Wikipedia:Advice for RfA candidates

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Nuvola apps important.svgMost people only need 20–25 minutes to read this page. If you are truly ready for adminship, you will pass. Unfortunately most RfAs that fail nowadays do so simply because candidates did not read the instructions and advice pages.

The process of becoming an administrator is described on Wikipedia:Requests for adminship. The tasks that admins actually do are described at Wikipedia:Administrators. Successful candidates will almost always have edited Wikipedia for at least one year, will have thousands of edits in various maintenance-related areas of the project, and will have made measurable contributions to articles. The RfA process not only checks a candidate's editing performance, but also looks for clues to maturity, impartiality, and sense of judgement. Solid preparation is absolutely essential in order to have any chance of success.

More essays (especially those on users' !voting criteria) and advice pages are listed at the end of this page. The footnotes contain links to important examples. Viewed separately, they are an integral part of this advice. Please be sure to read them and follow the links. When you have read this guide and gone through all the other advice, you may wish to start a request at the Optional RfA candidate poll as the last thing you do before making up your mind, but you may also wish to email an experienced user for advice.

The takeaway is: don’t run for RFA unless you’ve really done your research on what it takes to pass, and even then assume you will do at least 10% worse than you would reasonably think you would. RFA is hard, and it can be very stressful for the candidate. Some users have failed at RFA and just left forever. Others took it so bad they decided to become trolls and/or long-term abusers (thus proving their unfitness for the position). In 2001–2007 it was more or less a cakewalk. Not so much anymore.

Wikipedia is not going to be the only place on the internet where people who hate one another treat each other with perfect kindness like you'd expect in Utopia. If you come in expecting to create that, you're going to either burn yourself out or chase good people away, or most likely do both. Utopia doesn't exist anywhere, and certainly not on the internet. It matters to learn to enforce our behavioural norms with an understanding of human nature. There's usually a reason policies and norms are what they are, and many of the people who have been around forever remember the why.

Before I ran for RFA, I felt extremely confident with policies in regards to blocking vandals and handling other reports at administrative noticeboards – I'd been doing it for years. I thought that the administrator role would be a piece of cake! Let me tell you, my fellow editors – it isn't. My RFA barely passed when I ran, and after passing my RFA, I instantly caught myself checking, double-checking, and even triple-checking policy before I proceeded to take on any administrative actions – even though I had confidently performed thousands of these tasks on the non-administrative side for years. An administrator's actions and responsibilities are a completely different ballgame; being an administrator means that you take on much more difficult and complex tasks, and with the expectation that a very high level of thought and reserve is demonstrated – much more than what you did before you became one. There are many situations and times where you will leave groups of people unhappy – and sometimes everybody unhappy – because of an administrative decision you made, and the subsequent actions that followed. Your decision could be completely level-headed and reasonable, within compliance of Wikipedia's policies, and executed because you're following the proper process outlined by community consensus – you'll still have users up in arms about it. There are times where you'll find yourself unable to win the hearts and happiness of everyone, regardless of the decision you make. You need to be okay with this; you need to have thick skin, an over-abundant amount of policy knowledge, an extreme amount of patience toward other users (especially new ones), a very seasoned and rational level of confidence that what you're doing is the right thing to do, and a very high amount of collective community trust and respect towards you if you want to be successful and excel in this role.

— Oshwah

If you want to easily pass an RfA, avoid doing anything that shows that you have the slightest interest in or skill at the sort of things Wikipedia administrators do. Just create a lot of good content with good citations, and if you see someone putting something in an article claiming that, say, drinking bleach cures coronavirus, silently walk away and let them have their way, hoping that someone else will deal with it. Sorry to say this, but that's clearly what the !voters want.

