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By Bri
English Wikipedia's active administrators could fit in Lincoln Hall (balcony not shown) with a few seats left over.

A sad milestone for English Wikipedia

For deeper background, see "Administrator cadre continues to contract" from the July issue, or other items in the Reforming RfA series.

This December, for the first time since the list was established in its current form in 2014, the tally of active administrators has been under 500 for the entire month.[1] It does not appear likely to rise above 500 again, unless there is a major change in trend.

WereSpielChequers sent us this commentary on the request for adminship process:

Turkish Wikipedia block lifted

Censored no more

Just before we went to press, the Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled the block of Wikipedia in Turkey invalid. We will have to cover the full implications of this in more detail in a future issue. Suffice to say that we (Wikipedians) think that it is important for people to be able to access our content, and the fact that a national court agreed is significant. To our knowledge, this is the first time any court has found there exists a constitutional right to read Wikipedia specifically.

Brief notes

Indigenous groups in Taiwan include the Sakizaya people who now have their own Wikipedia.


  1. ^ Probably for the first time since 2005, see User:Widefox/editors
  2. ^ meta:Requests for new languages/Wikipedia Sakizaya
In this issue
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No trend AFAICS. Just a sudden bunch of RfA on which the usual trolls were either not able to cause a stampede of pile-on oppose votes, or simply got bored and stayed away. Undeniably however, most potential candidates won't run nowadays unless they have a very, very strong reason to assume they'll pass. Of course, we nominators don't get it right all the time, but nobody is perfect. This year has seen a few more new admins than what has become 'normal', but on average I don't see it as bucking any trends. Perhaps remind The Signpost readers of the RfA trilogy I wrote last year. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 13:13, 27 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]

If you proceed with the belief that almost all candidates are worthy, then it's no wonder would-be kingmakers like you bristle at any dissent from the working classes. RFA stopped being meaningful once bureaucrats decided that the numbers don't matter, so anyone that participates now does so in an empty manner. Chris Troutman (talk) 15:02, 27 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Chris troutman please do me a favour and do some fact checking before you launch into personal attacks. I am one of the rarest nominators, and I only bristle at the trolls. I would never say a word against a genuine, non vengeful, or well researched oppose vote. It might not sway my position if I'm upstairs in my House of Lords, but I would respect it. Times have changed since the days when my early votes on an RfA would have an influence; nowadays I generally vote late, and the outcome by then is pretty much already secure (one way or the other.) Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 09:28, 28 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Frankly, I disagree. From my vantage point, RfA has become far less of a gauntlet than it was a few years ago. Most solid candidates pass easily. The problem lies in identifying these candidates and persuading them to run. It probably doesn't help matters that some editors are still repeating the doom-and-gloom mantra. Lepricavark (talk) 23:48, 28 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
That's not quite accurate, Lepricavark. RfA is still the snake pit it's been for well over a decade. You only need to take a look. The only reason candidates pass with flying colours (or most of them anyway nowadays) is because the only ones who are prepared to come forward nowadays are the ones who are are almost certain to pass and are brave enough to shake the evil behaviour off like water from a ducks back. There is no 'doom', aspiring candidates only need to look at a few RfA and they can draw their own conclusions. Any 'gloom' is what we get from from the users themselves when we try to talk them into running. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 03:51, 29 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I've followed recent RfAs fairly closely and I can't say that I agree with your conclusions. 'Evil behaviour' is definitely a stretch. Lepricavark (talk) 04:20, 29 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Obviously Lepricavark, you won't agree if all you have only examined the most recent RfAs. Solid knowledge comes from solid - and long - empirical experience. Admittedly I've only been following RfA matters for 10 years and only voted on 400 or so, but I believe it's enough for me to have been able to notice any trends and changes. Oh, and I have been through the process myself. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 15:20, 29 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Fine. I'll rephrase. I've been following RfA for years (which includes the recent one, as I'm sure you would agree) and I base my comments on the observations I have made while following RfA for years. Oh, and I have also been through the process myself. Twice, in fact. Lepricavark (talk) 18:24, 31 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]

There were 500 admins classified as active just yesterday, as well as for the full first week of this month, FWIW. Usually the number of active admins rises significantly enough in December, January, and February that we would also expect a moving average to increase. Dekimasuよ! 03:43, 28 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]

