Proposal talk:More wiki, less politics/power struggle

From Strategic Planning

Wow, a brilliant analysis. I made a similar point in my proposal (the one with "Knol" in it) but without your insightful and concise reasoning. You are correct that Wiki is just turning off about every new contributor now. And the odds of changing the admin power structure is probably zilch. Once people get power, they only give it up over their cold dead body.

By now Jimmy Wales has to be completely fed up with all the hassles his baby has created, and I wonder how much longer any of this is going to be around.

Utopias never sustain, and I think Wikipedia is on the downward spiral of its own.

Anyway, great proposal!

Nice work! Admins suck. This year I've seen many pages about software I used to use as a kid, come back and found them deleted! wtf. Also I've made pages, come back and found them deleted. I wrote all that for nothing and wasn't even polite to tell me what happened. Well then I just think never to edit WP again. Seriously I used to make edits once a week, now I never edit. 14:48, 22 September 2009 (UTC) (Genjix from WP)Reply[reply]

Back to the same issue again.

Information need to be verified from a reliable source. Article relevance need to be asserted by few reliable third party sources.

That the modicum to lessen the quantity of craps in wikipedia.

Thinking that without admins what was mentioned above will change is utopia. --KrebMarkt 21:10, 27 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And it's attitudes like that that make me no longer contribute to Wikipedia. It's disheartening to spend time creating a page that is, to the average user even remotely likely to actually stumble across it, very relevant and useful only to have an admin delete it in a drive by with no discussion. Try to argue and all you get is terse and rude sentence fragments with links to Wikipedia legalese that the overwhelmingly vast majority of potential contributors do not understand. Feel free to throw some [Citation Needed]s on here or just delete it outright, it's what I've come to expect. 17:37, 23 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Flawed analysis

There are several flaws in the analysis behind this article, I'm an admin on the English wikipedia and active in both speedy deletion and requests for adminship. I've deleted over two thousand articles this year and !voted in over 100 RFAs. I regard the first process as problematic and the second as broken, but I disagree with both this proposal's analysis and solution.

Firstly the idea that admins are an exclusive bunch who don't want more admins, there are nearly nine hundred active admins on the English Wikipedia but very few RFAs get as many as 45 oppose !votes; and the majority of those opposers will be non-admins. I doubt if 2% of our current admins are frequent oppose !voters at RFA. Yes RFA is broken, and our active admin numbers are falling by more than 1% a quarter. Up until 18 months ago we were appointing on average an admin a day, then it dropped to less than half that. So far this month we have appointed 4 admins and have had no candidates on the board for more than 24 hours, and as it is a 7 day process by this time on the 25th Sept we will still only have four new admins this month. But many of those who regard this as a problem are admins and many of those who don't are not - see en:Wikipedia talk:Requests for adminship.

Secondly re deletion, it is all too easy to create a page naming someone and slandering them. I've deleted several such pages today, unless we have a bunch of people blocking vandals and deleting attack pages this site will rapidly turn into a place that few if any of us would want to be associated with. Also as we are the fifth most popular site on the Internet we should not be surprised that there are spammers out there trying to use us for free advertising. Yes there are overenthusiastic speedy deleters and new page patrollers and its not unusual for me to decline a speedy deletion or remind a newpage patroller to explain to newbies why they shouldn't create a Wikipedia page for their band when they haven't even played their first gig yet. But talking as if its difficult for a new author to write a new article when hundreds are still coming in is exaggeration. A lot of the potential articles do of course already exist amongst our three million, but if a new editor writes a neutral new article on something or someone who is notable the actual risk of it being deleted is low. WereSpielChequers 19:17, 18 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've now started a little test at en:Wikipedia:Requests for comment/new users#Lets all create an extra account and en:User:WereSpielChequers/Newbie treatment, testing how new article writing "newbies" and their articles are treated on EN wiki. So far we've had one article deleted as nonsense because it "had incorrect formatting" and two tests have survived their first 24 hours. So I've struck my earlier comment about the actual risk of an article on someone notable being deleted being low. WereSpielChequers 18:51, 9 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Some proposals will have massive impact on end-users, including non-editors. Some will have minimal impact. What will be the impact of this proposal on our end-users? -- Philippe 00:13, 3 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Require multiple admins for a decision

Is it not a good idea that decisions always need approval of x amount of admins? E.g. for a decision to be made 3 admins have to approve it? This will make sure that an admin with a bad day will not delete valuable things and if something is debatable, then at least there will be a debate instead of one admin deciding it.