Preparing yourself for adminship[edit]

No big deal

Wikipedia is not 'just another website', it's a serious encyclopedia that just happens to use web technology for its publication. If you would like to be an admin someday, you should preferably begin preparations some time before making your application, but avoid making it appear as if your end goal here is to become an admin – first and foremost we are here to build an encyclopedia, not to administer it or control the behaviour of its participants. You should thoroughly read the instructions and advice listed and linked above, and on the RfA pages. Review as many old successful and unsuccessful RfAs as possible, and be absolutely sure to generally meet the criteria required by regular !voters (See the list of essays at the end of this page). Users who are not likely to pass may be considered by the community to be immature, or time wasters who are just seeking feedback on their editing. Some candidates whose first RfA failed, pass a second run with flying colours,[1][2] but previous attempts will be closely looked at again by the community.

Do bear in mind that long absences from editing may not convince the community that you will be here to stay for a while. It would be extremely rare to pass RfA with less than 12 consecutive months of recent activity that include the kind of participation in maintenance areas that demonstrate an intention for admin activity.

When you have done all that, and read this page and followed the links, if you are reasonably sure that you stand a good chance now, consider listing yourself at WP:Requests for adminship/Optional RfA candidate poll for a final check if you have not already done so. Check out some of the previous polls in the archives for the kind comments and advice you can expect. Be aware though, that the regular, experienced commentators there do not like having their time wasted – it's not a substitute for reading this advice page.

  • Basics: Although administrators are responsible for blocking users, protecting and deleting pages, and closing some debates, some other actions can have an effect on the entire Wikipedia web site. Whichever areas candidates want to specialise in, they must convince the community that they can be trusted to use all the tools responsibly and intelligently. They must also demonstrate that they act civilly in an adult and mature manner at all times.
  • Blocks: Users who have been previously blocked for any legitimate reason(s) will be required by the community to have learned from their block(s), and have been block-free for a considerable length of time (often 1 year).
  • Civility: Candidates should demonstrate cool-headed participation in discussions, and to have overcome earlier lapses in civility. They should never have engaged in making personal attacks.
  • Content: Admin candidates are expected to have demonstrated understanding of how to assess and cite Reliable Sources inline. This can be done either by contributing referenced content to articles or by adding references to unreferenced content contributed by others. It is a huge plus but not essential to have contributed Good Articles or Featured Articles. Little or no content contribution will lead to significant opposition.[3][4]
  • Creations: Candidates' own creations should demonstrate a knowledge of article policies, guidelines, and style and the pages should be free of old tags. A high number of creations that are mainly stubs, redirects, or disambiguation pages, might not be taken into consideration. A history of creating bad articles that were deleted will not go over well.
  • Diversity: Candidates who have only been active in a limited number of areas (see pie chart) , or who intend to be active in specific areas only will usually incur significant opposition. As the tools can also be used in many areas in which the candidate is less familiar, a relatively broad scope of previous activity in policy and decision making is expected.[5]
  • Fresh/clean start: It is generally expected that fresh start users have declared their intention by closed communication to Arbcom. Not disclosing alternate accounts has been in the past controversial. Please see WP:CLEANSTART#Requests for adminship.
  • Low edit count: A low edit count (see pie chart) will obviously be regarded by most as evidence of insufficient experience. Contributions are the only available basic metric of performance. As such, editors with low counts generally fail. An edit count below 10,000 is often considered low.[6]
  • High edit count: A high edit count (see pie chart) does not always demonstrate experience. The criteria are based on what and where those edits were. Editors with a high number of edits can fail, and having a larger percentage of automated edits, or being too proud of your number of edits, can backfire. (See WP:Editcountitis.)
  • Length of membership: Simply being a Wikipedian for a long time (see the year count tool) may not count for much. The criteria are based on what the candidate has actually done in that time.[7] In contrast, being a Wikipedian for too short a time is usually an issue. It is extremely rare to become an Admin within less than six consecutive months of activity, and successful candidates generally have accounts that are at least two years old. Individuals who might have the right temperament from day one must still demonstrate a broad knowledge of procedures and policies.
  • Activity level: An acceptable edit count (see month count) may not count for much if there has been a long recent hiatus or if the edits are too spaced out. 30,000 edits with only 1,500 edits over the last five years isn't going to demonstrate that there will be much admin activity.
  • Judgement: Candidates will need to show that they can make carefully considered contributions. The criteria are based on the ability to assess consensus in areas that will require admin decisions, input, and discussion closures; and especially to correctly implement deletion and blocking policies.
  • Maturity: There are no age restrictions for being an admin. Candidates are judged on their common sense, good judgement, and good prose. "Cool chat" and "teen talk" on talk pages may win fan club !votes, but may not go down so well with older editors. (That said, Wikipedia has several very young successful admins; it also has various older people who behave like children.)
  • Single-purpose candidates: Unless candidates have demonstrated a very high level of specialisation and contribution in some areas needing advanced knowledge such as bots, scripts, copyright, etc.,[8] it is unlikely that they will be elected based on a claimed need for the tools for a single purpose. This doesn't mean that candidates can't focus their efforts on one or two areas (some candidates only state two or three admin areas they are likely to work in), but they will need to demonstrate they can at least be trusted with the whole tool set. (Note that an actual Wikipedia:Single-purpose account will have even lower chances of success; see "Diversity", above.)
  • User talk: Unless a candidate has focused heavily on providing help to other users, chatty talk pages (see top edited pages), may demonstrate that a user's participation at Wikipedia is more for social or off-topic purposes than for building an encyclopedia.
  • User page: !Voters look at user pages. An uncluttered page with intelligent content goes a long way to not only demonstrating maturity, but also that editors recognise that Wikipedia is a serious project. An untidy user page may signify an untidy mind and careless work. A lot of highly self promotional content, userboxes, and/or excessive external links to one's own private and working life could be seen as the sign of a big ego and a possible power-seeker. Review the user pages of admins.

