult, by definition, to determine what the consensus
is. Bureaucrats are a group of users in whose ability to determine
consensus the community has expressed extraordinary confidence. Thus, they
are ideally placed to find the consensus in these difficult areas.
Secondly, there is often a legitimacy problem (more in user behavior related
areas than XfDs). If one administrator of no particular standing imposes a
block on someone, it appear less justified than if a user in whom the
community has expressed extra confidence does the same (though, to the
blocked user, both may well look illegitimate).
Third, and unrelatedly, I'd like to point out another advantage of what I
propose. Term limits on administrators are often proposed, but are utterly
impractical, in large part because we have over 1500 admins (not all active
of course). On the other hand, the number of people needed to help
determine consensus in particularly contentious areas is not likely to
exceed 50 or 60 people. It would be entirely practicable to term-limit a
group of this size.
On Mon, May 31, 2010 at 11:11 PM, David Goodman <dgoodmanny(a)gmail.com>wrote:
>> Administrators differ in competence, and perhaps even in
>> trustworthiness, but I think experience has shown that not even the
>> most experienced and trusted of all will always correctly interpret
>> the view of the community, and that nobody whomsoever can really trust
>> himself or be trusted by others to be free from bias. I see no reason
>> to think that the long-term administrators are any more likely to show
>> neutrality or a proper self-perception as the newer ones. If anything,
>> they are more likely to have an over-extensive bview of the centrality
>> of their own ideas. Consequently, I think there is no other basis
>> by which any administrator can make a decision except by consensus,
>> implied or express . For those who are willing to read beyond the
>> first paragraph:
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> The Wikipedia community
> painted itself into a corner, and it's entirely unclear to me if it
> can find the exits, the paths to fix it.
As this discussion illustrates rather well, the argument "if you want to
fix A, you'd have to start by fixing B (my pet gripe) first" is
routinely deployed, making for an infinite regress in some cases, and in
others the generation of suggestions that are rather clearly
counterproductive for fixing A, whatever they may do for B. In the real
world, if you want people to do thankless and time-consuming tasks for
you for no money, and much criticism, you have to rely on something more
than "be sure that you'll be told if we don't like you and what you do".
At 02:17 PM 5/31/2010, David Gerard wrote:
>Abd has been beaten around the head by the arbcom on several
>occasions, and so has an understandably negative view of power
>structures on Wikipedia in general - since it couldn't possibly be the
>case that he was ever actually wrong or anything.
My views of the Wikipedia power structure were expressed long before
I appeared before ArbComm. I've been a major party for two cases
only. The first was filed by Jehochman, beating me to it by maybe an
hour or two, I was ready to file. My case was about admin recusal
failure, and ArbComm confirmed it. That case was practically a
complete "victory" for my position. Later, one finding, very mild,
was interpreted as some kind of reprimand, though it was actually an
instruction to more rapidly escalate dispute resolution. So, next
time, that's exactly what I did.
The next case I filed, and was also over admin recusal failure. This
time, I was personally involved (I'd been neutral in the first case,
actually, though I later developed a point of view contrary to that
of the administrator. My POV wasn't relevant to the charge of recusal
failure.) Again, ArbComm quite confirmed the complaint.
I was very aware from the beginning that by taking on administrative
abuse, I was risking topic bans and my account. The surprise,
actually, was that it didn't happen the first time. But that case had
been so open-and-shut and uncomplicated that the "cabal" mostly
stayed away, even though they had actively participated in the
preceding RfC/JzG 3. That, right there, was a clue: the RfC was
narrowly filed, as well, simply showing article and other topic
involvement, then use of tools for blacklisting, blocking, and
deleting. But 2/3 of editors commenting supported, instead of a
confirmation of the problem, that Abd should be banned.
2/3 of editors supported a position that was blatantly against policy
and the ensuing ArbComm decision.
