Forum:Redefining adminship for 2020

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This thread was archived on 13 April 2020 by IsobelJ.

Pages related to administrators have recently come under fire for not really reflecting what editors expect from admins in current times, particularly in relation to expectations of candidates going through an RfA. I would like to update the offending pages (rsw:RuneScape:Administrators/rsw:RuneScape:Requests for adminship/rsw:RuneScape:Requests for adminship/Guide) to better reflect what editors expect from admins these days, but it’s become clear through informal discussions that people have differing opinions about what these expectations are.

For reference for RfAs the current RfA page suggests:

There are no explicit requirements for nomination, but a few guidelines that may improve the chances of a successful request are as follows:

  • Candidates should be well-known, trusted, and helpful contributors to the wiki.
  • Candidates should have been an active contributor to the wiki for a significant amount of time.
  • Candidates should have a high number of quality contributions.
  • Candidates should present a clear "need" or use for the tools (e.g. significant amounts of counter-vandalism contributions, etc.).

And the “guide” on RfA has this section:

What RfA contributors look for and hope to see

RfA contributors want to see a record of involvement and evidence that you can apply policies calmly, maturely and impartially. What are often looked for are:

  • Strong edit history with plenty of material contributions to articles.
  • Varied experience. RfAs where an editor has mainly contributed in one way (little editing of articles, or little or no participation in RfDs, or little or no participation in discussions about policies and processes, for example) have tended to be more controversial than those where the editor's contributions have been wider.
  • User interaction. Evidence of you talking to other users, on article talk or user talk pages. These interactions need to be helpful and polite.
  • Trustworthiness. General reliability as evidence that you would use administrator rights carefully to avoid massive damage, especially in the stressful situations that can arise more frequently for administrators.
  • Helping with chores. Evidence that you are already engaging in administrator-like work and debates such as RC Patrol and articles for deletion.
  • High quality of articles. A good way to demonstrate this is contributing to getting articles featured, although good articles are also well-regarded.
  • Observing consensus. A track record of working within policy, showing an understanding of consensus.
  • A clean block log as evidence of good editing behaviour.

These points are not mandatory and there are always exceptions, but if you think back over your contributions and any of these are missing, it may be better to broaden your experience before an RfA.

What RfA contributors look for and hope not to see

No matter how experienced you are, some actions will cause problems. In roughly decreasing order of seriousness, here are some things which, if seen in your edit history, will be raised and thoroughly discussed:

  • Vandalism: A persistent and unreformed vandal will never be made an administrator; one of the primary tasks of administrators is fighting vandalism (and a truly bad administrator could cause serious damage to the site). Even a relatively minor disruption, like making a joking edit to a friend's userpage, can cause problems.
  • Incivility: If a nominee has responded to unpleasant or irritating users by leaving insulting messages which violate the spirit of civility.
  • Edit wars: If a nominee has ever refused to be involved in good faith efforts to reach consensus on talk pages, and instead engaged in edit wars. If a candidate is prone to repeating a single edit after it becomes obvious that there is a disagreement with it. To most RfA contributors, it does not matter who is right, it matters how a candidate handles themselves during a debate.
  • Controversial activity on RfD: Deciding according to criteria not relevant to the purpose of RfD, persistently starting RfDs on articles on the kinds of subject generally (let alone explicitly) recognised as worth an article.
  • "Advertising" your RfA: Some editors do not like to see an RfA "advertised" by the nominee on other people's talk pages, in signatures, ingame, or on IRC. RfA is not a political campaign. The intent is to develop consensus. Impartial evaluation of a candidate, not how popular they are, is the goal. Canvassing is often looked down upon.
  • Blocks: If your block log has activity and shows you've been blocked in the past several months.
  • Long gaps in editing: Unless you have a good reason and you state on your page, a steady edit history is preferred.
  • Use of sockpuppet accounts to avoid scrutiny, or to mislead the community about your past editing history.

However, many RfAs have succeeded despite some of the above. The important factors are:

  • Time. If a nominee has demonstrated high standards of conduct for a few months, the RfA contributors may discount earlier undesirable behaviour.
  • Disclosure. If a nominee brings up past missteps him or herself, and either apologises or explains how such missteps will be avoided in the future, the candidacy will be more likely to succeed.
  • Approach to opposing opinions. Responding in a calm, rational, and (if needed) apologetic manner will be to a candidate's credit. A candidate who shows anger or frustration or makes insults when presented with opposition is likely to engender more opposition.

Therefore I am making this discussion to get a rough consensus on what the community thinks:

  1. should be expected of admins
  2. should be looked for in RfA candidates.

While this discussion is based on the RS3 pages, this could be a project for OSRS if OSRS editors feel that it is needed (the OSRS equivalent pages seem to have been updated more recently).  —The preceding unsigned comment was added by IsobelJ (talk) on 21:43 (UTC), 29 January 2020‎.

Discussion

Comment - I think the foundation of a someone's suitability to be an admin is good judgement. Poor judgement erodes community trust in an editor, while good judgement builds it. Other qualities such as how you present to the wider RS community are rooted in this, but in reality if you can make good decisions on the wiki you can do the same representing the wiki elsewhere. I'd like to say it's more complicated than that, but on reflection it really isn't. cqm talk 22:28, 29 January 2020 (UTC)

Comment – The admin role for me is complicated. When I first joined, it seemed like these were the folks that were in charge. Not necessarily in a bad way, but they had this sort of authority and appeared to be more top-down level of editing, not necessarily consensual. However, I think this might have been something that I just sort of assumed based on my experiences with the definition of administrator. Per dictionary.com, administrator has a definition of a person who determines the site policies, appoints moderators, and manages the technical operation of an Internet message board or other interactive website.

Okay cool, so these are the folks in charge and everyone else sort of follows them in their direction. This was before I realized the community aspect of a Wiki and what that fully entails. Particularly with our Wikis, it is essentially a bureaucracy. There’s even been a conversation recently that I recall where our setup is becoming too bureaucratic; but that’s the nature of this Wiki. There’s legal and expected ‘red tape’ that comes with it because of the materials and expectations that the community has bestowed upon us in terms of quality and that we’ve bestowed upon ourselves in the way that we organize our information.