Will try to make this a proposal on its own when I'm able to ;)

-- 19:52, 22 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I see some problems with requiring multiple admins for a decision.
  1. We'd need more admins, at a time when on EN Wiki at least our admin numbers are falling - and I gather other wikis are beginning to have problems as well.
  2. Urgent stuff like attack pages would take a lot longer to delete if you needed three admins instead of one.
  3. Admins are volunteers, and as with any volunteers will not take kindly to being told their time is of such little value they can be expected to work in a dramatically less efficient way.
There was a debate on EN Wiki a few weeks ago about a suggestion that some speedy deletions should require two admins to delete, and that idea got shot down pretty quickly. WereSpielChequers 23:34, 22 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

what do admins DO anyway

admins are not the solution to our problems, admins ARE THE PROBLEM.

all i can see they do is lock pages, delete pages, and block people.

locking: give every user one page lock and one unlock to use. if he/she uses it up, give him another one one week later.

deleting: this should be done VERY cautiously. there's so much good content that's been lost to deletion. i'm not sure it should be possible at all.

blocking people: needs SERIOUS reform. vandals need be blocked, but what i am talking about are the non-vandals that must kowtow to the all powerful admins lest they be blocked. then suffer the humiliating "unblock request" process.

a partial proposal: admins get only one block per three-day period. if the user requests an unblock the admin is not given any blocks for two weeks. if a second user requests an unblock the admin can no longer block. User talk:

I can't speak for other projects but on the English Wikipedia we delete hundreds of articles every day. When I was a student my housemates and I formed a band called "Effortless Moon and the Ramp Alternative". We never got round to having a hit record, or indeed any recording, or gig, or even a practice session. But we did form a band and may even have done some air guitar riffs. Things haven't changed much in the years since that student party, except now there would be someone on a computer saying "I've nearly finished our wikipedia article, but how do I put an Umlaut on the f?". In my experience most deletions are non-contentious - personally I've had far more feedback from the scores of deletion requests I've declined than I have from the thousands I've deleted. If we weren't deleting spam, attack pages, biographies of pet hamsters and suchlike the pedia would rapidly turn into an unusable mess.
I'm not sure that blocking proposal would work, not least because it would be all too easy for one vandal to setup a bunch of accounts and start adding penis photos to articles on kiddies TV programs. At two accounts blocked and requesting unblock per admin taken out, one vandal could easily swamp the admin corps on most projects. Even the English Wikipedia would run out of active admins PDQ if you did this. In my view any supervision of admin blocks needs to allow for the possibility that blocks are sometimes needed. Personally I rarely block users, on average I've only done just two a week since I became an admin, but I don't specialise in that area. WereSpielChequers 13:26, 3 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
i just checked, there's only ONE outstanding request.
couldn't the penis pics be removed with bots? if a bot flags a user as a possible vandal after 2-3 actions, make him eligible for blocking? maybe vandal blocks wouldn't have to count towards a block quota? the "bunch of accounts" scenario is a red-herring, just have the bots do checkusers.
we'd have to define vandalism defined very tightly, because knowing wikipedia, admins would quickly expand vandalism to include things like NPOV, edit-warring, "over linking", etc. i don't mind the vandal blocks, but it opens the door to abuse, same goes for deletion.
this will offend some, but here's how i see the admins: it's like every police force, claim its all for good and to fight the riff-raff but some, sometimes a few, sometimes many, abuse their power. every police force fights against *any* regulation, any firm rules, any oversight, and stand up for every officer even when those officers are clearly astray. for these reasons, societies DO regulate their police and separate the police from the court system but at wikipedia it hasn't happened, and its resulted in admins gone wild.
another thing we could do, make admin terms limited: after 12 months, you go into mandatory retirement 22:52, 3 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We may be on top of one particular deletion queue, but I've just checked speedy deletion and there are over 200 there, and I've seen it go higher. We are automating a lot of vandal fighting, but people are rightly cautious about automating blocking, hence our increasing dependence on admins. We don't have a "block quota" per admin at the moment, but a block quota that didn't restrict admins from blocking vandals would be more realistic than one that did. However would you take a narrow definition of vandalism or would you also include creators of attack pages, and accounts with inappropriate user names? The only other large group of blocked accounts that I can think of are spammers, if you also left them out of the block quota then you'd have a proposal that might be workable, though I don't personally think that such a proposal would be helpful.
As for separating the admins from the court system, I suppose we have gone a step in that direction with arbcom; I don't share your view that we have "admins gone wild", the occasional bad apple certainly, but I don't see "sometimes many, abuse their power" as applying to the admins of the English Wikipedia.
As for your last suggestion of term limited admins with a maximum of 12 months to serve, this has been considered and rejected several times. If it applied at present then instead of me being one of the more junior of about 900 active admins on the English Wikipedia, I would be one of the more experienced of less than a hundred admins. I believe that would be a recipe for more mistakes as inexperienced and overworked admins tried to handle a much larger flow of work. It would also lead to a widening gap between the admins and the rest of the community as admins found they had less and less time free to do non-admin stuff on the pedia. The vision that I share for Wikipedia is for a self governing community where all civil and clueful members become admins once they've been around long enough to learn the ropes. In that ideal structure an admin who mostly did admin type stuff would be unusual. WereSpielChequers 18:43, 4 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't want to talk in circles, I guess if you'll acknowledge there's a serious problem with treatment of editors and especially by admins, who hold all the power and behave cliquishly that would make this a little easier to talk throuh.

