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Forum:Discussion - Admin responsibility definition

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Forums: Index > Wiki discussion > Discussion - Admin responsibility definition

This is a general discussion that all editors can use to discuss a line by line list of admin rules. There are those on this wiki that suggest that us admins use our "powers" beyond what their original purpose was. The following links are links to our policies regarding this subject. If anyone feels that these are not well defined enough or are just fine as they are please address this below. Thanks!--Kingclyde 22:26, June 9, 2011 (UTC)


I brought this up because there was a rather large issue on the defining of an admin job on Forum:Reconfirmation request - Tagaziel and I would like to get this settled. Apparently the guidelines we have in place now are not sufficient enough to meet some peoples standards. Instead, some people would wish something along the lines of a Penal Code or something similar. The way I see it, is that this wiki has flourished in the last 2 years that I have been here (not due to me just something I witnessed in my time here) and we have never had issues to this magnitude. Daily I am seeing admins that have been here for a long time being told that, in not so many words that their opinions "outside of admin responsibilities outlined at VA:RFA" when in all reality they usually don't. Some people feel that we are "admins are no more than 'janitors' who can delete pages, use rollback and ban disruptive users, and what I have seen is admins operating far outside mandate". According to The Vault:Administrators, "The only difference between administrators and bureaucrats is that bureaucrats can give and revoke other people's administrative powers. " Each of us (admins) are acting out of the good of The Vault. This wiki has thrived without a situation like this ever since I have been here. I feel that the current guidelines and policies are fine in regard to how admins act and to their responsibilities. But that is my opinion.--Kingclyde 22:26, June 9, 2011 (UTC)