What has confused me in recent times is this exact distinction. Are these appointed folks for the benefit of the community/Wiki, or are these folks that wanted/be viewed as having a level of power? I think that’s where the admin role becomes tricky. On one hand, it’s about tools and essentially having ‘power’ in the technical aspect; but also, there’s a level of perceived hierarchy/authority that comes with it, especially for new editors. On the other hand, it’s this person that is trusted and respected in the community and has shaped the Wiki in an important or prominent fashion.

What I think the administrator should be is as followed:

  • Someone that is not only trusted within the community, but respected. Someone that is encouraging and constructive to newer editors is going be viable in growing the editor base and encouraging folks to learn more. This was tricky for me at first; I was learning how to edit in the Wiki and there were definitely different levels of explaining that came from admins. Particularly, there was one that was very encouraging and showed patience in teaching me, and there was another that I don’t feel came off as patient – which for me encouraged me to really not mess up, but I could have reacted in a way of “I don’t know enough to help, so why bother.”
  • Someone that is actively learning new things or trying to make changes they might not have been focused on before. On the OW Wiki we have some administrators that I really feel like are diving into different things for improvement and are including nonadmins to follow suit or help out.
  • Someone that has to accept that whether they want to try and represent the community and encourage/help newer editors, or not, it’s implicitly part of the role.
  • Someone that encourages others to step out of their comfort zone or present a project for someone to learn. There needs to be an acknowledgement of editors that perhaps want to try and learn other things or might be a little unsure of what to do or how to ask to learn something.
  • Finally, someone that understands the role to be an honor that is bestowed from the community, not a right because of their tenure or abilities. That being mentioned, it’s someone that is openly willing to expand the admin base given that they feel others are the right fit. It’s a community-given position.

I know that I might be newer to this whole thing, but I believe that a new perspective is important when deciding things like this. It’s provides either a fresh viewpoint, or a viewpoint on folks that might not be willing to share their experiences.

TL;DR – Admins are community-entrusted individuals that must encourage and support the community with their new set of tools all while promoting and encouraging editors. Legaia2Pla · ʟ · 00:04, 30 January 2020 (UTC)

Forgot to add that I believe this should be a conversation for all Wikis; this is something that should be consistent across them all. Legaia2Pla · ʟ · 00:13, 30 January 2020 (UTC)
I think your confusion is understandable and something we've tried to combat over the years with mixed success. Policies like rsw:RS:AEAE are examples of these attempts, as was the abolition of highlighted names for admins on RSW. It's also why we have community discussion instead of doing things behind closed doors. More recently, it's why we try to avoid using the cabal channels for anything that could be a community discussion. Thankfully, most of these processes have always existed for us and we remained true to those foundations as much as possible.
Ideally an admin should be a user that happens to have some extra tools. They might lead by example in some areas, but that should be no more than the benefit of experience. I think this experience is why admins are viewed differently, simply the two parts get conflated. Some parts of this are unavoidable, e.g. admins determine consensus in discussions, but we should be trying to avoid any heirarchy where possible and encourage non-admins to get as involved as admins may be. cqm talk 00:32, 30 January 2020 (UTC)

Comment - I'm not sure if anything needs to be strongly redefined. I think the pages that have come under fire perfectly explain the responsibilities of a sysop and how they fit in with the community. However, there are definitely points that are outdated, especially in the big guide. I'm probably going to be way too granular here but:

What RfA contributors look for and hope to see

  • I think there should be more emphasis here on the position of a sysop within the broader RuneScape community. We're at a high point in the community where actions we say off-site reflect on the wiki itself, and it's important that people who are sysops know what they're talking about.
  • "High quality of articles" is very outdated considering we don't feature articles anymore. I think the other dot points absorb this point, so we can remove it.

What RfA contributors look for and hope not to see

  • A lot of this section is "Don't break any policies" - this is surely a given, and a lot of the failed RfAs aren't because they've been a vandal. I propose we remove Vandalism/Controversial activity on RfD (how extremely specific...)/Advertising your RfA/Use of sockpuppet accounts.

So yea, I think the status quo is fine - perhaps this thread needs to explain why things have come under fire? Because I'm not totally understanding what change needs to happen. Haidro (talk) 22:26, 1 February 2020 (UTC)

I think much of the fire has been about whether sysops should "[be] at a high point in the community where actions [they] say off-site reflect on the wiki itself" as you say. And, among people who don't agree with that, whether steps can and/or should be should be taken to try to minimize that perception. Some might even question whether that even is the case right now or not. Remember, as recently as 2015 it was not a big deal. But both the wiki and its place in the community have changed over time, and perhaps that did demand changes to what it means to be a sysop (that section was removed. Maybe it was just to save space, or maybe it was a sign of the times). Some might even believe that it really always was a bigger deal than people acted like, and that if we're treating it like a bigger deal now that's a good thing. I imagine people with similar views on that will probably have similar views on what makes a good sysop as well, but the drama comes from people not agreeing on that.
Somewhat related to the above, we find statements like "Comments should assess [the candidate's] leadership ability and skill at diplomacy - necessary qualities for an administrator", "The RuneScape Wiki's practice is to grant this access to anyone who [among other conditions] is generally a known and trusted member of the community", "RfA contributors want to see [...] [e]vidence of you talking to other users, on article talk or user talk pages. These interactions need to be helpful and polite". Does that exclude people who engage heavily with the content and/or technical aspects of the wiki, but tend to avoid the discussion and community sides? If it does, is that a bad thing (limiting some people who may be reliable, trustworthy, experienced editors who can find good use for some subset of sysop tools), or a good thing (keeping destructive tools away from people who can maybe deal with the tools themselves but perhaps not the people they might come into conflict with as they use the tools)?
And that's all taking for granted that the sysop role as it stands should be a single cohesive role, keeping both more-or-less the same technical tools it has now (in terms of what sysops can do, what non-sysops can't do, and the presence or absence of any intermediate/orthogonal steps), and more-or-less the same community role it does now. Some people have mentioned that they consider this to be a problem, believing people are denied access to tools they can be trusted to use because that would come with a community position that they don't care for (and that the community might not want them to have). Or, that if someone would be capable when it comes to managing discussions, or could otherwise be a boon to the community at large, their ability to use the more technical tools shouldn't be important (or perhaps even relevant). Others argue that these privileges are dangerous enough that someone who can't be trusted to not cause harm with any of them probably shouldn't be trusted with the other ones either.
These are pretty closely related issues, issues I'm not quite sure where I stand on myself. There might be aspects I've missed or sides I've unintentionally misrepresented, but from what I've seen this is more or less what's at the core of what's going on. -I Am Not You Talk- 02:31, 2 February 2020 (UTC)

