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Interview

The inside scoop on Aoidh's RfA

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By FormalDude

Aoidh's request for adminship (RfA) closed on 10 March, with 228 editors expressing approval, two opposed, and one neutral. We interviewed him about his experience.

1. Did you have any apprehensions about running for adminship beforehand?
I had a lot of apprehension beforehand. I've seen how contentious and stressful some RfAs can go and the negative part of my mind was convincing me that all of my worst fears and every worst case scenario I could dream up would come to pass, so I was very nervous and stressed about the prospect of the RfA prior to it going live.
2. How would you describe your experience being a candidate at RfA?
It went much better than I had anticipated. My experience was relatively a good one, despite the slight controversy thet surrounded the first oppose in the RfA itself that resulted in a block/unblock situation and a couple of AN/I discussions. While there was some contention about parts of the RfA, there was no serious contention about me as a nominee, so I didn't have to experience the really negative aspects of RfA that some nominees unfortunately have to deal with.
3. If you could change anything about the RfA process, what would it be?
There is a general consensus that the RfA process is flawed in one or more ways, and I agree with that. Unfortunately I don't have any answers to those issues because a lot of the issues are how editors interact with the RfA process. The change I would have liked to have seen the most is automatically placing the RfAs on hold after the allotted time has passed, which was just implemented in late 2022. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that change and how relieved I was when it happened automatically. Once it closed I knew that that part was concluded and that I didn't have to keep refreshing the page looking for questions or anything; even though my RfA went well there was still a small level of stress that went away once I saw that automatically close. "It's been 7 days why isn't it closed yet" seems like the last thing a nominee wants to be worrying about.
4. In an answer to a question about an oppose !vote you received, you said "oppose comments turning into these large threads of that nature would make some hesitate to even make an oppose comment". Do you find moving the threads to the talk page ameliorates or worsens this problem?
I think it helps, but I've seen valid concerns about who is doing the moving/closing of those threads. Seeing a large thread on each oppose might put someone off of commenting their own oppose, so even if it's a "out of sight, out of mind" thing I think it might help in that regard, though I recognize that it introduces other concerns in doing so.
5. It is honorable to advocate for the necessity of oppose !votes (calling them "insightful feedback and critiques") after going through an RfA where you faced seemingly ideological opposition. Did you find any insightful feedback or critiques in the opposes to your RfA?
Yes I did. However, since there were only three, and one wasn't about me specifically and one later moved to neutral, there wasn't a lot in that regard. There were however things to take away from them, even if they weren't the intended message, and even if they were just reminders/reaffirmations of things to keep in mind, like the fact that just because you personally have a higher tolerance for uncivil commentary directed at you doesn't mean that should be the baseline expectation for everyone or that concerns about such incivility shouldn't be taken seriously.
6. What degree of freedom is appropriate for oppose !votes? Should oppose !voters be allowed to blanket oppose candidates because they believe the process is broken?
I'm kind of on the fence about this but ultimately don't think they should, and this is reflected at the "Too many admins" section of Wikipedia:Advice for RfA voters#Voting 'Oppose'. I don't know about removing the comments, but they should absolutely be given zero weight because it's an opposition to the concept of the current admin process, not a comment on the RfA nominee themselves. I don't find it to be a particularly compelling oppose rationale in any way.
7. Before running, you were discouraged from responding to !voters individually because candidates who do are routinely opposed for it. An editor temporarily blamed you for not intervening in the block of an oppose !voter and you were able to address it while avoiding directly responding, as someone asked you a question about it. If nobody had asked you, would you have considered responding on your own in some manner?
With the benefit of hindsight I feel like only commenting to respond to questions does a lot towards making the process less stressful based on observations of previous RfAs, but that particular situation certainly made me uncomfortable. I was strongly considering responding in some way the entire time, from the moment it escalated into a block. I'm not sure if it would boiled over into me breaking that self-imposed "rule" of only responding to questions directed at me, but I was weighing it the entire time and was very relieved when it was actually brought up to me as a question.
8. In your RfA, some editors called for the forced erasure of certain oppose !votes. Is it ever appropriate to delete someone's !vote when it is made in good faith?
There might be situations where that might be appropriate, I don't know, but I don't think this RfA was one of them. If it came to a situation where it went to a 'crat chat, I'm sure the rationale would have been given very little to no weight in the determining of consensus, so the only thing it hurts is the percentage and in this case it made it go from 100% support to 99% support, which does not harm the RfA nominee (myself in this case) in the slightest. Sure, you can't go "My RfA was unopposed" but my saying that would just sound like a prideful boast and it's not something that matters. Also, if it had been 100% only because the oppose comment was removed would have been an even more meaningless statistic. I think if we're going to go the route of removing rationales then we as a community need to establish under what circumstances that would be appropriate, and to do so with great care. Ideally this would be something to resolve before an RfA, not in the middle of one after the comment had already been made.
9. One editor asked you about recall and why your opinion on it mattered since it is not a binding process. What would you think of making recall binding?
There have been at least four RfCs on this subject from 2009 to 2019, none of which came to a consensus that it should be binding. This tells me that it's a longstanding question without an easy answer. When I answered Q10 I was being sincere, so for me personally it may as well be binding. As for being binding for admins in general, I don't know. As the RfCs show, it's not a simple question with a simple answer. I'd certainly be open to the idea of it being a binding process, but it's very much the details that matter and would shape how I would view any such proposal.
10. What is your opinion on the RfA philosophy of WP:NOBIGDEAL?
I think giving someone the ability to make the kind of changes that administrators can make is a big deal in that it is a responsibility, one granted because the community trusts the editor. If it is a big deal in any way it's that it is a big deal for that editor; they should take those tools very seriously and strive to validate the trust of the community. That is a big deal. That said, being an administrator is not a big deal in that it doesn't make you a better editor, and shouldn't give your opinion any additional weight when discussing content on article talk pages, for example. It's not a status symbol, it's more like working in IT at an office building. Sure, you may have a special keycard to get into all the doors because you need to access all the equipment and you're trusted to use it responsibly, but that doesn't make you a better employee than someone who only has a keycard that lets them into the front door. It's not a big deal, it's just something you're entrusted with.
11. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone considering running for adminship?
I don't think I can stick to just one, so like Galadriel, I will give three. (1) Look through previous RfAs, both successful, unsuccessful, and especially ones that are contentious. Look at the questions being asked of the nominees, and look at reasons editors opposed the nominees. This will give you an idea of what to expect and what editors often look for, but also be prepared for something to happen that you don't anticipate. (2) If you're being nominated by someone, ask them questions and listen to their feedback. Even if you think you're already an expert at Wikipedia, keep an open mind and be prepared to learn, even during the RfA itself there are teaching moments. (3) It's so tempting to just stay at your computer and hit refresh every few minutes for seven days. Don't. Take care of your physical and mental health during this time as it's very important. Go for walks, stretch, see friends, don't give into the temptation to become a recluse for seven days.

See also

Category:Wikipedia RfA debriefings

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