Administrators on your wiki

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Crystal wordprocessing.png This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.
Abstract: きみのところの管理者さん‐「よい管理者」を増やすための仮定的予備考察:


My random thought[edit]


Disclaimer: it is an randomly running thought of the author as an individual participant to Wikimedia projects, not an official report from a certain project, nor its author represents any project of Wikimedia Project. It is written to consider the issues around sysopship sincerely, not to accuse certain individuals or projects. It is totally her own thought. --Aphaia | WQ2翻訳中 | talk 23:48, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)


Japanese Wikipedia is on growth. It has over 16,000 registered users , 200 new articles per day, soon it will reach 100,000 articles. Currently there are 30 admins (and a candidate on voting now). Many people agree on that Japanese Wikipedia needs more good admins, even those who wouldn't like to request for adminship. But there are always few candidates and to urge them, we need many 'please consider our current situation' and such a wording.

Even a sysop once requested others to request for sysopship on our Village Pump. But his words didn't change the situation. I would like to change this situation. That's the reason I express my thought on adminship in general, classify their different types, and show my thought what kind of admins are expected by a certain community, at least in my view and ask you to share your thought and experiences for the purpose we have more numbers of good sysops on wikis. It will be helpful for other communities which have similar problem of shortage of sysops potentially.

A hypothesis of various admin types[edit]

ウィキメディアプロジェクトでは伝統的な管理者像として「門番」(janitor)があるが、これに対比されるものとして「権威者」(person in authority)をたてることができる。これとは別にわれわれはもう一対の管理者像を仮定することが出来よう。これらについては後で詳しく述べることにする。

Generally we understand administrators on Wikimedia project is a sort of janitor; they have admin privileges and are allowed to use those ability but the differences are only techinical and it doesn't mean therefore they have a both privilege and honored status in their community. They are trusted people, sometimes (and hopefully often) respected but because of their personality and devotion to the project they engage, not because of their offices.

But recently a friend of mine suggesteed "sysops are not so often accused severly, at least they (or we, because he has sysopship on several projects) have authority." What kind of authority? That is my question. Because of their personal charisma or legitimacy they hold their privilege under the trust of their own community? If so, it is fine. But if those authority comes from the office itself (if it is appropriate for me to call sysopship an office), it would mean sysopship has its own dignity and honor in fact as some people imagine of believe in, and it would be far from the janitor model that I mentioned on the above.

First I indicate two types of pair for sysop models: I. persons in authority vs. janitors, and II. servants vs. explorer.

Set 1. Authority or janitors[edit]


As far as I know, no community of Wikimedia project states officially they have the "persons in authority" model for their sysop image, but the janitor model, that is, a sysop is not different from other users without their sysopship and serves the community to deal with vandals, trolls, copyvio and other nuisance with their privilege. But some people are stick to the former model. On the community, now I imagine Japanese Wikipedia issues, there are some people who think sysops are not merely janitors but somehow authoritative, and expect sysops to deal with issues that we don't need sysopship to resolve it ("I want an admin to suggest an approopriate goal toward our dispute", "As User :XX, who is an sysop, said so..." and so on). Unless there are authoritative sysops, it is their illusion or misunderstanding. So how can we resolve such misunderstanding? It would be our first challenge.

Set 2. Servants or explorers[edit]


There are another kind of model for sysop image: I call them the "servant" model and "explorer" model (I prefer here to use the word explorer to leader). It belong originally to my frined who was mentioned on the above.

The servant type sysops are expected to verbally serve the community as if they were a servant who are allowed only under the permission in advance of their master. They are expected to act totally within the clear consensus of community, it means if there are no clear written policy, they isn't allowed to do so. And if they break the exisiting rules or just make a failure, they are accused. It is a bit emphasized, but a possible model, I believe. At least some of Japanese Wikipedians seem to think such sysops are acceptable one. If a sysop have a different interpretation of rules they have, so she or he is innappropriate to keep their privilege. On the other hand the explorer sysops are of course expected to respect the rules, not their written expression, but their idea and context. If something is not forbidden to them clearly, it means they can do. Such sysops are expected to be bold and make a creative attempt. Perhaps sometimes their attempts failed or give no fruits, but it is not accused unless they are based on bad faith or heavily misinterpretation of the rules and policies. They are cheerful and love to do something new and challenging.

