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I've removed the graph File:New admins.jpg because I think it detracts from the story. It has the following problems. The number of new admins in the peak years was about half this. The earliest phase was done by Email and there is no record of the people who were turned down - but it would be incorrect to record this era as 100%. The recent success rate appears to have stabilised but in reality that is in part driven by semiprotecting the page and various other methods taken to deter candidates with fewer than 500 edits. ϢereSpielChequers 19:02, 9 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
A lack of new administrators is definitely a concern, as site usage and Wikipedia's relevance as a tool and source of information is not waning along with promotions. The issue, unfortunately, is that the requirements and exceptations of RFA voters and now becoming impossible to reach for many otherwise excellent candidates. One user, for example, stipulates a need to partake in a WikiProject, to have 10,000 edits, and to have been active for at least two years. These seem like reasonable expectations, but they are unfortunately realistic - While we do have a plethora of editors whom have over 10,000 edits, for example, some are wholly unsuited to adminship, others are barely active, and others are disinterested. Some of our older administrators have returned to activity recently - myself included - and that does somewhat alleviate the problem, but it's still an issue, yet one that is hard to move away from.
The year 2005, when I was promoted and at my most active, was a very different time for this site than now, with extreme growth as the site became something of a 'household name' for internet users. The RFA page often had eight or nine nominations at any one time, with only roughly 25 votes per RFA, and the lesser scrutiny made it easier for candidates to pass. While this did let through a few candidates whom were perhaps, on closer inspection, lacking in the basic criteria, it also allowed administrators to pass whom nowadays wouldn't because of 'criteria'. This is a fundemental problem with today's RFA environment.
For the number of administrators to increase, RFA needs to stop being intimidating. I feel that 'criteria' and 'must have X amount of edits' are prohibitive, and individuals are not putting themselves forward in fear of a lynching (not to mention that "2nd Nomination" and "3rd Nomination" would look unhealthy should they choose to apply again at a later date). Perhaps, therefore, we need to as a community begin to assume that candidates will do well, and not shoot them down for arbitrary reasons. One ongoing RFA (although it may have now ended) is an example of this; It's borderline, but in many cases the opposes and neutrals (of which I am guilty of being one) are simply due to 'slight concerns about experience'. Surely, as we need new administrators, these concerns should be left to one side by voters in favour of the community? Esteffect (talk) 00:21, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
With 4 years experience and 9000 odd edits I would love to put myself forward but fear being lynched or told I don't need the tools because I'm a 'mere content creator'.RfAs have become far to difficult to pass  Francium12  00:42, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
As a reply to Esteffect: I myself feel that I would have the qualities of a good admin. as I have experience as a moderator, and even administrator, at other types of boards, primarily regular discussion forums. However, my concern is that I do not know everywhere to go to get certain experience and still don't know probably as much as I would need to (let's be honest, one will never know everything). Just because of not having the experience that other admins. have, I do not feel it appropriate for me to step forward even though I would personally be a responsible user of any tools given unto me. I only recently acquired Rollback, and this was mainly due to my initial experience as a reviewer in the Pending Changes trial; otherwise, I'd still have nothing except for the Autoconfirmed flag. Even so, having the Rollback tool would not be enough for fighting vandalism. Personally, I'd love to just take care of any problems myself that require admins., but would still defer for a second opinion.
Keep in mind I am not campaigning with this for a future RfA, because I currently edit fairly sporadically (wait until I finally get my own place, I'll live between here and certain Facebook games). However, if I were given certain tools, they would not be abused and only used where appropriate. I actually wonder if creating different toolsets and having admins. only in a "manager" concept over other tool users might be a possible idea? That way, someone can gain access to the tools they need and not end up declined solely based on an RfA. I've personally seen a user fail seven RfAs who helps out splendidly around Wikipedia and pretty much deserves more ability to do so, but mind you, this is a personal opinion; now said user will fail future RfAs because "he failed seven times before, clearly he's not good enough". CycloneGU (talk) 00:50, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I'm certainly not interested in that kind of masochist beating that RfA offers, though I would like to have the bit. bahamut0013wordsdeeds 00:55, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I agree. This is probably the reason for the 'drought.' AirplaneProRadioChecklistHi, there. 00:59, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Concur. CycloneGU (talk) 01:02, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I think the replies that are here already confirm a degree of my theory, that RFA is simply too intimidating at times. There's an expectation that new administrators need to be crime fighting extraordinaires whom've been around for years, when in reality - back in 2004, 2005, 2006 and even later to an extent - individuals were often promoted whom weren't, but seemed trustworthy on the occasions when they did tackle vandals and so forth. Knowledge of Wikipedia policies is of course crucial (and no administrator should lack it), and experience is also key, but I think we sometimes expect too much of the latter in fear of the one bad apple whom might creep through. There's no real way around it, unfortunately, unless our philosophy as a collective in judging potential administrators changes. Bad administrators have existed in the past, and bad administrators exist now, but we shouldn't cripple potential candidates in case they become one of them. If evidence of this is needed, simply delve into our archives and look at how we promoted some of our most esteemed users, and even Wikimedia staff members. This all isn't to mention oppose reasons such as "has no Good Articles", "has slightly under my threshold of XFD edits", and the aforementioned (by Francium12) "mere content creator". When you consider all of this, it's no wonder that we're lacking new administrators. Esteffect (talk) 01:06, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Also, on the topic of how we used to promote administrators: here's how we promoted