I agree fully. I might not have been here for that long a time, but I noticed no problems of this magnitude until very recently. I do not feel that we need a series of, penalizing as you call them, codes and rules. If we all work for the best of the vault, we only need guidelines, and any division of opinion can be solved in talkpages. My two cents at least. Hugs Scar: "Say 'ello to my little friend!" 22:32, June 9, 2011 (UTC)
I feel that I should point out that rather than say that "some people feel" that admins are no more than janitors, it would be more accurate to say that that is the implication of VA:RFA. If it is not the case, then I feel that VA:RFA should be clarified, because that is not the impression given, and if it is the case, then a reiteration is instead needed, as admins' actions often fall outside of this.
What I am saying basically boils down to this: VA:RFA explicitly states that admins have no more authority than any other users. In practice this does not appear to be the case. I do not mind what decision is ultimately made about the responsibility of admins, only that the decision is made within the framework laid out by current policy (that the decision is made by the community, and that it is made by consensus). --Lugiatm (talk · contribs) 22:51, June 9, 2011 (UTC)
The same article states this as well, "The only difference between administrators and bureaucrats is that bureaucrats can give and revoke other people's administrative powers." Just a note to a your argument.--Kingclyde 23:00, June 9, 2011 (UTC)
That would suggest that as an extension, bcrats have no more authority than the average user, which in practice is definitely not the case - and whether it should or should not be the case is for the community to say. If the wiki's own administration policy is internally inconsistent then that probably strengthens the argument for reform. --Lugiatm (talk · contribs) 23:03, June 9, 2011 (UTC)
I will contribute an edited version of my argument I proposed to a user who could not understand why the opinion of an admin is held in high regard by users to this discussion:
The community guidelines in question here are just that - guidelines. This isn't scripture or a binding agreement, some flexibility is allowed and I have seen this stated multiple times. Also, if you've read the policies I'm assuming you've read this section, clearly stating that another user must be called to mediate in the case of an edit disagreement? Specifically:
"If you cannot reach a consensus, ask another user to mediate.".
Now this isn't even difficult psychology, but admins are given a trusted position of power whether you agree with the phrasing or not, and this generally brings with it a level of trust; it isn't hard to see why the word of an admin is going to be prefered over that of a month old account thinking the world owes them everything. This is just the way the human brain works and it isn't really hard to see why this happens so much, and when it does why it is accepted without some large scale revolt. If you don't like and can't understand why admins are relied on for community support then there is not much point in me continuing to argue my point. And just to clarify, this isn't just an admin-specific thing and don't get the impression that I'm saying it is, I have even weighed in with my own opinion many a time and have been successful at ending a conflict, most of the time in fact it just depends on how you articulate your reasoning, which is something most admins are very good at anyway (usually a lot better than the average user), and it isn't hard to see how the pieces fit together here, how and why the decisions of admins can be trusted by community members with minimal opposition. Bare in mind I'm just a neutral observer, I have no reason to side with the admins here, they owe me nothing and I owe them nothing, but it is perfectly reasonable to assume that they are figures to be trusted for the many reasons I've stated.
Also, admins all have different duties, they don't just all perform the same cookie cut tasks, they all do different things and specialise in different areas; to define a role for them to all fit into without any flexibility would be highly detrimental to the functionality and growth of the wiki. And there's also the fact that the wiki has no obligation to be fair and just, making the need for a "penal code" highly unnecessary.
Anyway now that is out of the way, despite what it says in the policies it is obvious that admins do have more authority than other users. Look up authority:
Definition 1: Given power, "power assigned to another; authorization"(given by a bureaucrat in this case).
Definition 2: "The power to enforce laws, exact obedience, determine, or judge", it is obvious admins do this. "Laws" (policies & guidelines) are enforced via blocks and warnings, warnings serve as a means of obedience so users don't disregard the rules under the threat of a block, and admins definitely judge and determine whether someone has broken a rule or is deserving of a block.
Definition 3: "A public agency or corporation with administrative powers in a specified field", as Wikia is not a public agency it falls under corporation, it is a private enterprise. The field is specifically the Fallout wiki, and admins are (obviously) given administrative powers.
Definition 4: "An accepted source of expert information or advice", this is obvious, and people do respect the word of an admin, there is nothing you can do to change that.
And these are only a few definitions.
If anything, the guidelines should be changed to specify that admins do have more authority as they clearly do and this definitely isn't a bad thing. If this wasn't the case then anyone could just be an admin, but instead users are required to fulfill a criteria and must be accepted by the bureaucrats as acceptable in terms of behaviour and competence etc. (and I've seen that they must also have noticed the activity of said user), only then are they are granted powers, a form of authority in itself. If this change is made with a line akin to "adminship is trusted authority, therefore certain criteria must be filled", then there will be less users attempting to undermine the responsibilities and accomplishments of the Vault administration. Besides, the current iteration is somewhat contradictory as it is stated elsewhere that the only difference between admins and bureaucrats is the ability to give administrative powers, and if you don't view bureaucrats as an authority then your perception is flawed. --User:Cartman!User talk:Cartman! 23:18, June 9, 2011 (UTC)
I honestly don't know where you, Lugiatm get this "admins have no more authority than any other users". You have been asking my to show where exactly is it said that the wiki uses (fill in the blank)" now I want you to show me exactly where that line you keep quoting comes from. I honestly think that someone who has indeed only been here for less than a month and has managed to still up so much trouble is ridiculous, has any real concept on how this wiki is run and has been run. We have had NO ISSUES in how admin policy has been conducted here. Ever. You Lugiatm, have taken it upon yourself to champion for change where it isn't needed. So far from what I have seem in Tag's reconfirmation, you do not listen to others opinions at all nor is anyone really siding with the fact that there has been a major issue with admins violating their "powers". If you want to get specific, tell me what you think the actual difference between an admin and a bureaucrat is. That seems to be the basis for this last argument. Do you see them as the wiki's gods and admins and just the church janitors? How to you actually see the Vault's hierarchy? That is the issue you have here in all reality. You want to make edits that various admins judge as bad, but yet you think every article needs to be validated by the community and not by a seasoned admins judgement? If every articles content was voted on, the articles would be a mess. That simple. Also policies are usually made by admins and bureaucrats with the input of the community but it is down to the admins and bureaucrats. If the community feels it's a great idea to add "This NPC walks on two legs" in every article, the admins and bureaucrats would overturn it. That is what we are here for, to add conformity and maintain order. Now at this point I want you to lay out exactly what your issues are with admins.--Kingclyde 23:20, June 9, 2011 (UTC)
Let's not forget that he outright ignored my counter-argument in the previous discussion, and for someone who apparently believes that the community should have the final word, does this not seem somewhat biased? I think this entire thing has gone on too long and has caused much more commotion then is needed. --User:Cartman!User talk:Cartman! 23:42, June 9, 2011 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) Cartman, I responded to this previously here and you said I had ignored you completely. I do not feel the need to reiterate myself. Kingclyde, I'm not sure how you're missing this, but for your benefit, the exact line is this: "administratorship is not a reward for good contributions nor a promotion to have more authority than other users" (emphasis mine). If you feel that elsewhere in policy it is stated or implied that admins do have more authority than other users, then the problem is either a lack in clarity or a lack in internal consistency of wiki policy.
As for your question of how I see bcrats, I see bcrats as policy describes them - sysops with the power to grant or revoke sysop privileges. A fairer question would be what, in my personal view, should bcrats be, but that is not the issue here.
There are two things I want you to stop doing now please. First, stop misrepresenting me. I am not saying every single article should be voted on, but that we have a broad guideline for how the wiki operates to stop such votes from being necessary at all. You also seem to have a severe lack of understanding in what consensus-based decision making means, it is not voting. You also do not seem to be aware that this wiki, according to VA:UC at least, is consensus based, rather than having everything "down to the admins and bureaucrats", as you feel. If you feel that everything should be the decision of the admins, then you need to change policy to reflect this, because this is not the current policy (and therefore has never been agreed on by the community).
Secondly, stop trying to bring the amount of time you've been on the wiki (and indeed, I've been on the wiki) into this. Judge a proposal on the strength of the argument rather than the person who is making the argument. --Lugiatm (talk · contribs) 23:46, June 9, 2011 (UTC)
I actually couldn't tell that that reply was aimed at me and not the other individual involved, funny. --User:Cartman!User talk:Cartman! 23:51, June 9, 2011 (UTC)

