Proposal:More wiki, less politics/power struggle

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The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!


  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation



Summary

I would like to see Wikipedia and all other Wikimedia projects become more wiki. Content-related decisions, particularly whether any particular article should be deleted or not, must be up to the whole community, and never a select minority with disproportionate decision power.

Proposal

The proposal is to discard the idea of "admins". All users should be equal in rights. There should be no opportunity for a closed elite to form, which will collaborate to keep themselves in power.

Alternative ways of implementing "soft security" are listed below, sorted from my least favoured to my most favoured:

  • Apart from auto-confirmedness, there is no distinction between users. Nobody can delete or undelete pages, only blank and revert. All users can block or unblock other users.
    • Pro: No power structures.
    • Con: How to deal with copyvios or other things that actually require deletion? Possible solution: some people can obtain the right to delete pages, but they may only use it in such cases where it is absolutely necessary. Deletion of a page for any other reason results in loss of the privilege.
    • Con: A bit anarchical.
  • Apart from auto-confirmedness, there is no distinction between users. All users can delete and undelete pages, as well as block and unblock users.
    • Pro: No power structures.
    • Pro: New users can easily contribute clean-up work.
    • Con: A bit anarchical.
  • My preferred option: All auto-confirmed users start out having all the rights (what is currently considered "admin"). Users will have these rights revoked only in response to actual, concrete wrongdoing (e.g. inappropriate blocking of a user results in loss of only the blocking privilege).
    • Pro: The power structure is more similar to innocent vs. prisoner, than the current situation which is more similar to nobility vs. ragtag.
    • Pro: Everyone who can and wants to contribute usefully, can. No useful contributions lost due to lack of users' access rights. No need to ask for permission to be able to help.
    • Pro: In cases where a new user may receive abuse from an experienced user, more experienced and semi-experienced users will tend to come to the defense of an honest newbie, thus improving the impression left in a new user's memory, thus enlarging the number of people who will stay and become regular contributors.

Motivation

Despite being an admin on the English Wikipedia myself, I am frustrated because adminship has long become an authority structure. Many if not most new users' first experience on Wikipedia is sufficiently negative to keep them away from the project for the rest of their lives. The collective damage done to all the projects from loss of useful contributions is unimaginable. Problems include:

  • User creates article. Admin deletes article. What to do? The vast majority of users will never ever put any amount of effort into trying to start a new article again ("It'll get deleted anyway").
  • User makes edits. Other users revert. User tries to make "better" edits, but is mistaken for a repeat offender. Admin blocks user. What to do? The same effect occurs: the vast majority of users who are ever in this situation will never ever think about contributing any effort again.
  • The very small number of users who "fight back" (I feel this term is appropriate), find themselves fighting against a wall. Usually, arguing the case only makes the user's situation even worse.
  • It has gradually become harder and harder for normal people to become an admin. Nowadays it is close to impossible. The naive, light-hearted description of what it theoretically means to be an administrator on w:Wikipedia:Administrators bears no resemblance to the extraordinary amount of tough preconditions required to actually obtain adminship. Some of those are listed on pages such as w:Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Standards/A-D, but most of them are implicit and unwritten. It is obvious that most admins are making a "big deal" out of adminship.
  • In particular, it is impossible to become an admin just by doing nothing wrong. If adminship was "no big deal", surely having no questionable actions in one's history should be enough to qualify. Yet, completely irrelevant criteria are applied, such as number of edits or average edits per day. Most admins will consider criteria such as "civility", "maturity", "good judgement", etc., which are vague enough to be able to be arbitrarily redefined by the admin to fit any given situation.
  • Similarly, it has gradually become harder to start a new article on a valid topic. Unless it fulfills extremely stringent criteria, a piece of text is not generally accepted to be an "article" at all and is deleted without even a discussion. This is ironic, given the history of Wikipedia has shown quite convincingly that articles can improve significantly if only given enough time. The deletion of a new article is a denial of this already-established revelation.

Key Questions

  • Are we really serious about allowing "anyone" to edit?
  • Are we missing out on useful contributions because of our negative reputation?
  • Are we missing out on useful content because overzealous admins keep deleting it?
  • Are we deluding ourselves by blindly maintaining that adminship is "not a big deal" when it is right before our eyes that it is?

Potential Costs

  • The established admin elite will strongly revolt against this proposal. It is now up to the Wikimedia community and/or the foundation or its board, to show whether it can withstand such a vocal opposition, for the benefit of all the users who are not yet contributors and cannot join the discussion.


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:More wiki, less politics/power struggle.

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