one well-known member of the Wikipedia community back in 2003, and here's our promotion of another individual at 2005, where we gave them the benefit of the doubt despite in experience. Both of these individuals (chosen largely randomly) became valuable contributors, but nowadays - even by our most lenient standards - would not pass. I'm not proposing we start giving administrative powers to uses with edits in the three figures again, because it was a different time, but users with five times as much experience are rejected nowadays. Esteffect (talk) 01:09, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I really disagree that there is a problem. Yes, numbers may be slightly dropping. So what? Is there any evidence that CSD's are taking longer? Users take longer to be blocked? Pages go longer unprotected? Until I see substantial evidence that any of these are happening, I don't think that there is a drought. We're in the age of editing tools now. There's less admins because there are more rollbackers. There's less admins because a few can do a lot more work than they did 3 years ago. I'm also convinced that always taking a negative view on this is unhealthy for Wikipedia and the RfA environment. (X! · talk)  · @092  ·  01:12, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Interesting, thought provoking article. Perhaps to me personally, as I was an admin 4 years ago and resigned due to inactivity, only to came back recently and resign again but for different reasons. Adminship is a lot different then it used to be - four years ago it was basically no big deal; we had a few extra tools, but for the most part we didn't much leeway in deciding debates - they were mostly a "vote" - and once it was decided a close was rarely questioned. Fun fact: the Wikipedia:Requested moves page said that debates were LITERALLY a majority vote at the time. Regular users can now see deletion histories and are encouraged to contact the admin in question. Add that to the ever increasing tools admins get now, and it just compounds things.
Generally, these are not bad things, but especially when clearing backlogs responding to upset or disruptive users is very time consuming if one wants to do it properly. The extra tools aren't a big deal; most are simplifications of the years-old tools. Also, the increased responsibility and leeway in deciding debates is quite welcome, but it's a double-edged blade; due to this users are justifiably afraid to promote people - which leads to RFA becoming more of a circus then it was 4 years ago (yep, it was still a bit of one back then), and it leads to an inevitable higher error rate on the admin's part, especially new or returning ones. Indeed, I resigned because I went from a mostly perfect record to making a fair amount of mistakes. Partly of my own doing, but I think adminship has become more of a collaborative process where higher error rates are expected; I got a very unexpected outpouring of support when I "re-resigned" and stated I would run the RFA gauntlet again.
The comments in the article about the recent shifts of editor perks is true as well; with stuff like rollback and advancements in stuff like twinkle and AWB there is less of an incentive of content-heavy candidates to apply - and in RFAs there has always been people who have _always_ wanted candidates to be "very active" as an admin. Somehow you have to do all that, have a hobby and a "real life".
All that said, whether there really is a problem in the number is questionable - the backlog on things is MUCH less then it was back then. Several times when I visited CAT:SD there were less then 30 articles, something unheard back in that point in time. Ryan Norton 01:38, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Excellent report and a matter of serious concern. I think a lot of the cause is that as a whole, the community is way too hard on candidates, they're expecting perfection.RlevseTalk 02:07, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I wholeheartedly agree with the statement above, ":With 4 years experience and 9000 odd edits I would love to put myself forward but fear being lynched or told I don't need the tools because I'm a 'mere content creator'." This JUST HAPPENED about a week ago to an editor I know would be an excellent admin, as the individual is mature, thoughtful and not prone to wiki-drama. It was the stupidest dogpile I've ever seen. I have edited wiki since 2006 and, especially watching this happen to a wiki-friend personally have no interest in trying to be an admin. In my case, it would be the opposite inevitable lynching I would draw due to having some ill-chosen words with one or two fellow editors and a bad spat with a sockpuppet or two. Not. Worth. It. Montanabw(talk) 02:11, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Montanabw, you mean this one? (BTW, if you prefer I not link this, please edit my comment. I'm simply posting it supporting your comments.) CycloneGU (talk) 02:28, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Truer words have never been spoken. Even now at RFA, someone has an oppose vote because they haven't contributed enough to RFA. I think there was a time when most editors aspired to be admins. That time has long passed. I know for myself, like many above have said, I just don't see the point in attempting when ancient mistakes and arbitrarily high standards are used as reasons to embarrass and crush anyone brave enough to put their name out. I'd rather just keep my head down and do what I do now rather than go through an exercise in humiliation. Like Montanabw said, it's just not worth it. AP1787 (talk) 02:34, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Haha, this would definitely be true in my case. I've had some glitches with edit conflicts and have somehow reapproved spam to articles that I end up having to delete (this is from the pending changes trial, mind, and we both tried the same undo edit at the same time on Domestic sheep around June 23), and the way some of the RfAs seem to go, that would count against me. I'd love to step forward, but I don't have a thorough knowledge of all policies as there are some policies that are not as frequently called upon. I'm sure there are more policies I have never even heard of. Do we even have an alphabetical list of all Wikipedia policies? If we have that, it must be such a long list that it require referring to before taking any admin. action regardless of understanding, particularly from newer admins...and maybe some older less-active admins. may not be abreast of some of the newer policies? CycloneGU (talk) 02:40, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
(edit conflict) I agree with AP, RfA is an extremely scary process. It doesn't help that the stands are upheld so highly; some users don't make it simply because of an incident 2 years past (I know I would never make it, for vauge instance). Besides, what attracts people to edit Wikipedia IMO is contributing (and vandalising but that doesn't count :) ), not administrative work. I can still vividly remember being completely blown by the amount of stuff going on behind the article face during my first week or so. ResMar 02:41, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