Let me start out by saying that the people saying admins are just "janitors" are appalling. Admins do so much more. They help other users out when needed, do vital maintenance on The Vault and provide opinion on pressing matters that make The Vault a more friendly, efficient place. But I suppose I'm preaching to the choir, so I'll stop. For the time I've been here, I haven't seen anything of the scale, except for in the past two weeks or so. I don't think admins need a set in stone, official set of "rules", per se; all they need are some guidelines that they can tailor to their own needs, but not change too drastically. If an admin veers away from the "rulebook", they should only tweak the regulation slightly, so it works to everyone's advantage. Kastera (talk) 23:26, June 9, 2011 (UTC)

If you understand like that Lugiatm, yes it must be changed. For you now, it's like your director has no more power than a simply employee. An admin who is someone "elected" by the community to do the best to improve the Vault and ban anyone trying to vandalize the wiki. Even before I was admin, on my opinion, and even on other Wiki where I go in, the admin opinion is more important than a normal contributor, it's normal. Discussion is always open (and obligatory), and it's in the admin doesn't respect the mutual decision, then they are a problem. Like you seen for Mikael, it's the bureaucrats take the final decision, taking people's opinion, but the only decision is take by them, it's normal. If someone is abusing his powers, a punishment can happen like for Mikael. It's the same for any other gaming wiki I've seen, I do not see why this would be the case here. Itachou [~talk~] 23:27, June 9, 2011 (UTC)

Well, I'm done my best to try and exact an opinion of what admins should be doing on this wiki according to Lugiatm. So far I've been told that I am ignorant of all of the wikis policies let alone the general understanding of community dynamics. Guess I'm just that dumb eh. I am no longer going to spend my time arguing with someone who feels themselves so self important to tell the wiki in general that how things have been run for years is wrong in their opinion (and so far only their opinion) and that I am nothing but an uneducated fool. And I've been instructed to stop misrepresenting said person by using their own quotes. Nice. Good day.--Kingclyde 23:57, June 9, 2011 (UTC)

