Using Wikibooks/The Roles Of The Wikibooks Administrator
Administrators are regular Wikibookians, who started off as ordinary readers, editors, and writers. However, over time these users have gained experience in helping the project beyond their own books and they've also gained the trust of the community. When a user has been active for a long time, expressed an interest in helping the project, and has gained the trust and respect of the community, they can be nominated for additional tools at Requests for Permissions.
The community will discuss the nomination, and if people generally agree, that user will be promoted with the necessary permissions. There are many different types of permissions available for different uses, including importer, reviewer, uploader, administrator, bureaucrat, and CheckUser.
The list of all current administrators can be found in the special ListUsers page.
Administrators are just regular Wikibooks users, they are not special nor superior to any user in any way. The only difference is that they have access to certain tools which have been found to be potentially disruptive and therefore are not available to all new users by default. Using these tools requires a certain amount of trust from the community, and usually some sort of knowledge of the related policies and guidelines concerning them. Some of these tools are:
- Deleting and Undeleting
- Only an administrator can delete a page, and only an administrator can view and restore deleted pages. Deleting pages can be very disruptive and can be hurtful to the author's feelings, so it is not to be done in haste.
- Blocking Users
- Some users just cause trouble, and an administrator can block these users from editing. This is used as a preventative measure, to help prevent vandals from destroying the hard work of our editors and writers.
- Importing Pages
- Administrators and importers have a special tool for importing pages from other Wiki projects, such as Wikipedia. Importing preserves the edit history of the page, which is a necessary criteria of the GFDL license.
- This tool allows administrators and reviewers to quickly undo vandalism.
- Protecting and Unprotecting
- Page protection is used sparingly at Wikibooks. Admins can use a variety of page protection options to restrict who can edit, move or create a certain page or set of pages in response to an edit war or vandalism.
- Admins and reviewers can mark pages as reviewed, to help spread out the task of checking pages for problems as they are created.
Administrators who have been members at Wikibooks for a long time, and have been both active and held in high regard can be nominated for bureaucratship at Requests for Permissions. If the community agrees, that user can be promoted to bureaucrat. Bureaucrat nominations are more important than administrator nominations, and they are only agreed to with extreme caution.
Bureaucrats, in addition to the tools of ordinary administrators, have the ability to promote new administrators, and to set and unset the bot flag. These abilities can potentially be very disruptive to the community if used improperly, and so only well-trusted users are given these tools. Perhaps the primary role of the bureaucrat is to judge community consensus and act on its behalf. For example, for account renames (which are handled centrally), a Global Renamer will consult with a bureaucrat if the chosen name seems contentious.
The list of current bureaucrats is found at the special ListUsers page.
When an administrator has demonstrated skill and perseverance in fighting vandalism, they can be nominated for CheckUser at Requests for Permissions. Because of the legal ramifications of being able to see protected information about users, CheckUsers must be very trusted, and they must also identify themselves to the WMF as being above the age of majority, except in exceptional cases. In the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, the age of majority is 18.
Because of WMF policy, a CheckUser nomination is not a regular discussion, but is instead a vote. A CheckUser must receive 25-30 supporting votes with at least 70-80% support in order to be promoted. This requirement is non-negotiable, and if it is not met the stewards at Meta will not perform the promotion.
Current CheckUsers are listed at the special ListUsers page.
Admins as Leaders
Admins and bureaucrats don't have any additional authority by virtue of their extra permissions, but many of them do tend to take informal leadership roles in community discussions. Admins typically have been users for a long time and have usually accrued a large amount of experience and knowledge about the workings of the project. This is especially true of experience in performing administrative duties. If they were not knowledgeable, helpful, and experienced, these users would not have been promoted to admins in the first place. Also, users who demonstrate these qualities typically are nominated by their peers to become admins.
Admins may often feel that they are "required" to act in a leadership role, and they may also find that other users look up to them for help and guidance. Users should be prepared for this additional pressure and responsibility before they accept any adminship nomination.