Specific points[edit]

  1. Copyright: The most innocent copyright violations that you have added – even older ones – especially to Did You Know, good articles, and featured articles will almost certainly be detected, and will seriously compromise your RfA, and perhaps your future on Wikipedia.[9][10]
  2. Your username should not be unusual or overly long (especially the code it generates) and should respect Wikipedia user name conventions. Some voters will oppose if they feel a name does not look serious enough for an editor of an encyclopedia,[11] or if they find it confusing.[12]
  3. Flamboyant signatures are seen by some as ostentation. There are absolutely no rules against custom signatures, but there are guidelines: Readability (it might look fine on your computer or smartphone, but not on others). Pronounceable is best, and it should be typeable: non-Roman fonts, symbols, and dingbats are discouraged and may not be easily available from standard ASCII or QWERTY or AZERTY keyboards especially on mobile devices.[12] People should be able to easily locate your user talk page to ask you questions.[13] Fancy signatures are seen by many !voters as a lack of maturity.
  4. Talk page scrubbing is not recommended. Removing warnings or contentious discussions leaves them in the page history where they can still be easily accessed by anyone. The many admins who !vote at RfA can also view any user pages that you have asked to be deleted. Access to your archives should be easy, and personal information and CSS decoration is best left on your user page.
  5. Userboxes that express opinions on politics, religion, or other controversial issues have been known to be reasons for "Strong oppose" !votes based on fears of a potential risk of tendentious editing or systemic bias.[14][15]
  6. Humour, especially sarcasm, cynicism, and even friendly banter, is often seen as bad form. Unless you are extremely popular and your chances of failure are very low,[16] any comment intended as lighthearted will be wrongly interpreted by some. Most RfA commentators will instantly recognise humour, but !voters seeking reasons to oppose may not see the humour (or will pretend to not see it).[17][18][19]
  7. Conspiracies: Some editors may not be regular contributors to RfA, or even Wikipedia. They may bear a grudge that may even go back a long time (see note 2 below). They might cherry-pick diffs and take them out of context. They may have a history of gaming the system and/or combative commenting. And they may be using e-mail to get their friends to oppose you. Rebuke with utmost care, or preferably ignore.
  8. Old enemies may also have an axe to grind, and although they may never have !voted at RfA before, they might !vote on yours.
  9. Older issues: Examine your past and try to iron out any old differences. This should be done at least three months before the RfA. If the candidate has clearly demonstrated reform, minor issues dating back six months or so might be ignored while more serious issues even older than 12 months might be the reason(s) for opposition.[12] If there are issues you think might be brought up during your RfA, try to discuss them in your opening answers, rather than doing so in reaction to oppose votes.
  10. Off-Wiki activity: While nominators may be unable to examine candidate's private lives and activities on websites not owned by the Foundation, other users may have leads to behaviour that may cast doubts on the candidate's overall suitability, and might oppose accordingly.[12] Don't be misled into thinking that being a moderator on a small internet forum will be a free pass through RfA – while it may demonstrate a mature and calm behaviour, tiny forums do not have the same problems and challenges that Wikipedia does, so it may not count for very much.
  11. Canvassing: Wikipedia policy on canvassing for RfA is clear; RfA is not a popularity poll and it should not be done, on or off Wiki – even an innocent mention on IRC will entrain opposition, and users will not hesitate to post copies of the chat log.[12] Consider using {{RFA-notice}} on your userpage, which is a more neutral way to communicate your RfA to other users.[20][21]
  12. Paid editing: Adminship candidates are required since January 2018 to declare whether they have ever edited or created articles for compensation or quid pro quo of any kind.[22] Although not forbidden by policy, rewarded editing is at best barely tolerated by the community and adminstrators are forbidden from using their tools or other special rights for advantage, gain, or profit for themselves, or for anyone else.[23]
  13. AfD: Many RfA participants look at a candidate's participation at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion (AfD) to gauge the candidate's understanding of the deletion policy. You can analyze your past AfD participation with this tool. A candidate is unlikely to pass RfA with no AfD participation or a history of making AfD !votes that don't match the final results. You should also avoid making "pile-on" AfD !votes to inflate your AfD statistics (i.e. not adding anything new to an already clear consensus besides perhaps "per nom" or "per WP:GNG"). In the past, RfA participants have interpreted some candidates with high AfD match rates this way and subsequently opposed.[24]