But with the next case, the cabal was very much aware of the danger,
and the case wasn't as clear. They knew that if they could claim that
I was a tendentious editor, dispruptive, etc., they could at least
get me topic banned. They piled in, and my originally compact
evidence spun out of control, trying to respond. At the beginning,
actually, it looked like they'd failed, the first arb to review
evidence and opine was so favorable to my position that I thought
that, again, I'd dodged the bullent. But then, quite rapidly, it
reversed, that arbitrator was basically ignored, and entirely new
proposals were made, basically reprimanding me for a series of
asserted offences, not supported or barely and inadequately supported
by evidence. ArbComm was more of a knee-jerk body than I'd
anticipated, I'd been fooled by a series of decisions where they
clearly did investigate, and carefully.
Did I do anything wrong? Of course I did! I also did stuff that was
exactly right, and exactly effective, and accomplished what many
editors and administrators thought impossible.
But my personal right to edit Wikipedia meant almost nothing to me,
and standing up for the rights of legions of editors who had been
abused, and I'd been watching it for a long time, and I believe that
this has done and contnues to do long-term damage, was much more
important. I'm just one editor, I'm nothing compared to them. Someone
like Mr. Gerard may not be capable of understanding this attitude, it
would be so foreign to how he'd think. Or is it?
Never mind, it doesn't matter.
ArbComm is not the cause of Wikipedia's problems, it's merely a
symptom. Fix the basic problems, and ArbComm, or its replacement,
would become far more functional. The problem is not the fault of any
member of ArbComm, nor of any editor or faction, though some do stand
in the way of reform, that's simply what's natural. I ddn't seek to
have anyone banned, even though there were -- and are -- several who
by ordinary standards, if their behavior were examined, would be,
because these people would be harmless or even useful if the
structure were functional. The problem, in a nutshell, is that the
founders of Wikipedia did not know how to put together a project that
could maintain unity and consensus when the scale became large.
That's not surprising, not many know how to do this! But there are
people who do, who have had experience with it. Few of them have
become Wikipedia editors, and Wikipedia has not sought this
expertise. Indeed, it's blocked and banned people for even suggesting
And, from the beginning, as I became active, back in 2007, I wrote
that this was expected behavior.
I'd registered in, I think, 2005, and had other wiki experience, and
was a moderator on the W.E.L.L. in the 1980s and a moderator of
soc.religion.islam in the 90s -- still am, though inactive --, do you
think there was any controversy there? And I've handled large
meetings, an international conference, of people inclined to argue
about everything, and managed to facilitate the formation of
consensus in a few days on far more than ever happened before or
since. I know how to do it, I know what it takes. But, I aslso have
always found that when an entrenched oligarchy is favored by the
status quo, as to personal power, they will oppose any reform that
will move toward equity, because they will correctly see it as
lessening their personal power, and they will readily believe that
their personal power is essential to success of the organization. It
is a deep and persistent effect, related to the Iron Law of
Oligarchy, cf. the WP article on that. How to move beyond the damage
done by the Iron Law is a subtle problem, and few even recognize the
existence of the problem. They ascribe the problems to something
else, to "them," usually." I.e., they will think that the problem is
the oligarchy, which isn't correct. The problem is the lack of
consensus structure. Consensus does not arise both naturally and
efficiently in large-scale organizations. It does arise, sometimes,
eventually, but the process takes so long and is so difficult, that
it burns people out in the course of it. Both efficiency and
thoroughness, i.e, maximization of consensus, are necessary. And
Wikipedia seemed like a good place to test some of the ideas, one
decent and advisable step at a time. Nothing was done to be
disruptive. But from what I've written, you'll understand that it
will be taken as disruptive, quickly and readily.
I was a little surprised by the vehemence of the response, at first.
I'd expected more that it would simply be ignored until and unless it
became more of a present threat. But the active core of the editorial
community is generally very smart, in some ways. They sensed what a
danger it was, to them -- not to the community, and it changed no
policies, and did not create voting --, and turned out in droves to
attempt to delete and salt the ideas and the attempted experiment.
That puzzled Kim Bruning.... he thought it was merely a rejected
proposal.... The attempt to delete and salt had supermajority
approval, but failed. Today, my guess, it would be deleted. The
admins who would have resisted that have mostly abandoned the field.
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.
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.
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> At 01:35 PM 5/31/2010, Charles Matthews wrote:
>> Actually, most people who don't apply as an admin just don't apply.
> With ten million registered editors and a handful of RfAs, that's
>> don't generate "evidence" one way or another. It is a perfectly sensible
>> attitude for a well-adjusted Wikipedian getting on with article work not
>> to want to be involved in admin work.
