[Foundation-l] models for adminship/wiki leadership

Brianna Laugher brianna.laugher at gmail.com
Tue Apr 10 08:05:42 UTC 2007


I am interested in finding out what models or processes different
projects use to decide adminship. And especially how those processes
adapt as the wiki community grows.

Note: this is not an invitation to bitch about the administrators at
your (least)favourite project.

There are some common views about adminship:
* Adminship is an expression of trust of an individual by the community.
* Adminship is decided by community consensus.
* Adminship represents a person taking on a janitorial role, doing
maintenance or "meta community" work rather than [in addition to?]
content-building work.
* Admins are wiki community leaders?
* Adminship is no big deal?

In technical terms, the admin has several extra functions at their disposal:
* un/protect pages from editing or moving, edit protected pages
* un/delete pages, view deleted pages
* un/block users
* rollback edits (basically redundant since the introduction of 'undo'

Admin status is easier to get than it is to revoke. Admin status
doesn't have an expiry date [...yet???] and de-adminship requires
contacting a steward and demonstrating community consensus for the
de-adminship decision.

The word 'status' implies something that is often felt, that adminship
is recognitition of one's work/worth in a wiki, like a reward; that
admins are "above" "regular" users or their opinions hold more sway.
Admins generally can perform actions like declaring a discussion
closed, even though any user, even unregistered, could make the same
edit. I have a suspicion that an admin performing the action is seen
as making it "official", though.
Admins are often looked to for help, by new users. Sometimes an
"administrator's noticeboard" exists, although all users can generally
edit it.

Does it matter if admins are inactive? Does it matter if admins edit
actively but don't use their admin tools? Do they have to keep using
them to "deserve" them?

If admins are looked to for help and as community leaders, is not
having inactive admins somewhat deceptive?

Meta has an adminship policy I am quite fond of:
"Sysop-hood is not a lifetime status. Get it if you need it. Keep it
if people trust you. Quit it if you do not need it. Lose it if people
feel they cannot trust you. Sysop status on meta will be granted for
one year. After that time, people will be able to vote to oppose a
sysop. If there is no opposition for the sysop to stay sysop, then
they stay sysop. If opposition is voiced, then the sysop may lose
sysopship if support falls below 75%. No quorum is required. It is not
a vote to gain support status, but a poll to express disagreement with
the current situation. The point is not to bug everyone to vote to
support the sysop again (if there is no opposition, there is no point
in voting your support again), the point is to not allow sysop-hood
status to stay a lifetime status. If a sysop is not really strongly
infringing rules, but is creating work for the community because of a
lack of trust, then it is best that people have the possibility to
express their opposition."

But I wonder if it is not kind of a lot of work.

Who are the RfA voters?
Once a community reaches a certain size, it's not possible to know
everyone and notice their work just by glancing over Recentchanges
every few days. It becomes more necessary to rely on trusted
testimonials. I trust User A's judgement, and User A endorses
Candidate B, so I will endorse Candidate B too. It encourages
something of the dreaded "cabal", a tight-knit group which it is not
possible to break into simply by doing good work - you need to "know"
the right people to succeed. I guess we all want to avoid that, but
when the wiki is so big, how is it possible?

Many people here will be familiar with English Wikipedia RfA, where
people's support or opposition for a candidate can rely on seemingly
trivial and ever-more-specific requirements. It is doubtful whether
all the current admins would pass such requirements, but they manage
to keep their adminship by virtue of not doing anything worrying or
damaging enough to have it removed.

I guess I am not the only person who is active on a non-enwp project,
and who wonders how RfA evolving like enwp can be avoided. I want to
know what other possible evolutionary paths are there? How can I help
influence my project to a more healthy, sustainable model?

So I want to know some ideas that other wikis use. Meta's "1 year
confirmation" is one. What else is there? What else could there be?

While writing this mail it occurred to me that perhaps part of the
problem is multiple   goals being conflated in adminship, ie "janitor
role" "community leadership". There are few ways to be considered a
community leader, I would posit, apart from adminship. Sure, if you're
lucky, someone might throw you a barnstar, but it's not like
*official* *community endorsement*.

Perhaps we need to create a post for designated community leaders.
(Community Leaders -please brainstorm a better term...)
Declaring someone a Community Leader would be an expression of trust
and endorsement. It would be an explicit recognition of a user's
worth, their contribution, to that wiki. It would be decided by
community consensus. It would not represent a janitorial role or
maintenance work, quite the opposite - it would represent someone who
excels at a particular (or multiple) aspect of collaborative content

There would be a page with a list - official endorsement. Community
Leaders would represent very good "go to" people for new users needing
help in some area.

There would probably be very high overlap between admins and Community
Leaders, especially at the start. As the process became stronger, it
would be much clearer for new users who want to contribute, which
process (RfCL/RfA) is appropriate for what they want to achieve. For
status in the community, one should aim to be a Community Leader.
And then maybe adminship would really become "no big deal". Instead of
dealing with so many disputes, admins would be more about enacting the
decisions made by Community Leaders - a better reflection of the
division between the community role and the technical/maintenance role
that are currently both conflated within "adminship".

I welcome any ideas about all of this.


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