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User:Mendel/Admin advice

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Theoretically, being made an admin "just" adds a few new tools to the wiki interface and allows you to get at trusted content. However, it actually may entail more than that. Upon being promoted, I asked for advice. That is here to be discussed and added to (feel free to use this page or the talk page for additions and discussion). I also want to add thoughts and experiences related to being a new admin.

Advice[edit | edit source]

wikipedia:Wikipedia:New admin school (haven't read that yet, actually)

Viper on my talkpage[edit | edit source]

  • Advice; don't ban for fun. --- Ohaider!-- (s)talkpage 19:36, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Entropy on my talkpage[edit | edit source]

  • As to advice...when in doubt, ask the community/let them know your plans in advance (whichever is more relevant). No one likes having key changes happen without them noticing, and you would be surprised how differently some people can interpret your actions when you take them suddenly. In other words, it's better to clear up misunderstandings and opposition beforehand than to just "deal with it" later. (example: removing sysop flags from inactive admins. we would have missed a constructive discussion if I had just "done it".) Entropy Sig.jpg (T/C) 19:42, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

PanSola on irc[edit | edit source]

(paraphrased, any errors are mine)

  • encourage users who want to help the wiki, and make them comfortable
  • your behaviour reflects on all admins, and defines "what admins do" in the public eye
  • take your time to write posts, keep re-reading an re-thinking to catch points you should have added and meanings you shouldn't have; take your time for the re-reading

That last advice (take your time) is hardest for me. I shrugged it off as "I've no time left when I do that" and "I'm too impatient" on irc, but in fact I'm somewhat uncomfortable with the concept. I want to jump into a discussion as it goes on, even at the risk of being wrong. I don't mind correcting myself (example). I don't mind being wrong. I feel that this is more "honest" and open somehow: to allow the community some insight into my thoughts, and to expect the community to augment my thoughts, helping me and picking up my thoughts where I dropped them. Isn't that the Wiki spirit?

PanSola's considered way of writing sets him apart. Reading the text you already know that this is no regular user writing. It gives more authority to the author (and so does watching your language). It elevates anyone who does this above the common crowd and reinforces admin authority.

I don't even think this is wrong; it is a different style. If it works for Pan, great. I just wouldn't want to do it myself unless I was actually wearing my "admin hat", "handing down" some decision or formal opinion. Maybe it's because I'm uncomfortable being an authority figure.

If I keep my "write first, ask questions later" discussion style, what negative ramifications should I consider? --◄mendel► 01:12, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

Iirc this was brought up on the Rfa page but I cannot remember. Entropy Sig.jpg (T/C) 03:09, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

In a dispute, letting time pass ensures I can calm down and examine myself for emotions that may impair my ability to discuss reasonably. Posting quickly can mean that I inadvertantly start seeing an issue as a personal conflict and thus create one. So if I find myself posting quickly several times on the same subject, a single, better reasoned post is likely to have a better overall effect than the dispute I am engaging in. (This advice extends, of course, to all users, not just admins; but because of their conflict moderation role, it is more expected of them to not do this.) --◄mendel► 18:02, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Entropy on Page Protection[edit | edit source]

Protection is the last resort when dealing with a vandal. It should really only be used on pages which have a great impact (Main page), impact performance issues (Skillbox), could confuse users (Delete/Ban), or on a page which has a long history of repeated serious vandalism (Prince Rurik). The thing to consider before protection is this: "If I am going to remove the protection in a few days, then it doesn't need to be protected in the first place." Now obviously if it was something like the page was being moved ten times or he spammed a hundred links, that would be much more serious and for some reason prot was necessary because banning proved ineffective (proxies etc) then sure, prot. Otherwise, save the big guns for last.

Very few sysops ever use the prot feature in their careers, so even an experienced active user could hardly expect to know such things - this isn't a reprimand in any way, just a friendly admin reminder. As long as it stops the vandals, that the No. 1 priority of course. At the same time though, protting every page that gets hit with a mass vandalizer is counter-productive. Entropy Sig.jpg (T/C) 04:52, 20 May 2008 (UTC) (copied from User talk:Dr ishmael/Archive 2#protting)

New admin thoughts[edit | edit source]

  • Watch what you're writing, it has added authority now.

