Danny Wool regains adminship in controversial RFA

Former Wikimedia Foundation employee Danny Wool was promoted after a successful request for adminship, a few weeks after his resignation from the Foundation, and his voluntary resignation of all Wikimedia rights and positions.

After his unexpected resignation from the Wikimedia Foundation office in March (see archived story), Wool resigned all of his rights on all Wikimedia projects, saying, "To ensure that there are no misunderstandings or claims of an abuse of power, I ask that all admin status on the various projects be revoked."

On 3 April, Cyde nominated Danny for adminship. The request was commented on by a record number of users; with 256 users in favor of his adminship, it became the second-most supported RFA after Phaedriel's, and the most opposed RFA, with 118 users in opposition (the next-closest are Karmafist's and Everyking's, which failed with 78 and 73 opposes, respectively, and Carnildo's, which passed with 71 opposes). With 383 comments overall, it also became the most commented-upon RFA, with over 100 more users commenting than Phaedriel's.

The request, which received an unusual amount of input in its last day (discounting sockpuppets, 59 new users commented on the nomination in the 24 hours before it was closed), was protected by Raul654 early Tuesday morning, while the bureaucrats discussed the nomination. To help facilitate public discussion of the closure, a bureaucrat chat page was created, where the bureaucrats who were online at the time of the closing could make a final decision. Of the five bureaucrats who participated prior to the closure, three (Raul654, Redux, and Rdsmith4) believed that Danny should be promoted, while two (Warofdreams and Taxman) found no consensus. After Warofdreams and Taxman agreed that they would support a decision to promote, Danny was officially sysopped. Taxman said,

After Warofdreams' last comments, what it left us at was the only people that wouldn't have called it a promotion ourselves stated that we would support the decision to promote. That's as close as you can get to full consensus in my book. Not everyone has to state they would have made the same decision, but if everyone can support the outcome, that's as good as it gets.

In a comment shortly after Danny was officially sysopped, bureaucrat UninvitedCompany noted that because Danny had not left under criticism, "Strictly speaking, he could have his adminship back for the asking without having listed himself at RFA".

The request received just 68% support, a somewhat low degree of support (most requests that pass receive at least 75% support). However, bureaucrats noted that the request was an unusual one. Bureaucrat Rdsmith4 said,

"The opposers give various justifications. Those most frequently mentioned are his brusque attitude to questions, history of newbie-biting, and aggressive deletion habits, but other editors have objected on the grounds that: the resignation of adminship last month shows a lack of devotion; he has not explained his reasons for resigning from his Foundation positions; Cyde nominated him; his actions as a bureaucrat have been questionable; many trustworthy users have opposed him; WP:OFFICE is contrary to the spirit of Wikipedia and Danny's role in its implementation reflects a similar attitude. These latter few rationales (after the colon) I find irrelevant to the matter at hand: whether he should be trusted with the powers of an administrator."

Other bureaucrats agreed that some of the rationales, including those related to his actions as a bureaucrat or as a Wikimedia employee, had little bearing to his ability to act soundly as an administrator. Redux said,

I'm finding that there's a considerable amount of people who opposed for reasons that are less than convincing, and it is not limited to those who opposed based on Danny's work related to WP:OFFICE — an example: at least two people cited his decision as Bureaucrat to promote Essjay to Bureaucratship as indication of his alleged "lack of judgement". First, that'd be judging him for exercising discretion in a position completely different then the one he is nominated to; Second, while that decision was difficult, it is inevitable to conclude that Danny's judgment in promoting Essjay in a close-call RfB (which it was) is being questioned only in retrospective to Essjay having lost all his privileges almost a year later. However Essjay was not removed for abusing Bureaucrat tools, or any other restricted tool. Consensus in Essjay's RfB was at 89,9% with 16 opposers. Danny made a call that was within his mandate as a Bureaucrat, even if it was debatable (which it was, and I personally would not have promoted Essjay in that RfB). But to question his trustworthyness or competence to perform as an Administrator citing his decision as a Bureaucrat to promote Essjay in those circumstances is a non sequitur —. I'm not about to disregard anyone's input because I don't agree with them, but it is also our job not to allow unrelated grudges, personal dislikes and the like to interfere with what is really the purpose of a RfA. And those cases are there, and it's not just one or two of them — Dan has just exposed them. Of course, there's also a lot of supporters who didn't give a reason for their support, some only signed their names. While this is less than ideal in any RfA, we are, it must be noted, dealing with a very unusual circumstance: Danny is about as visible and well-known as it gets. I find it only natural that some people didn't see a need to expand on what they thought that Danny should be made an admin again. Second, I've identified several users amid the opposers that had not edited for a long time, sometimes months, and came back solely to oppose Danny. They didn't have a problematic history for the most part, but this attitude goes to motivation. I find it problematic to see people who were not active and suddenly came back just to oppose Danny. Canvassing is highly likely in such situations. How were they not active but knew when Danny had been put up for adminship. There are about 5 people in that situation. All that said, I must say that despite what the bots are showing, the actual support ratio, taking everything I mentioned into account, is probably closer to somewhere between 74% and 76%. That doesn't mean we should necessarily promote though. There is substantial valid opposition, and the sheer number of opposers is remarkable. However at the moment I'm also inclined to promote.

Community input on the promotion, as of press time, was mostly positive. Oleg Alexandrov said,

In conclusion, this was closed rather professionally...I wish Rdsmith4 didn't just vote and promote, and that he didn't rush to close this while bureaucrats were still discussing, but I guess there's only so much one can hope for. My general impression of how properly Wikipedia follows due process is that things are improving

Everyking, however, disagreed with the promotion, saying,

Danny received 68% support, below the accepted 70% minimum. Why are we making an exception for Danny? Personally, I am all in favor of lowering the minimum a bit, but only if it's applied to all editors. ... It seems very clear to me that the community made one decision here, and the bureaucrats made a different one.

Kusma, while supporting the bureaucrats' decision, replied,

I agree with Everyking that this should not be an exception, and hope that future RfAs of less well-known people are treated with the same extra scrutiny if they happen to fall into the grey area (which the bureaucrats also seem to be expanding). I think the opposition showed that there was no consensus to promote Danny ... In discussions that won't ever reach consensus, it is sometimes better not to use the default result, and the bureaucrats decided that here.

In an interesting development surrounding the request, Just H was blocked indefinitely for sock puppetry, as were his sock puppets Yankee Rajput, Centurion 5, and Georgian Jungle. All four had commented on the nomination; three of the four had opposed, while the fourth described their opinion as "Neutral, Leaning To Oppose". Their votes were struck prior to the request's closure. Users also noted prior incidents of sock puppetry on close RFAs, including that of Carnildo, where three sock puppets cast two oppose votes and one neutral vote.

The closure draws parallels to the resysopping of Carnildo (see archived story), who was an admin prior to losing administrative privileges after an arbitration case involving a prominent wheel war. Bureaucrats faced a similar decision; many of the oppose votes "contained several votes from users of questionable legitimacy, as well as votes from legitimate users which were themselves spurious", according to Rdsmith4. However, it should be noted that Danny resigned adminship voluntarily, and received a notably higher support percentage than Carnildo.

Comments about the promotion continued today.

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