Trusted/senior users (narrow focus)
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.