[Foundation-l] models for adminship/wiki leadership

Mark Williamson node.ue at gmail.com
Tue Apr 10 08:25:34 UTC 2007

Just a note:

Teh idea that adminship is no big deal and that it is more like being
a janitor than a politician is often repeated, and should be true in
theory, but it is not the way admins are perceived on most projects.


On 10/04/07, Brianna Laugher <brianna.laugher at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello,
> 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'
> functionality)
> 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:
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Administrator_on_Meta
> "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
> building.
> 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.
> regards,
> Brianna
> user:pfctdayelise
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