Trusted/senior users (narrow focus)

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Trusted/senior users (narrow focus)

Themes and ideas from Archive 1:
  1. Creating a formal recognition of users who are particularly trusted as editors (both in content and interaction terms) would have numerous benefits.
  2. Provides a marker/label for people who are particularly trusted to have good judgment; people who've been around for a while, and understand the policies well, who are reasonable and thoughtful. Benefits:
    • Investment in own reputation for quality - They have an investment in extra standing (reputation-wise), which is valuable and a source of reward. It will tend to be guarded and incentivize people.
    • Helps in everyday editing and patrolling - We can patrol articles and edit wars easier by highlighting these users in the article history (valuable information).
    • Parallel track for non-admins, widely available - Not all editors will want or seek adminship, this is a parallel way to recognize those who edit content. If it can be made something "everyone should aim for" we might have many thousands of editors flagged this way, a strong impetus for a quality based community.
    • Pool of "anyone can edit" editors to help in content disputed areas - In an entrenched area or difficult edit war, Arbcom or the community can now say "any trusted content editor may edit the article. Others = talk page only". Many many trusted content editors, so no real POV or "too narrow editors" issue here. Anyone who wants to edit the mainspace and can get community agreement they edit content well, may join in (others only on the talk page). Instant stability, good decisions, consensus, and quality, on problem and edit war articles! No harm done, no bias added, articles still edited by a wide pool that anyone can join.
    • Recognized wiki-qualification/standing - While wiki isn't a "profession" this provides a way users can stretch their skills and a means of self evaluation and development as editors. A "recognized wiki-editor" qualification would also be good for ethos.
  3. Would need a low-gamable low-work appointment method and a clear removal criterion. Preferably "bright line" and not time-intensive. A draft nomination system has been suggested (design goals: "automation, low gameability, simplicity of experience to users, very low scope for politicking/dramatizing/popularity contests, and low time needed by participants")
  4. Title - trusted editors? (May imply others not so trusted?) Senior editors?
FT2 (Talk | email)09:57, 13 December 2009

I know it they are heartfelt and in good faith but I strongly oppose #1 and #2.

Slrubenstein15:27, 20 December 2009
 

In theory, administrators are supposed to fill this role. I know the whole RFA process has become easy to block if someone has any enemies, but the worst we can say is that we are too strict about our administrators. In general, having a lot of experience, a good history, with no blocks, and a wide understanding of Wikipedia... that's what it takes to be an administrator.

Admins are supposed to be able to offer a wise perspective when it comes to both content and behavioral issues. But do they? Maybe it's just a question of highlighting them. But before we start adding another trusted class of users, we want to ask how the current trusted class is doing. Are they helpful? Why or why not?

Randomran16:30, 20 December 2009
 

No, sorry Randomran, admins are not.

  • Admins are trusted hands for tools, not necessarily for quality of editing. Maybe it should be both, but it isn't.
  • Also many who are trusted hands for editing, are excluded from (or would not wish) adminship.
FT2 (Talk | email)17:54, 20 December 2009
Edited by 0 users.
Last edit: 18:51, 21 January 2010

This observation fits my experience with administrators: they should not be involved in content disputes as administrators (of course, they can add their two cents into a Talk page like anyone else). Creating a set of "higher" authorities is a prescription for disaster.

The best way to handle quality issues is a strict enforcement of guidelines on Talk pages to insure a constructive exchange focused on topic. That means a robot-like universal enforcement of WP:NPA WP:Civil and so forth applied to every participant, regardless of the Admin's view of who is right or wrong (the Admin usually can't tell accurately). It also means strict patrol of slurs, sniffs, catcalls and other such techniques used to inflame discussions and sidetrack issues.

If the Talk pages worked correctly and avoided debates for ego-satisfaction or entertainment value, article quality would improve, and tiresome exchanges and disciplinary disputes woudl be reduced.

174.18.214.19818:51, 21 January 2010
 

@ Slrubenstein,

We already operate hierachies of editors - for example at a simple level a disruptive or biased editor and a skilled FA writer are treated completely differently. A registered user or admin can make content edits that less trusted editors cannot. I know that's not what you mean, but undiscriminating acceptance of all edits and all editors is a problem when you look at it. It gets quality to a good standard; then it starts to hinder not help. In hindering, it discourages the skilled editors who can/do work on high quality -- and this is its far more problematic effect. As a high quality reference work we have to be willing to say (as Yaroslav well words it) "degrading quality to an inferior level is not acceptable".

