User talk:NoSeptember/Early admins (20 Sept 2002)

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adminship history[edit]

This is a copy of a thread from User talk:NoSeptember.

Bear in mind that the edit histories prior to February 2002 are full of gaps and therefore misleading, see Wikipedia:Usemod_article_histories. At first, the KeptPages feature of UseMod only kept revisions less than two weeks old, so early edits were lost unless they had remained the most recent edit for the article at the time the timeout was adjusted. There were various bugs in KeptPages itself and in early conversion attempts, that together caused much of the history to be irretrievably lost. Further, the history importation was partly manual and confused by the then-new distinction between article space, Wikipedia space, and user space.

It's probably worth pointing out that adminship in the UseMod era was truly no big deal at all. It was prior to my involvement here, but I understand that we have not always had protected pages or the ability to block users, and that deletion was handled considerably differently in UseMod. Initially, a good deal of the administration was done by technical people using shell access to the server.

The main point being that any distinctions in the editing or adminship history of anyone who was here prior to the conversion to Phase II should not be made.

The Uninvited Co., Inc. 22:41, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the information. I know there was a time when deleted articles were not recoverable too. Much has changed. NoSeptember talk 07:13, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

First Wikipedia admin?[edit]

This is a copy of a thread from Wikipedia:Village pump (miscellaneous), with some good research similar to that on this page.

I read over the History of Wikipedia page and some related ones today. Afterwards, I began to wonder if anyone knows who the first adminstrator selected by the community was (I assume that Jimbo or some such person was the first, but I'd like to know who the first editor to become an admin was.) Does any one know? Cool3 21:53, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

The first admins were nominated and promoted via the mailing list without a vote, so there's unlikely to be information on it here. You could try searching the old mailing lists if you have sufficient Google-fu. Ziggurat 22:46, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the tip. Cool3 19:38, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
I have looked through the early mailing list archives, and it only goes so far. The process started out very informally and not all promotions are to be found there. If anyone has some good historical data on all this, please visit here and provide whatever information you have. NoSeptember talk 19:54, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the information! Cool3 20:48, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure Angela was one of the first, or at least one of the first who is still active. Deco 00:16, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Angela arrived in January 2003 and became an admin in June 2003 when there were about 80 admins, which makes her election to the board in mid-2004 all the more impressive :-). See the link in my comment above for a list of the truly early admins. NoSeptember talk 09:03, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Administrators -check the Sep 20, 2002 entry for the first list of admins, then try to track which of the couple dozen there were first. Rmhermen 00:35, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

I did just that. Here are the results, where the dates are date/time of first edit and marks indicate whether they continue to be active:

RoseParks, Timshell, and WojPob first edited in January 2001, with RoseParks, a Nupedian like Jimbo, coming earliest (her first edit, an article creation in the old-fashioned Nupedia naming style). AstroNomer first edited in February 2001. Andre Engels, Jimbo Wales, Lee Daniel Crocker, and Stephen Gilbert first edited in March 2001. I'd give the award for earliest still-acive admin to Stephen Gilbert. I'm pleasantly surprised to see that many of our original admins remain with us today. Thank you to them all for your years of service. Deco 12:45, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Please note that, due to software changes, not all early edits still exist. These are therefore not accurate for first edits. Jimbo certainly did not "first" edit in March - see Wikipedia:Wikipedia's oldest articles. Many of the early editors came in from Nupedia - which was another of Jimbo's projects. Rmhermen 01:59, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
You're right, of course. It's unfortunate that this data was lost, although I admire Brian's ability to retain what he did despite massive database schema overhauls. It seems nobody knows who made the first edit, but I'm willing to believe the legend that it was a test edit by Jimbo or Brion. Deco 08:13, 29 May 2006 (UTC)


Likewise, I was editing actively on Wikipedia's day one, having been a previous Nupedian like Rose. Most of these histories were lost with Clifford's old software. Likewise the histories of things like Admin status aren't really reliable before late 2002. You'll see me requesting admin status in March 2002 on the mailing list, for example, mainly because that was shortly after the installation of Magnus's script and I just hadn't gotten around to doing things like editing the main page yet. Clifford's and Magnus's software had the concept of "sysop", but it really wasn't used until after Magnus's software had been around awhile, and wasn't formalized into a community thing until long after we changed to my codebase. --LDC 20:23, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

There were quite a few requests on the mailing list in late July and August 2002, and then we have the list from September, but little in the mailing list before that period. I suspect that adminship was likely a more technical type of thing before July and somewhat limited in use (since deletions would be unrecoverable). If you can recall anything about early 2002, it would be interesting to know. For example, was it granted mostly to developers for cleanup type tasks? or given to any trusted user without regard to technical background? I have tried to find some information in article histories (with the old CamelCase type names that are now used as redirects) that may shed more light on this too. Anything you can remember would be appreciated. NoSeptember 20:49, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
On a semi-related note, I have found vague suggestions that some people became admins and then became former admins before the September list existed. If you can think of anyone who fits this description that is not listed here, let me know. NoSeptember 20:49, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

