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Stewards are not allowed to make decisions, such as 'this user should (or should not) be promoted'. Their task is to implement valid community decisions; in this way, they are simply instruments in carrying out community consensus. If there are any doubts on the election, the steward will not act or make decisions before the uncertainty is eliminated. The only exceptions are in emergency cases where no local user with that right is available, or for projects that demonstrably have no community.
Don't promote users on projects with existing bureaucrats
Bureaucrats are responsible for promoting users to admins, bots and bureaucrats. Stewards will not promote users to these levels on a wiki unless there is no active bureaucrat available on that wiki, or there is an emergency need to do so. If a steward has both bureaucrat and steward access, they should promote using their bureaucrat access on that wiki (this increases transparency since the action will be logged on the local wiki, and reduces confusion of roles).
Stewards should always be neutral. They can vote in elections, but must not contradict the consensus when implementing it even if they disagree.
Stewards should generally not act as a steward on their home project. It is better to leave such cases to neutral stewards. This also applies to members of local arbitration committees. However, they can do so for unambiguous situations like cross-wiki user checking or demoting a user at the user's request.
Requests should usually be made on the relevant page (such as requests for permissions). When a user makes a request, they should usually provide a link to the discussion or policy where the decision was made by the community. When a request is fulfilled, stewards should note what they did on the Meta request page, and optionally (if applicable) at the local discussion page.
Steward discussions should generally occur or be summarized on Meta so people can understand the stewards' decisions and ways of working (unless privacy reasons prevent this). If a steward decides to wait before granting a request, they should let the other stewards know so the request will not be granted by another steward.
Discussions or requests pertaining to non-public data (such as oversight or discussing checkuser results) may be non-public, although stewards will typically require that other requests be made publicly. In such cases, control of the actions is done by other stewards, or other persons with access to the restricted information.
Promotion on wikis with little or no community
If a wiki has little or no community (defined as a group of people who edit regularly), they cannot fairly elect permanent administrators or other positions of responsibility. Instead, the steward will give temporary access to a user, with extensions possible at the end of that time. When a larger community is available, they can make this access permanent through election. This ensures that a sufficient community is available as control, and a user cannot take over a wiki simply by joining it early.
Similarly, a small community generally doesn't need a bureaucrat, because stewards can easily handle the low traffic of requests from that wiki with little delay. Generally a community does not need a bureaucrat until they have a few permanent administrators. Other positions may be subject to global policies like the Checkuser policy and the Oversight policy, which define minimum community requirements.
New users should generally not be given rights until they have spent more time editing projects. However, stewards might grant new users relatively short temporary rights until a community has time to build up, at which point it can hold a vote to confirm the user's status.
Stewards are users trusted with additional technical access. They are not super-administrators, and will not overrule local consensus or procedures. Normally, a steward will only intervene in cases of clear abuse of restricted tools of any kind. Differences of opinion are not sufficient reason for a steward to intervene with the local administrator community, and such is widely regarded as abuse of the access. Such disagreements must be handled by the local community by means of consensus-building discussions. If the steward decides to join the discussions, they do so as a regular user, and ordinarily will refrain from acting in their steward capacity regarding the specific situation. Another neutral steward will instead be asked if any steward action becomes necessary.
Check local policies
Some projects have local policies for certain rights, such as en-Wikipedia's bot policy or en-Wikisource's administrator policy. These policies are normally linked to from the local request page; please make sure the request conforms to the policy before granting. If the project is in a language you don't understand, a consensus in favour of giving the right can be assumed to show that they conform to the community's requirements.
Stewards should check the details of a request before granting it. For example, you can verify if a user has a certain right by checking Special:Listusers on the local project. If the steward has any doubts about the request, they should discuss with editors of the local project or other stewards.
Minimum community requirements
While there may be some special case scenarios for private projects such as arbitration committee wikis and Foundation projects, publicly editable projects have to have a regularly editing community in order to grant permanent rights. Generally, projects will not be given permanent administrators with less than ten supporting votes from active contributors, nor will local bureaucrats be granted with less than twenty supporting votes from active contributors. Projects lacking a sufficiently large community may be given temporary administrators upon request, but these terms should be no longer than six months and reviewed before renewal.
Other policies already exist governing oversight and checkuser requests.
Stewards elections are held at the discretion of the Board of Trustees, which also must approve the rules before the election. They typically take place when new stewards are needed (sometimes annually). Elections are typically announced in many places like Meta, many local projects, and mailing lists.
Because stewardship involves access to information or tools that may be legally sensitive, you must be of the age of majority in your country (at least 18 years old) to be eligible. You must identify yourself to the Wikimedia Foundation office and provide proof of your age and real-life identity. The grant of administrative access through stewardship is not to be taken lightly. These requirements are the same as those required of persons running for the Board of Trustees.
Candidates are required to meet the following criteria before being considered by the Board of Trustees, which appoints stewards at its discretion:
- at least 30 votes in favor;
- at least 80% overall votes in favor, with neutral votes not counting toward the overall total;
- have an account on Meta with a link to an account on another project;
- be active for at least 3 months on that project;
- preferably be active on Meta as well.
The requirements will be reiterated on the election page.
Only eligible voters may vote. Eligibility will be the same as whatever eligibility requirements were in effect for the most recent Wikimedia Foundation board election, but with eligibility dates adjusted to match the start of the steward election. For reference the 2007 board election eligibility requirements are here. Briefly, they required at least 400 contributions to at least one wiki commencing at least 3 months prior to the election. The requirements will be reiterated on the election page.
Loss of steward access
Stewardship is not a lifetime status; users lose it if they no longer use it or are no longer trusted.
Any steward may lose their steward access if they are judged to be inactive. This typically means having made no steward action in the past 6 months and less than 10 stewards actions in the last year, but the final decision to remove a steward's access is subject to the evaluation and discretion of the steward community as a whole and the Board of Trustees. Stewards who have lost their status due to inactivity may re-apply through the regular process.
Steward access is granted until the next confirmations, when users will be invited to comment or ask for removal of their access. Confirmations will generally be held during steward elections and/or roughly annually.
However, since stewards are typically in a position to become unpopular, and since the steward community is diverse and can fairly control itself, the confirmation itself will be done by other stewards. If the majority of other participating stewards request removal of steward access, the steward will lose their access. Stewards will be specifically careful to review situations when opposition from the community is registered.