Case in point: User talk:Nalee Everborn#Plurals. It's a discussion where I had to correct myself. That is not a problem. What I totally didn't expect was that upon writing "you shouldn't link to redirects" Nalee reacts: "I should go back and check my edits, then just in case". What was meant as a friendly hint came across much like an order, and I resolved not to use "should" for stuff that's not as important.

"It'd be better if you ..." - "most users on GuildWiki ..." - "personally, I don't ..."

I can't take it for granted that people won't respect me much when I tell them what to do — to be truthful, I couldn't do that before, and the issue quoted above could've happened the same way before my promotion, but now that I'm an admin the thought that "does (s)he react like that because I'm an admin?" is of course always at the back of my mind. --◄mendel► 01:12, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

Your use of "shouldn't" was exactly correct, because the word implies a desired course of action, not a required one. Compare this to, "don't link to redirects" - "don't" is an absolute form that requires a specific action with no exceptions.
The way I read the conversation, Nalee was just accepting your advice: since she (I'm assuming the gender here) "shouldn't" link to redirects, then she "should" double-check her edits in order to comply with the desired course of action. Judging her personality based on her comments there, I think she would have responded the same way whether you were an admin or not; I think she was responding more to your experience rather than your authority. —Dr Ishmael Diablo the chicken.gif 02:51, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
This is constant problem as an admin, wondering whether people do things because you're you or because of your user rights flags. My solution has always been to lower myself to their level cultivate a Wiki personality which is much like a normal user, so that the "gap" between sysop/bcrat/admin/normal user like and such as is less obvious. And in any case, people are more likely to react pleasantly if you're not sounding intimidating or formal or srs bsns. You know, like "Hello! Thanks for edits, and for the future you may want to read Image Use Policy, in the meantime..." instead of "Stop breaking copyright." (not speaking to you, just in general) Entropy Sig.jpg (T/C) 03:08, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for the feedback. I thought like Dr Ishmael explains, and expected a reaction of "good to know, I might do that in the future" and got more of a "uh-oh, better fix what I did wrong then". I've done better here, but then that is a different personality and a more experienced user, too (I realized that when he ec'ed me adding that link and signing his comment, which made me delete the paragraph where I was telling him to sign the comments, reducing the "facts" to one. Sigh.) --◄mendel► 10:12, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

WWRD[edit | edit source]

"What would Randall do?" - and then do the opposite? (just joking) --◄mendel► 10:12, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

Warning: ban warning[edit | edit source]

It's happened to me and another new sysop: your first ban warning is likely to be overly harsh, because you feel the need to express that you're for serious now, and that lends itself to western hero phrasing. So the advice would be to take great care to make this an extra friendly warning; you're an admin, people do already take you seriously for that. --◄mendel► 01:11, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Admin Role ≠ User Role[edit | edit source]

(PanSola, on Warwick's 6th RfA)

Back when I was an active user, before GWW even launched, the general guiding principle is "promote admins only when we need the additional hands to do the administrative work". Quite a number of good/great candidates were left in the RfA pool for weeks, or even months (after nomination, and after discussion ceased due to not having much to discuss), before being promoted. Currently I do not see the need to diverge from that principle.

After I became admin (I don't actually think there was RfA for me, Gravewit just promoted me silently IIRC), I remained very active for at least many months. However, during that time, I had found that I needed to watch myself more and more. I was less able to be a "mover & shaker" of the wiki, due to the very fact that some people know I am an admin. Some would resent some of the things I was trying to push for, and thought incorrectly that I'm describing something that was going into effect no matter what they argue, when the matter was totally open to discussion and further input. Other users worried that certain stances I take on matters such as alpha-leaks might be mistakenly conceived as the decision of the GuildWiki admin team or is the official endorsed position of GuildWiki. And even when those two types of concerns don't get in my way, and I do influence major changes on the wiki, the fact that I was an admin makes the changes feel like something that is brought forth top-down, whereas before my promotion I exemplify the spirit of grass-root bottom-up changes. I've already lost count the number of times when I knew I could avoid more conflicts or make more changes happen had I not have the status of adminship. I've brought up resignation multiple times, not as a threat (because whenever those times come up, we tend to have enough admins to keep things working), but as a solution. While each of those times I was able to finally convince the other party that my actions/rational were independent of my adminship (and so my offer to resign becomes moot for that case), my admin status still was a speedbump and a shadow looming in the back of my mind. This personal history (mostly public info scattered here and there on the wiki if you dig past before the days of GWW) strengthened the principle of "don't unnecessarily promote" that I inherited from the older admins, and formed my desire to see the more active, creative people remain as peers of the regular-user population and encourage boldness by example. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 21:48, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Admins as mediators ?[edit | edit source]

See also GW:AUNC and its talk.