This is a perennial discussion. The chart shows just how bad things have gotten though. I can't imagine standing for admin now, and I would not wish it on any friend. So the admins that do get through may well be ciphers... huge edit counts, never took a controversial stand on anything, and you have no idea what you are getting. So... perennial discussion. Serious problem. Getting worse. Will to fix it? I doubt it. ++Lar: t/c 02:46, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

You forgot to finish your sentence: "End result? Wikipedia brok-en." ResMar 02:53, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Great report. I personally know of at least ten great admins who would never pass RFA now, in fact, Jimbo might not even pass RFA with the criteria that some people have. Ronk01 talk, 03:02, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Jimbo would pass by virtue of status, not by virtue of edits (wait, he's not an admin? oO) ResMar 03:18, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Good thing Jimbo has foundership. =) CycloneGU (talk) 03:19, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Guess he has restraint as well, if I was the founder of Wikipedia I'd make myself a steward by now :) ResMar 03:24, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
He was a steward once (just before the vain 'founder' status symbol was created) but was removed due to inactivity. These are tools we're talking about; what's the point of having tools if you don't use them (in a correct manner, not like Jimbo frequently does here)? (talk) 12:50, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Early on I linked the way in which Angela Beesley, whom ended up in an incredibly senior position here and then over at Wikia, got promoted, and there were many more examples too. From several of our arbitrators, to Wikimedia staff, to all-round excellent editors - all would fail right now.
An on-going RFA illustrates our present problem perfectly. We have a user whom looks trustworthy, has many edits (a lot automated, but nonetheless), and has nothing to suggest that they'd be a bad administrator, yet they're going to probably fail their RFA (50% approval as it stands). Amongst the reasons given are "Little to no involvement in template, category, file, and portal namespaces", "I would like to see more content editing", "Also this page reports that you have not voted in any RfA's or RfB's before", and perhaps most alarmingly, "even though I think you're a net positive and I morally support you, I have to oppose". The last two actually make me somewhat agitated, and show everything that is wrong with RFA right now. Individuals look for faults, and oppose people they think would be a good job for arbitrary reasons.
Again, however, I don't know how the problem can be tackled. Administratorship is becoming too elite, and many passes now are hugely emphatic, with few that are borderline. Sometimes I have to wonder whether or not it would be good to only allow bureaucrats to vote - It wouldn't be popular, but I'm sure it would be more balanced. Esteffect (talk) 03:27, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Other than creating a higher supervisor-type level, the only thing I can suggest is a rewrite of the rules for RfA. But I think the mere suggestion of that would have fault-seekers chomping at the bit to oppose them saying nothing is wrong, even with this article being a good cause for them. I'd be scared to run for RfA now, myself. CycloneGU (talk) 03:35, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
The core problem is that adminship is treated as being a bigger deal than it is, resulting in incredible pickyness and a number of voters whom will oppose for the most arbitrary reasons (such as not voting in RFAs - that is not at all relevant for an administrator, only a bureaucrat). The individuals whom watch the RFA page and home in on any new applicant like vultures are the ones that tend to do it, too. Adminship is treated more akin to how bureaucratship used to be now, where it's right to be incredibly strict on issues. In a way, back in 2004-2006 or so, we should have been stricter (due to issues such as the inability to recover deleted images, as Aevar once brought attention to at the time), but we were open to new blood, didn't pick faults, and if uncertain leaned on the side of assuming good faith. Those principles should be core to the entire project, but now appear to have been replaced by career RFA critics. Esteffect (talk) 03:43, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
The example Esteffect gives actually explains the problem & why things have changed greatly from when I was given the bit. Back in the early days of August 2003, most of the Wikipedians knew most of the others & could easily decide if someone qualified to be Admin. However, for the last few years there have been so many Wikipedians that one can't make a simple decision, but has to rely on what she/he has done. In the example cited, after reading the nomination I found I still did not have a good sense for the person: I honestly can't tell if she/he is trustworthy. Reverting vandalism & WikiGnoming isn't enough; one needs to do something that reveals her/his personality, gives the rest of us some idea of how they will act. (And as a note, I can't believe I wrote just that. I still believe that the requirements ought to be far lower than they appear to be now: at least 3 months on Wikipedia, & 600 edits. And that only because it takes that long to get a sense of how Wikipedia works. I just wish it was far easier to do something that is visible enough to prove one has a level head & is trustworthy. It certainly was easy enough back in 2003.) -- llywrch (talk) 19:07, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I think the standards that people have at RfA is ridiculous! I was lucky in my RfA in February - but I have seen good prospective admins fail because of too few mainspace edits, for too many mainspace edits (and not enough wikipedia namespace edits), for having too high an automated edit count (I'm thinking of someone who had tens of thousands of edits with perhaps 40% automated - still leaving tens of thousands of manual edits)... we all have our standards (for example, my guideline standards are here), but some people seem to set the bar far too high. My RfA was good-natured and polite - but some people (whether they have passed or not) have been through hell. I just wish that the people who are willing to tear prospective admins to bits would spend as much time dealing with vandals - why not tear them to bits by dealing with their vandalism and reporting them to AIV - use that "destructive" tendency for good! -- PhantomSteve/talk|contribs\ 07:45, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Yes, so many with so many different, often arbitrary criteria. Consider that years ago all we looked for someone who was around for a couple of months and was civil and looked trustworthy (for the most part would be willing to reverse thier own mistakes and step back and take a look at questions/criticism seriously). Having a FA was a huge plus, and there were still people had stricter criteria, but for the most part that was how it worked. 9+ months in my opinion is.... let me put it this way - I think the meta adminship process and renewal standards are light years better then en. I think part of the fears stem from the fact that en bcrats can't desysop, thus it becomes near-impossible to de-admin someone unless they do it voluntarily or get drug through the long painful arbcom process. I'm not going to mention names here, but a couple of the "infamous" admins back in the day were actually nice people who tutored me a bit when I was an admin myself - I would consider them wikifriends at the time; unfortunately, even with what looks like a perfect record, people can change over time. These admins in question went nice to wheel warring and were in no uncertain terms terse and rarely even mean to me even when I stopped by to say to hello. I think people think they can prevent this by having "strict" criteria... but as much one wishes you can't. Ryan Norton 10:34, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I became an admin back when that was pretty easy. I was only asked one question which irritated me, and it irritated me not because I thought it in any way unreasonable but merely because the only way I could think of answering it took me half an hour or longer. I now notice that in the answer I blithely use "notability" in its everyday and not its Wikipedia sense; nobody commented. On that occasion I was not expected to be particularly knowledgable about WP. I wasn't very knowledgable about it and still am not. (I think WP is a Good Thing, but am not fanatically devoted to it.) On occasion I'm justifiably accused of ignorance of this or that, but I don't think that I've been accused of ignorance or incompetence in my, um, administratudinalizing. That's because I think I know where I'm not qualified to venture. I'm grateful to those admins who are omniscient and those who are brimming with energy to do great quantities of donkeywork (deleting expired PRODs, etc), but that's not me. I think that if there were a couple of hundred new admins who were no better informed and no more energetic than I am (but also no more reckless or stupid), this would be a mild plus for WP. I'm a rare visitor to RfA but when I do go there I'm delighted by the occasional response from a candidate that's less than ultimately dutiful. Whereas such responses cause great indignation among the denizens of RfA (indeed, the inquisitors' and voters' perceptions of bruises to dignity provide some unintended comic relief), I'd happily vote to janitorize somebody who I thought was competent, decent and level-headed, and who responded to a question: I didn't know the answer to that one five minutes ago. As I don't propose to employ any administrative kryptonite in areas that I don't fully understand, my ignorance doesn't worry me. I now see that in the last RfA but one you asked the same question and got an answer that satisfied you. I suppose I could paraphrase that answer to a point where the result wouldn't look like plagiarism, but I really can't be bothered. -- Hoary (talk) 10:41, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Lifetime appointment=big deal. Set a reasonable limit on the period of time and you'd see way more admins accepted. It's really that simple. Gigs (talk) 14:12, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