> Sure. However, there is a minority who are *not* "well-adjusted" who
> would seek adminship for personal power.
Yes, and the first required quality for being given such power is not to
want it. Etc. But you were the one talking about getting painted into a
corner. The problem, as I have defined it, is of negative voting. The
sheer suspicion of those who apparently want the mop-and-bucket. (And
anyway, I obviously was using "well-adjusted" in the sense of "round peg
in a round hole", not as a comment on anything else.)
On 31 May 2010, at 18:21, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd(a)lomaxdesign.com>
> But AGK is
> an administrator, and if he expects that "police" work will "almost
> always cause the administrator to gain enemies," I rather suspect
> that some of his work is less than optimal.
Irrelevant and incorrect. Shame, because I was starting to really like
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> At 02:43 AM 5/31/2010, Charles Matthews wrote:
>> Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>> > The Wikipedia community
>> > painted itself into a corner, and it's entirely unclear to me if it
>> > can find the exits, the paths to fix it.
>> As this discussion illustrates rather well, the argument "if you want to
>> fix A, you'd have to start by fixing B (my pet gripe) first" is
>> routinely deployed, making for an infinite regress in some cases, and in
>> others the generation of suggestions that are rather clearly
>> counterproductive for fixing A, whatever they may do for B. In the real
>> world, if you want people to do thankless and time-consuming tasks for
>> you for no money, and much criticism, you have to rely on something more
>> than "be sure that you'll be told if we don't like you and what you do".
> Eh? Is this coherent?
> Who is the "you" who wants "people" to do thankless tasks?
> What is the "pet gripe" in the discussion?
> What is being discussed is "declining numbers of EN wiki admins," and
> how to address it. In that, surely it is appropriate and even
> necessary to examine the entire administrative structure, both how
> admin privileges are created and how they are removed.
> So "A" here would be declining numbers. "B," then, must be the
> difficulty of removal, which leads to stronger standards for accepting
> admins in the first place, which leads to declining applications and
> denial of some applications that might have been just fine.
> There is no evidence that there are declining applications because of
> fear of being criticized as an adminstrator, and the numbers of admin
> removals are trivial, so Charles is expressing a fear that is
> imaginary. If it were easier to gain tools and still difficult to lose
> them unless you disregard guidelines and consensus, there would be no
> loss of applications, there would be a gain. A large gain.
Actually, most people who don't apply as an admin just don't apply. They
don't generate "evidence" one way or another. It is a perfectly sensible
attitude for a well-adjusted Wikipedian getting on with article work not
to want to be involved in admin work. There are editors on the site who
make the lives of those who cross them miserable: and an admin has the
choice of avoiding such editors, or getting in the way of abuse. My
expressed fear is very far from "imaginary". You put your head above the
parapet, you may get shot at, precisely for acting in good faith and
according to your own judgement in awkward situations.
What follows that seems to be a non sequitur. It was not what I was
arguing at all.
> What I'm seeing here, indeed, is an illustration of the problem. The
> attitude that Charles expresses is clearly part of the problem, and
> Charles is suggesting no solutions but perhaps one of ridiculing and
> rejecting all the suggestions for change.
Ah, but this is in line: "Charles's attitude" becomes something that
must be fixed before recruiting more people to stand for adminship. I
was actually commenting on the thread, not the issue. We should examine
this sort of solution, amongst others: identify WikiProjects with few
admins relative to their activity, and suggest they should look for
On 31 May 2010, at 00:39, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd(a)lomaxdesign.com>
> (1) most legitimate admin work is not controversial to any degree
> that would affect an admin's status in the active community, which is
> what counts. Blocking an IP vandal isn't going to harm that, and it
> will only help it. If the IP vandal then registers an account and
> goes after the admin, sure. But, then, as to proposals that those who
> supported an RfA might retract that, or cause adminiship to be
> suspended pending examination, are concerned, this would be useless.