I'm not entirely sure where all of this has completely stemmed from, but personally aside from the one incident I haven't seen any occurrence of an admin abusing powers. Great Mara 01:11, June 10, 2011 (UTC)

When it comes down to it, the admins and bureaucrats are here to do one simple task: keep order. In the sense of a democracy, they have the same value as everyone else. They have one vote for every issue, one say in everything, and one voice for their opinions. They are equivalent to police or congressmen. They are theoretically valued the same as the normal bystander, but because they have a more important role and contribute more, they have a higher "value." Think of Tagaziel. Yes, he is a bit harsh at times, but if you took him out you'd be losing a very tough player and a person who keeps intense and well-established order that prevents vandals and punks from destroying large amounts of content in the wiki. The admins and bureaucrats are here to help, nothing more, nothing less. They have more power because they need more power to do their job, and it isn't like they have some magical ability to avoid repercussions for their actions. No. They face the same judgement as everyone else and thus they show that they have true quality and intelligence and integrity, which most users do not possess. This is why admins are important and powerful, and this is why we should respect them. Sombar1 02:45, June 10, 2011 (UTC)

Except this isn't a democracy, and they do have authority as I have proven by the very definition of the word, therefore the claim that they hold the same theoretical value as a bystander is slightly misplaced. --User:Cartman!User talk:Cartman! 03:11, June 10, 2011 (UTC)
I concur. I was saying that on paper they have the same "voting rights" as any other user, but in actuality they are worth much more, which is how it should be. And many issues are treated democratically, which was also what I was saying. Sombar1 03:14, June 10, 2011 (UTC)

Admins do have more authority than other editors: we have the authority to block users for violation of policy. The only functional difference between bureaucrats and admins is that bureaucrats can grant bureaucrat and admin powers. (By the way, a bureaucrat cannot remove bureaucrat powers.) But, this functional difference also grants the bureaucrats the authority to hold the final decision in granting or not granting admin powers to applicants. We do this via a process of community consensus, but we still hold the final say.

Back to the authority to block users. You could say this is a janitor-like role. That's fine with me. But, it does put us in a position of being responsible for interpreting and enforcing the policies and guidelines of the wiki. A lot of times this looks like reverting edits that do not meet standards. In that sense, we do have more authority than another user who could, of course, revert the same edit. We have more authority in the situation, because if the violating user refuses to abide by the policies and standards, we can block them. Another user would have to appeal to an admin.

This extra authority is why we have the admin guidelines and policies. I think they work. I think the recent events involving Tagaziel show that they work, not that they are broken. I'm also aware that sometimes when the wiki gets busy and admins' time gets short, we can revert without explanation, which can come across as rude or even be thought of as abuse of powers. In practice, though, we get messaged and then we address the issue with explanations and an apology for not explaining our actions. I don't think that amounts to abuse of powers. It's simple human failing, easily addressed with discussion and perhaps an apology. And that is what usually happens.

I think this discussion is a healthy one for the wiki community to have. If there are specific problems people are aware of and concerned about, I would suggest proposing changes in the current wording of the policies and guidelines to address those concerns. Concrete proposals can be discussed fruitfully and a consensus reached. Vague or general complaints without proposed remedies can easily devolve into fruitless arguing over how people feel. I'd like everyone to feel useful and heard and empowered. I think the way to achieve this is to bring the discussion around to specific proposals wherever possible. Cheers.--Gothemasticator 05:07, June 10, 2011 (UTC)

I'd like to first thank for words of encouragement directed at me, it really means a lot to me :) Now, as for the subject matter: I believe that the current guidelines could be amended to reflect the fact that we admins have a certain degree of authority but still include that this authority does not extend to personal disagreements and matters not involving wiki content and administration. Proposal:

  1. A bureaucrat is an administrator with access to bureaucratic tools. A bureaucrat can grant and revoke administrator and rollback status. A bureaucrat can make rulings on the Vault's policies and guidelines. Each bureaucrat has the right to veto administrator candidatures, ongoing votes and other matters related to the Vault administration. The veto can only be overturned by another bureaucrat or a majority vote of 2/3rds of the active administrators.
  2. An administrator is a user with access to administrative tools. An administrator can block users, make binding decisions on content, delete and restore content according to applicable policies and guidelines, arbitrate user discussions and take other actions in the interest of the Vault. Administrator decisions can be overturned by another administrator or bureaucrat. An administrator is required to provide reasons for his decision when asked to do so by another administrator, bureaucrat or user affected by the decision.
  3. A user is a natural person with a registered Wikia account. A user can edit content, upload images, comment, discuss and propose policies, guidelines, request administrator status and take other actions not reserved for administrators and bureaucrats. A user is obligated to respect the Vault's policies and guidelines. A user can appeal administrator and bureaucrat decisions to another administrator and bureaucrat respectively. A user may vote if he has made at least 50 (fifty) contributions and his account is at least 14 (fourteen) days old.

I've left the interest of the Vault undefined because that way it allows for a broader interpretation of the content. I believe it is better than strictly defining the term and risking administrator decisions becoming unlawful just because they were not listed.
Furthermore, I believe that we should stop pretending that consensus building is the cornerstone of the legislative system here and just admit that we are a direct democracy. So far all administrator and policy votes were, well, votes, not consensus-based. This is the reason why I equipped bureaucrats with a limited right to veto proposals - while administrator elections and policy changes would be voted upon and if succesful they would come in force the moment the vote is finished, bureaucrats would still be able to veto proposals and prevent them from doing so. If the veto is found to be baseless, then 2/3rds of the administrators or another bureaucrat would overturn it.
Last, the reasons for the small limitations on voting rights. The census of account age and edit count is necessary to prevent sockpuppetry to rig voting and ensure that a user that has at least familiarized himself with the site and its policies would be voting. Fifty edits isn't really hard to do. Really. One may object to a limitation on suffrage, but I believe that such a limitations is in the interest of the Vault and the honesty of its legislative and election process.
Addendum: I believe that we have created an exemplary anarchistic community here, don't you think? http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/fallout/images/0/08/Personal_Sig_Image.gif Tagaziel (call!) 06:39, June 10, 2011 (UTC)

So can we say that my suggestion of specifying that adminship grants authority (as opposed to the current "doesn't grant authority" version) is so far generally agreed on? --User:Cartman!User talk:Cartman! 08:44, June 10, 2011 (UTC)
  • After reading Lugiatm's discussion with Kingclyde, Itachou and the reactions on this forum page, I think the administration policy needs rewriting. First of all, I want to give Lugiatm credit, he's done his homework, backing up his arguments with several wiki guidelines on Itachou's talkpage and refering to the "admins have no more authority than any other users" line in the AP. This indicates we are on equal "power" terms. And in my opinion, we are not. Administrators need to have more authority (in fact most users understand this), because if we're all on the same terms, things get out of hand with endless yes no discussions. Compare it to an office environment, we have office personel (users), department chiefs (admins) and executives (bcrats). There needs to be an hierarchy, so decisions on various levels can be made. Of course, users have the possibility to discuss with admins about changing content (like Lugiatm has done), but if an admin uses good arguments against the change, this needs to be respected. So the AP needs rewriting, I think to about what Tagaziel said. Anyway, it has to be clear, that there is a difference in authority between the various levels. And lastly, for the record, I don't want to be compared to a janitor. I've done too much for this wiki for that. I see it more like an office function like explained above. JspoelJspoel Vault Boy.png 14:46, June 10, 2011 (UTC)