Comment - I don't have a perfectly-formed suggestion, but since this thread is mostly for sharing ideas, I'm just going to give some thoughts and hopefully add to the discussion. Personally, I think the focus on "a clear 'need' or use for the tools" is overblown throughout the RfA process, and doesn't actually improve the system or lead to better admins in the long run. The reasons for this are threefold:

  1. We don't care about admins making use of their tools at any point except during the RfA. Nobody loses adminship because they haven't used their tools recently, nor do we expect admins to continuously justify having the tools for various projects. It seems odd that the RfA process focuses so much on short-term projects that require tool usage when adminship is a long-term position.
  2. Prospective admins can't reasonably be expected to know how they would make use of tools they have no access to. When I did my RfA, the stuff I wanted admin tools for was very different to the things I ended up doing for most of the last year. For example, when I did my RfA I didn't know what js or css was, but my most recent administrative action was to edit css pages to improve dark mode functionality.
  3. In my opinion, tool usage is one of the least important responsibilities of an admin, and there's much more important things to consider when it comes to RfAs. Things like engaging new editors, representing the wiki within the wider RuneScape community, and leading collaborative projects on the wiki are all more important things admins can do than deleting a few pages or whatnot. Those should be much stronger considerations during the RfA than any temporary need for admin tools.

I have some more thoughts on some recent RfAs and the RfA process in general, but I think that's a good place to start for now, and I'm curious what others have to add. BigDiesel2m (talk) 20:12, 11 February 2020 (UTC)

Comment - I think we need to decide if the main function of being an admin is actually to be an admin or to be a brand ambassador of sorts. I agree with Legaia in that there also seems to be a perception, especially in discord, that admins are somehow more powerful or above regular users in a policy/running of the wiki type sense, and see this as an issue. Part of it is that the set of admins overlaps the set of the most active editors quite a bit, so on some discussions it can seem like admins basically decided something, when in reality they just also happen to be the people who are more active on discussion pages. On a similar note there is a lot less activity on this thread considering the number of people who have voiced opinions on the subject in discord.

I'm not really a fan of the "brand ambassador", I'm not sure what purpose it serves and I think it would make adminship seem like even more of a cool kids club or status symbol, which is already a problem we seem to have. In the same vain, I'm not really a fan of using adminship as a tool for editor retention. I'm also not convinced that it really works as a retention tool, if someone is active enough to pass an rfa, is being an admin really going to make them keep editing more than if they weren't? I think most of the things a brand ambassador would do can be done without adminship. Non-admins can do just fine coordinating things, leading projects, helping people in discord, leading oswf tasks, liaise with other communities etc. There's plenty who already do these things on a daily basis without being admins. There are some specific cases where having an "official" title on the wiki would be helpful/necessary to do some things, and I do think that should be a valid reason to rfa, but I don't think that it would apply very often. Being an admin can actually make it harder to work with other groups because they assume that, as an admin, you have some inherent power on wiki policy, which is not the case.
I actually don' think that wiki admins, as a result of being admins, are much more visible representatives of the wiki than other editors can be. I'm not very active on reddit, the rs forums etc, but it doesn't seem like wiki admins are more visible than other active editors who present themselves as wiki editors. There's an exception for a few individuals who are much more widely known in the rs community as being associated with the wiki, but that's more a factor of how long and how active they are vs them being admins. Again part of it is that a lot of the more active editors are also admins, so they tend to also be the ones who reach out to other communities etc. This is not to say that I don't think how an admin acts in the RS community reflects on the wiki, because it does.
If admins are meant to be admins then the need or use of the admin "tools" is a very relevant question. Note that since we don't have separate discord mods, then moderating chats in discord would be a valid use of tools. Depending on the tools a person specifically mentions as a reason for rfaing, I think there being "enough" admins already is a perfectly valid reason to oppose. For example, with how automatic most spam filtering is now, when was the last time a spam type edit was up for. more than a few minutes before an admin reverted and blocked? Admins are meant to be the ones moderating the (insert choice word)s not being the (insert choice word)s. I think Cqm actually did a good job of summing up my thought process Ideally an admin should be a user that happens to have some extra tools. They might lead by example in some areas, but that should be no more than the benefit of experience. I think this experience is why admins are viewed differently, simply the two parts get conflated. Some parts of this are unavoidable, e.g. admins determine consensus in discussions, but we should be trying to avoid any heirarchy where possible and encourage non-admins to get as involved as admins may be. It is still important to keep in mind that the people who use the tools need to be trusted, experienced, fairly active etc. This also includes being respectful of other people on the wiki, discord etc. In fact I think that, as a group, admins do not do a good enough job of moderating the discord at times. I know I am guilty of it as well.
At the same time, making adminship more restrictive might not be the way to make it seems less of a status symbol or less about "power". :shrug:

tl;dr I think this has mostly come up recently as there has been a perception that admins run the wiki/determine policy, and that it's some type of exclusive club. Maybe regular editors need to be pushed more to take on projects, talk to other communities, and the like. Adminship should mostly be about being an admin (~using tools) but that there may be other cases. Thank you for reading my rambling thoughts - Elessar2 (talk) 10:06, 12 February 2020 (UTC)

