Wikipedia:What adminship is not

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This essay describes what adminship is and isn't.


Admins do not have "command authority" in the sense that some imagine. They can draw a line based on policies, norms and judgement, and enforce that line with the tools. They often have good insight and suggestions to users, and they should be good at gaining others' co-operation and working with people. But they do not, ever, act as "managers" to people in the business sense. They implement policies in which the community in a broad sense has agreed upon. Thus, for example:

  • They do not "decide what people see". An admin who deletes a page can only do so after a consensus has been reached: in accordance with the communal decision. Whilst they are implementers, they do not decide the policy. Likewise, admins implement a standard of editorship and use of blocking and protection which has already gained consensus via a discussion (in which admins have absolutely no special authority of any kind).
  • They do not need to know how "everything works". But they do need to know enough not to misuse what they touch, and to conduct themselves well. The emphasis is on "not making mistakes", not on "doing it all". Users do things, admins just handle the few exceptions where for practical reasons we don't let every new user do so. Even very experienced admins—including those elected to higher positions than admin—usually don't know how everything works.
  • Admins are users that the community has trusted to operate the tools. If an admin goes for a year without making an edit, it doesn't necessarily have an impact on their trustworthiness when they return to editing. Hence an admin's obligation isn't to "do" any specific role; rather, to act responsibly if or when they do take action.
  • Admins should gain broad respect, but frankly no user is obligated to respect or listen to them (it's not a requirement of editing), and many will not. Blocking is not merely a tool to be used instead of talking to people.

High standards are required, but many people will have misconceptions of what it is that admins actually do. Mostly, admins are:

  1. users the community have chosen based on experience and trust.
  2. users who have consistently good standards on general conduct as editors.
  3. users who are allowed to act as custodians of the tools that for pragmatic reasons need to be restricted in access (due to the presence of many people on the Internet who would use them for purposes that don't help the project).
  4. users who are trusted to only use the tools provided to enact a decision within the standards that the community has decided, and not otherwise.

More specifically[edit]

Adminship is not a trophy[edit]

Being an administrator does not place you in an elevated status within Wikipedia. It is not the user-equivalent of a good article or featured article. Administrators will find they have no extra sway in policy or other decisions because of an RfA. It does not affirm a user's contributions as an editor and is not an award for good editing or other good service. You will not gain more respect simply by being an administrator. It may help to consider the other meaning of the word administrator, that is one who facilitates, rather than one who controls.

Adminship is simply a statement that the individual is a normal user whom the community views as likely to use the extra tools responsibly if given access to them. An admin is just a normal user with a mop and a bucket. It certainly does not give you any Sergeant-like authority.

Adminship is not an entitlement[edit]

High edit counts and a dedication to Wikipedia often demonstrate reliability and aptitude for adminship. However, candidates with high edit counts sometimes fail to pass a Request for adminship, because RfA is about a user's approach and attitudes, not about "how much they do". This is not personal; it does not mean that the community fails to appreciate your contributions. A number of exceptional editors are not admins and will never be, some through choice, some through communal consensus. A number of admins regularly ask to drop their adminship, to leave behind administrative chores and get back to editing instead. Sometimes good contributors simply do not have the proper temperament to be admins; but they are still valuable. No number of edits or length of time on Wikipedia entitles one to adminship.

It's important to know that the administrator user right is a senior-level toolset for users who have demonstrated a high level of wisdom, knowledge, and expertise on Wikipedia with its policies and guidelines, and who demonstrate their respect for Wikipedia's founding principles at all times. They demonstrate neutrality with their edits to articles and cite reliable sources with their changes that require it. They are consistently civil with other users that they interact with - even those who aren't civil towards them. They take the lead and help other users toward the correct solution, and they demonstrate experience in areas that show an abundance of knowledge of Wikipedia's guidelines.

Adminship is not diplomatic immunity[edit]

Every administrator must keep in mind that admins simply hold tools that aid in Wikipedia maintenance, and nothing more. This means that all policies apply to administrators exactly as they would to any other user — if not more so. On top of being expected to play a lead role and set the example when it comes to areas such as civility, conflict resolution, knowledge of policy, and appropriate use of their tools - they are also expected to use their tools within compliance of the relative policies at all times. Admins who repeatedly fail to do this, or who cause significant community concerns regarding their behaviors and the expected responsibilities of administrators and their use of their tools can be readily blocked, stripped of their admin tools, or banned. Admins must follow all of Wikipedia policies (such as the three-revert rule) and uphold consensus and a neutral point of view as if they were any other editor.

Adminship is neither compulsory nor necessary to aid Wikipedia[edit]

Administrators have access to useful tools not available to other users, and are able to use these to serve Wikipedia in additional ways. However, some Wikipedians do not wish to become administrators—despite having the expected levels of experience and community support. Users may always reject the opportunity or nomination to stand for adminship. Additionally, many tools and site areas exist for ordinary users to help in ways they might not have initially considered—see Contributing to Wikipedia. Users can label the ways they contribute by, for example, joining WikiProjects and using the relevant Userboxes.

Adminship is not a game[edit]

Putting yourself up for or nominating other Wikipedians to have an RfA is not a game and is serious. When you are an administrator, you don't just get to block and unblock who you want, delete and undelete what you want, go around editing protected pages when you want, or go protecting and unprotecting whatever you want. It's important to realize that any action you do with these functions can be reversed by another admin. Administrative actions should be used with good judgment at all times. Be sure there is a consensus that exists before you take your next action.

Blocking in particular is one of the most contentious acts an administrator can perform and is considered a very serious matter. Poorly placed blocks can result in you becoming unpopular with prominent members of the community, and with apparent personal attacks being thrown towards you as justifiable under the circumstances. On some occasions, a poor blocking history can result in an admin being desysopped.

Adminship is not for sale[edit]

You, and only you should have access to the extra tools that were granted onto your account. They are not to be shared in any way, shape, or form with other users. Giving another user access to your account in order to make administrative actions is absolutely prohibited, and your administrative tools may be revoked if you are caught sharing your account or allowing someone else to use your account.

Adminship is not a big deal[edit]

Adminship is not meant to be anything special beyond access to extra editing tools which, pragmatically, cannot be given to every user. It does not give any extra status, weight in discussions, or special privileges beyond what is necessary to technically use those extra tools.

See also[edit]