Wikipedia:Guide to requests for adminship

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This is a guide to current practice at Wikipedia's requests for adminship (RfA) process, the mechanism by which editors are considered for administrator status. To become an administrator, there needs to be a clear consensus that you are committed to Wikipedia and can be trusted to know and uphold its policies and guidelines.

For an unprepared user, even a very valuable contributor, the process can be frustrating and disheartening. Under no circumstances should any editor, otherwise considering acceptance of a nomination, interpret the contents of this guide as a barrier to nomination. Accordingly, no Wikipedian should refer to this guide for the purpose of deterring a candidate from accepting a nomination. This is only a guide to current practice on Wikipedia:Requests for adminship, not policy.

For an informal look, please see the miniguide to requests for adminship.

Overview[edit]

RfA is the means by which the Wikipedia community develops consensus on whether an editor should be given administrator rights, such as the abilities to delete a page, protect a page, edit a protected page, and block a user.

A glance at the 'requests for adminship' mainpage will quickly reveal that there are no official requirements to becoming a Wikipedia administrator. Anybody can apply regardless of their Wikipedia experience. However, this does not mean that there are no standards to be aware of.

The reality is that adminship is oriented to communal trust and confidence, not percentages and numbers, and each user will have their own way to assess candidates' readiness for the role. While anybody can apply, a review of failed RfAs will quickly show that members of the community have many unwritten expectations.

Common areas where users may have expectations will usually be those that show:

  1. breadth and duration of wiki-experience;
  2. appropriate approach and conduct as a community member (quality of interaction and ability to work with others); and
  3. understanding of the Wikipedia ethos and its most important norms and policies (their "spirit" and intent, and that you understand the norms administrators must follow).

Evidence of any concerns may also be raised and questions asked, for reassurance whether they will present concerns in future, and any other signs of helpfulness or work undertaken in the community will be seen positively.

General advice for nominees[edit]

The nomination process is not intended as a forum for voting on a nominee's popularity or strength as an editor. It is a forum by which consensus is generated on whether an editor should be given administrator privileges. An editor should not construe the outcome of an RfA as praise or condemnation of their efforts as an editor. Instead, it is an evaluation of their likely ability to appropriately use administrator rights.

An RfA is a very open voting process where your record will be looked at by experienced (and sometimes opinionated) users who have already made up their minds about what kinds of people they want as administrators. An RfA is open to everybody, including anyone you may have had disagreements with in the past, as well as new and inexperienced users you may be disagreeing with at the time.

Some users find the level of scrutiny and frankness very difficult. Some editors have left Wikipedia as a consequence of an RfA that has gone poorly. This should not happen, as this process does not judge an editor's value to Wikipedia. There are many fine editors who would not make good administrators.

Things to consider before accepting a nomination[edit]

Things that a potential administrator nominee should consider before accepting a nomination include:

  • There is a lot of admin stuff you can do without being an admin! Maybe you are here because you've done several hundred edits and are now looking for new challenges, new ways to help the wiki. There are lots of ways in which you can do admin stuff, without being an admin; for example:
There are so many other admin tasks that you can already do that until you really start to find there are things that you cannot do there, there is not much point in trying to become an admin. Indeed, only when you have had a good amount of experience in admin-related tasks are you likely to succeed in an application.
  • RfA can be a harsh process. Your past record will come under scrutiny and any questionable actions can lead to intense open discussion. If you aren't experienced in handling conflicts, this can be distressing. On the other hand, you can take the experience as an opportunity to measure your skills in conflict resolution.
A low edit count may reduce your chances for succeeding at RfA.
  • Nominees with lower edit counts are less likely to succeed. Many administrator nominations for editors with low edit counts have been rejected for this alone, although some have succeeded. With fewer edits, you should be prepared to respond to this objection, or, better, explain in your nomination acceptance why you think you would nevertheless make a good administrator. Editors with a limited length of time of active experience on Wikipedia can expect similar concerns. If you are unsure if you have enough edits or experience, consider asking another Wikipedian or two that you trust before leaping into an RfA. See this chart comparing edit counts to RFA success rates for June 2005 through March 2006. RFA standards have historically risen over time; for example, in 2008 only a dozen candidates with between 3,000 and 4,500 edits succeeded and only one with less than 3,000 edits.
  • RfA contributors have differing standards for what they consider to be acceptable administrator candidates. Some of these standards are outlined at Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Standards, and a full list of links to individual voters' RfA criteria pages can be found at RfA essays and criteria. RfA voters may also use standards that may seem perverse or irrational. It is generally not well looked upon for the nominee to question the validity or good faith of those standards. But while each RfA contributor may use whatever criteria they wish, you can ask them why they think a criterion is important.
  • Some people who oppose RfAs do not explain their opposition. This does not make their votes inherently worthless. While it is generally regarded as poor form not to explain the rationale behind a vote, it is not required. Some contributors may not wish to explain their rationale because they wish to avoid creating a sense of piling on. If the user opposes your nomination without an explanation, please do not feel offended; it is most likely not personal. By the same token, you should be honest if you are voting on a nomination. Do not be afraid to oppose for fear of hurting the nominee's feelings. It is better to stay out of a nomination instead of voting dishonestly.
  • Ask yourself, "Am I ready to be an administrator?" Administrators can be and often are more involved in contentious disputes than regular editors. If you think you will likely not respond well in such situations, perhaps being an administrator is not for you. Adminship is not a statement of worth or acceptance in the Wikipedia community. Some of the most valued and active editors have said they do not want to be administrators, and many administrators find that they prefer to contribute largely or solely by editing articles.
  • Declining is allowed. Declining a nomination will not be held against you and can show a desirable thoughtfulness; you can always accept a later nomination.
  • Administrator status is not a trophy. Editors who regard being an administrator as an affirmation of their contributions as an editor or an award for good editing or other good service will generally be disappointed. Administrator status does not place you in an elevated status within Wikipedia. Since many editors believe administrators should follow a more strict code of conduct than the average user, the opposite may occur. Every good-faith editor, from the newest editor to the most experienced bureaucrat, has the same status within Wikipedia. You will not gain respect simply by being an administrator. Adminship is, in essence, janitorial duties for Wikipedia. (Hence the mop used to symbolise administratorship.)
  • If you make adminship your primary goal you are less likely to succeed, but rather if you make improving Wikipedia your goal then adminship shall come naturally.