(PanSola, on Warwick's 6th RfA)

"Admins have a conflict-resolution role on this wiki" - this view I fear is one of the illustration of the failure of our community, and I personally stand by "admins do NOT intrinsically have a conflict-resolution role on this wiki". If there is a conflict that does NOT go out of hand, then for however long the conflict drags on, there is nothing that is within the particular right/responsibility for any sysops to do. Conflict should be resolved by reason, not by rank. Now, if a conflict goes out of hand to the point of policy-breaking or other aspects of wiki-disruption, then whoever broke the policy or disrupted the wiki ought to be warned and/or reprimanded, no matter which side in the conflict (if any) is actually "right" on the original point. Thus, admins have a "wiki-upkeep" role, but "conflict-resolution" on its own is a role that should no more belong to an admin than it belongs to other users. If recent events have promoted such a view that "admins have a conflict-resolution role on this wiki", then that is most unfortunate (and it means the thing I fear about in an earlier point is already happening in a limited scope with respect to conflict resolution) and I would urge all admins who try to resolve conflicts henceforth to go out of their way to make sure people do not mistakenly get the impression that you can do it because you are an admin. At least, that's my personal 2 cents from the perspective of a GuildWiki user.

I need go get more pennies. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 21:14, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

The goal of conflict resolution/mediation should be to get the two sides of the conflict to ... no longer be in conflict, to reach a point of understanding. It is not intrinsically tied to bans or the lack of. A conflict might never get resolved yet as long as the parties involved keep things under a threshold, even Auron wouldn't ban them. Getting the two parties to reach a peaceful understand should not be an automatic license to forgive everything they did prior to reaching the understanding (despite my inclination to not ban ppl if I feel they won't cause additional troubles in the future). The goal of mediation shouldn't be for a free "get out of jail" card, shouldn't be for the prevention punishment. The goal of mediation should be to reach a peaceful understanding, even if it means agreeing to disagree, and even if the parties still need to be responsible for their prior actions during the conflict. Thus I believe that the role of mediator does not need to be backed up with sysop rights/authority. Mediators aren't trying to get ppl to stand down with promise of forgiveness. Mediators are trying to get ppl to calm down, see reasoning, and reach an understanding.

In conflicts where you have mediated and resolved where you do not feel ppl warrant a ban, but somebody still get banned, I urge you to bring the specific case up on the Admin noticeboard. The other admins may agree or disagree with the ban, but as long as you never promised any "get out of jail" card as a carrot, the mediator does not need to be backed up by the powers of the counter-enforcer. The trigger-happy admin would still be able to ban regardless, and I would expect some discussion to take place before the counter-action of unbanning. The powers of sysop does not thus grant direct protection to the parties being mediated by a sysop-mediator.

Those are my believes of how things should be, not necessarily how things are. Feel free to disagree with my 2 cents. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 22:58, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Seeing admins trying to moderate a conflict reminds me sharply that this is the focus this topic needs. I am trying to propose two working definitions (feel free to criticise):
Moderation
seeing that a discussion stays rational and doesn't get personal
Mediation
working with the parties of a conflict to solve it
Of course mediation usually encompasses moderation.
Admins are the ultimate moderators because they can ban people for "trolling" or "wiki disruption" that refuse to be moderated. Of course, any user can say "better calm down, or you'll get banned", and in most cases it'll work, but only admins have the authority to actually make it happen. So moderation of conflicts is a traditional admin role, and this should be mentioned in GW:AUNC.
"Calm down now and we won't ban you for the trolling you did" would be a good thing to be able to say, but right now I wouldn't be 100% certain if it stood up — it'd require a consensus among the interested admins.
Because mediation is much more than moderation, it is less tightly tied to the admin role. Anybody can come up with suggestions that help the conflicting editors come to a compromise or a solution, and admin powers don't help there. Once a compromise is reached, enforcing it could be an admin role, though. --◄mendel► 18:02, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Warning time for big edit actions[edit | edit source]