Response - While I agree that non-admins should be encouraged to take on more projects, I'd like to speak about how I think being an admin helped with one of my major recent projects. Mid last year Cook was contacted by a well-known UIM (Ultimate Ironman) community member with the goal of improving the wiki's coverage of UIM-specific strategies and guides. Soon after, I was put into contact with them, and I ended up leading the wiki side of the collaboration for the next three months. The end result of this project are some of the most in-depth, high-quality guides on the wiki, and the go-to UIM guides throughout the entire OSRS community. I think being an admin helped this project succeed in three distinct ways:
  1. Being an admin led to me being involved very early on the process. Soon after Cook was contacted by this UIM group, he passed it along to me, and we were able to get started on the project in earnest. While other wiki editors (both admins and not) would become involved in the coming months, being there at the start helped me steer the project in a productive direction, set goals for the guide's quality, and really get the ball rolling from day one.
  2. Being an admin put me in strong contact with other admins, which was helpful particularly with high-level technical hurdles we encountered during the project. Most notably, we were able to work with Gaz to rework the Inventory template, significantly improving its functionality and appearance. While communicating with admins and other knowledgeable wiki editors is not something exclusive to my role as an admin, I felt more comfortable asking for technical help than an regular user might.
  3. Most importantly, having an admin leading the project lent a degree of seriousness or gravity to the collaboration. Rather than just regular editors casually working with UIM people to put some guides up, this was a major collaboration being joint-led by well-known UIM figureheads and OSRS Wiki Admins. While we try to downplay the importance of the admin role on the wiki, to the wider RuneScape community the admins are still seen as authorities and leaders in some capacity. By having an admin lead the project it showed the UIM collaborators that the wiki was taking this project seriously, and they took it seriously in return.
I don't want to suggest that the UIM collaboration wouldn't have happened without my involvement, as that would be a disservice to the excellent work done by dozens of UIM players and editors alike. However, I think the quality, seriousness, and success of the project in general were potentially improved by me being a wiki admin, even if very little of the project required me to use admin-only tools. BigDiesel2m (talk) 00:27, 13 February 2020 (UTC)
I'm curious about your second point about admin contact. How did you go about contacting other admins - was it via admin-only channels on discord? cqm talk 06:43, 13 February 2020 (UTC)
I brought it up in the private OSRS wiki admin channel, where multiple admins were able to contribute to the development of the template over a couple days. The process involved lua coding and css work, if I remember correctly, which I felt the admins were most knowledgeable in (and in the case of css, the only ones capable of changing). I think that this approach was more succesful than if I had done it through private messages, and it avoided any derailing that might occur in the general #wiki-osrs channel. At the time I don't believe a #wiki-tech channel existed, though that may be an appropriate venue for a similar request today. As I stated above, I think that this part of the project was improved by me being an admin, but it is less important than the other two examples I gave. BigDiesel2m (talk) 07:11, 13 February 2020 (UTC)
To play devil's advocate, you asked admins in an admin only channel and admins helped you. It's effectively shutting out others who may have been able to help just by virtue of where you asked. Being an admin may or may not have made a real difference to the technical success of the project. cqm talk 14:33, 13 February 2020 (UTC)
There's no reason a non-admin can't be there right from the start, and I disagree that established editors are hesitant to ask for technical help from admins, it happens on a regular basis, and depending on the editor, they might really only need an admin to add css/js etc for a project, we have a lot of editors with tons of coding/technical knowledge. I agree that an admin backing it helps credibility in the wider communities, but there's no reason that it can't be an admin basically saying X person is responsible for this project and is the contact person. Basically how things usually work in companies etc. I agree with your closing statement but I think it was you being a good and dedicated editor that improved it, and not necessarily that you were an admin. Just my take on your excellent work. Elessar2 (talk) 08:57, 13 February 2020 (UTC)
I'm not making important points here, just throwing out questions, but do you think a major collaboration being joint-led by well-known UIM figureheads and "OSRS Wiki Sysops" would have gotten the same response? Or even one joint-led by OSRS Wiki Bureaucrats? Would there be less of a response if an admin in charge of a project occasionally had to go ask a "CSS editor", "page deleter", or even "file mover" for help with project-related business they couldn't personally do - and how much does the answer to that change depending on whether that person is also an admin?I'm not necessarily saying that admins shouldn't have those rights, or that any non-admins should, I'm just curious about to what degree the admin-as-point-of-contact thing benefits from the admin(s) in question having and using them. -I Am Not You Talk- 12:28, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
I doubt other titles would have the same response, simply because "Administrator" is the title people associate with authority with regards to the wiki. It's similar to how Jagex employees are referred to as "Jmods" and that title confers an amount of authority. There's no reason for one name or the other, but that is what the community recognizes, and I think changing it to something else would be detrimental in the sense that the new term would likely not carry the same amount of weight. As for asking other people for help on the project, in many cases with the UIM project I asked other people for help, such as with advanced templating or CSS stuff I wasn't familiar with. I don't think that had a negative impact on the project, and having me be the go-between for the experts on UIM stuff and the experts on wiki stuff seemed to work well. BigDiesel2m (talk) 03:12, 2 March 2020 (UTC)
Response - Hey there, Buddhapuck here, I am the UIM that Diesel referenced. He had asked for some of my thoughts concerning the community/wiki team-up that we worked on together, and to provide an external view of what an Admin looks like from a general community member's perspective. From the outset, I would like the echo what Diesel has said specifically about the legitimacy that working with an admin provided for the project that we worked on. Coming from my experience of never having touched the wiki before, having an Admin express interest in collaboration proved to excite the prospects of creating something on the wiki, and that energy directly transferred to the scores of people that ended up contributing to our project. From an outside eye, the title of Admin comes with significant weight, as those are the individuals that I would looks towards for guidance and authority. They are the face of the platform, and should represent the views and mentalities of the wiki as far as the general wiki-consumer is concerned. It is interesting to find out, as I have read this thread, that originally the role of Admin was designated with access to page deletion tools/ability to ban, and not necessarily the desire to have much importance/authority beyond the addition of those wiki tools. It might be useful to embrace the idea that Admin is a more intensive position, beyond the addition of the deletion tool/ability to ban, and bring the internal definition of the role to more accurately fit the external assumptions that are made of said role (Admin). In response to these changes, perhaps the addition of a new role in the hierarchy that fills the slot between Custodian and Admin, to better fulfill the desire of current admins that do not wish to be in the limelight of the community, but continue to do the good behind-the-scenes work that they currently do. I hope that this helps in some way, and I appreciate all the work that you all do. BuddhaPuck (talk) 00:46, 14 February 2020 (UTC)

