Again, this gets long. If allergic to Abd Thought, or to lengthy
comments, please don't read. Nobody is required to read this, it's
voluntary, and you won't hear a complaint from me if you don't read it.
Actually, the mail triggered moderation, the list is set to 20 KB
max, which is low in my experience, and it was rejected as too long.
Therefore, instead of only needing to skip one mail, you'll need to
skip two. This is part one.
At 03:14 PM 5/31/2010, Charles Matthews wrote:
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
>> 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
Sure. "You were the one" implies some argument being applied to one
side and not the other. What was that?
Barging ahead anwyay, I'd say that anyone sane would not want to be a
Wikipedia editor unless (1) they have some axe to grind, or (2) they
are neutral and simply want to help an obviously desirable cause.
However, when people become highly involved, they naturally develop
attachments, which is how it comes to be that even a quite neutral
editor can become an abusive administrator, and this will be quite
invisbile, for many, when they don't have the tools. The more boring
grunt work you do, the more natural it is to think you own the
project. After all, if not for you....
I remember reviewing the contributions of an administrator, known to
all of us here, because of some suspicion that an sock puppeteer was
really, from the beginning, a bad-hand account of someone, and this
admin was a possible suspect. What I saw, reviewing edit timing, was
thousands upon thousands of edits, for hours upon hours, a few edits
a minute, doing repetitive tasks. The admin was running a tool that
assisted him by feeding him proposed edits, so what he was doing, for
many hours, was a few button pushes a minute to accept the edits. I
was both in awe (at the dedicated work) and in wonder at how this
could be done without losing one's sanity....
In fact, it might have been better if that work had been replaced by
fully automated bot work, with processes and procedures for reviewing
it and fixing problems. If he could do that for hours on end without
error, probably a bot could as well, with only a little error,
perhaps. But, of course, for quite good reasons, most fully automated
bot editing has been prohibited. That's changing, to be sure, there
is now, for example, a spambot that reverts IP additions of spam web
sites, an intermediate position to blacklisting that allows possibly
useful but often abused sites to be used by registered editors, and
edits by the IPs become "suggested edits" easy to review if anyone is
willing. And the IP could actually ask any registered user to do it,
or register and get autoconfirmed....
Overall, editorial efficiency has been seriously neglected, because
editorial labor was not valued. Admin labor has been valued somewhat,
and some of the disparity between the real rights of administrators
and those of ordinary editors comes out of assumptions about this.
So, Charles agrees that wanting power is a disqualification, and I
agree. (You might look at RfA/Abd 2, where I addressed this, I didn't
want to be an admin, I was merely responding to a suggestion that I
help clean up the place, and I was quite clear that anything that I
wanted to do, personally, wouldn't be helped by being an admin, I'd
just be tempted to use the tools while involved. I'm pretty sure that
I'd not have aroused serious controversy over the use of admin tools,
but, of course, those who later were offended by me as an editor seem
to have assumed that I'd simply have blocked anyone who disagreed
with me. That would have been really silly!)
But if it's a disqualification at the beginning, then, we must see,
it should remain a disqualification. If an administrator is
personally attached to being an administrator, it's a problem. Which
then exposes the contradiction of the picture being presented:
supposedly people would not apply to be administrators, or perhaps
would quit, if they saw that allegedly abusive administrators would
lose their tools. The fact is that when controversy arises over tool
use, the best administrators back up and back off, and hardly ever
get taken to ArbComm, because they don't allow themselves to be the
focus of the controversy. Rather, say, they blocked an editor, and
the editor is complaining about bias. If the admin backs off and
doesn't touch that editor again, but limits activity to presentation
(at the beginning!) of the evidence behind the block, letting and
encouraging independent review of that, the dispute becomes a dispute
between the editor and the community, or it is resolved. A good
administrator might even go out of his way to later do a favor for that editor.
But if the administrator starts to think of the community as divided
into warring factions, with himself on one side and the editor on the
other, and the admin *must* act or "they" will win, neutrality has
been lost. As soon as you think you are personally the bulwark
against "them," you have some kind of belief that consensus is the
other way, or is at least not going to back you up by taking your place.
There is a kind of war going on, but we are each called upon only to
take a position actively, maybe *once.* I'll revert a change to an
article, with explanation, almost never more than once. As an admin I
might block someone once, almost never more than that. If I were to
see some problem beyond that, I'd almost certainly go to a
noticeboard like any other editor. In an emergency, sure, but then I
*really* need to go to that noticeboard, note that I've previously
blocked and might be biased, and asking for review. One of the worst
abuses I've seen of the abuse of an administrator was a desysopping
where an admin made an unwise block, that he should have left for the
judgment of someone else. But he had immediately gone to a
noticeboard to ask for review! Effectively, he was punished for an
error. That's abusive, and only if he did this again and again should
desysopping have been on the table. All that was needed was to tell
him that he shouldn't have blocked, and ask him to agree not to do
it, or something like it, again. But, politics! Sometimes there is
mob screaming for blood, wanting someone to *suffer* for this mistake.
As to the dispute involved, between the blocking admin and the editor
blocked, I was on the other side. As hinted, I believe the block was
an error. So? The issue should always be, is this going to be
repeated? Even if one finds that the admin did it before, that's not
enough to establish that the admin would repeat it after being
troutslapped for it. And even troutslapping should be done with
assumption of good faith and gentleness. "Just don't do it again!"
That is, if we want to operate a volunteer project and retain wide
(continued in Part 2, following.)