To the points:

speedy deletion -- i'm seeing things in there which are not harmful to wikipedia, which makes me think there's some abuse there. sure, a lot of it is vanity pages, but ? why does this need to be speedily deleted? looks like a newbie worked a while on that and is probably never coming back after you delete it. and why is this something only admins can do anyway, i'd think pretty much anyone could identify an attack page.

as for limiting admins to 12 months, OF COURSE it was rejected. what admin, after kissing butt for a few years, would vote to give up his own power. if there's a shortage of admins, appoint more. if the main job is getting rid of attack pages there doesn't need to be a heckuva lot of training.

i'm struggling with how to deal with gang-up editing and wikistalking. we have the case of jayjg, leading a gang of edit-warriors, possibly at the behest of government, abusing "checkuser" etc. it took literally years of bad behavior to get any action on this case. how many admins stepped up to do anything about this admins actions? approx. zero. what do you think can be done about this? 22:35, 4 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply] is a good example of why we need to restrict deletion to experienced editors. A non admin tagged it for deletion, but the deletion was declined - anyone but the author can decline a speedy. If anyone could delete pages rather than only admins that page would have been deleted. As for the idea that Admins "hold all the power", well in this case neither the tagger nor the rescuer were admins, both in a sense hold power. There are some non-admins on the pedia who hold way more power than a junior admin like me - that's the thing about a meritocracy where good writing and academic work is valued.
As for "if there's a shortage of admins, appoint more." though I don't agree that adminship is broken I am one of those who thinks that the process whereby we appoint admins is broken, and becoming more discredited over time. Standards have risen in an arbitrary way so that adminship is now out of reach to most editors, except of course for sockpuppets of banned users or blocked former admins. And while I don't agree with all of your analysis I share your concern about cliques, though my fear is that the fewer admins we have the more likely it is to become a clique. Whilst I don't agree that the main job is deleting attack pages, I do agree that it doesn't require "a heckuva lot of training", though it does require civility, good judgement and enough experience of the wiki to show that you are familiar with the place. But that's just my personal !voting criteria and I'm probably one of the most supportive !voters at RFA. If everyone who met my criteria was an admin then any power and clique problems would be resolved by the simple expedient of diluting the power amongst a much larger group of people.
I'm not familiar with the case that you mention, I tend to leave complex cases to more experienced admins, - the sort who wouldn't exist if you had your way and limited us to 12 month terms. But this is the strategy wiki, individual disputes belong thataway. However I would note that the last Arbcom elections saw the community vote for a very different set of Arbs. WereSpielChequers 11:18, 5 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

the jayjg saga was long -- basically an arbitrator/edit warrior who coordinate a team of like-minded pro-israeli editors to push their POV and harrass/stalk other users. he was stripped of some powers but only after years of very egregious behavior. if it had been only mildly egregoius (as most adminds are) he'd still be at it, with other admins afraid to stand up to one of their own.

