Trusted/senior users (narrow focus)

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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