I feel that right now admins are getting little respect, we do our jobs well, but most users we block come back later and start talking about how we are abusing our powers and are not cut out to be admins, despite any previous success we may have had, one example would be when there was a wide scale goatse attack whilst me and Jspoelstra were on, we managed to keep it under control and gave protection to affected users but as soon as we ban another user for something that is against regulation we suddenly become awful admins. Also as I believe it has been stated when users have any kind of problem they ask an admin first of all, and as I understand many other admins have supplied (probably) thousands of helpful responses, however like previously stated this suddenly gets thrown out the window if someone feels they shouldn’t have been banned even if what they did was against regulation. I’m not sure how on-topic this is, but is my views on how admins are treated at current, if I am off-topic someone tell me and tell me how to steer back on-topic. - RASIC Talk User blog:Crazy sam10|Poll 18:34, June 10, 2011 (UTC)

I think it's all about the tone we set in the wiki here. Admins are more experienced editors than most users, and therefore are usually more knowledgeable. Now considering the guidelines already in place the fact that the most active admins are legitimately out here for the good of the vault, we don't really have to worry about admins being untouchable, but we have to make sure they're not bogged down by too much bureaucracy. There has to be an understanding that the admins are here to improve the quality of the vault, and generally know what they're doing better than most users. The best way to set that tone I think is through how we accept new admins and how we might potentially monitor new admins. Clean Up 14:29, June 14, 2011 (UTC)

I believe that admins should have more athority than the average user because admins are looked up to and depended on to maintain policy. The fact is the voice of an admin carrys more weight than that of most users and I think that most veiw them as an authority figures anyway. The idea that they are no better than a standard user is in my opinion misplaced as admins work hard and have gained repect and trust from the community. This is why we make them admins to begin with. How can you ask someone to lead and then not give thim the power to do so. Take Jspoelstra for example. When I first started editing on this wiki I made a few mistakes that he brought to my attention and fixed them. Because of that I knew not to make those mistakes again. We (or at least I) look to admins to make sure that people follow policy and guide people in editing pages properly. How can they do that if they have no more athority than an average user. Also I agree with what Tagaziel layed out and think that admin policy should be that if not similar. --RAMUser talk:Ramallah 18:50, June 14, 2011 (UTC)

It seems to me that the whole argument stems from the content of VA:RFA. To clarify, this page isn't a policy page (only pages in Category:Policies and guidelines are) and as such is not binding for general admin conduct. I put the "an admin is a user who is being trusted with access to certain technical features to aid in maintenance" passage there simply so people do not apply for sysop rights for the wrong reasons (i.e. so they can "boss" people around); it was never meant to be a definition of admin authority. Please note that this passage of VA:RFA was written before it became standard procedure to have a vote on adminship requests, back in the day when Ausir and me simply gave sysop rights to people who seemed qualified because there weren't enough community members to conduct a meaningful vote. That said, I realize I'm arguing semantics a bit when pointing out that VA:RFA is not a policy page; I can see why people might find the passage confusing.

As for my take on the authority of admins; in my opinion admins have more authority than other users only when enforcing established policies, guidelines and best practices; in other discussions they are like any other user. I don't like the idea of admins as mini-dictators ;) -- Porter21 (talk) 22:06, June 18, 2011 (UTC)

Agree with you Porter, it's also my opinion =). But anyway, the generation of this debate was created by the arising conflicts with Lugiatm, who was banished today because he was a banned user (Flower of Pock-Lips) which created a new account to circumvent the ban, so I think the debate is just erroneous. Admins are already acting like that, and apart from him, no one complained of an admin, of their function, and I have not seen an admin transgress the limits and be a dictator. Itachou [~talk~] 22:38, June 18, 2011 (UTC)

So I guess we can call this matter semi-closed. The reason I began this discussion was due to the various disputes that Lugiatm had with admins in general. The argument that was always used was that we were overstepping our authority and we were abusing our "our powers" as admins. Myself personally, I do think the wording is pretty basic and it is not policy as Porter21 mentioned. I think we're all good here. --Kingclyde 22:48, June 18, 2011 (UTC)