How to achieve that? The key is not to lose crowdsourcing, but to tame it, and to ensure it cannot act negatively (even by accident, agendas, or unskilled good intention).

We're designing for the mainstream of articles, where "erosion" is an issue, poor quality edits happen, and a user who is capable of taking it to high quality is not readily thrown away because "anyone can edit" must always trump "high quality content".

Ideally we want both. The philosophical solution is to have "anyone may edit, but... if you want to do some kinds of edit, you need to demonstrate you are a safe capable custodian of those edits". It's still open to all, but a user wanting to edit some sensitive, edit-warred, or high quality content may be held to the talk page rather than allow article disruption, POV warring, or inadvertent poorer quality into it, until they show they are a safe pair of hands to edit and usually won't cause such quality issues. It's the same principle as drives adminship - anyone can gain access to some potentially risky/damaging areas needing judgement and quality, but they need to show they have community trust first.

Most articles are lower quality. We can educate and inform, mentor and guide, provide tools, and improve them. But for some issues and areas, it helps to formally recognize users who are of this kind.

I don't have a problem with suggesting that. It's in line with Wikipedia's core philosophy, and a vast part of the mainstream community wants us to be credible as a high quality reference work.

Communal agreeing/consensus that a number of users are trusted not to edit war, trusted not to edit with bias, trusted not to indulge in COI or inflaming disputes, trusted to speak to source evidence not personalities... this extends the community's ability to be assured on a range of issues, and address a range of edit wars. It provides a visible desirable quality standard any user can reach (not needing technical skills, just attitudes), and once obtained most will use well, teach to others, spread wisdom and high standards, and be reluctant to lose through indulging in bad editing.

I cannot think of a better way to spread high standards than to recognize those that have it, and make a distinction others will seek to obtain too.

FT2 (Talk | email)18:02, 20 December 2009
 
Edited by another user.
Last edit: 18:20, 20 December 2009

Re: admins, like I said, I think the group of admins excludes a lot of trusted editors. But they are in positions of trust. They often protect articles from vandalism, and take a role in mediating between lower level editors. I definitely support creating a trusted editor position that is more about protecting content than it is about protecting community. But we'd be foolish to ignore admins as a case study. We can learn a lot about what has worked, and what admins have been unable to do.

I also agree with you that we already have "trusted editors", which would be apparent to any reasonable editor who has been around for a while. Pretending that we don't (because we hate hierarchy) is a bad idea. It means that new editors have no idea who is in a position of respect, and who is just some bloke with an opinion. As much as we might wish for a community where a new editor can challenge a veteran and win on the merits of the argument, in practice this just pisses off the veteran and confuses the newbie. The community would be much more effective if the new editor understood that certain veterans have the trust of the community and represents community standards. This is the only way that a stranger in a strange land can get by. Otherwise, they're inclined to cause disruptions, or (more likely) leave.

Randomran18:16, 20 December 2009
 

The main issues round admins are drama surrounding appointment/removal, and their ability to regulate other users. A trusted/senior user in the sense envisaged here, usually has no special access or rights. They are flagged up for their broad and wiki-wide balanced competent approach to editing content, not gaining any rights over tools etc. A user of this kind is the type who could be put down in Israel/Palestine, or Abortion, or Pedophilia or Scientology or Homeopathy, and would be the kind trying to hear the evidence, assess sources, tone down rhetoric and warring on both sides, speak gently and civilly to the evidence, support others, and get NPOV.

They are also the kind who get attacked by both sides (and who are most needed) in entrenched disputes.

A newcomer should be able to (and can) challenge a veteran editor. Veteran editors of the kind envisaged are the ones who will help, assist, listen to the newcomer, and try to explain to them what is needed so they too can be higher quality in their work.

Recognizing such users acts as a spur: others will want that recognition and work to get it, it provides a way to identify users who are safe to ask or won't play games on content, it acts as a pervasive standard we hope all editors will seek to achieve, a way to obtain a quality-oreintation in the community, a way to let anyone edit and yet resolve entrenched content disputes, and may well be our best and most powerful move to quality.