Are you ready?[edit]

Just as a further reminder: If after reading the advice above you are still not sure, do consider obtaining some feedback at the optional RfA candidate poll. The comments from the experienced users there are very useful for getting a good sense of your chances – but do not start a poll if you have no intention of applying for adminship in the very near future.


Every RfA needs a strong, convincing nomination. Generally, self-nominations are only likely to succeed from long-term, very experienced editors. Young or new users who have an I want to be an admin userbox may wait a very long time before they are proposed, at least until they have met the basic criteria demanded by the regular !voters. Nevertheless, the user category the box added your name to is regularly reviewed by experienced editors and admins who are actively looking for suitable candidates to nominate. If they believe you to be a potential candidate, they will contact you – probably by email, so be sure to have Wikipedia email enabled. If you have not already done so, you should opt in for your edit-count details to be shown in addition to your pie chart; do this by creating the page Special:MyPage/EditCounterOptIn.js with some dummy content (such as // so you remember what the page is for later; you can also do the same with Special:MyPage/EditCounterGlobalOptIn.js to turn this feature on at all WMF projects if you have a unified login ID). As previously recommended, review the nominations of previous RfA that have passed and failed.

  • Self-nomination: Self-nominations get mixed reception. In fact, some editors systematically oppose self nominations. Some nominations are too short, some are too long, some are too witty, some are too bold, and some candidates simply inadvertently shoot themselves in the foot in their nomination statement. A self-nom must be strong, but not too long, and not sound self-promotional. Candidates who intend to self-nom are welcome to ask an experienced friend for advice on their draft. At Wikipedia all editors are considered equal; what a candidate has done outside of Wikipedia is of little importance for being an administrator.
  • User nominations: Being nominated by another user demonstrates that at least another Wikipedian has confidence that the candidate will be successful. Strong nominations come from experienced users who have done significant research to be sure that the nomination will not backfire on them. Many successful candidates are those who have been nominated by an admin or co-nominated by a second experienced user. See: Requesting an RfA nomination.
  • The three standard questions (shown here) should always be answered before you transclude and start your RFA. If you are nominating yourself, your answers can be an opportunity to expand (rather than duplicate) some of the things you have said in your nomination statement. Do not make a joke in these statements; jokes do not go over well with !voters.
  • Don't imagine for a moment that everyone lives in the USA or the UK. Regular contributors to the English Wikipedia live in every corner and time zone of the world (two well known British admins live in Thailand). Many candidates admit to not getting much sleep while their RfA is running, but it's perfectly acceptable to maintain your normal 24-hour rhythm. Above all, choose a time period when you are fairly confident that you will be able to participate in the site regularly for an entire week. Remember that your RfA is the only thing on Wikipedia that you can control the timing of, so telling others in the midst of it that you are too busy with real life to respond will likely not be received well (unless it's a genuine emergency).
  • Transcluding your RfA: When you enter edit mode for the RfA page, you will be asked one last time if you are really ready – remember, there is one thing that nearly all editors are unanimous about: they don't like having their time wasted. So don't start your RFA at the end of an editing session when you are off to bed. Instead, save it, reread it at the start of your next session and then submit it when you have time to answer questions that come in the first couple of hours. After the first evening later questions can be usually be left for up to 24 hours – everyone appreciates that different people are around at different times; Just remember to always answer in sequence, and always reread the relevant policy – especially if you haven't spotted the trick element of the question. Transclusion is a frequently used process for combining elements of electronic documents, especially at Wikipedia. If you don't know how to do it, you are free to ask your nominator to do it for you, but it may demonstrate to the !voters that you are not entirely familiar with an operation that admins are expected to do with ease.