If only it was, even with the 800 active admins we have now, if they had 4 year terms, that would mean reviewing about 4 a week every week, and how would we review them ? have another RfA ? would we not risk having good admins who take the tough decisions on contentious blocks or AfD's removed and left with centre of the road admits who are not willing to put there head over the parapet with one eye on there next review. The fact is if you upset more than about 30 fellow editors you are unlikely to pass an RfA and I am sure a good admin is likely to pick them up along the way just doing the job in an even handed way. Codf1977 (talk) 14:31, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Putting old administrators through RFA to re-confirm would leave us with about 50 left at the end. For example, I would probably not pass because I've got a low number of edits relative to most current RFA passes. Most arbitrators, past and present, would fail on the basis of the decisions that they've had to take. It wouldn't be a good idea at all. Also, adminship is not bureaucratship, where terms may be more appropriate. Esteffect (talk) 15:13, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
It's flawed to think that RfA standards would remain the same if the term were limited. If it weren't a lifetime appointment, then the standards would be much lower. As well, we wouldn't have to "review" hoards of existing admins... when their adminship expired, it would be up to them to reapply. The few people who remain active 4 years after getting the bit will not be much of a load at all. Gigs (talk) 18:01, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Or make it easier to fire us. -- Hoary (talk) 14:34, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

See also Dunbar's number. WP is at the point where such appears to be noticeable. Collect (talk) 14:14, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

That article tells us that Dunbar's number "lies between 100 and 230". How's it relevant here? -- Hoary (talk) 14:34, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Note Dunbar noted that the groups fell into three categories — small, medium and large, equivalent to bands, cultural lineage groups and tribes — with respective size ranges of 30-50, 100-200 and 500-2500 members each. I would suggest that WP admins do, indeed, fall into that third grouping identified. Collect (talk) 19:26, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Adminship should be automatic to anyone with 4,000-5,000 edits and who states that they have read the admin guidelines and procedures (if there are any) and will abide by them. Cla68 (talk) 15:40, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Sounds fair to me. Sadly, some with tens of thousands of edits are failing. CycloneGU (talk) 15:58, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I disagree that this is a problem. I think the editorship is speaking to the need - there are too many admins already. The job is no longer regarded as "just a mop and bucket" by a large number of admins - it's regarded as a leadership position, or a hall monitor position. That's detrimental to the collaborative nature of the project, and the emphasis on enforcement of arcane rules at the expense of content creation and the constant use of the argument for deletionism that "it can always be recreated" - in other words admins can see it even if one of them has hidden it from other editors and from users wanting to look it up, so that makes it ok - are a serious discouragement to participation in what this project is supposed to be about. The community should not be encouraging people who are focused on critiquing others' work and punishing "vandals." Especially now that we have vandal-patrol bots, automatic notation of suspicious edits visible to all of us at "recent changes," and rollback and other tools available to those who want them, the basic premise that we should have a high number of admins is flawed. I'm heartened that people have high standards; I'm heartened that fewer people want the mop. Those are healthy signs that the project continues on the right course. I encounter admins who seem to have their hearts in the right place; and I can think of at least one from the early days who I regret is no longer involved. Wiki-burnout is bad, and lynch mobbing does happen. But building up adminship as per se good for the project leads to lynch mobbing against content, and that's what I've seen over and over since I got involved. I'd be happy to see the admin numbers reduced still further, and thrilled to have their power undermined by the enabling of a real list of deleted articles such that I could determine a redlink represented something deleted without collecting the now quite serious quantity of material to write the article ex nihilo and clicking to do so . . . and then I see that some admin deleted someone's earlier work. Yngvadottir (talk) 16:07, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

