This page provides resources for experienced administrators who either:
- Find themselves losing interest in Wikipedia,
- Wish to remain involved but have less time available due to other commitments, or
- Are becoming more involved after a period of reduced activity or absence.
Common causes of burnout
Administrators have the opportunity to participate more fully in psychologically demanding areas of the project that can lead to burnout. It is important to recognize that feelings of frustration and burnout are common. Widely reported frustrations include:
- A conclusion that the project has become overly bureaucratic, and values process over outcome
- A belief that the expected level of subject matter expertise has become too high for the average person to contribute to mainspace articles
- A feeling of being under siege (friends come and go but enemies accumulate over time)
- Frustration with the inability of Wikipedia's dispute resolution system to deal with certain types of bad-faith editing
- A sense that the founding values of the project have been compromised by its success, particularly WP:BITE, WP:CIVIL, and WP:AGF.
- The weight of real-world conflict that extends to Wikipedia, particularly for current and former OTRS and advanced permission operators, and editors who are active on articles related to newsworthy current events
Recognizing that these feelings are common and shared is the first step towards contextualizing them. Most administrators who have been active over the course of several years or more hold some of these feelings but believe that the goals of the project and the rewards of participation outweigh them.
Policy changes affecting administrator conduct
Here is a summary of the major policy shifts that have occurred since policy was formalized in about 2006. Administrators returning to the project should consider re-reading these policies because they cover the few areas where administrative rights have been revoked for first-time non-compliance:
- WP:OFFICE - implementation details have changed considerably. Policies regarding threats of harm and child protection have become more detailed.
- WP:PRIVACY - there's now a formal policy prohibiting the posting of real or purported identification, contact information, IP addresses, or photos of another user without consent.
- WP:WHEEL - the policy on reverting actions of other administrators is enforced more mechanically.
- WP:PAID, WP:COI - broad restriction on editing for remuneration unless the relationship is disclosed. May not use administrative tools for paid work, even with disclosure.
In addition, there have been some other shifts in policy and culture that returning administrators should be aware of:
- WP:3RR is now enforced more mechanically even for otherwise defensible edits made by administrators. The policy has been broadened so that the three-revert maximum applies even if the reverts are to non-overlapping portions of a page.
- WP:ADMINACCT is stricter. Admins that engage in a controversial admin action, then continue editing Wikipedia without properly addressing that issue when asked about it, can be taken to ArbCom and desysop'd for non-responsiveness.
- WP:BLP is stricter.
- Be cautious when unblocking or reversing sanctions. Certain types of restrictions, such as arbitration enforcement sanctions, community-authorized general sanctions, and checkuser blocks, can only be modified or removed with agreement from the original person/group who imposed the restriction.
- See the arbitration committee's 2022 statement on blocks with privacy concerns, including off-wiki evidence, oversighted evidence, and private information.
- Page protection is now available in four progressive forms (pending changes, semi, extended confirmed, full), each with its own policy on use.
- Revision deletion is now available to administrators, obviating the need to delete a page and then partially restore it when purging one or several problematic edits from page history.
- Partial blocks can be applied to prevent editors from editing particular pages or namespaces; see the associated policy.
- Various permissions have been created and are grantable to non-administrators via WP:PERM. For example, new page reviewer was created in 2016.
- In 2021, autopatrolled was unbundled from the admin toolkit. Administrators are welcome to assign it to themselves.
There have been ongoing problems with administrator accounts being compromised for the purpose of vandalism or misuse. It is recommended that you use a password unique to Wikipedia, and consider enrolling in the two-factor authentication system. See WP:PASSWORD for details.
Technical changes affecting new and casual users
There are multiple anti-abuse technologies that have had a pervasive effect on casual editors. Administrators are whitelisted in nearly all cases. It is instructive to observe a newcomer to the project, or to create a new account from which to make simple, good-faith edits (in careful compliance with WP:SOCK), to see how these mechanisms appear to others.
- User:ProcseeBot - Open proxies, including Tor, are now blocked preemptively. (2009)
- Wikipedia:Edit filter - Approximately 5-10% of edits match one of these filters and is either tagged for further review, or disallowed. (2009)
- ClueBot NG - Roughly 1% of all edits are reverted by ClueBot, which uses machine learning to identify vandalism. (2010)
- WP:AUTOCONFIRM - Users that are not autoconfirmed (generally, more than 4 days old and with more than 10 edits) can no longer create articles (2018) or move pages.
- MediaWiki:Spam-blacklist and MediaWiki talk:Titleblacklist are routinely used to stop vandalism. (existed in 2007 but has gradually increased in scope of use)
- WP:PEND - Pending changes protection is now used on several thousand articles (continuously since 2012 with some trial usage before that)
How to re-engage
Here are some suggestions for administrators rejoining the community.
- Clear your watchlist. (If you liked editing those pages, wouldn't you have stayed?)
- Consider using Wikipedia:Twinkle as this widely-used tool makes routine tasks much easier.
- Consider participating at WP:AFD as there is (as of 2018) a chronic problem with discussions closed as inconclusive due to insufficient participation.
- Review the pages tagged for speedies at CAT:SPEEDY. In general, the criteria have changed very little in 15 years, but it might not hurt to review them.
- Try some recent changes patrolling with Huggle.
Changes in sentiment
Though not policy related, be prepared for these changes in sentiment:
- Concern about unsourced derogatory material in biographies was low in the early days of the project, peaked in about 2010, and has since moderated somewhat but is still above earlier levels.
- There is much greater emphasis on sourcing than was once the case.
- Administrators are given much wider leeway when blocking users engaged in vandalism than was once the case. At the same time, the creation of a machine learning anti-vandalism bot has greatly reduced the amount of vandalism and vandalism patrollers. There is less need to block vandals, except in cases where a bad-faith editor is making edits that result in an unusually high administrator workload.
- Paid editing is far more of a problem than previously.
- Notability is becoming stricter. Single-source notability guidelines (SNGs) are becoming stricter. In 2022, any criteria regarding an athlete participating in one professional event was removed from the sports-specific notability guidelines, which included the deletion of the football-specific notability guidelines. Secondary schools are no longer presumed notable (WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES).
At present, admins may lose their administrative privileges after one year of inactivity (no edits or logged actions), or if they have made fewer than 100 edits over a 5 year period. In general, administrative privileges are returned on request for anyone who has performed an administrative action in the five years preceding the request and has not been inactive for at least two years. Detailed policy is at WP:INACTIVE. There are periodic proposals to tighten the inactivity policy, particularly for cases where administrators make edits or take actions that are perceived as being solely for the purposes of avoiding the appearance of inactivity. Rather than making a token edit or deletion, consider making a good-faith effort to re-engage with the project, even if time constraints make your participation occasional.