During your RfA[edit]

  1. At the start, unless there are obvious reasons why the RfA should fail, most RfA's typically begin with a number of "support" !votes, but seven days is a long time and !voting patterns can change dramatically. The more experienced participants will often hold off their comments until later in the process. There could be either an influx of supports or opposes, thus making the outcome unpredictable until near the end.[25] Many of the later participants just !vote "per user X" without bringing fresh rationale to the discussion; this is often referred to as a "pile-on".[26] If after giving it enough time, however, the voting is well below the pass mark and the opposers' comments are valid, it might be preferable to consider withdrawing rather than seeing it through to the bitter end and attracting a lot of unpleasant pile-ons and even trolling.
  2. !Voters' questions are unpredictable.[27] RfA is an open book exam, and Wikipedia is a huge repository of policies, guidelines, and help pages. Careful phrasing of the answers is however required to demonstrate that the candidate knows how to apply the policy in question. Misinterpretation of candidates' correct answers has been known to incur a pile-on of "oppose" !votes.
    Many questions may not appear to be relevant to becoming a sysop,[28] but the opposers will sometimes argue that the answers demonstrate a candidate's capacity to act under stress or to address silly comments from other users. Although such questions often cannot have a "correct" answer, many !voters will not see them as so and will oppose based on the answer; in the worst-case scenario such questions may even cause pile-on oppose !votes. Some questions are posed by new users who seek to make themselves appear important by voting or commenting on RfA.[29]
    Nothing in RfA process policy suggests that answering every question is a requirement, they can be ignored at will; however, not answering can occasionally create pile-on oppose !votes. Advice varies from either putting on a brave show of making an answer, or ignoring the question. [30][31]
  3. Many RfA are not a fair process. (See also "Rebuttals" below.) The community is working to make the process as fair as possible, but there are no guarantees. Some candidates with tens of thousands of edits fail as a result of concern expressed about isolated minor issues, or pile-on opposition following deliberate improper !votes or inappropriate !votes made in good faith.
  4. Avoid responding to !votes. It is usually a bad idea for an RFA candidate to respond to anything in the RFA that is not an official question in the questions section. In particular, replying to oppose votes can generate accusations of badgering and bludgeoning, and also create a lot of text and draw a lot of attention to the oppose vote.
  5. Keep it short and sweet. Candidates may believe that sounding intellectual will put them in good stead. It does not.[32] While many Wikipedians are academics and intellectuals, research has shown that most are not.
  6. Diffs of candidates' comments taken out of context: Cherry-picked diffs that do not reveal the full story in the thread they were taken from. This can be apparently deliberate, or innocently made. In all cases assume good faith.[33]
  7. Diffs of candidates' comments made longer than 3 months ago: It is recommended that unsuccessful candidates do not attempt a further RfA before 3 months have elapsed. It can therefore be assumed that candidates will have addressed any previous negative aspects of their editing and commenting.
  8. Citing unrelated diffs: Many participants cast their !votes based entirely on other !voters' comments. It is possible that they will take these comments on face value without verification.
  9. Don't be fazed by votes by WRRFAO.
  10. Closure: Most RfA's with a final tally of 75% support or more will close as successful, while those under 65% will generally not pass. There have however been important exceptions, with candidates passing under this threshold.[34] The 65–75 'grey' zone is subject to the bureaucrat's discretion after taking into account the quality of the arguments made by the !voters, the strength of comments in the "Neutral" section, and after discounting any !votes they consider to be invalid. In extremely close calls, an extension to the 7-day !voting period may be accorded, or a discussion ('crat chat) may take place among the bureaucrats.[35]

