Talk:Wikimedia power structure

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While Jimbo remains skeptical of voting, he has suggested that he is more willing to accept votes on the non-English Wikipedias, where he is less able to oversee the decision making process.

I had no memory of Jimbo saying this. That make sense though.

While sysops are not technically elected, they are representatives of the larger group of Wikipedia users. Their power is strictly limited, and abuse is punished with its removal.

I do believe this is not properly expressed. Is there any case where this happened ? Is there a place this was ever discussed ? Perhaps a conditional form would be more appropriate ?

This really should be on meta, not Wikipedia. --The Cunctator

Moved this from the page, as it's a somewhat strange speculation. There's any number of speculations one could make about possible ways Wikipedia could change. Why pick this one?

Wikipedia is not meritocracy[edit]

Pacerier (talk) 07:07, 27 February 2016 (UTC): ❝Reply[reply]

This section should be rewritten:

Wikimedia is very much a meritocracy. Quality is the abiding goal of Wikimedia, and so those contributors who provide the best quality work are most likely to see their contributions come to influence specific articles. They are less likely to be edited and corrected by other users as they gather respect and influence within the community or sub-community of topic area. Wikipedia articles are explicitly stated to have no author, but users only have to check page history to see who has provided the most positive influence in the development of an article. The needs of personal ego can thus be subtly met.

If each edit (message) is weighed on the basis of the edit itself, then "meritocracy" is the wrong term.
In a meritocracy system, it's the messenger (and his past achievements) that matters, not the message itself.
A more accurate term would be "messageocracy".

Mob Rule[edit]

Why isn't this important analysis of WikiPedia's actual operating principle mentioned? At least defend yourselves against the charges.


"Those who pay the bills make the rules" is a common adage. It is hardly true on Wikipedia, but someone with enough financial resources could certainly fund development in a specific area or work on a specific range of topics. This work could then be used in discussions as leverage to implement certain policies -- generally, people who contribute a lot are less questioned because they enjoy the respect of the community. Certainly this is the weakest element in the Wikipedia power structure, but it may grow in importance when the Nupedia Foundation begins to take donations -- when money is involved, the influence of those who have it tends to increase.

1) You destroyed my beautiful government-headlines that were directly linked to the introductory text and replaced them with platitudes. Of course, I have immediately restored the original headlines. :-)

2) This should not be a Meta, because Meta is for project-wide documents. This one, as the introduction notes, is specific to the English Wikipedia. Some of the non-English Wikipedias are complete anarchies (still on UseMod, no sysops), others have very limited enforcement or even a policy against bans etc. -- they should write up their own documents.

3) Re: Plutocracy, I do not believe this is an unrealistic speculation. Unlike a classical newspaper or encyclopedia, Wikipedia allows anyone with enough resources to contribute extensively to the project and thereby completely dominate certain subject areas. Some food industry PR organization could easily hire a few experts to dominate the food section and push out skeptical views or at the very least move them away -- all completely undetected. This is not a remote possibility, it is intrinsic to a completely open system that has no identity checks whatsoever in place. I have tried to clarify this section somewhat, but would like it to remain in place.

4) I have clarified the removal of sysop status point. --Eloquence 20:16 23 May 2003 (UTC)

While sysops are not technically elected, they are representatives of the larger group of Wikipedia users. Their power is strictly limited, and abuse is (theoretically) punished with its removal. In practice, some users have given up their sysop privileges, but in none cases did they have to be revoked.

Sorry, I do not think this a good clarification. Reading it, I have the weird feeling of a hint implying no sysop had been revoked, but they have given it away under some asking or light pressure. It probably is the "did they have to", which seems to imply a sort of personal decision made under peer pressure. The only "give up" I am aware of, being listed in the admin list is KQ. I don't think he has given up sysophood because of given hints he might do so. The comment is misleading.

I gave it up because I was sick of spending so much time policing copyright violations, vandalism etc. Also I was sick of spending so much time at wikipedia in general, and thought that I should spend more time here if I were a sysop, so I decided not to be a sysop. No one asked me about it one way or the other. I sent Ed Poor an email about it and Ed made the change. Koyaanis Qatsi P.S. there was a bit more to it than that, which I won't go over here for fear of reviving the discussion. In any case, it was voluntary.
The sysop-mop and the sysop-cop ? I like being a sysop-mop, I will never be a sysop-cop. What is sad is there are no difference in technical power :-)
Do you remember the Isis case? --Eloquence 09:53 24 May 2003 (UTC)
Not clearly. Mostly remember the tmc name issue. But, I trust you know better then.

I agree with the Cunctator that much of this should be moved to meta as "philosophical discussions" (quoting from the meta home page). I'm happy with some of it remaining here as documentation of the current state of play, but I think that speculation about how things may change in the future should be on meta. Martin

I have already explained why this should not be on Meta. --Eloquence 12:05 24 May 2003 (UTC)

Because "Meta is for project-wide documents"?

  • How is the section on "Plutocracy", specific to the It's something that's not true on, and it's equally not true on any of the other wikipedias. It's something that might become true on, and it's equally something that might become true on any of the other wikipedias.
  • Similarly, the section on "Meritocracy" is a project-wide comment: the wikipedia software isn't language specific, as far as I'm aware.
  • The mention in "Democracy" of the "first official project-wide vote" is a project-wide comment.
  • Jimbo's comment that "he is more willing to accept votes on the non-English Wikipedias" is not project-specific.