Follow instructions[edit]

The nomination process has clear instructions for constructing, accepting, and posting a nomination. A number of RfA contributors look askance at nominees who do not follow the instructions properly. Administrators are expected to read and follow policies. The inability to do this here is a bad sign. If something is unclear, then ask the person who nominated you, put a message on the discussion page of WP:RFA, or ask a user who has nominated someone else. Avoid mistakes rather than making them and then fixing them.

What RfA contributors look for and hope to see[edit]

RfA contributors want to see a record of involvement and evidence that you can apply Wikipedia policies calmly, maturely and impartially. What are often looked for are:

  • Strong edit history with plenty of well referenced material contributions to Wikipedia articles.
  • Varied experience. RfAs where an editor has mainly contributed in one way (little editing of articles, or little or no participation in AfDs, or little or no participation in discussions about Wikipedia policies and processes, for example) have tended to be more controversial than those where the editor's contributions have been wider.
  • User interaction. Evidence of you talking politely and helpfully to other editors on talk pages.
  • Trustworthiness. General reliability as evidence that you would use administrator rights carefully to avoid irreversible damage, especially in the stressful situations that can arise more frequently for administrators.
  • Helping with chores. Evidence that you are already engaging in administrator-like work and debates such as RC Patrol and articles for deletion.
  • High quality of articles. A good way to demonstrate this is contributing to getting articles featured, although good articles are also well-regarded.
  • Observing consensus. A track record of working within policy, showing an understanding of consensus.
  • Edit summaries. Constructive and frequent use of edit summaries is a quality some RfA contributors want to see. If you haven't already set your defaults to force an edit summary with every edit, it is worth doing so before RFA and stating this in your application. See Wikipedia:Edit summary.
  • A clean block log as evidence of good editing behavior (if you have any blocks from more than one year ago, people will expect an explanation as to how your editing has changed to make this unlikely to happen again).

These points are not mandatory and there are always exceptions, but if you think back over your contributions and any of these is missing, it may be better to broaden your experience before an RfA.

There are also several other things that contributors will raise, such as whether you have an email address set. This is important for administrators, who may need to be contacted by users who have been blocked from editing.

  • Complete answers to the RfA questions. Curt or uninformative answers to the standard questions are mildly offputting for some RfA contributors. Spend a bit of time preparing your answers; there is no time limit to the acceptance of a nomination.

Some editors have listed their individual rough criteria for support on the RfA standards page.

What RfA contributors look for and hope not to see[edit]

No matter how experienced you are, some actions will cause problems. In roughly decreasing order of seriousness, here are some things which, if seen in your edit history, will be raised and thoroughly discussed:

