[WikiEN-l] School of Hard Knocks, or, what I learnt from my RfA

John Kenney jlkenney at gmail.com
Tue Oct 24 01:12:24 UTC 2006

Greetings all,

I'm not a member of the mailing list, because whenever I look at it I
usually find something that drives me completely insane, but I do
occasionally browse it, and this thread has angered me enough to come out of
hiding.  Both the general state of RfA, which I instinctively avoid but
which is a monstrously horrific place; and the character of Geni's replies
have made me hopping mad.

So first thing's first, I am one of the numerous "paper admins" towards whom
Geni is so condescending.  I almost never block anyone, I don't frequent the
administrators' noticeboard very often, I rarely protect or unprotect
pages.  Here's what I use my admin powers for:

I occasionally do rollback reverts.  I delete pages when I move redirects.
I recently fixed a cut and paste move that I doubt is on many people's
watchlists (it had survived as is for months).  I will occasionally look at
deleted edits, and it's definitely useful to know when a page has been
speedy deleted in a location that has a clearly notable subject.  I move
pages around a fair amount - I would become really, really annoyed if I
didn't have that power.

So, I don't use admin powers very much, and when I do, it's for mostly
uncontroversial things.  I don't think I've ever faced much in the way of
complaints about my use of admin powers.  I've certainly never gone to
arbitration, and I can't think of any instances where I've been RfCed or
anything like that.  I was made an admin some three years ago.  I'm fairly
certain that if I resigned my adminship and requested adminship anew, on the
basis of my use of admin powers, I would not be regranted them.

Point is this - what harm does it do if there's a lot of administrators like
me?  It seems like the current RfA process is essentially designed to
prevent people from getting adminship unless they promise that they're going
to use their Admin powers a lot to "fight vandalism," and jump through a
bunch of hoops.  But isn't it good to have reasonably reliable, restrained
(in terms of admin powers) people who can do simple things like delete
redirects to clear way for moves?

Beyond that, how on earth does answering 50 to 60 random questions proposed
by a bunch of tiresome busybodies help anybody judge who will be a good
admin?  Obviously, the project is gigantic now, and people can't be expected
to be familiar with every editor.  Glancing at the current RfA, Elonka was
the only user currently up who I'd ever heard of before.  But the thing that
should come out of this is that people should only vote when they actually
have personal familiarity with the particular editor.  Quantitative
judgments based on things like number of edits in different domains, and
ass-kissing answers to a bunch of questions, provide just about no useful
information on whether somebody is a good, not insane, editor.  All that
should really be required to be an administrator is that you're relatively
reliable and not insane.  Once you have demonstrated to a sufficient number
of people *who have actually worked on articles with you* that you are
reasonably reliable and not insane, you should get to be an admin.  People
who have never encountered you before should abstain.  This is, so far as I
remember, what generally happened back in those lovely days when I was
chosen as an admin, and when I used to actually read RfA.  I would vote if
somebody I knew was up, and not vote if I'd never come across the person
before.  Now it seems as though everybody voting is basically a RfA junkey,
who spends a great deal of their wikipedia time getting people to jump
through hoops for their amusement.  What possible good is being achieved by

The whole system is a horrifying bureaucratic nightmare.  And, no, this is
not what one has to look forward if one is an admin.  I avoid bureaucratic
nightmares as much as I possibly can, which is "a great deal."  Whenever I
get involved in a bureaucratic nightmare, it is because I choose to do so.
And yet, I'm fairly sure my being an admin is at least of some small use to
wikipedia.  Why shouldn't people be allowed to be an admin if a) they want
to; b) they are not crazy; and c) they have been around long enough to show
a decent number of people they aren't crazy?  Adminship is still officially
"no big deal," but it is clearly "no big deal" in some sense where the "no
big deal" is attained through a nightmarish bureaucratic process.  How can
anybody defend this ridiculousness?

Best to all,


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