> Legitimate administration is indeed like janitorial work. Can we
> imagine a good janitor getting into an argument with other employees
> of a school or office as to what should be thrown away? Adminship was
> supposed to be "no big deal." When an administrator is asserting
> personal power over an editor, something has gone awry. Police have
> no power to punish, they may arrest on probable cause, but they then
> step aside and let the community make decisions on sanctions or
> release. A police officer who has become personally involved and
> insists on pursuing an individual might well be removed or ordered to
> work in other areas.
Thomas may be referring to any administrator work that is at all not
purely technical in nature. This work usually involves policing the
conduct of established accounts (and often long-term editors) in
contentious subject areas, and will almost always cause the
administrator to gain enemies.
At 08:14 PM 5/30/2010, Ian Woollard wrote:
>On 31/05/2010, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd(a)lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
> > As to regular deletion, an admin is assessing
> > arguments and consensus at an AfD, and, if doing this well, doesn't
> > delete unless there is consensus for it, or, alternatively, the
> > arguments are clear and evidenced.
>Actually it's not supposed to be about consensus at AFD.
>If you use consensus it's far, far too easy to stuff the vote; people
>can email their friends or use socks, and in common cases it's almost
>Too many AFDs I've seen, in practice, work as a straight vote; that
>just doesn't work at all.
>That's why it's supposed to be about who has identified the valid
>policy for deletion or keeping it. You can't stuff the vote by
>identifying valid policy.
Of course. Wikipedia is a bit schizophrenic about this. If it's not
consensus, why is canvassing prohibited? Surely that would simply be
soliciting better arguments, and getting a multiplicity of arguments
that arent' better would simply irritate the closing admin!
The policies and guidelines, however, supposedly represent consensus.
A good closing admin explains the application of policy, and will
then hear arguments from editors to reverse the decision, with
equanimity, and at a certain point may say, well, there is DRV if you
continue to disagree. And will then stay out of DRV, where there is a
different closing admin.
Plus you go to the deleting admin and ask for the article to be
userfied, and the admin might suggest it. "If you'd like to improve
the article so that it might meet standards, I can place a copy in
your user space. Would you like me to do that." Most, I'd say from my
experience, will do it on request, unless it's actually illegal
content. Or they will email wikitext. If a deleting admin cooperates
as possible, it defuses personalization of the decision, it's just an
opinion. You know that you've run in to an attached administrator
with a personal axe to grind if he or she refuses, saying that the
topic could never possibly be appropriate and the text is pure
garbage. Even if it's true, that would be a gratuitous insult!
Rather, a good admin might point to the relevant policies and suggest
a careful review.
And then bug out, having done the job well. *Even if he's wrong.*
A full discussion of Wikipedia practice would take a tome, that's
part of the problem.... by refusing to develop better and more
specific guidelines, Wikipedia tossed it all in the air, and nobody
really knows what to expect. That's a formula for endless conflict,
not for the flexibility that has been imagined will result.
Flexibility is a part of any good administrative system, in common
law it's called "public policy," which trumps otherwise expected
decision. But nobody is punished for violating "public policy," in
same systems, only for violations that could be anticipated
reasonably. Punishing people for doing what "they should have known"
when Wikipedia avoided documenting this is often quite unjust, and is
why modern criminal codes generally don't allow ex-post-facto laws
that punish. Wikipedia is back in the dark ages in some respects.
And developing thos cleare guidelines is largely impossible because
of the distributed decision-making structure. The Wikipedia community
painted itself into a corner, and it's entirely unclear to me if it
can find the exits, the paths to fix it. Maybe. I have some ideas,
but few want to hear about it. I'm not even bothering on-wiki any
more, which was apparently a desired result for some. Personally, I'm
grateful, it's freed up a lot of energy. And then I can edit some
random article whenever I notice something, but I'm not likely to
invest major work in a topic where I have expertise, it's too
dangerous a place to put that. I'm having much more fun elsewhere.
And I can watch the mess and sit back and say, not only "I told you
so," but, "I did everything I could to point this problem out." 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....
At 06:43 AM 5/30/2010, David Gerard wrote:
>On 30 May 2010 11:36, WereSpielChequers
><werespielchequers(a)googlemail.com> wrote: > As
>for the idea that we should move to "Hi, I
>noticed that you > speedy-deleted some files
>that do not appear to meet the CSD criteria; >
>your SysOp staus has been removed _while we discuss it_".
