How is administrator attrition being addressed?
How is administrator attrition being addressed?
What is the plan to strengthen the active administrator base? 220.127.116.11 19:33, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
I'm glad you brought this question up. I think a major problem is that there is a general consensus that an editor needs to have a certain activity level to be an administrator, and I think this line of reasoning is in error. The selection process should determine that someone will use the administrator tools responsibly, and that's all. If we could somehow know that everyone would use them responsibly, we should give them to everyone. But we can't, so we have a screening process.
This is okay, but really, 1,000 administrators that each do one admin action a month are getting more done than one administrator doing 500 actions each month.
why would anybody want to be an admin if they have to run the gauntlet like MichaelQSchmidt? 
I think I agree with Noraft
Has anyone come to any conclusions on this?18.104.22.168 22:59, 7 May 2010 (UTC)
That a good question. I also think we should not require activity from administrators. Administrationship is much more about trust and responsability. My view of what is going on is that communities increasingly tend to worship users who stay several hours long every day on the project more than users who can't (or don't want to) do that. Sadly, people who dedicate such an inportant slice of their time to a wikiproject are not representative of the entire body of wikimedians. I think that this trend is detrimental not only because we need a ecletic and large group of administrators, but it can harm communty's health since a healthy and congenial environment depends on users who have a live outside Wikimedia, who read books and talk to other people.
While I agree in part, we must not ignore the reasons why projects value users who are more active:
- They are better known to the rest, hence more predictable, and can be more trustworthy.
- They are much less likely to ignore the outcome of previous discussions, simply because they know about them.
- To the extent that they work in problematic areas, they generally have a lower percentage of controversial actions, simply because they are generally better at guessing what will prove controversial.
If we want more admins who don't edit for many hours every day, then we will need a support infrastructure for such admins. For example this could include a rational structure for all policy pages, terminology that is consistent with the everyday meanings of terms and is used consistently within the project, and the ability to find prior case law painlessly. Other users would also benefit from this, but I am not sure it's feasible. Therefore I am not sure that a higher percentage of less active admins is feasible.
Respectfully, I don't think your reasons are completely valid. Projects value users who are more active because they do more work. To go through your bullets one by one:
- Those who pass RfA are commonly unknown to half the people who vote for or against them. These people are evaluating their edit history and answers to questions. Being "known" will bring in people to vote for (or against you), but nobody votes against someone just because they don't know them.
- I don't think this is true. There's too much going on with Wikipedia to know every outcome of every discussion, and everyone knows this. Everyone who has enough experience to be an admin knows this.
- I think you're speculating here.
I think it is important that we not conflate inexperience with inactivity. We shouldn't be giving admin tools to those with no experience, but there's no reason to keep them from an editor who has an impeccable two year record, even if he only edits twice a month. That editor will do some good with the admin tools, and if we had a thousand more like him, there would be a lot less load on the more active ones, which means they can spend more time writing/editing articles, innovating, or participating in areas that they most enjoy.
Hans Adler said "They are much less likely to ignore the outcome of previous discussions, simply because they know about them."
That's a good point: you need to have a lot of time to follow Wikipedia's discussions. My view is that we should not address that by requiring editors to dedicate a lot of time to the project, but just the opposite: we should have less discussions and new policies. Policies and guideline are not made for the sack of making them, they exist to guide editors, if regular editors are not able to read and understand all the policies they need to edit, them there's a problem there.
Yes, we need a strategy to reduce the policies. For many, Wikipedia is a huge Nomic game. And it's almost impossible to remove cruft from policies. While an attempt is going on to clean up the Manual of Style of the English Wikipedia, someone pushed through an addition to the effect that there should be no spaces before ordinary punctuation characters. There is a lot of pressure on the policies and guidelines because people come up with eccentric ideas, and then insist that if it's not literally decided by a guideline it's a matter of style or a content dispute.
Sometimes I think we should simply delete all policies, guidelines and essays and re-start the project with all the current content, all the experienced users and admins, but with a blank project space. It seems to be the only way to get rid of all the cruft that has accumulated, because every last bit is venerated by a few people who will fight to death to protect it, no matter how meaningless, redundant or ambiguous it is.
Wow, saving the content and "rebooting" is a really interesting idea. Don't know if its feasible, but its interesting.
I agree with the general tenor of this conversation. From the strategic priorities perspective, the key is to acknowledge the importance of multiple types of contributors. Time invested is a valuable way of contributing, but it's not the only way. There may be opportunities to contribute in valuable ways that do not require such significant investments in time.
For those who do have that time, there should be mechanisms to encourage the growth from occasional to active contributor.
I also agree that policy creep is a huge problem, although this hasn't been explicitly stated in the movement priorities, and I'm not sure that's where it would belong.
At least on the English Wikipedia, policy creep seems to have more or less stopped dead in its tracks. There are far fewer policies being created now. That said, there are definitely opportunities to simplify redundancies. But there's a lot of resistance. For example, there were a bunch of people who merged "verifiability" with "no original research" into a simple and clear message: "attribution". But it was overturned by Jimbo. I think that kind of killed any impetus for simplification.
I think a quick survey of formerly active English Wikipedia administrators, to find out why they left, is the first step to determining what is going wrong and how it can be addresssed.
I think this is an excellent idea.
Hey Foundation! Can you all make something like that happen?
I think this would be good as well. We got some of this data on the Former Contributors Survey Results, but this was not focused entirely on admins.
I'd encourage people who are interested to organize such an effort, perhaps basing it on the other survey. It doesn't have to come from the Foundation.
We can definitely draft up a survey, and use the old one as a template so that it's easy to compare numbers. But actually contacting the users and compiling the data, we'd need a little bit of help.