I think the latter type is a major type of Wikimedia project sysops, but don't think all of sysops belong to this type. Some sysops on Japanese Wikipedia avoid every vote, because he is afraid he wouldn't be able to be neutral if he votes once. I don't accuse him here, I know he is a trusted user. I only think he could be a good example of 'servant model' sysop: he is worried the community won't support his action with sysop privilege, and doubt his neutrality, if he reveals his own position. An explorer-sysop wouldn't like to be quiet on the same occasion, I suppose.

Combinations of those four archetypes[edit]


The first pair I propose is 'persons in authority' / 'janitor' and the second pair of 'servant' / 'explorer', so there are four sets logically. Perhaps a janitor-servent one and a persons in authority-explorer one can easily imagine. So I leave them here for the readers' understanding. Or we can call authority-explorer 'a sort of leader'. If they respect the rules and policy and are nice, I think there are no problem for them. And in my observation the janitor-explorer type sysops are the majority on our project. They know to listen to the others but as individuals they are good challangers and make many new proposals and attempts to improve their community. But on discussion they don't behave an authority or someone with powers and others on the community think so.

Well then, what kind of folks are 'persons in authority' and 'servent' type sysops? Is it an impossible set? I don't think so because in my opinion some Japanese Wikipedians seem to hold this type as their sysop image, and some Japanese Wikipedia admin hold this image as what they are expected to be so. According to their concept, a sysop should follow and obey every policy and rule, and not add something new without argument in advance, and at the same time, should deal with troubles as authorities. It is similar an army under civilian control or a police under a constitutional government. That is, because they have power and authority, they should be kept within the sight of community and therefore shouldn't bring anything new. This model has its virtue. He is respected and his words are easily followed on the community. But I suspect we can call it trust. Our frined, Joi introduced a thesis to me, it was written by a Japanese psychologist, and described that Japanese don't trust others, but require them to assurance, for trust is meaningful if something is not already known or assuerd. The psychologist stated based on his research in Japan and U.S.A. and I think this assumption can be applied to Japanese Wikipedia community too. The requirement to be a servant and not to be an explorer is similar to require assurance, without trust and allowance to free action.

Authoritative servants?[edit]


So back to the words of my friend. I admit on Japanese Wikipedia sysops are respected in general (and in addtion, I am not a sysop there, but on Wikiquote - a tiny border of our gigantic Project: and I think it is meaningful and interesting), and I assure most of them are worthy to be trusted and hence respected. But it is a bit different from that they have authority and they are expected to be have as such. And as authority they are accused when they expressed their bad emotion, like anger to a sort of vandalism, because it is innapropriate to their status. And more worse, many people expect sysops to deal with vandals and disputes by them alone, because they should be for this purpose: so here sysops are authoritive because of their power, but servants who deal with nasty things good people never touch.

I think this model is somehow depressive, and doubt if it is most common shared image for sysops. Specially among registered users without sysopship, and suspect if it is the major reason we have relatively less administrators and also candidates on Japanese Wikipedia. Japanese Wikipedia has 30 sysops and over 16,000 registered users as for January 27, 2005. Over 500 users are registrated per a sysop and it is a second highest average among the entire Wikimedia project. I would have liked to recommend good and trusted users to sysop candidates, but much of them rejected my offer. Some of them had so private issues that they coudln't engage much more to the project. I think it is a reasonable rejection and they were one third who I proposed their request for adminship. Some of them rejected because they wanted not to be disturbed, not to be gossiped, in particular on a certain Japanese bulletin board like slashdot. There are many people who gossip Japanese Project issue. Even some people claim it is helpful to stay as unregistered user to avoid such gossiping. And other people indicated they weren't so respectable to request sysopship. Or to have authority. "I am not a sort of such authoritative", wrote a certain user.

I pointed out such tendency isn't not only the phenomenon within Japanese projects. I heard similar rejections on other some wikis. I think such way of thinking would reflect the cultural tendency of community which would be a part of a bigger community which is characterized with their vernacularity or linguistical features; another friend of mine one praised me that I talked very politely, but perhaps it is mainly reflect my wording of Japaenese, it is not so polite beyond average, though it is not so rough heavily. On Japanese Wikipedia we talk with desu/masu, corresponding to French vovoier or German siezend. It is a slight difference but make some effect to each community; Japanese Wikipedian tend to not to think other Wikipedians as their friend, but only those who join the same project and not to want to make their tie stronger. For your information, Japanese Wikipedia has no facebook, no birthday list, no local Wikipedians' list, seldom Wiki meet-ups. There were several known Wiki meet-ups but only two of them were announced in advance on Wikipedia itself. Other were merely announced in other places. So perhaps you are not surprised many people believe or suspect the Cabal existance, but there is another topic, so I leave it now.