By arguing in this way those with elevated status
have maintained it, thoguh that seems to be
falling apart. Consider the situation described.
Obviously, the one writing this is a bureaucrat,
highly privileged. If we think that there is a
bureaucrat would would casually *remove* admin
status over some simple errors, we have a problem
with that bureaucrat, and, as with anyone else,
perhaps process should be initiated!
Bureaucrats, though, would only remove status,
absent emergency, if proper process had been
followed. Certainly that notice would not be the
first notice to the admin! Or if it was, and if
removal was immediately, the admin was massively
deleting, in a way making undoing it burdensome,
and the desysop was as an emergency, and would
normally be temporary until the admin agrees to stop.
By taking proposals for efficient and easy
desysopping to ridiculous extremes, suggesting
nightmare scenarios that would be highly unlikely
to occur, many in the community have been able to
prevent the system from being improved. It's
obvious. And it demonstrates that there are
editors who have a concept of an oligarchical
core, to which they belong, with the continued
power of this core, even when it's against true
consensus, being critical to the future of the project. And that's a problem.
> I've done > over 4,000 speedy deletions, and
> very probably there are more mistakes > amongst
> them that I know about, but if someone thinks
> I've deleted > something in error I'd expect a
> first approach along the lines of > "would you
> mind having another look at [[deleted
> article]], Â I don't > see how it was an attack page".
That's right and that's quite what happens, and
the existence of speedy suspension process (much
better and much less punitive than 'speedy
desysop') would not change this at all.
> Â Maybe I've made a mistake, maybe so > much
> has been oversighted that it no longer looks
> like an attack page, > maybe there are words
> involved that have very different meanings to
> a > Yank and a Brit. But a desysop first and
> ask questions later strategy > would in my view
> generate far more drama than would be justified by > the results.
I.e., straw man. The first step in a process
might be a request to suspend usage of tools in
some area. It would never be punitive, i.e., "You
made a mistake, therefore you are no longer a
sysop." What idiot would propose that? Rather,
the legitimate concern would always be the
likelihood of repetition. When it becomes likely
that an admin will make many errors, such that
cleanup becomes more work than allowing the sysop
to continue with tools, *then* removal of tools
becomes appropriate. I would assume, instead,
that suspension requests would be handled
routinely, and normally, a reasonable suspension
request would be handled with little fuss, it
would be much more like what David describes as
what he expects. It is only if the admin contests
this and insists on personally using tools in the
area, against maintained opposition by other
editors, and, then, particularly by editors who
might be eligible to take part in some formal
process to suspend (partially, with voluntary
compliance) or remove tools (i.e., if voluntary
compliance isn't forthcoming), would there be an
issue of conflict and actual removal. And then
the (now former) admin might get that note from a
bureacrat who reviewed the process and concluded that removal was appropriate.
> Indeed. The first - and, I would have thought,
> jawdroppingly obvious - result would be that
> no-one at all would go near such work in any circumstances.
Of course. It would be even worse if we chopped
off the hand of any admin who blocks, say,
another admin or makes any other error, as we
think. But why in the world would we imagine that
an efficient and fair removal process would look like this?
Look, if I'm offered the position of volunteer
custodian at my daughter's school, but I find out
that some other volunteer made so many mistakes
that they were asked to stop, would I decline on
that basis? Losing tools is not a flogging,
indeed, it's only like a flogging if one resists
it and believes it's the end of the world if one
can no longer block editors, delete articles, and the like.
It's not even an important part of most editor's
work, but, unfortunately, it does become an
important part of some admin's work. Some have
suggested that admins should be required to
maintain good article work. I disagree, because
some people might be *better* as admins than as
article aditors. But "better" doesn't mean that
they control the articles, and, indeed, it should
mean the opposite. It would mean that they
encourage cooperation among editors, defuse
disputes, using blocks judiciously and without
inflaming and expanding disputes with them. We
allow, in the U.S., police to wear guns. But any
police officer who is firing the gun, or even
just pulling it out of its holster and pointing
it at someone, frequently, is liable to be
dismissed or worse as dangerous. Administrators
are supposed to have no special privileges as to
deletion of articles, personally, as to their own
vision of what the project should be. But some
admins do, in fact, use their tools to further
their own agenda and POV, and I took that one to
ArbComm and prevailed, and it was useless in the
end. The admin was admonished, and then, not
being desysopped, retired. And then returned and
requested return of tools. Because they were not
removed "under a cloud," technically, he was able
to get his tools back. I've seen no similar
violations from him, though, but having admin
status has allowed him to have influence in the
community that has been, on occasion, just as
damaging. Pursuing the same POV as before.