ok, here's what i think we could do

first, appoint 15 new admins per week. this would forever end the "admins have SOOOO much work to do" defense against any proposal for reform.

second, no admin can serve longer than 2 years.

third, any admin accused of an infraction must leave the locus of the dispute immediately, or give up admin powers. wikipedia is big enough to go mop-up in other areas.

fourth, start a clique-detection initiatives. when editors seem to be working in concert, post notices on their pages that they might be engaged in cliquish behavior.

fifth, reform deletion/notability policies. we all know there are some people that genuinely get joy out of destroying others work. not sure how to implement this. 23:37, 5 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm not convinced that deletion notability policies are wrong, but as you can see from the above thread there can be a problem in their interpretation. But a term limit of two years for admins would make this worse as we'd be even shorter of experienced admins to guide the less experienced. WereSpielChequers 18:56, 9 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
By the way, I agree with you on the appointing 15 new admins a week bit. That would be twice the rate they were doing in 06/07 when the system worked properly, and nearly six times the current rate. It would certainly end the cliqueiness, but I'm not sure how one would achieve it. WereSpielChequers 08:13, 15 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why not just change the name

Administrator sounds important. That means it appeals to those who want to be important and intimidates those who are more timid.

Why not just change the name to Janitor. Immediately you would attract those who want to help but don't feel up to running the project and you will put off those on a power trip.Filceolaire 13:05, 8 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dangers of exclusive adminship

I just read a complaint at [1] (everyone's favorite site, I know...). While it's about plagiarism, you can hear them sharpening up their knives with a plan. To quote (plagiarize? It would be tagged as such in his search, as described):

However, it is not clear that Wikimedia Foundation qualifies as a service provider. It owns and operates Wikipedia's servers and its employees have ultimate control over Wikipedia software. A hierarchy of power to moderate content is controlled by this software. A Wikipedian can be an arbitrator, a steward, a bureaucrat, an administrator, a user, or an "anon" .... There are over one thousand administrators, who have the power to ban or block users and anons, and delete content, or protect and unprotect articles...."

Where he's going with all that is that Wikipedia isn't really a service provider but a publisher and should get sued for everything a random contributor decides to post.

Now we know that this is a bogus argument, but from the news I've read about Internet legal cases it's not at all uncommon for someone to try pulling this sort of semantic switcheroo. Admins are just users with extra powers to change the content, chosen by other users. But if they look too much like a cabal starting at the top, such an attack might sneak through.

I think that the idea of giving users an occasional, supervised admin power, like a once-a-week block, is a very good one. I would also like to see all the powers of admins become individually available as permissions for individual users, so that people don't need to commit to doing everything. Both would help to dissolve the imaginary line between "admin" and "user"

For example, I think it's time to reintroduce the perennial proposal on to allow a permission for users to read deleted articles. The last time it was considered was under the GFDL; now a user could copy part of a deleted article without having to undelete the whole history and whatever unknown cargo it carries, and when he pastes it in the liability for Wikipedia should be no different than any random editor coming from Deletionpedia or the Wayback Machine. That proposal has gone down every time under dire quotes by Mike Godwin and others claiming that reading deleted articles would bring down waves of liability on all Wikipedia. One thing that worries me about these quotes is that they assume that admins do have some sort of special status utterly apart from users, and that allowing any "user" to read a deleted article would cause some disaster. If you believe these, maybe the critics have an argument...

Wouldn't offering certain users the chance to review articles help to purge any liability-prone material, since they could look over old deleted articles carefully and propose revisions for "oversight" and get rid of them entirely? (except to real site administrators) The accesses to deleted articles could be logged, so if someone is just leafing through looking for people to call about a liability suit, it would be quickly noticed; or maybe there could be a legal agreement between the user and Wikipedia not to disseminate certain types of problematic material he finds in the deleted versions? Right now it seems like Wikipedia is saying, "we know there's lots of lawsuit trouble in the deleted articles, so we're going to keep them accessible to more than a thousand people forever." I'm not sure this is a winning strategy.