Lastly I put my questions here. What is necessary for us to change our current situation, if it goes not well? What should be an sysop and sysopship? How do you think and what is the concensus around sysopship on your community? What you and your community expect to your admins? How could you recruit new sysops on your community? Please come and put your feedback and advice. It will help not only Japanese Wikipedia, I expect, but other Wikimedia project where people share a similar problem and where user population is on growth rapidly. And I appliciate you heartly to follow my argument throughly.

--Aphaia | WQ2翻訳中 | talk 22:28, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)


Thank you for your feedback! / Merci pour ton comment / Vielen Dank fuer deine Komemntar im Voraus / Grazie per la tua impressione e informatione / コメントをありがとうございます / ......

I agree with you and think it is helpful for many if there are some clear words about what a sysop is. I don't know how it's currently described on the Japanese Wikipedia, but here are some random thoughts on this from me:
Of all these models, janitor, trusted person, someone with authority, servant and explorer, the trusted person is what the status of a sysop is originally meant to be. Now it happens, that people with a special status, or a small group of people within a larger are often treated with some respect. And who is getting more respect than others is likely someone with some special authority. This conclusion appears to happen in the heads of many people, because this is how it works in other places, but it is not all compatible with Wiki-structures.
Now a sysop has usually more Wiki-experience than someone who is new. Sysops can help others, answer questions and can sometimes mediate if there's a dispute. But they can do this because they are more experienced, and not because they are sysops. For someone who does not consider this experience, it might be that an election can be mistaken as a special burden that they don't want to carry.
Some might look forward to become sysop because they consider it a special honor, or might see sysopship as a special award.
The most original definition of sysops would be that they have earned trust not to abuse their little special power, and that it should not be a big deal considering if they write nice articles, can give good help, are frequently online and all, because that's something that everyone can (or not) without being a sysop. To explain sysopship with th trust would be a concept that's easy to explain and to understand. And who has earned trust will also be a good example for others in any important manner.
-- Schnargel 03:45, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Vielen Dank fuer deine nette und ernste Kommentar, Schnargel, yes , I agree on that the trusted persons should be our first definition for adminstrators on our projects. It has two meanings, 1. they should be trusted by their community to be granted their previledges and 2. they should remain to be trusted persons. On meta's Administrators expresses the second aspect briefly: Lose it(=adminship) if people feel they cannot trust you. . And I appriciate you for your pointing to their experience. Their experience and behave have us trust them and agree on their request for adminship as a result, but not contrary. As you pointed out, if one lose this point, sysopship might be a heavy burden.
And thank you for your qualifications for a good sysop or what make us trust them; their good contributions, their good manner as Wikipedians and after all their engagement. It is further related to another topic what kind of sysops should be desysops. Today we discuss anywhere how we should treat inactive or passive sysops - some communities (on meta or ja.wikipedia, for example) desysop inactive sysops, others (on it.wikipedia) began to discuss if they should do, but some people think if inactive sysops were trusted during their activities, it is not bad to keep them hold sysopship. We need to argue this point further.
Sansculotte gave me his feedbacks and showed me two additional models of sysops: Textgartener and Kindergaertner. I think they are subsets of or similar to janitor and authorities. But here we can find another element; their attitude to issues and the community. A janitor is more functional than gartener who have a love for his work. Kindergaertner (or nurse in English) should have authority to deal with nasty kids (that is, trolls and vandals at ours) but they are rolemodels (Vorbild) for their children.
Schnagel you refer to this element too, a sysop as a rolemodel. It is ideal sysops are a rolemodel of their community, agreed. And I think some community share this idea. But I would like to point out that it is not a duty for a sysop to be an ideal Wikipedian: if he act always or almost everytime on a good faith , I feel it is enough for us. Acting on a good faith is worthy to be an ethical rolemodel in general. I heard some Wikipedians, whom I trust, said "I am not worthwhile for having sysopship ; I can't be so respectful. It is hard for me to be a rolemodel of our community". So we should be careful to make those two distinct: it is an ideal but not a duty. If someone attempt to be so, it is okay, unless he is far away from his ideal.
I think it is a modal of modesty but also a lack of self-esteem and it is our challenge how we can encourage those people to convince they are involved into the community and engage the community very well enough be trusted. I know a Wikipedian who couldn't believe that the community would admitted him as a good candidate, but now he is one of most active sysops on a community.
Comments will be always appliciated. --Aphaia | WQ2翻訳中 | talk 16:58, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

See also[edit]