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In order to keep the wiki running efficiently, some users have additional abilities (permissions) beyond those of basic users. These abilities are used for the maintenance of the site, but because of the potentially dangerous nature of these abilities, they are only given to trusted users.
The page here shows a table listing the rights of all types of users. I'll briefly cover the abilities of each type here, as well as how people get these abilities.
- Unregistered / New Accounts
Unregistered users have the lowest access levels. Because this is a wiki, they can still edit the site, but they are only able to edit pages which have not been protected or semi-protected. They cannot move pages (rename them) and they cannot create new pages that are not in their own userspace or in the Talk: namespace. These same restricted permissions apply to new accounts, those that have not been "autoconfirmed". For security reasons, an account must be at least four days old to make use of the privileges granted to registered users.
- Registered accounts
Registered users have normal access levels to the site. They can edit any page that is not fully protected, they can move and create pages, and upload files. Again, users must hold an account for four days in order to use these features.
Admins and other users who have been granted the "rollbacker" permission are given the ability to revert multiple edits by a single editor at once. This tool is accessible within a user's contributions, page histories, and diff screens, and adds an extra [rollback] link to the page. When this link is clicked, the page will be reverted back to the last revision made by a user other than the one being rolled back. Since January 9, 2008, this tool can be granted by administrators to non-administrators. Use of this tool is, as with other permissions, "no big deal," as this permission can be duplicated with tools such as WP:TW which can be freely used. Despite this, the tool should only be used against vandalism, as specified in the rollback policy. This tool can be granted by administrators to non-administrators at WP:PERM/R.
- Account Creators
Those who actively volunteer at Wikipedia account creation have their accounts "flagged" with the account creator permission. This enables them to create more than 6 accounts every 24 hour period which is currently restricted for those who don't possess the sysop (see below) or account creator privileges. This 6 account a day quota was implemented to prevent the problematic use of multiple account creations. Additionally, account creators can override the anti-spoof check enabling them to create accounts that are similar to existing usernames another task that the average user is unable to perform. This tool can be granted by administrators to non-administrators at WP:PERM/ACC.
Admins and users who have the "autopatrolled" permission (also known as autopatroller and formerly autoreviewer) are given to ability to have their page creations automatically marked as patrolled. The right is intended to decrease the workload of new page patrollers. This right is only granted if a user can show that they are familiar with the vital policies regarding article creation, including the biographies on living persons policy, verifiabilty, copyright and notability. A suggested standard is the prior creation of 50 articles, not including redirects. The permission can be requested at WP:PERM/A.
- Edit Filter Managers
Users who have the "edit filter manager" permission can modify edit filters. This permission is not part of the admin tools package, and so admins do not have it by default. The assignment of the edit filter manager user right to non-admins is highly restricted. It should only be requested by and given to highly trusted users, and only when there is a clear, demonstrated need for it. Requests for assignment of the group to non-admins can be made at Wikipedia talk:Edit filter, where a discussion will be held for up to a week prior to a decision being made.
- File movers
Admins and users who have the "file mover" permission can move files, subject to Wikipedia policy. Any administrator can grant this right at their discretion to trusted users who regularly work with media files and have demonstrated familiarity with Wikipedia's policies and guidelines surrounding renaming this type of media. There is no set requirement but users should be well-versed in Wikipedia's image and media policies (specifically the renaming guidelines given in this document), have experience with images, and how the rename process works. Experience with the equivalent tool at Commons and other relevant experience with media files may be taken into account. The permission can be requested at WP:PERM/F.
- IP Block Exempt
Occasionally users who are in good standing will be affected by a block that was applied to another user. This is called an autoblock, and is automatically placed by the software to the IP address a blocked user last edited from, and any additional IP addresses they use while blocked. These are intended to prevent the blocked user from evading their blocks, but can affect others on a shared IP. If this happens to a user on a regular basis, or they are caught in a hard rangeblock, or for some exceptional reason need to edit from a blocked proxy, they can be granted the IP Block Exempt right if they meet certain conditions outlined at WP:IPBE. This permission is usually requested through an unblock request, and is removed as soon as it no longer becomes necessary. Users with the right may be "checkusered" (see below) occasionally to ensure it is not being abused.
- Administrators / Sysops
Administrators have much greater access compared to the average user. When approved to use the sysop tools, they have the ability to delete and restore (undelete) pages. In order to combat vandalism, they have access to a wider range of access tools - Automatic access to the rollbacker, account creator, and IP Block Exempt permissions described above; The ability to grant those permissions to other users; A special page called "unwatchedpages", which shows a list of pages not on anyone's watchlist; the ability to protect and unprotect pages, locking a certain revision in place until someone with the authority to do so edits it (sysops can edit any protected page); the ability to view deleted contributions; and the ability to block a user for a defined or indefinite amount of time. They are also able to make changes to the MediaWiki interface, changing what users see when they edit a page or view special pages. Users obtain a sysop flag by entering and passing the Requests for Adminship process, where registered users decide by consensus if a user can be trusted with the tools. Generally, a minimum of 70% support is required to pass, however the exact amount varies for each request.
Alternate names for administrators: sysops (system operator), mop wielders, glorified janitors
Bureaucrats have control over the "nuts and bolts" of permissions, hence the crossed wrenches in their logo. They retain the ability to alter a user's permissions, but only when promoting users to admin or bureaucrat status. They are not able to demote users or grant further access levels. They can also alter a bot's access levels and rename accounts. Bureaucrats are selected through a process similar to that of admins, Requests for bureaucratship, although the process is much more rare and requires a significantly higher consensus.
Stewards have full access to a user's permissions. They have the ability to grant and revoke any higher access level, including sysop, bureaucrat, checkuser, oversight, steward, and bot access, on any project in any language. Stewards are elected by the Wikimedia Board of Trustees (with one exception, Chair Emeritus and Steward Jimbo Wales, who was simply appointed) annually or as needed. Stewards will generally carry further access levels on their main project, but the access level of "steward" only grants them the ability to mess around with permissions.
The checkuser tool allows a user to check if an account is a sockpuppet of another, by being able to access which IP address an account has accessed the project from and when. The tool is only to be used when there is a specific need for it - a controversial and disruptive case of sockpuppet abuse. Requests for checkuser is where people may request use of the tool, however the ability to use it is generally granted by invitation only, or in rare cases by the Arbitration Committee. This is a special permission only granted to specific users and is not included with other access levels.
The oversight tool allows a user to hide a certain revision from public view - essentially deleting that one specific revision from the page history. This is done for very rare cases, generally pertaining to legal reasons such as private personal information, libelous content, or copyrighted information. This tool is only granted to users with a particular need for the tool, generally current or former members of the Arbitration Committee, as use of the tool requires a very good legal reasoning, as it is essentially an "oversight" of the requirements of the GFDL. This is a special permission only granted to specific users and is not included with other access levels.
These permissions are all critical to the operation of the Wiki, however it should be kept in mind that not having (or having) one of these access levels really is no big deal. The important thing about a wiki is that you are able to edit it as needed, not that you can limit the ability of others to do so. If a higher access level is granted to you, however, you should always remember that it was granted in the spirit of trust, and that you are expected to use the tools only as needed and always fairly.
Well, that's that. Do you have any questions on consensus or policy, or would you like to take the test?