(quoted from User talk:Warwick/Archive 44‎#Botting)

General rule of thumb: If nobody disagreed with you, but the number of ppl agreeing with you is barely a handful (ie, significant number of people have not expressed an opinion), and you feel it's about time, add another note explicit warning people that lack of opposition would be seen as endorsement of whatever the relative majority opinion is, THEN wait for 24 more hours.

The way I usually do it is to put up the explicit warning on the 6th day so I get to act after 7 days has passed (on an issue that ppl aren't commenting on and not opposing). -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 20:40, 30 April 2008 (UTC)

Bureaucrat Advice[edit | edit source]

Post of Leadership[edit | edit source]

from User talk:Entropy/Archive 30#Re: "post of leadership":

While I am happy to see the concept of the administrative positions named as a non-identical concept from the "post of leadership" in your message, something in what you wrote brought up an issue that has troubled me for a long time.

Yes, you have a de facto "post of leadership" on this wiki. It happened due to a combination of factors, and your position as a Bcrat happened to be, IMHO, one of the earlier triggering catalysts that ends up placing you in that post.

You have been in a rather unique position in the history of GuildWiki. You see, the GuildWiki community never really had a de facto leader previously (at least going as far back as the GuildWiki history I am acquainted with). Gravewit happened to won the "ownership" of the actual wiki, but he was nowhere near being the community's leader. Nor were the other Bcrats. They were just active community members with the actual system permission to promote other sysops. The ones trusted to be asked to arbitrate just have a fair reputation (and have sysop rights to enforce the result if necessary), but they aren't seen as the de facto leaders of the wiki community either.

GuildWiki was led collectively by the active members of the community, many of whom weren't even admins at all.

The above sentence is still more or less true today, in terms of what happens in the main article space. On the other hand, much of the community also considers you as a de facto leader, something we didn't use to have. It is hard for me to really decide whether that is a good thing or not. For a healthy wiki that reached critical mass with much more room to grow, I would generally consider having a singular leader at the top as a bad thing. However, for a wiki that from a number of perspectives is already dead (in fact, has been dead for many many months), having a focused leadership might help give a sense of direction to the community, or it might worsen the health of the community such that the singular leader holds/becomes the last straw.

Basically, I am worried about the community becoming dependent on having somebody in the "post of leadership". If you did not return, I would not have assumed that post. It's not something that just came with the Bcrat position, and even if I had a perfect score in all the other criteria to be trusted with the post, my semi-inactivity along would have disqualified me from being the leader of the community. If you did not return, I would have continued to observe and see if the post of leadership would have naturally fallen onto somebody else (who probably would not be a bcrat), and if that didn't happen by the time some kind of alarm in my head starts to scream, I would have tried to spend more time on the wiki to try to get the community used to not having a leader again.

Back when Mendel was recently promoted to adminship, I told him that it was now his responsibility to doubly make sure that for any stuff he used to do as a user and would be continuing doing as admin, new users will perceive those as stuff they themselves can do also, as opposed to something Mendel does because he's an admin. I feel we have to proactively reinforce the YAV principle, instead of just passively obeying/quoting it.

In response to your "request for judgment" from the community, while the outcome you listed were simply whether to continue grant you in the post of leadership, I (with all the authority a fellow community member may command) would "sentence" you something else:

For every person ("A") who valued you and deferred to you as de facto leader, you need to empower somebody ("B") through motivation, encouragement, and/or other means of positive reinforcement such that A will also value B and consider B one of the co-leaders of GuildWiki. A and B can be the same individual.

Or in plainer language, you need to make everyone on GuildWiki who considered you as its de facto leader to feel there are other de facto co-leaders. It's not something you can simply solve by promoting Bcrats, because we do have a huge precedents of Bcrats who aren't considered leaders.