4 to 5 thousand edits? Pu-leaze. That's three months of serious activity there. I would set my personal limit at 9,000. A nice round number. ResMar 17:16, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Concur with the comments about the RfA process being intimidating above - I got shot down for lack of content creation and some 5 month old unsourced BLPs about a month ago, even though I demonstrated that I now know the importance of sourcing, etc, but the RfA still failed. Ever since, I've been noticing backlogs at RFPP, and (sometimes frustratingly) dealing with vandals who are at AIV, ready to be blocked, who are still continuing on their rampant vandal spree (which I wish I could deal with). Simply opposing for one fault in a candidate seems to be the trend here - nobody is perfect, and if the candidate will be a net positive to the project, then they have my support. Connormahtalk 17:29, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I think I had around 3,500 edits when I became an administrator, and it's quality, not quantity, surely. It's even worse when people begin to quote percentages and namespace quotas as just reason for refusing good candidates. Esteffect (talk) 20:35, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
In reply to Yngvadottir - I do agree, there are so many more things for admins. to do these days. But I think the article speaks to something more alarming; the fact that the number of admins. keeps going down, and with many great candidates who are being turned down even with 67% support in rare cases, I question how many admins. Wikipedia will have in the future as numbers keep dropping. My worry is that there are all of these tools that only admins. have, and with fewer admins., that means fewer people who have the tools to do what is needed. What if we drop to 500 admins.? Is it only then that alarm bells will start going off? Is it only then we'll create special toolsets for qualified users who demonstrate good usage ability? And will future admins. have to master these toolsets before qualifying? I agree that comments saying, i.e., "Not enough experience with the tools" would not be sufficient grounds for opposition because you can't GET the tools unless you're already an admin. My view of being an admin. now is having knowledge and understanding of all Wikipedia policies, but even that can be hard nowadays (especially when you don't patrol certain areas because you know nothing about the subject). Myself, if I were to ever become an admin., I'd want to get guidance from an existing admin. on what to do to achieve that goal. Right now, I am not interested, mind, if ever. CycloneGU (talk) 22:14, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Part of the problem is vague criteria for both nomination and participation. When anyone with a grudge can weigh in on an RFA, that creates an issue. On the other hand, meatpuppetry would also be bad. I think that there needs to be clearer criteria for someone to apply in the first place -- more clarity of minimum time, minimum edits, how much in the admin areas as opposed to content (and here I thought contributing content was a GOOD thing!), so that the "s/he hasn't chased enough vandals" issues would not arise. I think that initial questions should be standardized to avoid stupid ones, and after that, perhaps only certain people (perhaps only existing admins) could ask individualized questions, or the questions could be submitted anonymously via one existing reviewer who vets them for appropriateness. Maybe some kind of limit on how often each person could comment, so that one individual doesn't highjack the nom one way or the other, etc... Just some ideas. Montanabw(talk) 23:07, 10 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Yep, limiting non standard questions to only admins will get rid of all the stupid questions :) For sure! OK seriously, good suggestions in there. I don't know that I want to see fixed "so many vandal reverts, so many RfA comment" quotas necessarily so maybe a weighting system or something. ++Lar: t/c 01:31, 11 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

This is a great piece of analysis. It raises some very interesting trends about our admin population. I'm not an admin myself, but the anecdotal info I've heard supports much of what's been said in this thread about the road to adminship being a tough one to go down. I'd be interested in taking this analysis and looking further up the "funnel", namely looking at how editor trends affect admin trends later in time. Also, would it be easy to identify "Wikigenerations" for users that were approved during a certain year? For example, it would be interesting to see for the admins that were approved in 2010, how many started editing in 2009, 2008, etc. Howief (talk) 01:29, 11 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

The drought began April 2008. Rather then a gradual drop it went from 43 to 12 in a couple of months (or something like that), and stayed down. I'm curious as to what happened at that time? ResMar 03:06, 11 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Rollback was unbundled in early 2008, and it no longer became possible to pass RFA just as a good vandal fighter, that coincides with the main drop to circa 12 a month. But instead of it being a temporary dip with Rollbackers getting the block button a little later in their wiki careers, it has continued and as of the last eight months there has been a further drop to an average of 6 or 7 a month. I wasn't sure what had caused the further drop, but I'm hoping that it was anow resolved hiccup in the admin coaching process. ϢereSpielChequers 12:51, 11 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I'm sticking my neck out, and since everyone else is discussing their (lack of) admin credentials I'll add that I simply have little knowledge of the greater detail of the admin role and don't involve myself in such affairs so I could never pass a RfA (I do at least have a bank of many years Wiki experience), but I've noticed that a feature of several comments here is that "I could do X job [usually vandal-fighting, it appears] but I would be failed based on lack of activity in other sectors". Perhaps the solution is to create some, for want of a better term, "demi-admin" roles which allow users to focus solely on a chosen aspect of adminship [vandal fighting in this case] and simply not have access to the other features, thus rejecting a candidate for demi-adminship on the premise of not being involved in other aspects becomes a non-issue. Of course, it would be a monumental task to produce (just look at how long reviewer status took to develop, for instance) but then if we can take this article at its word, the issue is rapidly becoming a monumental hurdle for Wikipedia anyway - we could be looking at losing half our active admins in the next 24 months if current trends remain. Of course, I'm aware that my idea is surely riddled with problems - not least the sheer work to make it manageable - so I would never actually suggest this properly, but solely as an exercise in thought for those debating here, would it work? Falastur2 Talk 03:21, 11 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