Comment - While I had a response to some other comments earlier in this thread, I realized that I hadn't actually made a substantive comment of my own. In short, I think the definition of adminship and the RfA information should be changed to focus less on the tools, and more on community perception. While the tools are undoubtedly an important part of being an admin, they are not the sole defining characteristic as some of the current documentation makes them out to be. As for community perception, I think it's important that current and prospective admins understand that their actions (particularly in places like the wiki discord) reflect on the wiki in both positive and negative ways. Attributes like patience with inexperienced editors and good communication skills are some of the most important things I look for when considering RfAs, and I think our RfA guidelines could be changed to reflect that. BigDiesel2m (talk) 20:41, 21 February 2020 (UTC)

Further comment - To somewhat repeat what I've said in discord, I don't think every admin needs to be some super-active community figurehead. When I talk about community perception of admins, I think it's most important for prospective, new, and existing admins to recognize that their actions are seen as the wiki's actions, and what they say and do can reflect on the wiki both positively and negatively. I think it's fine for admins to be quiet or focused on behind-the-scenes stuff, but all admins should know that when they speak, they represent the wiki in some capacity. BigDiesel2m (talk) 03:12, 2 March 2020 (UTC)
I think it's worth pointing out that if we follow this idea through properly, then what's the solution when the off-site actions of an admin, e.g. reddit, twitter, etc., reflect poorly on the wiki? Do we desysop admins that cause harm elsewhere? It fundamentally flies in the face of things like rsw:RS:NOT. cqm talk 06:39, 2 March 2020 (UTC)
While I think internally we have an understanding that everyone is equal, and would in such be held to similar standards, I don't think that's how rest of the RS community would follow. It would be naive to not expect people to make assumptions about our community based upon the actions of our community, particularly admins. I agree with Diesel that there's some representation of the Wiki based upon the actions of an admin whether we believe there is or should be. This is particularly heightened when things such as Reddit Flair, or if profiles have mention of the user being an admin. I think it's just sort of a natural thing for people to have a higher standard for those that appear to be in power or who appear to represent a community. Legaia2Pla · ʟ · 04:45, 3 March 2020 (UTC)
I don't disagree with what you or Diesel said, but my question was what do we do when an admin does not meet the expected standards off-site. If we have standards for off-site behaviour, the logical continuation is punishment for when we don't meet those standards. cqm talk 15:13, 3 March 2020 (UTC)
Ahh gotcha. Hard to say in totality what that would look like, but I’m sure it would involve a sort of DeSysop thread based on actions that would require consensus for removal. Not sure if there’d be a sort of tracking page, or any sort of official warning system, or if it would be just someone noticing repeat instances and raising a thread about it. Legaia2Pla · ʟ · 22:20, 3 March 2020 (UTC)
I think the standards for behavior are much higher on the wiki site than elsewhere, but I'd argue that standards do exist for all behavior that reflects on the wiki. If someone is being notably detrimental to the wiki on their reddit or twitter account, especially if that account is associated with the wiki (such as with a reddit flair) than that is cause for concern. I remember in Dalek's recent RfA, some people were questioning his judgement due to being temporarily banned in-game. Similarly, in Shauny's recent RfA, some people brought up his excellent actions as a jmod that were very beneficial to the wiki. As someone who is often tasked with finding consensus in such threads, how do you weigh such arguments that bring in examples of off-site behavior for prospective admins? BigDiesel2m (talk) 22:44, 3 March 2020 (UTC)
It depends on the situation. Consensus is determined by the opinions of those who show up and it's ultimately the duty of those in the discussion to disagree rather than whoever closes the discussion, hence we ask those who close discussions to be neutral. As an observation, the further the location of the issue is from the wiki generally decreases its relevance, particularly as it's harder to verify who did something. This particular scenario is largely unprecedented AFAIK apart from some issues with the wiki YouTube channel many years ago (yes, we used to have one) and the result then was that the owners of the channel apologised and it was eventually shutdown. I forget if the two events were related.
In general terms of weighing arguments, the hardest parts are when you take a risk yourself. Not all closures are universally popular and sometimes we take the easy option in favour of status quo. I try to put the health of the wiki first, so if I thought an admin was objectively causing harm off-site as a representative of the wiki based on the discussion, I'd likely use that as part of my decision regardless of where it happened. cqm talk 12:25, 4 March 2020 (UTC)

Comment - Logically, if an 'Administrator' is what is viewed as a 'Community Leader', and access to the tools is not a defining portion of the position (and instead external recognition for interacting with the broader community is), then we should separate the title of 'Administrator' from the tools, and assign the tools to a separate position that requires a demonstrated need and use for the tools (such as Sysop - with a similar RFA style requirement to be granted the tools). Any administrator responsibilities not tied to the tools (such as closing discussions) could still be tied to the title Administrator, and external recognition would still be provided. Please note that I agree with Elessar's sentiment that non-administrators should and can be community leaders, and generally would prefer to remain at status quo and make no overarching guidelines around Admins per the original discussion topic, but if changes are being considered, I would look more granularity around access to the tools rather then less in response to BigDiesel's comment. Aescopalus 02:44, 26 February 2020 (UTC)

Comment - As a newbie editor, my opinion is that admins should be more of a community leader thing. Non-admins can and should definitely be community leaders but I feel that admin tools in the context of the way this wiki works aren't really a defining feature of an admin position. Stian27 (talk) 11:30, 3 March 2020 (UTC)

Comment - I'm just gonna put this comment here as my initial thoughts before i go reading this disgustingly long essay of a thread

Generally, I think the information on the pages is ok and covers a lot, with two main points for improvement. Firstly, the lesser need for the tools nowadays, and secondly, the much bigger emphasis nowadays on admins being involved in community stuff.

