Wikipedia:Administrators/Administrator Accountability

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This was a proposed policy. For the record, the author of this proposal was Blankfaze, an administrator.
Changes suggested by numerous other users were also implemented.

Voting on this proposal is now closed. The page remains as a historical record.


In order to minimise the abuse of administrator powers, a policy clearly defining abuses and the consequences thereof is needed.

At present, it is somewhat difficult to instigate a meaningful review of an administrator's actions or behaviour. This is due to the lack of clearly defined policies and procedures. This proposed policy is designed to simplify the process and make it easier for users to question the actions and/or behaviour of adminstrators, as well as request that an administrator's powers be revoked.

The aim of this proposal is not to increase bureaucracy nor to persecute admins. Rather, this proposal aims to introduce safeguards against possible rogue and abusive admins and thereby influence their behaviour, and to formalise the currently murky and obscure process of holding admins accountable for their actions.

Proposal[edit]

I propose the following:

Measure I[edit]

Any explicit violation of any official Wikipedia policy guiding administrators and the powers they hold shall constitute an abuse of administrative powers.

Measure II[edit]

That for reasons of visibility, Wikipedia:Requests for review of administrative actions be a single, stand-alone page instead of a redirect to a subsection of Wikipedia:Requests for comment. Thus there shall be a single, clear place for all complaints against administrators. Upon the listing of an administrator on Wikipedia:Requests for review of administrative actions, a poll will be held, in which users may either concur with the action being reviewed or make a vote of no confidence in the action.

  • If the majority votes to concur, then the matter shall be dropped.
  • If the majority votes no confidence, then the action shall be reversed. On the third instance of a majority no confidence vote against a particular administrator, the matter shall be referred to the Arbitration Committee for a decision as to possible disciplinary action against the administrator in question.

In order to prevent misuse of the system, any individual user would be disallowed from listing an administrator on Wikipedia:Requests for review of administrative actions more than one time in any 30-day period.

Measure III[edit]

That for reasons of visibility, Wikipedia:Requests for de-adminship be a single, stand-alone page instead of a redirect to Wikipedia:Requests for comment. Thus Wikipedia would have a simpler, more democratic process to revoke powers from rogue and/or abusive administrators. Standards and procedures for the page should be similar to that of Wikipedia:Requests for adminship.

Voting[edit]

Voting on this proposal began at 00:00 UTC, 1 September 2004 and ended at 00:00 UTC, 8 September 2004.
Voting is now closed.

Feel free to explain your reasoning when voting, or to suggest changes in the policy.

Measure I votes[edit]

Support:

  1. blankfaze | (беседа!) 00:17, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  2. Grunt   ҈  00:35, 2004 Sep 1 (UTC)
  3. [[User:Meelar|Meelar (talk)]] 00:36, 2004 Sep 1 (UTC)
  4. Node 00:37, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  5. Slowking Man 00:43, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  6. -- orthogonal 00:52, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  7. GeneralPatton 00:53, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  8. —No-One Jones 01:30, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  9. • Benc • 01:40, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  10. [[User:Neutrality|Neutrality (talk)]] 01:50, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  11. Fred Bauder 03:39, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  12. rhyax 04:47, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  13. pir 08:31, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  14. Tuf-Kat 18:33, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  15. JFW | T@lk 19:11, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  16. KirbyMeister 04:56, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  17. ugen64 03:43, Sep 3, 2004 (UTC)
  18. Eric B. and Rakim 09:58, 6 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Oppose:

  1. Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 00:52, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  2. Taw 01:12, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  3. Snowspinner 01:19, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  4. Danny 02:44, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  5. Austin Hair 07:16, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  6. Eclecticology 07:30, 2004 Sep 1 (UTC) Too vague
  7. →Raul654 07:37, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC) - Fennec hit the nail on the head.
  8. Jmabel 08:08, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  9. Ambi 08:47, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  10. Johnleemk | Talk 11:09, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  11. Fuzheado | Talk 12:20, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC) - as Fennec said, user policy and administrator abuse are different things.
  12. olderwiser 12:34, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  13. the Epopt 14:15, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  14. --Ëzhiki (erinaceus europeaus) 14:47, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  15. BCorr|Брайен 16:28, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC) I agree that user policy and administrator abuse are different things.
  16. Christopher Mahan 17:31, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC) Administrators should have to right to make judgement calls.
  17. James F. (talk) 18:25, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  18. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 18:41, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  19. Emsworth 19:26, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  20. RickK 19:49, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  21. [[User:Frazzydee|Frazzydee|]] 03:38, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  22. Andrewa 02:00, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC). Likely to be more use against us than to us.
  23. Dieter Simon 22:57, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC). It really depends on what the violation consists in, and what went on before the violation occurred.
  24. Arwel 23:25, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  25. Niteowlneils 00:56, 5 Sep 2004 (UTC). See Comments and User:Niteowlneils/Draft AAAP
  26. Agree with Dieter Simon -- Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 12:31, 2004 Sep 5 (UTC)
  27. +sj+ 02:57, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC) Not meaningful.

Comments:

  • I postulate that there may be a situation where explicit policy is violated which is, in fact, not an abuse. I furthermore contend that if there is, in fact, any real abuse, it should be obvious that it is an abuse, with or without this measure. - Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 00:58, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • I don't understand what this "measure" actually means in practice. —Stormie 01:06, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  • This "Measure" is meaningless. The link points to policies that have nothing to do with sysop powers. I propose we throw this voting away, write down some more meaningful proposal, and then start the thing over. Taw 01:12, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
    I'm with taw on this one. +sj+ 02:57, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • I think this is already true, and see no reason to redundantly codify it.
  • It can't hurt to have a formal definition. Re: Fennec's valid objection: the arbitration committee will certainly look at all the facts before making a ruling, and admins are always free to justify their actions. • Benc • 01:40, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • Policy only has 101 edits. Will likely support at a later date. Austin Hair 02:09, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
    • Facetious comments aside, this proposed policy is vague at best and dangerous at worst. "Violation of policy shall constitute abuse?" Given the very nature of the Wiki, policy is neither universally agreed upon nor set in stone—the latter is especially true for practical reasons. If an administrator's violation of de facto policy is clearly an instance of abuse, that administrator may be dealt with under our current minimalist but capable procedures. I have always been and remain firmly committed to the resistance of attempts to bureaucratize Wikipedia, and require a great deal of justification before throwing my support behind any further institutionalization. Austin Hair 07:51, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  • Seems like a tautology to me. anthony (see warning) 02:41, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • Sometimes it is necessary to violate a policy. The first rule is common sense. Danny 02:44, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
    • One assumes that if it truly is necessary most other wikipedians would see that immediately, and vote "concur" when the issue came up. In the real world law, there is the concept of the necessity defense (we should have an article on this, too), and I don't see that one couldn't at least make that argument here. That said, there's a very high standard to meet, as there should be to prevent its abuse. Among other things, the "imminent harm" test must be met. -- orthogonal 02:54, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • I am not aware of a single administrator who habitually uses administrative powers in violation of policy in a way that is detrimental to wikipedia. I know several who at times make decisions that go somewhat out of official policy, but in my observation, these are nearly always correct decisions, and when they are not they are usually easily and quickly remedied. (This is not to deny that some administrators are sheer hell as editors -- and I suspect some would say I am one of those -- but they/we will still be editors regardless or whether they/we are administrators.) If someone could bring forth actual examples (names suppressed, if possible) of past abuses of admin powers representative of what this is intended to address, I might reconsider, but right now this proposal looks to me like the proverbial "solution to which there is no known problem."
    • I'm aware of atleast one administrator that habitually uses his or hers administrative powers to harass newbies. That administrator has for years exercised an extremely poor judgement. He or she has over those years been blocking anons and logged in users which are new to the system when they make some controversial edits that he or she does not agree with. He or she has also on several occasions "speedily deleted" their newly created pages because he or she does not agree with the content and not because they are candidates for speedy deletion. He or she does not discuss the matter with those people and instead the issue only becomes known when a stubborn newbie decides to mail Jimbo or the mailing-list. Then the decision is sometimes reversed and other times the issue is just left to slip. He or she is almost never questioned because no one wants to take the fight and it isn't they that are affected by his or hers bad behaviour. He or she also has a few supporters that will back him or her up whatever the cause making the situation even more volatile. User:Anonymous
I wish I had a clue as to who--from what I've seen, the majority of admins are actually much more conservative in interpretation, and adherence to guidelines/policies than non-admins--for example, a significant percentage of articles that get {delete} tags are rejected by admins, and either fixed, redirect, put on VfD, etc. because they don't agree they're speedy candidates. Niteowlneils 00:56, 5 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • I like the idea, but the current phrasing is vague--appears to make breaking any policy an abuse of admin powers. Tighten up the language to limit it to repeated and persistent violations and list the specific policies rather than link to the entire corpus, and then I might be able to support this. olderwiser 12:34, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • Too open for abuse. RickK
  • I've never seen an abusive admin, although this is good re-inforcement for keeping them from abusing. KirbyMeister 04:56, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • I haven't decided what I think of Measures II and III, but to me, Measure I is far too broad, and doesn't do anything to encourage less drastic avenues be pursued first. I have put a quick draft of what I think should be covered in the definition/intro of such a policy at User:Niteowlneils/Draft AAAP. Niteowlneils 00:56, 5 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Measure II votes[edit]