We need a bit that allows you to look at deleted article histories, and nothing else. And make it easier to get. I don't want to run the gauntlet, although I probably have most of the qualifications, but that's all I really want. And I know some older admins keep the bit only for that reason. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) 03:23, 11 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Deleted article histories (but not the associated revision text)? This userright exists as WP:RESEARCHER (though currently only grantable by WMF). –xenotalk 13:35, 11 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
So why are non-admins. still voting in RfAs? If what you say is true, this can be the reason for the drought. CycloneGU (talk) 14:29, 11 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
There is a phenomena of a blocking minority at RFA getting more picky. But the Opposse (not an attack - I'm sometimes a member myself) is very diverse. Admins, people who've run unsuccessfully and people who have not yet run can usually be found in both the support and oppose sections. It would be interesting to chart the different !voting propensities of those three groups, but if there is a pattern of people who've had an unsuccessful RFA being harsher than others I'm not convinced its the strongest pattern there. What I suspect is happening is that setting the threshold at 70-75% is subconsciously causing people to reevaluate their criteria upwards, because of the psychology of people on the "losing" side to think they might be out of line with the community. If the passmark was 50% then the longterm effect would be neutral, but as it is there will tend to be far more voters thinking they may have been too lenient than vice versa. ϢereSpielChequers 15:09, 11 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Too many admins already?

I'd like to reiterate what Yngvadottir said above: I disagree that this is a problem. I think the editorship is speaking to the need - there are too many admins already. The job is no longer regarded as "just a mop and bucket" by a large number of admins - it's regarded as a leadership position, or a hall monitor position. That's detrimental to the collaborative nature of the project, and the emphasis on enforcement of arcane rules at the expense of content creation and the constant use of the argument for deletionism that "it can always be recreated" - in other words admins can see it even if one of them has hidden it from other editors and from users wanting to look it up, so that makes it ok - are a serious discouragement to participation in what this project is supposed to be about. That absolutely nails it for me. Adminship is the Cool Kids Club and to hell with that. I've got all the tools I need with Rollback and Autoconfirmed or whatever the hell it's called and I'm a content-creator and proud of it. If we doubled our number of content-creators and halved the number of Administrative sorts, that'd be getting us closer to the mark... Carrite (talk) 22:21, 11 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Its all too easy for one admin to clear an entire queue of expired prods or a backlog of speedy deletios with one click. So if you want every speedy deletion and expired prod to be properly considered you need a good supply of cautious admins. Conversely if the number of admins continues to decline we will be more and more dependent on the occasional admin who can clear a backlog of a hundred speedy deletions in the time I take to handle half a dozen.. ϢereSpielChequers 23:10, 11 August 2010 (UTC)[reply] the expense of due process. –xenotalk 14:05, 12 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
And to reiterate WSC's point, keep in mind that Admins drift away from Wikipedia; the prestige of being an Admin must not be enough to keep everyone here. They're leaving at least as fast as non-Admins do; dealing with unpleasant people, being pilloried for good-faith mistakes, & the cliched "Admins are korrup fashists" complaint can't help but wear at one's enthusiasm for Wikipedia. "There are too many admins already" is a silly & unsubstantiated statement. Unless Admins are promoted in numbers at least as large as they are leaving, Wikipedia will eventually find itself in trouble because no one is manning the mops. -- llywrch (talk) 05:18, 12 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I'm sorry you find it silly and unsubstantiated; I believe the "market" is expressing that opinion. To take a step backwards - I think the assumptions on which this fear of not having enough admins is based need to be examined. This is a collaborative project, not a management-run one. I believe it's drifted towards being over-managed through some sort of bureaucratic inertia, but I am still waiting for the specifics of what would be so bad if there were still fewer people to delete people's work, ban people for disagreeing with them, and declare things "fringe." The rules are very complex - but the people who have written the best guides to navigating them are not necessarily admins. And worrying about the admin corps seems to me to be taking the project daily further away from "What matters most is creating articles" and from WP:DIG, let alone WP:IAR. Why exactly do we need a large number of managers, rather than however many we wind up with - let alone a large number of janitors? Yngvadottir (talk) 20:40, 13 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I cannot entirely agree. At least once a month, I thank my lucky stars that there are admins to block some snotrag who went through 30 articles, stating something completely irrelevant an off-topic, like "HEY EVERYBODY! I have a PENIS!!!" Blocking is a good thing! LOL! Montanabw(talk) 01:44, 14 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Hi Yngvadottir. There are very different ideas out there as to what sort of a community we want. One model has a small number of specialist admins who only do admin type stuff, another is of a collaborative project where all clueful, civil longterm editors have the mop and use it on occasion. I'd prefer us to be the latter sort of project, but to my mind Wikipedia is drifting to the other extreme as most longterm, clueful, civil editors are not admins, and with the number of admins declining I suspect that the proportion of active longterm users who are admins is probably falling. Are you really sure that having an ever smaller number of admins who are perforce spending a growing proportion of their wikitime on admin stuff is the way you want things to go? ϢereSpielChequers 15:46, 15 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Are there minimum admin-related edit requirements still on the Commons or Wikipedia?

That was/is a really dumb requirement. The best, wisest admins (arbitrator material) are usually those with broader experience online and off, and don't always live 24/7 on Wikipedia as some admins do.

Some of the worst admins I have seen are those pushing for minimum numbers of admin-related edits. Brilliant idea. Snark mode off.

I think the biggest need is for more admins at the level of arbitrators and checkusers. Wise people are needed to settle content disputes, and not just rule implementation. Developers are needed. We need really experienced people and admins, and not just vandal fighters.