Before 2002, the admins were basically just Jimbo, Jason, and Tim, as there wasn't much need for more. Larry was added as "Editor in Chief" early on, and when the database grew to the point where we needed more editors to do a few things we were reluctant to grant to everyone (basically just permanent deletions and moves), others were added. Editing the main page was soon made one of those things because of a lot of vandalism, and admin status was liberally granted (by Jimbo) to anyone who was basically well known and trusted not to be a vandal. As far as I know, the first one ever un-sysopped was The Cunctator, who was later reinstated. I don't remember whether or not this all happened before or after the September list, and he didn't participate on the mailing list. Also, the developers like Magnus and me were de facto admins because we had physical access to the database--indeed, I remember banning a user before we had any formal policy for that--something that had traditionally been Jimbo's province--and no one seemed to object at the time. Back then, just getting the job done was a higher priority than policies and procedures. --LDC 22:08, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

There was a period of time before sysops had the "block" function, where developers would change someone's password to ban them. Also, to promote a person to sysop required a developer. Later on, these functions were integrated into the software, so you could just click to block or promote.
At one point, I was pretty much doing most of the bans and promotions "manually", by going into the MySQL database. It was nerve-wracking, because I always worried I might make a horrendous error like deleting the entire user list! So I tested each line of SQL code before running it. It took me about 5 minutes of effort to block or promote. Now a sysop can do it in about as much time as it takes to write an edit summary.
I was shy about requesting admin status, until an offhand remark by Lee prompted me. Something like, "I'd even let Ed Poor be one." (Heh, and some of my best friends are atheists, Lee! ;-)
Later on, the process of who became an admin was taken out of the mailing list and put on the wiki. When the developers created the Bureaucrat role, I hesitated again. Although I held developer status then, I thought it would be better to run for election, thus instituting the current practice that you need community consensus to become a bureaucrat.
(How I lost all my privileges is another story. :-) --Uncle Ed (talk) 20:03, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

--Uncle Ed (talk) 20:03, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

I should point out that I have a bit on the history of admin promotion procedure here. Thank you Ed. NoSeptember 20:16, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Manning's addled and unreliable memories[edit]

Since people have started asking me about this recently, I have dug through Wikipedia-L and revisited a lot of the conversations from those days. As LDC says above, in the UseModWiki days (most of 2001 basically) there were only three "official" admins, although everyone knew that Magnus and LDC could also "get things done". Bear in mind that on UseModWiki there was no facility for user classes, so the concept was irrelevant. To change things in the DB meant having physical access to the server.

Phase II was trialed on Meta and the old Wikipedia-L from Dec 01 has several conversations where we tried out the new features, including user classes. When we moved WP to phase II (in Dec 01 or Jan 02), I'm fairly sure that a conversation happened about making people "admins". Where this conversation happened eludes me completely sadly. I've got a feeling I first heard about it via private email from either JHK or Stephen Gilbert.

Anyway, at some point either Larry or Jimbo emailed me directly about it, and I either asked to be appointed or I was appointed and then notified. I was a member of the "bunch" that Jimbo is referring to in this Wikipedia-L post.

I'm fairly certain the actual appointments of this first "bunch" happened several weeks before Jimbo sent that email on 26 Mar 02. I was physically in Sydney when I was made an admin, and I flew to India for six weeks of work on 27 Feb 02 (I checked my passport to get that date), so it was definitely before then. I remember that JHK, Stephen Gilbert, KQ, The Epopt, AstroNomer, Axel and Vibber were also appointed at the same time, and some others may have been as well.

If my memory seems vague it is because the "departure of Larry" happened around the same time, and that was a MUCH bigger incident for the community than the assignment of admins.

And for the record, this Nostalgia link indicates my first preserved edit is from 25 Sept 01 although I know for a fact my editing started a few weeks before that. Your list also gives incorrect "first edit" dates for Brion Vibber, Robert Merkel and Tarquin (and possibly others, but I can verify these). Vibber was here before me, and Merkel and Tarquin arrived around the same time as I did (Aug-Sept 01).

Hope this helps/informs/entertains to some degree. Regards Manning (talk) 15:08, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

I found it informative and entertaining! Thanks for that. Carcharoth (talk) 16:02, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Just promise me you'll never ask about 24. I still get nightmares :) Manning (talk) 16:13, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Thank you very much, some excellent new information :). NoSeptember 16:46, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

FWIW, an e-mail from September 2001[edit]

There are some surmises that can be made from that e-mail. Namely that there were more than one person besides Jimbo who knew how to do some kind of admin stuff, or at least knew the URL, if not the password (if any). Perhaps that link may jog somebodys memories to give additional details or context. -- Cimon Avaro; on a pogostick. (talk) 14:13, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Imagine if the answer had been "no"! No admins ever again... :-) Carcharoth (talk) 12:28, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm a bit late to the party but I can actually shed some light on this event. Tim Shell had gone away for a few days (camping as I recall) and Jimbo was on his own at the Bomis office. I also believe that no-one else was able to help Jimbo and he had to wait for Tim to come back. So no real cause for concern, other than to think that there was once a time when this was how Wikipedia was run. Manning (talk) 07:39, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
Also see this email by Jimbo about his willingness to give out the password to trusted users, among other things. Graham87 09:40, 9 September 2010 (UTC)

Some old page history that may be of interest[edit]

I've just done a page history merge of Wikipedia:Administrators from Wiki Administrators and Wikipedia:Wiki Administrators. The newest revision about adminship in the UseModWiki software is this one which gives fascinating information about what adminship was like in those days. Imagine if all admins today had the power to lock editing of Wikipedia at any time! Graham87 14:27, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

However it seems from the comments above that admin privileges were just like being a sysadmin on the Wikipedia server. Graham87 14:34, 22 April 2008 (UTC)