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 application for adminship! Here is some advice that you may find useful:


  • Set a strong password immediately, and strongly consider enabling two-factor authentication (see the simple guide for instructions). Even though almost any changes made to this project can be reversed, reverted, or undone, it's still important to acknowledge and understand that your account now has the potential to cause site-wide damage and disruption with a single edit. If this happens, you will be held responsible. Permitting your account to be compromised, whether by ignorance, neglect, or other circumstances – is a serious issue, and will usually lead to your account being blocked and your administrator permissions being removed (if anything, as a precaution and a security measure). You should always keep in mind that it's "better to be safe than sorry" when it comes to the security of your account.

How to act[edit]

  • First and foremost, you must always remember that having the administrator permissions is not a trophy. If you transition to your new role correctly and with the encyclopedia and the community as your priority, your behavior and your overall attitude and demeanor will not change nor become any different right now than it was six months or a year ago. It is true that you may be able to help mediate or resolve a dispute effectively, or help guide the improvement of an article with other editors. However, in nearly all of these cases, your ability to communicate effectively and help bring discussions to a positive and complete closure has nothing to do with the fact that you are an administrator. Your skills and your abilities were developed as you grew and learned as an editor and contributor to this project, and they are applied and used today because of your overall Wikipedia experience, knowledge of Wikipedia's policies, interactions and discussions with other editors, and the wisdom and good sense that you've developed over time. It is the possession of the skills, beliefs, and virtues that you gained long before you became an administrator that's most important and merits true respect, and they have nothing to do with simply being an administrator. In other words, someone who isn't an administrator but who is experienced, knows the policies, and has good judgment is just as (if not usually more) likely to improve a situation compared to someone who just has the administrator permissions. Respect other people's good judgment, and expect them to respect your good judgment. At no time should you ever expect to receive any kind of special treatment or consideration just because you're an administrator.
  • Although administrators do have certain powers, you need to possess good judgment in order to use them effectively and correctly. Nevertheless, this does not mean that administrators should act like they are the police or are judges. You should think more like a custodian when it comes to being an administrator. 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. The fact that custodians have keys for every room in the building means that they could lock the workers out and not let them in, or empty the furniture out of somebody's office and into the dumpster, and just for the plain ole' fun of it... but, as a rule, they obviously 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 do just because they can. Similarly, administrators' powers enable us to help out with countless maintenance jobs (e.g. our version of cleaning up garbage or removing 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 solely on our own judgment. Instead, as a general rule, administrators should use their powers only when Wikipedia policy makes it an unquestionable next step in order to resolve a situations, 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 administrators for how to properly handle an issue. Always be cautious, polite, neutral, and diplomatic, but be ready to use your tools if necessary.
  • Be extremely careful to avoid taking action or performing tasks as an administrative function or duty in situations that you're involved in. If you find that you're being harassed, it's best to contact an uninvolved administrator to handle it for you if it worsens, rather than handle the issue yourself.
  • 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 IAR's 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 being 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 a day (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. 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: {{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]