  • Tools - I think while it definitely strengthens an RfA for someone should they have a clear use for the tools (e.g. requesting admins to delete stuff, request x to be put into js or css files, etc.), nowadays it definitely should not be seen as a core point in opposing adminship - using it as a side argument against someone having the tools should be fine, but it shouldn't be the *only* or *main* argument against the nominee. On the flip side, I think it is ok to be used a main point in supporting a nominee, but again shouldn't be the *only* argument for (e.g. you would also need to possess the traits expected of an admin).
  • Community - In the past few years there has obviously been an increasing need for admins to be, at the very least, presentable in the community space. I say at the very least, as there are many admins who are not super active in community spaces - they don't need to be, but when they are, they need to at least not come across as a dick. I think this is necessary, as admins, whether we like it or not, will arguably always be more looked up to in the community than a 'regular' user, and thus should be representative of the wiki. Admins are more visible on Discord, Reddit, and many put the title in their Twitter bios and elsewhere (overall I think it's good that outsiders can 'know' who to go to regarding anything wiki, with this more visible group of users who should know what they're doing). To me the issue is the guide/RS:ADMIN page not really at all touching upon this. Although the user interaction point does touch upon this - with talking to users, being polite and helpful - it doesn't go into the details of this should also be off-site/Discord if the user is associating themselves with the wiki on such sites/associating themselves with the off-site presentation from the wiki. Being polite and helpful aside, there's barely any mention of just being involved in the community, namely Discord - while, as I've mentioned, you don't *need* to be at all/very involved, it certainly helps. It should also be important to note that taking part in discussions on Discord (e.g. in #meta-discussion) is not a substitute for taking part in Yew Grove threads.

A question that has been brought up a lot, and fueled this discussion in the first place - should the tools be split from the role? I don't feel particularly strongly about this, but right now I'm leaning towards the side that they shouldn't be. I definitely get the arguments for them - many people could do with the tools, but don't want/aren't suitable for the 'admin' role as a whole. However, I'd argue that people with the tools are definitely still looked up to and definitely still require many traits required of admins - if you deleted something from a new user, and they complained to you, would you be able to deal with this well? Just one example.

Other points from the RfA guide and rsw:RS:ADMIN page that I think could use improvement:

  • 'Advertising' your rfa point is rather out of date
  • 'Observing consensus' is a bit of a weird one, could be changed/a separate point added to focus more on general awareness of (at least) basic policies
  • Something about taking part in projects (be it OSWF, or something else) should be added to the 'hope to see' section
  • Something about publicly bragging/mentioning any rulebreaking in-game should be added to the 'hope not to see' section
  • The 'Administrators' abilities' section definitely needs to be made more up-to-date (e.g. mention editing certain templates, css, js, and maybe something about Discord?)
  • The 'Becoming an administrator' section should include something about self-nominations, and probably have something about talking to other admins/editors for advice/help
  • The 'Help from administrators' section should mention something about Discord

STAR the coolest bean (talk 2 me xoxo) 22:30, 6 March 2020 (UTC)


This request for closure is complete A user has requested closure for Redefining adminship for 2020. Request complete. The reason given was: Been open for some time, want to get on with updating the pages

IsobelJ (talk) 11:11, 10 March 2020 (UTC)

Comment - I wrote a whole big comment that was too rambly and didn't really make sense. So I'm just going to list out the important parts of my thoughts with little preamble:

  • Community actions: Admins, if they are representing themselves as a admin, be that in the text, with a flair, on their profile, or in a place where they are known as admins or otherwise identified as an admin, shouldn't be dicks (per star above). It is fine to not involve yourself with the community aspect if you prefer not to - you do not need to be flaired on reddit, you don't need to tweet about RS stuff, you don't even need to be in our discord. [Of course this is hard to remove entirely, as many admin actions include a community aspect (e.g. deleting a personal image, dealing with edit wars, etc).]
  • Tools and policies: Admins, if they engage with tools, should at least be competent with them. If they are not, they should be willing to ask others for help or just step back and not use those tools. Of particular example is editing JS or abusefilters, which can cause significant issues if done poorly, but in general this applies to all tools. If you are not sure if you should delete something or block someone, you should be willing to ask others for their thoughts or outright step back. It is fine to not engage with adminship tools, as long as when you do, you do so competently. Likewise, if you are not sure on how to apply a policy, you should talk about it. The wiki is first and foremost a collaborative effort, so you should not feel like you need to tackle everything alone and have to know/interpret everything yourself.
  • I think that it is also worth giving a quick mention that these two aaspects aren't really in opposition to each other. You can be both a strong tools user and a strong community person. Equally, as I implied above, it is ok to not engage with either (or maybe even both?) of those aspects.
  • What metrics or measures or things you can do to show these aspects (before being an admin)? There are some obvious things like organising projects, involving yourself in OSWF/events, badgering admins about deleting/etc, using RS:AR, etc., but also some more nebulous things that I am finding hard to put into words at the moment.
  • The most important thing I think Cam summarised nicely in the very first comment: the core thing to have is good judgement. If you have good judgement, the other points follow.

One final thought, for RfAs in particular (as opposed to adminship in general), is that there is a trade-off of the above against the net positive to the wiki of making someone an admin. Sometimes it is ok to ignore some aspects of the above, as they would bring such significant benefits in other aspects that it is worthwhile. Even though it didn't pass, Shauny's RfA is an example of many overlooking his weak 'tools side' in favour of his extremely strong 'community side'. Though, the opposite is a lot harder to justify: while he would have done a ton of great things for the wiki as an admin, there is a good reason mol was not sysoped.

I think that's the main things I wanted to comment. Gaz (talk) 16:25, 10 March 2020 (UTC)

Comment - Concur with all of star's suggestions about changes to the RfA page/rsw:RS:ADMIN. As cqm said, the foundational quality of adminship has to be good judgement - community relevance, technical competence, or edit frequency are all irrelevant if the user cannot consistently display at least reasonable decision-making, particularly when it concerns interactions with other users. As other people have echoed, admin is not simply about tools, and I very much suspect those who say it never has been are correct; the name alone carries weight and fundamentally implies some sort of hierarchy - those at the top of that hierarchy (regardless of how much policies like AEAE attempt[ed] to mitigate its influence) should be expected to be responsible. Culture in organisations is almost always defined from the top down, and the RS wiki is no different. This is not to imply that the current role system/hierarchy is unfair or dictatorial, or should not exist; its existence is completely natural (and it would exist even if there were no roles and everyone had equal access to tools - fundamentally, those users who are more experienced, and more respected, will have greater impact).