FT2 (Talk | email)18:26, 20 December 2009
 

I appreciate FT2's 18:02, 20 December 2009 post, which I largely agree with and read as a clarification of his earlier posts. I guess for now my main point is that we should not idetify admins with this pool of experienced editors. I really believe that admins should have a narrow range of carefully described powers and roles which largely have to do with maintenance.

Yes, there are more experienced editors. But in my experience, newbies recognize experience and value it. And I will go further: people respond to experience better when it speaks for itself, not when it wears a badge. I remember seven or eight years ago when a now-de-sysoped- sysop saw an edit conflict, and his first edit was "I am admin, what seems to be the trouble here" like he was sheriff. Belive me, nothing good came from this intervention. When the Sarah Palin article was paralyzed, I showed up and simply asked a few questions (about sources, about the key issues). I am not claiming I am a great mediator, but I discovered that a low-key approach can be very effective. I was not claiming to be an authority, but it quickly became evident to everyone that (1) I understood the core policies really well and (2) complying with these core policies would guide edits that everyone would find equally acceptable. Policies provided a non-partisan point of reference for deciding hat could and could not go in. It took a couple of days but it worked.

So I agree completely abou the value of experienced editors. I just see no need for a formal hierarchy and indeed I think it can be counter-productive. Slrubenstein 14:05, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Slrubenstein14:05, 21 December 2009
 

"I guess for now my main point is that we should not idetify admins with this pool of experienced editors" - yes, 100%.

Many admins of course are competent or very competent content editors. Many admins have GAs and FAs. It's a classic Venn Diagram - 1/ good and capable balanced content writers who aren't or won't be admins, 2/ admins who won't meet our criteria for trusted/senior content writers, and 3/ some who are considered both. But the primary criterion here is zero to do with adminship. It's all about "can they be put down on any topic, any content related issue, and they'll understand core policies and try to apply them with care and thoughtfulness, and support and foster good editing and good collaboration." It's deliberately offsetting adminship, as a completely separate route for content writers, fostering a quality oriented community.

FT2 (Talk | email)20:12, 22 December 2009
 

I think that's a very well put description. Admins are useful, but don't necessarily focus on quality of editing, more quality of participation or quality of community. Some kind of editorial counterpart woudl be useful for the people who have no interest in adminship.

Randomran23:32, 22 December 2009
 

Having just developed my tutorial proposal yesterday, I can revisit this issue with a fresh perspective. First, I am glad we all agree that admin does not equal quality editor. I have expressed my distaste for creating hierarchies among editors, but will just say right now that I am happy to continue discussing it. But I see my proposal as linked to this and I would go further and say: before we come up with formal criteria for establishing a new rank of editor that indicates expertise, I think it makes sense first to have an on-line/automatic tutorial and quiz (of the sort I had to take to be on the HS committee) for anyone to become a resgistered user. If the tutorial limites itself to core content policies and algorithms on how to do "pull" rather than "push" research, it does a few things all of which are good right now, when the ranks of registered users have swollen, when, in fact, we have a glut of registered users:

  • it makes becoming a registered user a minor accomplishment and thus something of value. This may turn off some people, but it will not prevent them from continiuing to edit anonymously. And right now we can afford to turn off some people. And this 20-minute tutorial will not turn off a lot of people, especially when being a registered user suddenly means something more. And since anyone could conceivably pass the quiz, this does not create any absolute limit to the number of new registered users. And believe me, ANY wikiholic will spare 20 minutes to check their understanding of some key policies and quidelines.
  • the quiz is largely on content policies and thus sends an important signal: content policies count. We have not discussed this, but many people are aware of how many conflicts at articles are being handled through personal behavior policies. I am all for civility, but the fact is for many editors personal behavior now counts for more than expertise. It has become a way of gaming the system and the price is a loss of quality, I think. Quizzing people on content policies to become registered users means all new registered users will have better knwoledge of content policies and understand the importance of content policies and this may help shift the WP community culture, which has drifted towards an obsession with behavior, in the other direction, towards more of an obsession with content.
  • the quiz will also be on how real research is done (what I have been calling "pull") and encourage more new registered users to do it.

But, in relation to this thread, it also means newly registered users will be able to recognize other users who have done serious research.