Support:
These votes will be combined with "Support voting procedure but not standalone page idea" if a consensus to support is not reached.

  1. blankfaze | (беседа!) 00:18, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  2. --Slowking Man 00:43, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  3. GeneralPatton 00:53, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  4. Stormie 01:06, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  5. —No-One Jones 01:30, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  6. [[User:Neutrality|Neutrality (talk)]] 01:51, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  7. pir 08:31, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  8. --Ëzhiki (erinaceus europeaus) 14:47, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  9. KirbyMeister 04:56, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  10. I don't like the limit of one complaint per thirty days -- I think it's a "get out of jail free" card -- but I agree that some forum must be available, so I vote to support. -- orthogonal 09:16, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Support voting procedure but not standalone page idea:

  1. -- Grunt   ҈  00:35, 2004 Sep 1 (UTC)
  2. -- Node 00:37, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  3. • Benc • 01:40, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Oppose:

  1. Snowspinner 01:26, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC) RFRAA was too much of a circus last time. As for the voting procedure, I think it needlessly removes the ability of admins to undo each other's actions in favor of a slower democratic procedure. With 300 admins, there are plenty of checks and balances in place.
  2. anthony (see warning) 02:42, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  3. Fred Bauder 03:40, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  4. Austin Hair 07:18, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  5. Eclecticology 07:30, 2004 Sep 1 (UTC) Voting on this kind of thing encourages lynch-mob mentality.
  6. Jmabel 08:08, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  7. Ambi 08:47, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  8. Johnleemk | Talk 11:08, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  9. olderwiser 12:49, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  10. the Epopt 14:15, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  11. BCorr|Брайен 16:28, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC) Agree with Eclecticology and Snowspinner
  12. Christopher Mahan 17:35, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC) No bureaucracy for admins. What's next? Admin Judge Advocate? Great Admin? Admin du Jour?
  13. Tuf-Kat 18:33, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  14. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 18:41, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  15. JFW | T@lk 19:11, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  16. Emsworth 19:26, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  17. RickK 19:50, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC) Too much chance for abuse.
  18. uc 23:25, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  19. Andrewa 02:03, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC). RfC is working remarkably well, considering the issues it addresses.
  20. Dieter Simon 22:57, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC). Agree with Snowspinner.
  21. Arwel 23:25, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  22. +sj+ 02:55, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC) Agree with Ec.

