The powers and position of "Administrator" have existed in some form since Wikipedia's inception in 2001. Administrators were initially selected by Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales, but before long a request for adminship process was created. In 2007, the first large requests for comments style requests for adminship reform discussion, and since then large RfCs have happened every few years.
Several powers have been "unbundled" from the Administrator toolkit—including Rollback, Template editor, File mover, Page mover, Account creator, and Event coordinator. These specific tools allow more people to help with administrator tasks without having to endure an RfA or be fully trusted with the entire toolbelt.
A procedure for de-adminship (or desysopping) has also been widely discussed. Starting in 2011, inactive admins have been automatically desysopped after one year of inactivity. Additionally, many admins have been open to recall, in which several prominent editors (typically extended confirmed editors or other admins) ask for their resignation. Then either the admin would step down, or suffer a second RfA to decide their fate as an admin.
While there have been many RfCs to give certain rights of administrators to other users, there has been very little discussion on removing or expanding administrator power. In the 2007 RfA reform discussion, it was first brought up to require candidates wishing to become admins to have a certain number of edits. This was never implemented as a requirement, however, a user needs extended confirmed permissions—500 edits and 30 days—to edit the Wikipedia:Requests for adminship page. This, however, can be avoided if someone else nominates you, and you allow them to edit the RfA page on your behalf.
The only successful reform on Administrators came in 2011, and regarding demotion due to inactivity. This was brought to the village pump after an inactive admin account was compromised and used to promote white supremacist messages. Prior to being implemented, this issue was a "perennial proposal", and was opposed on the basis to having to hold administrators to strict edit and time requirements. The 2011 RfC fixed both of these concerns by only requiring a one year stretch of inactivity, any edits would reset the one year timer.
Certain powers have been granted to non-administrators, to help with backlogs, and getting stuff done. The first of these proposals to gain support was rollback. The 2007–2008 poll had ~60% support to create a "non-administrator rollback" feature. Even though this was considered "ambiguous" at the time, and previous polls did not result in adding the feature, with similar support percentages. Regardless, a developer was asked to enable the rollback right, and they did. Presently, the rollback right isn't as useful, due to the number of tools allowing for similar functionality with the regular undo button. Still, most vandal fighters still get proper rollback as soon as they can.
Template editor is another unbundled power. This allows technical users to edit edit–protected templates freely. This was first proposed in 2012, but was opposed on the fact that it was too expansive, and not needed. A later 2013 RfC fixed these concerns, and was passed. The RfC added a new protection level that would be applied to templates, keeping full–protection for when absolutely necessary. Template editors can edit both template and module namespaces, as well as edit notices.
In 2011, the "filemover" right was transferred from Wikimedia Commons. This right allows trusted users to rename files. In 2016, the page mover user right was created, allowing users to move pages without a redirect, move all subpages, and move a page to an existing redirect. The May 2016 RfC established the user right, and the later 2016 RfCs added extra permissions to the right.
Reforms by topic
|Inactivity||Initial proposal||31 May 2011||Link||Automatically desysop completely inactive admins after a year||Passed|
|Unbundling||Responder||10 December 2020||Link||Ability to block IPs for a limited time||Ongoing...|
|Moderators||8 July 2016||Link||Abbreviated set of content-related user rights||Rejected|
|8 January 2013||Link|
|Page mover||19 April 2016||Link||Ability to move pages without leaving redirects||Passed|
|Template editor||11 September 2013||Link||Ability to edit protected template pages||Passed|
|29 May 2012||Link|
|File mover||20 February 2011||Link||Ability to move pages in the File namespace||Passed|
|Rollback||30 December 2007||Link||The rollback button||Passed|
|RfA Reform||2021 Reform||29 August 2021||Link||Identified issues, further discussion is ongoing||Ongoing...|
|2015 Reform||4 October 2015||Link||Four out of eleven proposals passed.||Partly done|
|2013 Reform||22 January 2013||Link||Consisted of three RfCs, but all proposals failed||Not done|
|2012 Reform||20 June 2012||Link||Received a number of proposals, but few were implemented||Partly done|
|2011 Reform||25 March 2011||Link||Compiled large amounts of data, but no proposals were implemented||Not done|
|2008 Review||3 June 2008||Link||Compiled many editors' opinions on reforming RfA and some data||Discussed|
|2007 Reform||7 April 2007||Link||Compiled a lot of ideas, but no concrete proposals were implemented||Not done|
- Wikipedia Requests for Adminship "Extended confirmed?", 8 November 2017
- Wikipedia Village Pump: Suspend sysop rights of inactive admins, 31 May 2011
- Wikipedia Signpost: Roll 'em back, move 'em out, 14 January 2008
- Wikipedia Request for Comment: Template editor user right, 11 September 2013
- Wikipedia Village Pump (Proposals): Transferring over "filemover" tool, 20 February 2011
- Wikipedia Page Mover Requests for Comment: "Page mover" permission to be created, 19 April 2016