As many people commenting will be aware, this thread exists because of a series of long-winded and fairly unproductive conversations on Discord. These conversations referenced multiple topics and although a lot of the content in this thread is centered on the RfA guidelines and related pages (which are important), the scope of the title is quite broad so I'd like to mention some of the other things:

  • Admin tools being split into a secondary role/creating 'Community Spokesperson'+'Tools' roles: flat out should not happen. As mentioned above, if a user can't be trusted to interact with the community in an at least courteous fashion, their competence with the tooling is irrelevant. As Gaz alludes to, even if the user makes an effort to not interact with the community to mitigate this, interaction is inevitable as the wiki is ultimately a collaborative venture - an admin not being flaired on reddit is all well and good but if someone reverts their edit, they need to be able to respond appropriately.
  • Admin As A Friend Group: probably the point that will (for obvious reasons) be most contentious. It's obvious to anyone on Discord, and to anyone who has ever browsed meta, that admins do not agree about everything and to refer to all admins as if the role is some unanimous voting bloc is nonsensical. But the real, underlying part of this complaint is (imo) not actually about that: the complaint is that when a group of admins (not necessarily all or even most of them) publicly state the same opinion, people feel powerless to overturn that. And furthermore, they feel like this is still the case, even if there are just as many or more non-admins with the opposite opinion. That it is pointless to make threads, to post on meta, or simply be involved in the process because ultimately the admin blockade is impassable.
    And this is undoubtedly difficult for some of those admins to hear or understand, because nobody likes to be lumped in as a collective instead of treated as an individual. There are entirely valid reasons why a group of admins would share the same opinion or 'vote' the same way (aside from simply their own thoughts as a human being happening to be the same) - users with that role are almost universally the most experienced, competent, and/or knowledgeable users on the wiki. And these comments were not expressed particularly well (especially during the initial Discord conversations), for multiple reasons. Regardless, I would like to ask admins (particularly those who felt perhaps offended or slighted by this) to take a step back and consider that these comments:
    • First and foremost are not actually comments or criticism about them as people.
    • Come from multiple active contributors who are clearly willing to get involved in _some_ processes in the wiki (particularly if you count Discord as a process, which I think is more accurate than it might initially seem).
    • Are worrisome even if they are not accurate (and here I'd like to emphasise I don't entirely agree with the comments or I obviously wouldn't spend time posting on this thread). Users being left with the impression that their input is unduly disregarded should concern not only admins, but anyone who wants to see the wiki succeed, regardless of whether their input would actually be ignored. As a relatively new user (at least at this level of involvement), I find it concerning that people who are clearly active, and simply whose opinion I respect, feel this way. It leaves me with questions about what I have yet to notice or be made aware of, and simply whether or not there is a point becoming involved in the RS wiki if my opinions may be unduly held to be meaningless. Not everyone has an opinion worth listening to, be that because they lack experience, are trolling, or just plain don't know what they're talking about, but this doesn't seem to be the case to me (and furthermore - just because some or all of these qualities are present, does not necessarily mean the person is wrong).
  • Cabals: bit of a meme by now, obviously it's hard for me and any other non-admin to say how much discussion goes on in cabals, because we can't see them (which is the point). I don't want to go too in-depth into this subject for that obvious reason, but I hope admins will do their best to communicate in cabals only for things that genuinely should be kept private. Cook has repeatedly expressed displeasure at their use and cqm made a good comment above about unnecessarily only giving other admins the opportunity to assist or become involved, so clearly other people are aware of this problem (or potential problem).

I wouldn't have mentioned any of these if I didn't, from my own experience, feel like they had (at least some) merit. However, I would like to express that almost all of my interactions with admins (and indeed, all other RS wiki users) have been positive, both on-site/Discord and more privately. There is a lot of collective wisdom between everyone who contributes to the wiki and I hope the wiki will (continue to) leverage that. The change I would like to see for 2020 and onwards is more emphasis in the adminship pages on consistently good interactions with other users (whether they are admins or otherwise), more effort from people on Discord to put themselves in the shoes of others, and more effort spent on expressing their thoughts in a more thoughtful, less heavy-handed manner. Not only because this is more conducive to collaboration, but it will improve the culture of the wiki as a whole. Toes for Tea (talk) 21:32, 11 March 2020 (UTC)

Bold word - My approach on RfAs is very similar to Gaz's, but I want to highlight one thing in particular: we should be looking at all of these RfAs from a cost/benefit perspective, first and foremost. When I'm commenting on someone's request, it's all about the practical trade-offs: in what ways would making this person an admin help the wiki, and in what ways might it harm us? I'd like us to move away from rigid, ideological views of what makes for a good admin – it's my strong preference that everyone views RfAs on that cost/benefit axis (even if we disagree about the relative weight of those pros and cons), so we can use a common language.

It's worth noting that, much like in hiring, the negative effect from a bad admin is usually much greater than the positive effect from a good admin. One poorly chosen admin can leave long-lasting scars on both the internal community, and the external community's view of us, which seriously undermines our attempts to recruit and keep new folks.

With that in mind, I have sort of a "danger checklist" for the possible negative consequences:

  • Will this person have positive interactions with new users, especially the ones that don't totally get things yet?
  • Is this person wiki-knowledgeable enough to act in a way that doesn't cause headaches for the community? (Or at the very least, to be smart enough to know when to defer to others). This could be either borne from tool usage or answering questions.
  • If this person chooses to interact with the external community on our behalf, can we trust them to act in a way that helps us (or at least doesn't hurt us)?
  • In high-leverage situations where we need to act like a team (forking comes to mind), can they avoid doing things that would make the situation worse?

These aren't just hypotheticals: each point here calls back to specific instances where (in my view) some of the admins showed poor judgment and did something unnecessarily damaging to the community. And judgment is really what it's all about, right? All of this comes down to whether we can trust you to do the right thing. If you don't have that, then it doesn't really matter how great of an editor you are – I don't think you should be an admin. I've spent enough time dealing with the highly-productive problem users, trying to play the margins and weigh their positive contributions against their negative impact, and trust me: it always ends up not being worth it. They will not rise to the occasion.

