Wikipedia:Advice for new administrators

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May you wield the mop and bucket with equanimity...

Jimmy Wales, February 2003

Congratulations on your successful nomination for adminship! Here is some advice that you may find useful:


  • Set a strong password now, and strongly consider enabling two-factor authentication (see the simple guide). Your account now has the potential to cause site-wide damage with a single edit. If this happens, you will be held responsible. Permitting your account to be compromised, by neglect or otherwise, will likely lead to blocking and loss of adminship. Better safe than sorry.

How to act[edit]

  • Remember that administrator status is not a trophy. Generally, therefore, do not act any differently now than you did six months or a year ago. It is true that you may be able to help mediate a dispute effectively, or resolve one, or guide the improvement of an article. But in virtually all of these cases your ability has nothing to do with your being an administrator, just with your experience, knowledge of the policies, and good sense—i.e. virtues you had long before you became an administrator, and virtues shared by many non-administrators. It is the possession of these virtues that is important and merits respect, and they have nothing to do with being an administrator as such. In other words, someone who isn't an administrator but who is experienced, knows the policies, and has good judgment is just as (and sometimes more) likely to improve a situation as an admin can. Respect other people's good judgment, and expect them to respect your good judgment—but do not expect any special treatment just because you are an admin.
  • Although administrators do have certain powers, you need good judgment to use them. Nevertheless, this does not mean that administrators should act like police or judges. Consider thinking of your new status more like a custodian. Custodians typically have the keys to every room in the building—because it's their job to clean out the garbage and make sure the place is presentable when people come to work. Because the custodians have keys for the building, they could lock the workers out of the building, or empty the furniture out of somebody's office for the fun of it... but, as a rule, they should not. And if there are times when custodians may be called upon to empty someone's office, it isn't something they do for the fun of it nor to do just because they can. Similarly, administrators' powers enable us to help out with countless maintenance jobs (e.g. our version of cleaning up graffiti). It is true that among these are powers to block users or protect pages, but we should strive never to use these powers based on our own judgment. Instead, as a general rule, administrators should use their powers only when Wikipedia policy makes it an unquestionable and thus practically automatic act, or when there is such a strong consensus that an admin's act is simply executing what is clearly the will of the community (if you ever have doubts, report the matter at the administrator's noticeboard, or ask on the admin's IRC channel—don't hesitate to draw on the advice or help of more experienced admins.) Be cautious and diplomatic, but be ready to use your tools if necessary.
  • Be very careful to avoid acting in a situation you're involved in. If you find you're being harassed, it's best to contact an uninvolved administrator to handle it for you if it worsens.
  • Avoid wikilawyering whenever possible. Explain your actions in the context of how they improve the project and prevent disruption, not because "the rules say that".
  • Our dictum, "ignore all rules" feels good the first time you use it, and we should never blame newbies for over-indulging. But even philosophers drunk on wisdom need designated drivers (or people to clean up the mess they leave behind). Appreciate its value, but be sure you appreciate the importance of our other policies. Policy is often smarter than you think.


  • Almost all conflicts can be resolved by:
  1. Patience and talking (instructing users and willing to let things play out over a few days or weeks). If you see a revert war brewing, warn people that we have a three-revert rule; guide them to the three-revert rule policy; explain to them that the rule is not a game but meant to allow people to cool down and gain a little distance before proceeding; if someone has been warned and then reverts a fourth time, block them for 24 hours (if you ever have doubts, report the matter at the administrator's noticeboard—don't hesitate to draw on the advice or help of more experienced admins).
  2. Paying careful attention to our core policies, Neutral point of view, Verifiability and No original research.
  • Assume people act on good faith and give people the benefit of the doubt as long as they are not violating our core policies. If someone clearly violates them,
  1. Gently encourage them to read our policies carefully (provide the links to make it easy for them),
  2. But don't hesitate to revert immediately if that is what is unquestionably necessary to comply with the policies.
  • Always remember that talk pages are for improving articles. If someone starts using a talk page as a soap box or platform for long, tangential discussions:
  1. Do not get sucked in (we know, this is hard to avoid!)
  2. Gently discourage the contributor from misusing the talk page
  3. When subtlety fails, use the appropriate warning template: {{Off topic warning}} or {{Not a forum}}
  • If you ever find yourself getting sucked into a conflict or a long tangential discussion and need to find a way to distance yourself—or just feel bored or antsy—you'll find plenty to do here or here.


See also[edit]