After your RfA[edit]

If you passed
  • Relax – it's over.
  • Enjoy the congratulations – but remember they are for getting through the ordeal, not for actually becoming an admin.
  • Enjoy the pints of beer, don't get drunk, and wear the T-shirt with pride.
  • Check out the Administrator's guide, learn to use the tools slowly, and watch out for some unexpected new links in strange places, especially in the Twinkle CSD menu!
  • Be a role model and lead by example.
  • Never hesitate to ask another admin for an opinion or advice.
If your RfA does not succeed or if you withdrew
  • Relax – it's over.
  • Read Failed RfA advice.
  • Don't be disheartened.
  • Don't cry and don't get drunk.
  • Learn from the advice.
  • Keep editing, don't retire from Wikipedia, and do try again another time.


RfA essays and criteria[edit]


  1. ^ RfA WereSpielChequers
  2. ^ RfA GeneralizationsAreBad
  3. ^ RfA: Liz
  4. ^ RfA: Doniago
  5. ^ RfA: Pbsouthwood
  6. ^ User:Colin M had a successful RfA on April 9, 2022, with an edit count of 9,892.
  7. ^ RfA: NickPenguin
  8. ^ RfA: Cyberpower678 2nd
  9. ^ "Cunard, RfA RCsprinter". Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  10. ^ "Ritchie333, RfA Checkingfax". Retrieved 2016-11-08.
  11. ^ "Lankiveil, RfA Catfish Jim and the soapdish". Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  12. ^ a b c d e Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Σ
  13. ^ "Andrew Davidson, RfA Peacemaker67". Retrieved 2016-11-08.
  14. ^ RfA: Ctjf83 2
  15. ^ RfA: SoWhy
  16. ^ RfA: Boing! said Zebedee
  17. ^ "RfA: Kudpung". Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  18. ^ "RfA: Kudpung". Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  19. ^ "Shoessss, RfA: Kudpung". Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  20. ^ RfA: Cobi 2
  21. ^ RfA: Doniago
  22. ^ RfC about paid use of administrator tools
  23. ^ User:Salvidrim!.
  24. ^ RfA: TheSandDoctor
  25. ^ RfA: Kudpung
  26. ^ "HJ Mitchel: RfA N419BH". Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  27. ^ Wikipedia:RfA cheatsheet
  28. ^ RfA:The questions they ask.
  29. ^ Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi, [1]
  30. ^ Are the optional questions optional? (WT:RfA 27 February 2011)
  31. ^ "Optional" questions should be banned entirely. (Townlake, WT:RfA 25 February 2011)
  32. ^ "Korruski: RfA My76Strat". Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  33. ^ Wikipedia:Don't take the bait
  34. ^ RfA: RexxS
  35. ^ Wikipedia:RfA