We need integrated watchlists, too, so that more editors and admins come on over more often to the Commons where there is much work to do. Admins are really needed on the Commons. --Timeshifter (talk) 04:22, 12 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I've been told that on DE Wiki you need 10,000 edits to run for admin. I believe that used to be considered a maximum here, but I'm sure we've had candidates succeed with far more edits than that. I suspect that any candidate with fewer than 4,000 manual edits total or fewer than 100 edits a month in recent months would garner some opposes at RFA for "inexperience", and I no longer bother to review candidate with fewer than 2,000 edits because they will have snow closed before I've finished reviewing them.. ϢereSpielChequers 08:29, 12 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, there clearly are minimum requirements, as anyone with too few eidts, or with a too new account, would probably fail. However, in addition to that, I think that there are 2 major things reducing the number of RfA candidates:
  1. The percentage of promoted RfAs has been dropping - since we have records of the failed RfAs, it was at least 39.4% (just under 40%) until 2007; beond this point, it was below 35%. I can tell you that potential admins may be hisitant to run for RfA if they think they have a too high chance of failing.
  2. I believe that we are currently deterring new users from editing - there is a good chance that the first page the user will want to edit (probably a high-profile BLP) is protected or semi-protected; many public IP addresses are blocked; many edit filters deter new users, and are specificly designed for them; some edit notices (including the BLP one) are probably deterring users. Once a new user gets past these problems, (s)he is likely to get a warning of "your edit wasn't constructive and was reverted".
עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 08:43, 12 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
My take is that some sort of minimum nomination standard is needed to eliminate the stupid stuff like "this nominee didn't spend enough time at area XYZ" (Or, as if feels sometimes, Area 51). With some sort of minimum, the person either does or does not have enough raw experience, and thus the emphasis goes from quantity to quality. I wonder if something like the FA criteria could be ported over to the admin side. Basically, my thinking is that for someone to have an approved nomination, they have to be pre-vetted with some standardized criteria (say, analogous to the GA criteria for articles, only for people, perhaps a combo of time and edit count analogous to the service awards, plus already having some of the non-admin tools like rollback or reviewer or whatever, any negative ANI or WQA against the person being more than six months old, etc...) Stuff that indicates basic competence and an adequate variety of experience. Then, to go from a fairly boilerplate, objective nomination ("GA") to the more subjective actual awarding of adminship ("FA" if you will), that will be when the more open-ended evaluation and vote occurs. Another thought, not necessarily attached to the above, is that perhaps a comment period needs to be opened before any actual voting can be done. This way, people can raise what they think is significant prior to a dogpile of yea or nay votes. Some people may choose to withdraw their nom after the comment period if it isn't looking good for them, others may choose to stay in because they are only dealing with a couple of disgruntled people who never stop adding one more thing. Once the comment period is closed, then voting has to be a straight up or down, no voting twice, no further comments, no "strong," "weak" or "neutral." But as it is, I seriously would not want to run for admin. (Thanks to the person who invited me to, though!) Montanabw(talk) 16:24, 12 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
First part seems eminently sensible idea, however does this run the risk of turning into two mini-RfA's and rather than one hurdle now adminship is two hurdles, I also think the second part is also a very sensible idea as long as it was seen as a period to offer constructive advice, otherwise it could just prolong the current process. Codf1977 (talk) 16:38, 12 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Are there a minimum number of quarterly admin edits required to maintain admin status?

I think this is a bigger problem. Why get rid of our wisest admins when they aren't doing admin work 24/7 on Wikipedia!? Life goes on outside Wikipedia.

We need wise arbitrators. Arbitrators oftentimes come from admin ranks.

Wisdom and experience comes from things done outside Wikipedia. --Timeshifter (talk) 06:57, 13 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

No on EN wiki there is no process whereby inactive admins are desysopped purely for being inactive, there are admins who haven't edited for several years but if they came back tomorrow they would still have powers to block, delete and so forth. Commons has a system whereby they desysop admins after 6 months inactivity but the community here decided not to implement anything like that. This article has focussed on the number of admins considered to be active as that number is declining rapidly, all that an inactive Admin needs to do to be counted as active is 30 edits in the last 60 days. This may not be the most sensible definition of an active editor, let alone an active admin but it does have the advantage that we have statistics collected that way going back many years. Also as the vast majority of inactive admins have not edited for rather longer than 60 days and the great majority of active admins do a lot more than 30 edits every 60 days so changing the metric would not greatly alter the figures (we have in the past discussed getting a definition of active admins that actually involves use of the tools but that really can get complex). ϢereSpielChequers 09:43, 13 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
We need more admins, not less. Desysopping for inactiveness is going towards the wrong direction and not helping to solve this issue. OhanaUnitedTalk page 12:06, 13 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Another reason I don't choose to petition for adminship is that I can't be on wiki 24/7, I usually am on daily, but even that is a bit of an addiction. I have a small offline life (and need to work for pay sometimes, etc...) and fear that the time commitment would keep me forever from content editing. Of course, vandal patrol on the 1500 articles on my watchlist is already half my wiki-life.... :-P Montanabw(talk) 18:04, 13 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I do not believe being an admin. requires you to give up all forms of your own life. If it was...hell, there would be very few admins. now, if any! CycloneGU (talk) 23:32, 13 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
You may have just answered your own question with that! LOL! Montanabw(talk) 01:44, 14 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Hmm. May I see Evidence M? See this person only spend TWO hours a day online? They were denied for not being active enough? =)
(This comment is merely in jest and is not a serious comment.) CycloneGU (talk) 14:33, 14 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Dealing with "bad" admins

I've read some people arguing that the bar for new admins is set so high because, if a candidate misbehaves after becoming admin, it's very hard for the community to deal with the problem. Do many people take this stance? If this is a problem (is poor enforcement real or just perceived?), wouldn't it be better solved by improving the process for dealing with errant admins? (for a trivial example: Somebody who might ban another editor with whom they've disagreed over content)
bobrayner (talk) 14:38, 14 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