If you can clear that hurdle (which really, a lot editors should be able to do), then I don't have any real concerns about negative effects from making you an admin. So now you need to come up with some reason why making you an admin will have a positive effect on the site. This can take on a lot of forms, and I'm willing to be persuaded by just about anything, including:

  • Countervandalism efforts - This was always the bedrock of RfAs from 2006 to 2012(ish), since it often requires a quick admin response. However, with the increased use of AbuseFilter, and a general maturing of the community, we've gone from a peak of ~100 vandalism edits a day in 2009-11, down to about 2 a day on RSW and 8 a day on OSRS. Countervandalism is not as big of a deal as it used to be.
  • Maintenance work is often much easier if you're an admin, and continues to be important for both wikis. One of the best ways to pass an RfA is to convince the other admins that they will have to do less work.
  • Technical work - A lot of CSS and JavaScript editing is locked off to only admins, but there are a lot of technically capable people who might be adding a new gadget, fixing something in dark mode, or lots of other things. If this becomes frequent enough, it starts to fit into the "save the other admins time" trope. It's also generally nice to have more technical people around to help with projects, although I'm very wary of having this inadvertently becoming more and more of an informal requirement for adminship. Technical work has become one of the most common ways to pass an RfA now, somewhat displacing countervandalism.
  • External community interaction - If they can give a compelling case why having "wiki admin" associated with them would lend gravity make it easier to accomplish something useful for the wiki, then I'm certainly willing to listen. That could be wrangling projects on Reddit/Twitch, interacting with Jagex somehow, interacting with other RuneScape communities and getting them involved (like Diesel's UIM work), or even something higher-level with suppliers.
  • Editor retention - On a personal level, I'm more than happy to support RfAs if I think it means we'll get more/longer involvement from a really great editor. This consideration is usually lurking behind the scenes, and doesn't usually make it into RfA comments (and certainly would be very bad to put in a self-nomination). But it's often the most important and impactful reason: succeeding or failing an RfA can (and often does) make or break someone's involvement with the site, and we live or die on keeping enough great editors around.

It's important to note that nobody needs to check all of these boxes. Very few people do, and we often get caught up in worrying about whether prospective RfA candidates have enough of each thing. To me, it's enough to just have one thing that you kick ass at. If I'm satisfied with your judgment, and you can convince the world that you being an admin will have some practical positive influence on the site, I think you should pass. But if you don't have good judgment, none of the rest of it matters at all.

I think there's some work to do to bring the RfA guide into the 21st century, particularly by focusing on good judgment and taking out dated references. Someone can post a draft that we can collaborate on, but I don't think we're going to see any sweeping changes here. It might be wise to discuss the cabals in a different setting, but this is probably not the thread for it. ʞooɔ 01:35, 16 March 2020 (UTC)

Comment - A few thoughts from my side:

While most of the current admins seem to have have gotten their role through the "need for tools"argument, right now most of the admin work is done by a very small subset of admins and most of the other active ones do more stuff related to community management. On one hand that is fine since they were chosen by the community to kinda "lead"? the wiki, but on the other hand not really since the community side has only gotten that relevant quite recently (which is the biggest issue I have with not retiring inactive admins) and the current admins either took up the new "role" or just were kinda there, having the title but not using (needing) it to do stuff. It seems like the bar for gaining adminship has risen quite steeply but the current admins are, well, admins already, so it feels like they are admins because they had "easy" arguments to present in favour of their case. To add to that, what arguments - besides having a real need for js/css access or being Shauny-esq - could you possibly have atm to stand any chance of your rfa even gaining positive traction. Also it kinda feels like if you're not part of the current admin(-friends) group you have a very hard time understanding the though processes that are basically governing the decision making. It just feels like you are part of the wiki but also kind of not part in regards to the overall decision making, even less so since you don't know how much of it is already decided behind closed doors before it even gets to the wider editor base.

But I also have no clue what exactly needs to change to "solve these issues", also the retiring won't happen, because the moment you make a thread about it the admins that are the target come out of the woodworks and oppose is and that's that. Srylius (talk) 19:45, 17 March 2020 (UTC)

I think the bar for adminship is in fact much lower now than it was in 2013-15, even though it was certainly lower in 2011 and earlier. Looking at the demographics of the current active admins, I think the majority actually had a much higher bar to clear for their RfAs than is currently present in 2020. The community is much more open to the idea of passing RfAs on the basis of general good editing than I think they have been in the past (see e.g. Jeljo's OSRS RfA), which means that there's actually a very clear path to becoming an admin if you can show you have good judgment. I would argue it's dramatically easier to become an admin in 2020 than at any time since Ansela got desysopped in 2013.
What sort of decisions do you think are being made behind closed doors?
On a separate note, the threads about requiring RfAs for inactive old admins didn't fail because old admins came out of the woodworks, they failed because nobody on the supporting side could give any viable reason why it would be good for the site. See rsw:Forum:Grandfathering old sysops. ʞooɔ 21:22, 17 March 2020 (UTC)

Closed - I am going to go ahead and close this and update the pages based on people's comments here. There seems to be a broad feeling that the pages focus disproportionally on tool usage and do not include enough focus on community interaction. There is agreement that administrators are at least perceived by new users and people outside of the wiki community to be representative of the wiki and the wiki's values and that administrators are therefore show good judgement, courtesy and respect in their interactions with others both onsite and when representing the wiki offsite.

More specific attributes that have been mentioned as being needed to be added/removed from the current page versions are:

Increase/add:

  • Good judgment when using admin tools or in interactions with wiki/wider community in admin
  • Trusted and respected editors
  • Knowledgeable and experienced editors
  • Point about not breaking in-game rules

Remove/decrease:

  • Over emphaisis on tool-use/need for tools
  • Point about not "advertising" an rfa
  • Point about "observing consensus" - change to awareness of policies
  • Mentions of counter-vandalism

--  —The preceding unsigned comment was added by IsobelJ (talk) on 18:12, 13 April 2020‎.