The rest of the stuff can stay, for now. Martin

Jimbo's comment is only Jimbo's comment (which I still don't remember ever reading :-)) and may not be representative of current power structure.
Would not be it strange that an article on power structure on wikipedia would describe half of the structure here, and half of it there ? This would have little sense imho. It would be interesting that each wikipedia has its own power structure (just as its own Wikipedia:Self-references (since this is a system description and each wikipedia has differences in what defines its structure).
imho, each power structure (and each self-references) should be on the proper wikipedia, and a synthesis showing the similarities and differences of all wikipedia be on meta.
I agree that we should have a general article on meta, and seperate articles on,, etc. I think we do slightly differ in what should be at each place - my preference would be that the article has more of a documentation style, written from the perspective of - simple, short, and focused. MyRedDice 14:50 24 May 2003 (UTC)

You're still wrong, Martin, and I think the fact that we now have to link specifically to en: many times makes this quite obvious. But trying to stop you from "fixing" things is quite obviously futile .. --Eloquence 13:30 24 May 2003 (UTC)

*raised eyebrows* I don't seem to recall saying that it should all be moved to meta. I guess I'll fix things then. MyRedDice 13:34 24 May 2003 (UTC)
Splitting it up is even worse, removing the coherence from the whole essay. --Eloquence 13:37 24 May 2003 (UTC)
I think it adds focus to the en:wiki version, though I agree that short term, the meta: version becomes temporarilly worse. Still, beauty and beholders... MyRedDice

This should be a single article. It is supposed to give the reader an overview of the power structure for the project -- in the old version just for the English version, now that it's on Meta it should cover all wikis in a single document. Since you are the one who broke up the article, you should rewrite the passages that are applicable to en: only -- not by removing them, but by stating so.--Eloquence 13:44 24 May 2003 (UTC)

It's not clear to me how you can assign me the task of rewriting these passages when:
  • You moved them here, not me.
  • I oppose moving them here.
  • (afterthought) I tried to move them back...
Still, there you are. MyRedDice
You are the one who initiated the move. I merely cleaned up after you. --Eloquence 14:11 24 May 2003 (UTC)
Thank you, Martin. Looking better now. --Eloquence 14:25 24 May 2003 (UTC)
Pleasure. I guess we shall have to agree to disagree on the sequence of events that resulted in this article being here and in this form, but I like what's at m:power structure, and it sounds like you're willing to tolerate it, at least.
I still believe that en:wikipedia:power structure would be more useful as the contents of en:user:MyRedDice/power structure than as the current inter-wiki redirect. In light of the current state of m:power structure, perhaps you could reconsider the situation of that page? MyRedDice
I don't see the point of having partially identical text in two places, but if this one gets too long we can create a summary for en:. --Eloquence 15:07 24 May 2003 (UTC)

Why rv ???

You seem to be having problems with accents and such: see [1]
Of course. Meta is in unicode !

--- Removed text:

Wales, as the owner of the Wikipedia servers, is responsible for the legal standing of Wikipedia, and is also Wikipedia's designated agent under the en:DMCA. This makes him liable for copyvios, libel and other publications of illegal material on them.

This author is being highly irresponsible and very lazy with fact checking here. The servers are owned by the Wikimedia Foundation and the only legal relationship Wales has to the foundation is the fact that he is its president. He is no more liable for any copyvios or libel than any other corporate officer is. Sure if he is notified of such a violation and doesn't act in the appropriate amount of time, then he might be considered liable for noncompliance (but that is highly mitigated by the fact that the injured party can remove the illegal text themselves!). But the primary party who is liable for copyvios and libel is the person who submits that text to the Wikimedia server, not Jimbo. --Maveric149 19:04, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Proposed change[edit]

While sysops are not technically elected, they are representatives of the larger group of Wikipedia users. Their power is strictly limited...

Are sysops "sort of elected but not technically", or are they just plain appointed by bureaucrats, that is, unelected? If so, fine, but let's be honest and say "unelected". Zach 15:10, 8 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Communism, socialism[edit]

Does Wikimedia contain elements of socialism or communism? --Eleassar777 11:53, 14 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Wikipedia sometimes seems to be a w:bureaucracy, with its politics (policies?),interpretation of policies was controlled by a few users. votes, etc... There should be a more functional system....--Gabriel Francisco 15:08, 10 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

question/small change[edit]

"Wikipedia pages can be edited collaboratively by anyone, including anonymous users. Rarely, they can be lost over time (see below) but if our policies (e.g. policies of the English wiki) are followed, it is possible for anyone to become a respected editor." To what does the "they" in "rarely, they can be lost over time" refer? .. and isn't it spelled "bureaucracy"?

"policies of the English wiki"? The Wikipedia is not the only wiki. This page should reflect that. --Yair rand 06:02, 3 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Rename to "WIkimedia"[edit]

[2] is quite misleading, because parts of the essay still talk about Wikipedia only. Besides, someone will read the title as "Wikimedia [Foundation] power structure" and the WMF is definitely not anarchic. Nemo 22:18, 3 September 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Fun. :) --Nemo 12:27, 6 September 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]