This has been asserted to be one of the reasons why RFA has become harder, and may even influence some oppose !votes. But the arguments tend to overlap between those who think the current methods for demoting admins should be replaced by a more direct community based one, and those who want it to be easier to get rid of admins, usually without being clear as to what sort of admins they would get rid of. Currently we have an indirect system - the community elects Arbcom and Arbcom desysops admins. If you include admins who resigned in contentious circumstances and have been told they need a fresh RFA before they can take up the mop again, there are 79 "resigned" or demoted admins - so no when there is good reason to do so it isn't actually difficult to desysop admins. Personally I suspect errant admins are more of a perceived problem than a real one, as discussions of reform rarely go into detail as to what behaviour or incidents that arbcom tolerated should have lead to desysopping. The only argument I find at all compelling is that incidents of admin misbehaviour are undereported as other editors may fear retribution; However no proposal that I've seen has credibly addressed that issue. If people want Arbcom to be quicker to desysop admins and less tolerant of admin errors or misbehaviour then the next arbcom elections are in a few months. As for changing the process for dealing with errant admins, one sort of proposal "Community Deadminship" or CDA has been discussed several times, but fails to get consensus and was rejected again fairly recently. NB Individual admins can't ban anyone, and if we block people incorrectly then yes we are liable to lose the mop - though its unlikely we would do so for a single mistake. ϢereSpielChequers 15:15, 14 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I think we need more arbitrators and checkusers. --Timeshifter (talk) 00:05, 15 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
What I have seen is not so much rogue admins, but admins that get viciously attacked for legitimately shutting down some real serious jerks. Said jerk promptly sockpuppets or meatpuppets and goes on a rampage at how their widdle fweewings have been sooo hurt. They claim it's all a conspiracy, that the admin is out to get them, etc. There are also the wiki-libertarians who don't like the existence of admins at all, but frankly, IMHO bullies DO need to be shut down, or at least leashed, lest wiki lose its social contract and become a war of all against all, and the wiki-lot of the lonely good faith non-fringe content editor becomes solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. Perhaps there is an argument to make more tasks, like has been done with rollback, available to rank and file responsible non-admins (like me, I like my new rollback toy and try to use it very carefully), saving the admin title for people who really are not simply people with mops, but people with mops AND rolling pins!  :-D Montanabw(talk) 01:04, 15 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
We need more people and methods for dealing with all these sockpuppets, wheel wars, single-purpose accounts, jerk admins, and jerk editors. And most of all we need more arbitrators for all this, and for content disputes, and... There are sockpuppets with hundreds, thousands of accounts over time. --Timeshifter (talk) 01:56, 15 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Just like in real life, more cops on the beat, and a few SWAT teams?  :-D Why can't people just be nice, anyway?  ;-) Montanabw(talk) 02:18, 15 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Why can't we all just get a bong... ooops, along?. :) --Timeshifter (talk) 05:00, 15 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Hi Timeshifter, I don't know. I suspect part of the problem is that we have a huge cultural diversity as to what is acceptable language and behaviour here. Part is that as a global community we have people from both sides on every issue, there are quite a few issues where I knew before I looked at them that we would have both sides of a bitter argument - and several that I stay away from because I wouldn't trust myself to edit with NPOV. But I've also come across issues that it had never occurred to me could be contentious and issues about deletionism/inclusionism and short termism/Newby biting that are bound to be difficult to resolve in a project like this. ϢereSpielChequers 11:30, 15 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I suppose what we have here is further proof that wiki is just a great big small town, with all the usual suspects. And like the real world, currently going through a time of more severe contentiousness and backbiting behavior that tends toward a vicious attack on anyone who disagrees with a particular position. Sigh... Montanabw(talk) 21:34, 15 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Brief article/essay on this subject, and reasoning given at RFA

Based partially on my earlier views on the lacking, often harsh, and occasionally even ridiculous reasoning given for opposition to Requests for Adminship, I've written a brief article on the matter at User:Esteffect/RFA_Reason_Test, which looks to create something of a test of reason for opposition. I'm welcome to comment and so on on it, and while it's only a first draft, perhaps feel it could be part of a Wikipedia space essay or even guideline piece on the matter one day. Thanks. Esteffect (talk) 21:57, 14 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

2001 had no admins

I find it curious to read that 32 users were apparently appointed as admins in 2001. From my recollection no admins were appointed in that year as the functionality simply did not exist within the UseModWiki software. Jimbo, Larry Sanger and Tim Shell had direct server access which made them the "admins" by default. The first group of MediaWiki admins were appointed by Jimbo somewhere around Feb/Mar of 2002. (talk) 06:39, 18 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Actually never mind - I went back and reread the chart and realised I had misinterpreted it. It doesn't say there were 32 admins in 2001, it says that 32 people who began editing in 2001 eventually became admins, which sounds fair enough. (talk) 06:43, 18 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for that info, when I'm a bit more online I'll update the stats accordingly - this presumably means that all the admins who have an unknown promotion date in 01 or 02 were actually made admin in 02. ϢereSpielChequers 19:20, 18 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, all were in 2002. Announcement of the first round of admin appointments occurred on 26 March 2002 in a post by Jimbo on Wikipedia-L. That announcement was quite tardy however, as the actual changing of status had taken place up to a month earlier. Applying for admin status was done via private email to Jimbo and hence he'd be the only person with a full email record of who applied. (talk) 23:22, 18 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Cited in an academic paper

This Signpost article has been cited (in this version) in a paper for the upcoming WikiSym conference (footnote 12 on p.9). Regards, HaeB (talk) 23:45, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


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