[..] -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 10:59, 2 January 2009 (UTC)


Contextual clarification: I was advocating Entropy to empower users in general, so more users consider themselves and/or each other also as leaders of the wiki, without actually setting formal "posts" of leaderships to be filled. It's all about what people perceive, not formal positions. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 23:24, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

Stand by your Admins[edit | edit source]

This is a bit of advice I took from User talk:OBloodyHell when Entropy did it: stand by your admins. In any discussion about rules, and criticism at the administration, it is often easier to see the grievance of the underdog; but as usual, there are two sides, both sides are actual humans, and the admin who represents "the man" in this conflict deserves to be understood as well: the admins expect especially their Bureaucrat to make an effort understanding them, and to not merely stand up for the "Underdog", but also to stand by them, as far as they are justified. I realize I am doing this as I am standing up for Warwick on User talk:Suicidal Tendencie. --◄mendel► 09:58, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Make unblockings abundantly clear[edit | edit source]

We've had to unblock a user on another wiki, several times, unfortunately. After the first time the issue was raised whether the first block would count against them in matters such as adopting another wiki (Wikia typically requires a clean slate here), so the second time around I made sure to state in the unblock summary that the block I was lifting had been completely unjustified. This ensures that somebody who investigates the character of another user by examining the block logs of the wikis they contribute to don't get the wrong impression, even if they don't take the trouble to research the issues surrounding the blocks in depth. It is the least we can do to limit the repercussions of a block we found to be in error.

Arguing[edit | edit source]

From me for CANADA, on UnAnswers[edit | edit source]

From w:c:unanswers:User talk:CANADA#Future RFA:

So, I'm thinking of requesting adminship sometime in the near future. Not right now, of course, but eventually. Part of the reason for this is that I am pretty involved, and think I would fit the roll well when the time comes. [..]

Until then, it would be helpful to know more about the role of an administrator, and also what I can do to better qualify my self for the position.CANADA 04:36, April 25, 2011 (UTC)

For one, being generally helpful helps. Taking initiative for stuff (like you already did with the facts) is good too in my book.
Administrators do the same as regular users, but simply have more tools to do so. Deleting spam pages or redirects that were left from a page move, giving vandals a banhammer to the face, but one of the hardest is that you'd be expected to step in if user conflicts pop up. I have often failed in doing so, mostly because I was friends with both parties and had a very tough time deciding anything. Of course, you can do that too as a user, but it's more or less expected to do so as an admin (if you're on at the time of course). --TalkpageEl_Nazgir 07:58, April 25, 2011 (UTC)
Admins need to
  • know every policy by heart
  • uphold the spirit of the commujnity rather than policy lawyering
  • be courteous and considerate towards anyone
  • show strength and determination in combating disruptions
  • be strong contributors to the community
  • make completely unbiased decisions
  • check the wiki as often as they can
  • have a life and, preferably, sanity
  • can be like regular users
  • need to know how everything works on the wiki (there'll be a test)
  • work well with the existing admin team
  • show independence, initiative, and have their own opinion
Well, I can't think of any more contradictions. I personally think the most important qualifications are an open mind, a desire to learn, loyalty to the community, and the ability to explain one's own actions well if called upon.
I'm not sure whether Wikipedia has an intro course (but then there are differences between each wiki, so we don't necessarily do it the Wikipedia way); you could read up on past discussions on our community portal and beyond; you could pick another big wiki you know and see how they handle things there. I also recommend looking around at how other big (read:experienced) wiki communities handle things. Randomtime, El Nazgir and I originally got our ideas on how wikis work from GuildWiki (I think), so that may or may not be a good place to start (yes, if you want to think like us; no, if you feel you ought to bring a different outlook to the team); I highly respect the Runescape wiki admin team, and they defined adminship last year in a series of articles/discussions linked from w:c:runescape:User:Azaz129/Defining administrators 2010. They have a lot of good stuff in their forums; you might start with w:c:runescape:Forum:Adminship guidelines and the categories that this page is in; I just found w:c:runescape:Forum:Consensus.
My own advice is linked from the "GuildWiki" tab on User:Mendel, where I used to be admin and bureaucrat. --◄mendel► 20:24, April 25, 2011 (UTC)