Administrators are, in fact, specially privileged
over content and behavior, and adminstrators
frequently engage in behavior that would get
another editor immediately blocked. That's part
of the problem. Jimbo, even, tried to address it,
and a huge fuss was raised, by admins who don't
want any restraint on their power, and by those who support those admins.
> The problem with RFA has long been arbitrarily
> increased standards, and in recent years the abusive nature of the gauntlet.
That's part of the problem. But it is because it
is so difficult to remove the tools that the
"gauntlet" became so abusive and the standards so
apparently increased. It was pretty stupid,
because there is no way to anticipate how an
ordinary editor will behave with the tools, or,
at least, it's extraordinarily difficult. There
is an obvious solution that, however, will be
opposed by those who have gained admission to the
privileged group, because it will dilute their
power. It's natural and instinctive as a
response, I don't necessarily blame them. We can
see this in the votes on the community desysop
proposal. (Which was, by the way, a lousy
proposal in my view, far too reliant on our
heavily dysfunctional discussion process. DGG has
it right.) It looked like the proposal was being
massively rejected, but when administrator !votes
were set aside, it was about fifty-fifty. My
guess is that a better proposal might even pass.
And the solution is to make removal much easier,
so that when it's approved in the first place,
that approval can be undone *by those who
approved it.* Under Robert's Rules, it's called
Reconsideration. And a motion to reconsider must
be made by someone who approved the motion in the
first place. That's designed to avoid frivolous
requests for reconsideration....
I'd suggest something like this: a standard
"admin recall" agreement is worked out. This
could be *very* efficient and at the same time
very unlikely to be abused; having those who
support an RfA become some kind of recall
committee is one idea. If that approving number
is smaller because it becomes easier to pass RfA,
I'd only be worried about it becoming a factional
committee planning on using the admin to further
factional goals, but this would not be the only
way for an admin to lose tools, in the first
place, but also there would be ways to avoid
that, and it's possible that a closing bureaucrat
would, for example, appoint a committee from
among those who approved and who were willing to
"monitor" the situation with the admin, at least
for a while. I won't go into more detail, but
will note that I can anticipate piles of
objections, and the problem won't be fixed until
we realize that *any proposal can generate
objections,* but some of the objections might
easily be met with features, and some are merely
imagination as with the idea that someone would
just remove tools, as an individual, as described
above, without there being some safer process.
(But, of course, any bureaucrat or other highly
privileged user can already do this, and
sometimes they do, on an emergency opinion.)
Then, perhaps a consensus develops that not only
new admins but also all admins should agree to
this process. Nobody would be punished, per se,
by refusing, but refusal would then call
attention to the admin, and the admin's actions
might be reviewed.... and I could imagine some
case filed at ArbComm requiesting the removal of
tools en masse from administrators who had not
agreed to a community consensus on recall
process. Exceptions could then, obviously be
made, but if "removal" was merely a default
suspension, overcome by agreeing to the "pledge,"
I fail to see how it would actually be harmful.
There would be no denial of the already-existing
and valuable contributions of the administrator,
only a realization by the community that
different standards may be appropriate for the
future. There might not even be an actual
removal, but an admin might be treated as if the
pledge were in effect, i.e., that process might
be followed anyway, and it would be up to a
bureaucrat whether or not to respect it, with
appeal being possible to ArbComm. The same ad hoc
process that often works with articles could work with this as well.
Expect many existing administrators to make sure
to vote against any such proposals. Part of the
problem is that the active core is top-heavy with
administrators and wannabe administrators....
However, many admins are realizing how impossible
the status quo is, so it's always a possibility
that sanity will appear and prevail.
Unfortunately, most of the admins who wake up and
realize how bad the situation has become instead
retire, they may have burned out before realizing
the problems. Others simply become abusive in frustration....