I believe in building from the ground up. Let's first create a base of registered users who understand and can recognize quality research. These registeres users will I believe been more supportive of expert editors who have done real research, they will create an environment that is more encouraging of real research. I think creating this environment will count for more than formal recognition o expert editors. But even if we agree to come up with some kind of formal recognition for expert editors, I think creating this sort of environment is still important to make Wikipedia more congenial to expert editors, to make it more likely expert research lasts at WP, and so on. I am not proposing this as an alternative to FT2s ideas, but I think that my idea is no more radical than his, and is worth trying first. Ultimately, I can see these different proposals working together, supporting one another.

Slrubenstein13:35, 23 December 2009
 

I do agree it's desirable, but I think we have to accept this as something we educate, not something we can at present demand.

A mini tutorial/quiz on joining might be nice, of the form "Have you taken our new users' quiz? It takes 30 minutes and will help you be a great editor!", with a short description and a mini quiz (with explanations of wrong answers) at the end. But I don't think compulsory will be workable nor a major recommendation. Note it under "Interface and wizards" maybe.

Main reasons why I don't think the forcible approach suggested is so workable:

  1. Ability to hide an IP should not be linked to quality of editing. Orthogonal issues (one doesn't influence the other). Big reason
  2. The result won't be editors compelled to learn. It'll be most readers being annoyed, and a lot turning to mini-websites "How to pass the Wikipedia Quiz".
  3. We want people to edit well in practice, not just know answers in pure theory (minor, theory certainly can't hurt, but not sure testing theoretical know-how will help).
  4. Reward's better at motivating genuine learning ("if you learn these and show it in your editing you get recognition" may trump the bleaker "pass this quiz or you can't edit" as a genuine motivator)


If there's a separate idea about "requirements for new editors to edit", can you start a new thread on it, and keep this one on its headline topic :)

FT2 (Talk | email)22:35, 28 December 2009
 

wikipedia has a strategic dilemma of encouraging quality edits by knowledgeable editors, while staying true to its open values. how will you measure quality? will you use number of active edits? (easy but misleading) is this becoming Wikipedia:Esperanza? wikipedia germany came to a different answer on editing articles than english. is this becoming like that?

98.169.251.4119:56, 19 January 2010
 

This is a good idea. Let me come at this from a slightly different angle, but ultimately end up in the same place. I'll start by saying that many of the problems we're currently experiencing is that the role of an administrator has never been clearly defined.

It's quoted on WP:ADMIN as:

  • Administrators are users trusted with access to certain tools. They are expected to observe a high standard of conduct, to use the tools fairly, and never to use them to gain advantage in a dispute.

That's it. Trusted users. Nothing here about being good editors with FA or GA articles. And yet, today, that appears to be the sole criteria for getting the sysop bit. In fact, I've seen a few editors who have participated in fixing vandalism, etc, getting turned down because they haven't got any "quality editing". I've also seen many RfA's discuss many other facets of an editors behaviour including an opinion they may have (nothing to do with editing skills). Conduct is mentioned as:

  • Administrators are expected to lead by example and to behave in a respectful, civil manner in their interactions with others. Administrators are expected to follow Wikipedia policies and to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

Yet it's a blue moon Sunday is an admin is desysoped for breaching this. I've seen wheel wars. I've seen serious fall outs. And I've seen admins abusing tools.

OK, nobody is perfect. But, the root of the problem is that as a community, we seem to believe that we're rewarding good editors with adminship. But there's nothing about the extra role that administrators are expected to perform, which is the expectation that many editors have. What about warning other users about breaches of policy? Or breaches of civility. Or edit warring. What about cleaning up with anti-vandalism blocks, etc?

Some may wonder why 50% of admins are no active. For many, being an admin is unpleasant and takes away from the reasons that attracted them to edit in the first place. For many of the active admins, they take no part in the chores, leaving it to a group of dedicated editors.

I believe we've come to a point where we need to separate the content from running the place (the church and the state). We need admins who can ensure that the best possible environment is created for collaboration and reaching consensus, letting the good, great, and not so bad editors to create the content.

Therefore, we should stop rewarding great editors with the nuisance of being an administrator, but still to recognize and reward the best we have. There's nothing to stop an editor being both a Senior Editor and an Administrator either.

HighKing21:10, 20 January 2010

Well said. That reflects my viewpoint very well. I'm a pretty good administrator on en.wp, I think, but I'm a crappy article writer. I really think they're two very different skill sets.