Comments:

  • Ideally, an admin abuse page will be low traffic (and it has been thus far). Leave it as part of RfC, which doesn't get enough traffic as is. If the admin abuse section ends up getting a ton of traffic, we can always split the page later. • Benc • 01:40, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • This proposal will maximize the abuse of administrator powers, not minimize it. Whenever there is 50% support against an administrator action, you can be sure that another administrator is going to reverse that action even without this policy. However, in the case where an administrator is abusing her powers, and yet only 49% of people oppose it, this policy suggests that such an action cannot be reversed. anthony (see warning) 03:07, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • What Anthony said. With a few exceptions (such as deleting an image), any admin has the discretion to reverse the actions of another admin--this seems to place restrictions on that. Also, the actual complaints are subpages of RfC--IMO, having all the current actions listed on one RfC page with links to the subpages is much better than splitting them. I would support naming the subpages so as to distinguish them from "General user conduct" or "Choice of username" complaint subpages. They should probably be archived separately as well. olderwiser 12:49, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • This was policy previously and was changed. The "admin abuse" page was not taken seriously because the vast majority of complaints were retaliatory and without merit. Consequently, the few valid complaints were not treated as carefully as they should have been. The necessity to show a degree of support and go to some effort to list a user at RfC has stopped this cycle. uc 23:25, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • I see no reason not to have an admin-abuse page. KirbyMeister 04:56, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Measure III votes[edit]

Support:
These votes will be combined with "Support voting procedure but not standalone page idea" if a consensus to support is not reached.

  1. blankfaze | (беседа!) 00:18, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  2. --Slowking Man 00:43, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  3. GeneralPatton 00:53, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  4. -- orthogonal 01:43, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  5. [[User:Neutrality|Neutrality (talk)]] 01:52, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  6. pir 08:32, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  7. --Ëzhiki (erinaceus europeaus) 14:47, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  8. KirbyMeister 04:56, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Support voting procedure but not standalone page idea:

Oppose:

  1. Should be merged with Measure II as explained in discussion. -- Grunt   ҈  00:35, 2004 Sep 1 (UTC)
  2. I second that. -- Node 00:37, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  3. Open democracy is good for many things. Judicial proceedings are not among them. Remember quickpolls. Snowspinner 01:23, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  4. • Benc • 01:40, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  5. Eloquence*
  6. anthony (see warning) 02:44, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  7. Fred Bauder 03:41, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  8. rhyax 04:50, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  9. Austin Hair 07:19, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  10. Eclecticology 07:30, 2004 Sep 1 (UTC)
  11. Jmabel 08:08, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  12. Ambi 08:47, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  13. Fuzheado | Talk 12:24, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  14. olderwiser 12:51, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  15. the Epopt 14:15, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  16. BCorr|Брайен 16:28, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  17. Christopher Mahan 17:39, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  18. Tuf-Kat 18:33, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  19. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 18:41, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  20. Emsworth 19:27, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  21. RickK 19:51, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC) Too open to abuse.
  22. uc 23:28, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  23. Stormie 01:06, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
  24. [[User:Frazzydee|Frazzydee|]] 03:47, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC): Agree with Snowspinner. Leaving big judicial issues in the hands of so many people also seems like a great way for people to vote against an admin simply to take them down because of previous actions against them (whether or not they be justified). I say we let the Arbitration Committee handle issues like this.
  25. Johnleemk | Talk 07:42, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC) Just noticed that the wording of this measure encompasses more than just a separate page. I now oppose.
  26. Andrewa 02:07, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC). Far prefer what we have.
  27. Dieter Simon 22:57, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  28. Arwel 23:25, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  29. +sj+ 02:55, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Comments:

  • De-adminship should be the under the sole jurisdiction of the arbitration committee (and Jimbo, of course). The members of the arbcom can always run a straw poll if they want. Snowspinner's right: large-scale democracy isn't good for making fair judgements, hence the existence of judicial systems. Leave this to the arbcom. • Benc • 01:40, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
    • Since admins are given that designation by vote of the community, because the consensus of the community is that that user is trusted to be an admin, why should not the community also be able to vote that they no longer repose their trust in an admin? One might even argue that a smaller number or proportion should be sufficient for removal: if, for example, as much as a third of the community does not trust a user as admin (they may trust that person in other ways), is it not in the best interest of community cohesiveness that that person relinquish h the position? Why wouldn't a good sysop find a one-third vote of no confidence sufficient to voluntarily relinquish sysop powers? -- orthogonal 06:22, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • Measure III says nothing about "voting procedure"... only about undoing a redirect. This vote is therefore a farce. Are we voting on whether to undo a redirect... or on something else that is not spelt out? Pcb21| Pete 07:02, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
    • LOOK CLOSER, Pete. "Standards and procedures for the page should be similar to that of Wikipedia:Requests for adminship." The "voting procedure" for the separated page would be like that of RfA. blankfaze | (беседа!) 20:47, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • I think we do need a separate page for this. I think RfC isn't the place to deal with this. I disagree with the intended use of the separate page as set out in this policy, however, as I think that the special desysoping page could be used in a similar manner to RfA. Personally, I think that the dispute resolution process on Wikipedia doesn't cover a large enough area — RfC doesn't have any effect, RfM can't produce results when dealing with a user acting in really bad faith, and RfA is just too slow when dealing with any issue, and its scope is rather limited to disputes involving few users. Even though the chance of a really bad sysop is low, I think we ought to have a separate page. Johnleemk | Talk 11:08, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • While I would support some sort of periodic review (particularly if initial proceedings are private and conducted by a small group), as proposed this policy will only make for a popularity contest that will leave behind a sense of failed process in both the accused and the accusor. uc 23:28, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • I have changed my vote to "oppose" on this one: "Standards and procedures for the page should be similar to that of Wikipedia:Requests for adminship" is not acceptable, if it was a consensus of other admins, generated by a system similar to that on WP:RFA that would be a different manner, but I do not support any admin being de-adminned by a mass vote of random editors. —Stormie 00:18, Sep 2, 2004 (UTC)
    • Why, then, are you fine with users being given admin powers by a "mass vote of random editors"? Why not select an "adminship committee" that decides who to give adminship to? --Slowking Man 18:18, Sep 4, 2004 (UTC)
      • Because I find a malicious campaign to de-admin an admin to be far more likely than a malicious (?) campaign to elevate someone to adminship. —Stormie 06:30, Sep 6, 2004 (UTC)

Discussion[edit]

Discussion prior to the opening of voting is on the talk page. Discussion about the policy at current and/or votes can now be held here.

  • The only concern I have is in regards to the enforcement of the proposed "one listing every 30 days" limit on Wikipedia:Requests for review of administrative actions. Will there be users keeping track of who is ineligible to post another request and reverting any who do? --Slowking Man 00:43, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
    • I don't see that as much of a problem. Whenever a user lists someone there, someone can just look through the history to see if the user is listing an admin more than once in that 30 days. It's not meant as some arbitrary fixed rule, it's meant as a measure to curtail abuse of the system. blankfaze | (беседа!) 00:54, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
      • But it's phrased as an arbitrary fixed rule, which seems to me to be a terrible way to curtail abuse of the system. anthony (see warning) 02:46, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Results[edit]

All measures of this proposal failed.

The final tallies were as follows:

  • Measure I - 18 users supporting, 27 users opposing
  • Measure II - 10 users supporting, with an additional 3 users supporting voting procedure, but not standalone page idea. 22 users opposing.
  • Measure III - 8 users supporting, 29 users opposing