Understanding The Community
The Wikibooks community is large and diverse, but at the same time it is relatively small compared to Wikipedia. It is important to remember that many Wikibookians are not available every day, and that many Wikibookians take short breaks, or even entire seasons off from volunteering here. For this reason, it is important that discussions which require community input, such as WB:RFP or WB:RFD, be allowed to continue for at least a week or two. More important decisions, such as discussions about altering site policy, should be allowed to remain open for much longer, to ensure sufficient community involvement. There are no hard and fast rules about the minimum lengths of time required, so the judgement of the community members is relied upon to keep things flowing smoothly. Questions where the answer is obvious and unequivocal do not need to be kept open for very long at all. Complex and multifaceted discussions need more user input and therefore should remain open for longer. When it comes to important discussions, more viewpoints helps to create a more comprehensive and viable resolution.
Wikibookians are also volunteers and there is nothing that a volunteer "must" do. Wikibookians, including admins, are not required to do anything that they do not want to do: Editors cannot be forced to make edits they do not want to make, admins cannot be forced to take admin actions that they do not agree with, etc. It is important to treat all Wikibookians with the proper respect, and to treat them like valuable assets and not slaves or servants.
Norms and Guidelines
A general norm at Wikibooks is that only people with the power to enact a decision can actually make that decision. For example, only an admin can choose to delete a page. Only a bureaucrat can choose to promote a new admin, or rename a user. Only a CheckUser can choose to perform a check on a user. Nobody can be "forced" to do anything that they don't want to do, regardless of what the rest of the community wants.
When we start to talk about many of the admin functions in the next few pages, we will be using many phrases such as "...at the discretion of an admin", or "If an admin chooses...". These aren't rules, and they aren't even really suggestions. Admins, like all other Wikibooks users, are encouraged to use their best judgment when making decisions, and best judgment cannot be forced nor scripted.
Becoming an Admin
Potential admins can be nominated at WB:RFP. That nomination can also be a self-nomination (a "request") if the user is so inclined. If it was not a self-nomination, the candidate must accept or refuse the nomination before any action can be taken. When you nominate a person for a new permission, it's polite to send them a notice to let them know about it and ask for their acceptance.
In an RFP discussion Wikibookians will tend to give an approve/disapprove position, typically using the Support and Oppose signs. Some Wikibookians will cast bare votes like this, others will write thoughtful comments explaining their opinions on the matter. Different admins and bureaucrats have different styles when it comes to interpreting community consensus and determining a resolution. It's rarely the case that these discussions are decided by a simple raw vote tally, but it's not wrong if the vote count is used as a factor in making the decision. Admins and Bureaucrats will each like to see different levels of community participation, different thresholds of supporting versus opposing votes/comments, and maybe even other additional factors.
While it's not always encouraged, Administrators and Bureaucrats are empowered to make decisions for the good of the project, even if those decisions actually contradict community opinion. A good and wise administrator will realize that vigilantism like this is not usually a good thing, because it disregards the opinions of so many good wikibookians and because it can upset so many people.
An existing admin can be nominated for de-adminship ("deadminship") for a variety of reasons. Nominating an admin for deadminship when that admin doesn't deserve it for some reason can be considered a very uncivil and unkind act, so be prepared to argue the case if you make such a nomination. Some reasons for nominating an admin for de-adminship (or bureaucrat for de-bureaucratship, etc) are as follows:
- Clear misuse of given tools
- Clear abuse of community trust, or wanton disregard for policy.
- Clear inactivity for a long time
- Abusive or disruptive behavior, harassment, personal insults, or any other kind of negative behavior
The vetting and discussion processes for new admins are typically not prone to much abuse, and so the people who get promoted tend to be level-headed and trustworthy. It's also worth noting that all people make mistakes, and adminship will not be revoked for every misstep and every mistake.