I would also like to become an admin after reading this. Apart from thatI also nominated the Turkish court overruling Erdogan's decision on banning Wikipedia in ITN section. Hope this Signpost would encourage to post it in ITN. Abishe (talk) 04:14, 28 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
My biggest concern is for the smaller group of 30-50 admins who do 90% of the admin work, and who dominate individual AIV, RPP, UAA, XfD, ANI, CCI, CSD, SPI, etc. boards. The loss of any of these admins who be serious, and given the inevitable "burn-out" of many admins, is almost a certainty. Part of the issue is that we need more technology (e.g. more Cluebots in different areas), however, there are many areas that need "human" judgment. I am not sure how this is going to work out? Britishfinance (talk) 11:44, 28 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • This is a huge concern, and it's not limited to admin backlogs either. We're currently experiencing an unprecedented crisis at WP:AFC, which has the unfortunate intersection of being a boring task that requires a good amount of expertise to handle (at least, I think that's what the problem is). As I write this there are 3,763 unreviewed submissions, including over 1,000 of which are at least two months old, so I dread to think of what would happen if some of our most diligent and hard-working editors who do an incredible job at AFC were not able to continue. — Bilorv (talk) 01:35, 29 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Bilorv, AfC has problems, but not the ones you mention here. There is no urgency at AfC - have you seen the stats of accepted vs declined/rejected?. What the community should be focusing on right now is the huge backlog at NPP, our only firewall against inappropriate new articles, and subjected to a harsh deadline. It's an uphill battle, and it's losing. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 03:40, 29 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • It doesn't matter whether the backlog is at AfC, NPP or elsewhere. A problem I found is that some editors really don't like unknown admins showing up the area that they frequented (possibly because they don't know if the admin is an inclusionist or deletionist). For example, I closed an XfD 9 months ago (which I usually don't do, but have done in the past) and was promptly called out by a now-banned editor for "You are an Admin? Never seen you at MfD or take any other Admin action ever." With that kind of attitude and treatment, why would admins feel like they should continue doing admin work while being attacked? This isn't going to be fixed even with RfA reforms or more admins. OhanaUnitedTalk page 03:59, 29 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • @Kudpung: there's urgency for two reasons that I see. The first is that editor retention will improve if an editor sees their draft accepted or rejected, rather than sitting stale for as long as it takes for them to forget that they submitted it. Of course this only applies to some types of people who submit AFCs (e.g. not paid editors) but it's still a huge base. The reason you might have overlooked this factor is that currently almost no AFC submitters (other than paid ones) stick around, and the explanation for that is that our reviews are taking months. The second reason I have is that we do have a deadline: drafts are deleted after six months, information can become stale over time and the queue is getting longer, which means that if the trend were to continue indefinitely then there would be many drafts that would never be reviewed. This forecast isn't actually that unlikely, as Wikipedia continues to scare off and burn out its long-term editors, whilst paid editing and POV editing is on the increase.
    @OhanaUnited: I think this experience points to a really hostile culture we have all over Wikipedia when it comes to ownership and a perceived need for control. Admins often receive the worst of this but in general I think it's a huge editor retention problem, which in the end is a big contributing factor to every backlog we have. — Bilorv (talk) 13:26, 29 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Bilorv, there's a lot of truth in what you are saying but unlkike NPP with its much tighter deadline, AfC is not the gatekeeper of Wikipedia - it's a concession we make to IPs and those who can't wait until their accounts are autoconfirmed. Now, autoconfirmed is an extremely low threshold, so anyone who really wants to see their article published can surely register an account or make those 10 edits in 4 days and if they don't know how to do it, there is a plethora of help pages and venues. Perhaps that's one of the problems: there's so much help and a forest of links to it and confusing policies and guidelines they can't see the wood for the trees. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 15:33, 29 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I agree that NPP also has a big backlog which causes a lot of trouble. A pet peeve of mine, however, is your position that anyone who's truly interested can easily get autoconfirmed. I think you're really underestimating how easy it is to find places to edit when you've never edited before. You might think, "I watched this movie the other day, maybe I could look at that" and read through it thoroughly, eventually work out a small improvement you can make, and then find for some reason it won't let you edit it (semi-protection)! Most of our guidelines for newbies really do have the wood-for-the-trees issue. And of course there are brilliant tools like TWA or that Special page recommended to newbies which leads them to a random page in a few cleanup categories (e.g. needs copyediting) that even I can't find anymore. But these tools are only obvious to a newbie if they're the first thing they accidentally stumble across.
The other thing is that I feel "if they're really interested..." is exactly backwards of what we want. We want to be persuading people that they do want to edit, not making themselves prove that they do. I wasn't that interested in editing 6 years ago, but I had a decent initial experience and here I still am, and hopefully I've been a good asset to the site in that time.
Another thing is that I'd rather see autoconfirmed people still using AFC rather than creating articles directly—I think it's a lot better to have a draft rejected or a helpful comment left rather than the scary "WE'RE GOING TO DELETE YOUR PAGE" tags. What has been happening a lot more recently is NPP patrollers moving things to draftspace, the editors submitting them to AFC and then... nothing... for months and months... and then a rejection, and the editor is long gone. So in a way, NPP won't work unless AFC works as well. — Bilorv (talk) 16:17, 29 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Bilorv, again, I can't disagree with you. I and one or two others have been working hard these past 12 months or so to dispel the traditional rivalry between NPP and AfC. Their approach to new pages is fundamentally different but the mechanics of the processes are as dissimilar as they are alike - but we do now have them cohabiting on the same feed interface sharing all the filters and ORES. But NPP is basically a binary triage (a concept that people with with front line army experience or MCI aid workers will understand) while AfC is more of a field hospital. It would naturally be ideal if all new pages were to be put through AfC, but that would require thousands of reviewers rather than just 200 or so (of whom like at NPP only a fraction are truly active). Nobody really likes doing either task once they have been at it long enough to be fed up with the arrogance and insults from people who believe 'anyone can edit' gives them a constitutional right to claim a slot in mainspace for just whatever purpose they like. I have no qualms telling such people to bugger off, but I'll bend over backwards to offer some genuine help to those who deserve it.. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 13:11, 31 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]

I can't remember if I ever ran. I've written FAs, GAs, and whatnot. I think I did run and I got a bunch of "doesn't need the tools". It's hard to hear someone's vocal inflection in text, but I swear it was "fuck you!" Peregrine Fisher (talk) 06:14, 2 January 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Yes, you did run; t'was back in 2007. See Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Peregrine Fisher. Nick Moyes (talk) 23:31, 2 January 2020 (UTC)[reply]

@Bri: Wikipedia is still blocked in Turkey. You might want to correct the article. Kaldari (talk) 20:49, 13 January 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Unblocked yesterday, according to The New York TimesBri (talk) 17:52, 16 January 2020 (UTC)[reply]


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