Controversial RFA

Controversial RfA results in resysopping of ^demon

Editor's note: A full disclosure of my involvement in this RFA is available.

A controversial request for adminship resulted in the resysopping of ^demon this week. The closure, which occurred at an unusually low 63% support rate, drew a mixture of praise and criticism.

^demon first gained adminship in March 2007. While an administrator, he drew attention when he speedy-deleted Mzoli's in September. The deletion, which was overturned, with the article kept in a subsequent AFD, was scrutinized primarily because the author was Wikipedia founder and board member Jimbo Wales. During the AFD discussion, Wales said to ^demon,

"I was very disappointed to see your assumption of bad faith and insulting behavior on the Mzoli's deletion discussion."

^demon replied,

"With all due respect, I was merely pointing out that some users seem to place a higher importance on your edits over any others. Had this article not been authored by you, my speedy deletion never would have been overturned."

Another move criticized by some who opposed his reconfirmation RFA, was the nomination of Wikipedia:Requests for adminship for deletion. The MFD discussion was converted into a request for comment on the RfA process; this request for comment generated extensive discussion, but resulted in no real changes to the process.

^demon resigned adminship in December, indicating that he did not wish to retain his right to have sysop privileges automatically reinstated. At the time, he also indicated that "I wish to get back to editing, and keep it simple."

In his re-application for adminship, some concerns were raised, particularly about ^demon's civility and attitude; many users cited the opposing comments of Majorly ("Everytime I see ^demon do or say something, he seems pissed off at something"), and JayHenry ("A drama machine with consistently poor judgment"). In support of ^demon, MastCell noted that:

"The number of toes stepped on seems proportionate to the number of administrative actions taken here. Certainly there are some things that could have been handled better, but the standard here is not perfection ... He did good work; controversial decisions are not the same as abuse of the tools."

JoshuaZ added,

For most interactions I've had with ^demon I've disagreed with his opinions. And yes, he can sometimes be a bit extreme and sometimes makes hasty or poorly thought out decisions. That's why we have things like DRV. ^demon was a very competent admin who is clearly dedicated to the project.

Ryan Postlethwaite, who also supported ^demon, said,

^demon certainly wasn't the worst admin we had when he left, he's done some fantastic work with his tools. I do see some legitimate concerns in the oppose section, and I encourage ^demon to read these carefully before he takes any administrative action should this RfA succeed. All in all - the positves far outweight the negatives of ^demon regaining the tools.

The RfA ended on Saturday, with 63% support (89 users supporting, and 52 users opposing). That percentage falls below the usual range of 70-80%, where RFAs are usually left to bureaucrat consensus. In his closure, bureaucrat WJBscribe argued that this case offered special circumstances:

As my determination of consensus in this RfA strays to some extent from expected outcomes, I am going to provide a clear explanation of how I have reached it. I think this RfA must be considered in the context that it is a reconfirmation RfA of someone who relinquished their sysop access in uncontroversial circumstances and could have requested that it be restored at any point. Someone who has served as an administrator in controversial areas is likely to have gained critics and made enemies - I think there is an onus on those opposing to demonstrate more than simple disagreement with how actions have been taken by the candidate. I have read very carefully every word on this page over the last couple of hours and believe that although this discussion is outside the normal numerical promotion threshold there is nonetheless a consensus to promote. The community has long considered that the RfA process is based on discussion, not simply voting.

Some of the opposition focuses on disagreements with the candidate and objections to the type of sysop work he has undertaken, rather than giving solid examples of misconduct. Similarly there were a number focused on the fact that ^demon's actions had resulted in drama, but causing drama and being untrustworthy to exercise sysop responsibilities are two separate things. A number of opposers self identify as "weak", "regretful" or "reluctant" which I think also needs to be factored in. That involvement in unpopular work has played its part in the discussion is something picked up on by both supporting and opposing participants. Finally, I factored in those who were neutral - in this case being unwilling or able to raise objection to the restoration of tools to someone in a position to request them. I have concluded that restoring sysop access represents a correct interpretation of the arguments below having accorded due weight both to the strength of the opinions voiced and the numbers expressing them against the backdrop of this being a reconfirmation RfA.

The closure received support from many, including Acalamari:

"The closure of ^demon's RfA was a tough call to make, and you provided a long and detailed reason for your close. I trust your judgment, WJBscribe."

and AndonicO:

"I support WJBScribe in his decision; a tough call, but an appropriate one, IMO."

Many other users argued against the closure. Friday said,

If you were going to disregard the RFA, you should have closed it and promoted as soon as it opened. This worst-of-both-worlds approach doesn't make any sense to me at all. I think you should not promote anyone else. You have poor judgment.

Nick mallory added,

I think this was a mistake and will only cause trouble in the future. It also means calls for users not to 'pile on' in opposition to a candidate will be ignored although, presumably, had 150 people opposed here their wishes would have been disregarded because they didn't chime with those of the single person who made the decision. I'm aware that the process is not a vote but a rationale which says the voice of anyone who's had a bad experience with the candidate should be ignored for that reason is, to say the least, a strange one.

After his promotion, ^demon thanked WJBscribe, and noted,

"I will do my best not to let the community down and I have taken the comments by the opposers to heart, most certainly."

At 63% support, the RfA has the second-lowest percentage for a passing RFA, behind Carnildo 3 (61%), which was also an RFA for a former administrator, and also was a source of controversy. The latter situation was much different, however, as Carnildo had lost his adminship as part of an arbitration case.

Also this week:
  • Michael Snow interview
  • Controversial RFA
  • Sockpuppeting administrator
  • Print encyclopedias
  • WikiWorld
  • News and notes
  • In the news
  • WikiProject report
  • Dispatches
  • Features and admins
  • Technology report
  • Arbitration report

  • Signpost archives

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    == Writer's disclosure ==

    Full disclosure: I participated in ^demon's RFA, opposing his request. I do not believe that the neutrality of this story was affected by my personal opinions on his adminship, the closure, or any other matter relating to this story, and have consulted with other users on this story in an attempt to ensure that no inadvertent non-neutrality existed. Ral315 (talk) 18:20, 26 February 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    You're a good man, Ral. No worries. --WoohookittyWoohoo! 11:59, 28 February 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    I concur—there's clearly no editorial bias here. AGK (contact) 00:35, 1 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]


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