~Philippe (WMF)21:18, 20 January 2010
 

Wow, this is very well put and makes a lot of sense.

(And to Philippe's point, I have very little interest in being an administrator, although I've been asked. I love working on article content, though. That includes discussing how to change Wikipedia so that it's easier to improve content.)

Randomran03:44, 21 January 2010
 

Interesting opinion here :)

Yea, we end up at the same point.

KrebMarkt14:56, 21 January 2010
 

Personal perspective: I like to think I'd pass the acid test if I put myself forward for adminship (though I make no assumptions). But I have resisted doing so because, ultimately, I do want to spend more time on the actual article content. Even without being an admin it's very easy to drift away from articles and spend a huge amount of time doing other jobs, so I can't imagine what it must be like once you become an admin.

My true Wikipedia goal is to read all of our 1,000 core articles :o)

Bodnotbod21:01, 21 January 2010

Off topic, but responding to Bodnotbod -> Wowzer. What little article work I did immediately evaporated when I became an admin. I didn't even have time to do the gnomish stuff that I loved.

~Philippe (WMF)21:49, 21 January 2010
 

I still can't understand for the life of me why anyone would want to be an admin. I'm thankful there are people who do it.

I sometimes worry that if we had a separate recognition for people who write good content, nobody would want to be an admin anymore. So there would be no one to handle disputes and trolls and all those other dirty jobs.

Is that a legitimate worry?

Randomran01:03, 22 January 2010
 

I don't think so, because many admins I know aren't good writers/editors. They were either active as maintenance users (for example: fighting vandalism) or as users interested in wikipolitics.

Woodwalker11:19, 22 January 2010

Agreed, citing myself as an example.

~Philippe (WMF)11:38, 22 January 2010
 

Once again, I'm relieved that everyone in the world isn't like me :)

Randomran16:31, 22 January 2010
 

What a good point. This seems to me too to be the crux of the current problem. There are admins, and there are editors, and there are people who do both, but it seems that too many of those who are admins are not sufficiently impartial, or can't be bothered, or haven't time to look fully at both sides of a problem.

I know of editors who have been editing for years, but who have now given up because of the lack of even-handed treatment they receive. (Recognition doesn't even come into it!) Examples from people I know: being told, often by "admins" themselves, that they are vandals after having reverted other people's vandalism; being abused for having carefully edited articles so that they fit in with Wikimedia guidelines; being ridiculed for trying to delete unsourced articles, *and* for trying to retain articles which are perfectly well-sourced; suffering personal attacks for pointing out (with justification) that photographs are incorrectly captioned... When an admin is appealed to, these editors seem more often than not to get short shrift. (Unless personally known to that admin, perhaps?)

Of course, it's possible that some of these people phrased their edit too aggressively, or too unclearly, or that they were too sensitive. But none of them have just stopped editing after the first issue - or even the hundredth.

Perhaps a "professional" body of admins, with a more strictly adhered-to code of conduct, would remedy this.JaneVannin 08:11, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

JaneVannin08:11, 25 January 2010
 

I do little except add content in areas where I have both expertise and on-hand reference sources. Mr Content, that's me. I will never be an admin (and rightly, too, some will think!). Extra status for people like me would help in those tricky areas where bad things may go on, but few admins really understand the topic. In some areas I've never 'met' an admin... It would help me on content work to know if any other expert editor has been on an article.

Variable quality, between near rubbish and brilliant, may be found in all WP areas. In my opinion the disparity is our greatest weakness. Also, some articles have been so over-edited that they lack coherence and overall form despite every single proposition being well-referenced. Some articles which achieve GA and FA are almost unreadable, but some are so good as to be almost unbelievable... Persistent edits by people who are well-intentioned, but ignorant, are a daily problem. They are much more difficult to handle than outright vandals. Vandals are handled well by the system.

A common problem with poor-quality articles is whether to sweep most of it away and begin again, or to proceed piecemeal by talk-page discussion. Then an ad-hoc partnership between a couple of expert editors or editor+admin makes the task so much easier. This does happen sometimes in the high-quality areas, of course, but not enough.

A thought: areas of expertise might be listed for each expert editor. Inside each area they could be a first port of call for users with content difficulties.

To summarise the blather: I'm in favour of the recommendations. Macdonald-Ross 07:43, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Macdonald-Ross07:43, 28 January 2010