  • Vandalism: A persistent and unreformed vandal will never be made an administrator; one of the primary tasks of administrators is fighting vandalism (and a truly bad administrator could cause serious damage to the site). Even a relatively minor disruption, like making a joking edit to an article, can cause problems.
  • Incivility: If a nominee has responded to unpleasant or irritating users by leaving insulting messages which violate the spirit of civility.
  • Intransigence: If a nominee has ever refused to be involved in good faith efforts to reach consensus on talk pages, and instead engaged in edit wars.
  • Controversial activity on AfD: Voting according to criteria not relevant to the purpose of AfD, persistently starting AfDs on articles on the kinds of subjects generally (let alone explicitly) recognized as worth an article.
  • Incorrectly nominating articles for speedy deletion: Nominating articles for speedy deletion when they don't meet the criteria for speedy deletion can disturb many contributors to the RfA, due to fear that the nominee will wrongly delete articles without review.
  • Abuse of process: If a nominee has ever started an inappropriate RfC, or made seemingly frivolous complaints via official channels.
  • Edit wars: If a candidate is prone to repeating a single edit after it becomes obvious that there is a disagreement with it. To most RfA contributors, it does not matter who is right, it matters how a candidate handles themselves during a debate.
  • "Advertising" your RfA: Some editors do not like to see an RfA "advertised" by the nominee on other people's talk pages or on IRC. RfA is not a political campaign. The intent is to develop consensus. Impartial evaluation of a candidate is the goal, rather than measuring their popularity. Canvassing is generally looked down upon. Consider using {{RFA-notice}} on your userpage, which is a more neutral way to communicate your RfA to other users.
  • Blocks: If you've been blocked, voters will want to know why and what you've learned from this, especially if you've been blocked in recent months.
  • Elaborate signatures: Some have a low opinion of editors who create fancy signatures, especially ones with special characters and images.
  • Long gaps in editing: Unless you have a good reason that you state on your page, a steady edit history in recent months is preferred.
  • Use of sockpuppet accounts to avoid scrutiny, or to mislead the community about your past editing history.
  • Over-eagerness: Multiple RfAs in a short timespan can be interpreted by some as being 'power-hungry'.

However, many RfAs have succeeded despite some of the above. The important factors are:

  • Time. If a nominee has demonstrated high standards of conduct for a few months, the RfA contributors may discount earlier undesirable behaviour.
  • Disclosure. If a nominee brings up past missteps him or herself, and either apologizes or explains how such missteps will be avoided in the future, the candidacy will be more likely to succeed.
  • Approach to opposing votes. Responding in a calm, rational, and (if needed) apologetic manner will be to a candidate's credit. A candidate who shows anger or frustration or makes insults when presented with opposition is likely to engender more opposition.

Illness and other personal conditions[edit]

Most users are sympathetic to special circumstances or serious conditions. However the well-being of the project and ability of a candidate to carry out adminship without undue stress and problems are paramount. The community has endorsed adminship for people who have chronic or serious clinical conditions, schizophrenia being one example. Such conditions are not necessarily "blockers" at RFA. Legitimate concerns would include impact on the project, impact on your judgment and interactions, capacity to cause "blow-ups" or other problems, evidence it can be managed so as not to cause a problem, etc.

If you are affected by a condition or circumstance that affects your editing or could do so, then you may wish to disclose it. If you do then readers will probably look for three main things:

  1. Brief information, what the condition is and the effect it may have on your work as an editor or admin
  2. Examples or information how it has impacted you in past editing (if it did) or on other projects and examples how you handled it
  3. Steps you will take to minimize any impact if RFA is successful.

Depending on the condition you might consider things like these in your nomination or in a disclosure statement:

  1. Matter of fact-ness, stating the issue and its impact in a sentence or two. Most people don't need an essay.
  2. What effect does the condition, or "bad periods/days" have on you in terms of Wikipedia, stress, judgment, admin tools, "drama" and "fairness" (if applicable), or whatever else is relevant at RFA?
  3. Is it ongoing or does it have "good" and "bad" days or periods. If the latter, can you usually recognize onset and take action before they can be a problem?
  4. Steps you would take to ensure the condition doesn't impact your editing or conduct if you pass RFA? For example would you cease editing if you feel a bad period coming on, or would you be competent to decide not to use tools or take part in some issues, or disengage?
  5. If your condition requires absence or non-responsiveness or disengagement at times, what steps have you taken to ensure these don't disrupt Wikipedia? (Everyone takes breaks but some conditions cause absence or disengagement at zero notice)
  6. If your condition has already been coped with during your editing history, can you show this? Users will be more convinced you can cope well in future (and it won't be disruptive) if you can show you have coped as an editor in the past.

Even if you disclose an issue, nobody needs to know actual specifics of treatments, names of medications etc. If a treatment has helped prevent symptoms then it's enough to say (eg) "since 201x meds have kept me largely free of symptoms". You don't need to disclose your entire medical history or describe your whole offline life. Users just need the information that lets them assess the degree of risk of impact, severity, mitigation and management for the project. You may want to ask another user you trust about the level of detail before you post.

Other controversy[edit]

If you have been involved in discussions on very controversial articles, your adminship may be a target for heated objections on the basis of your involvement in those pages. This may reduce your chances of becoming an administrator. In some cases voters may attempt to maintain a "balance of power" across controversial subjects by opposing all potential admins involved on the opposite sides of controversial edit wars.

It may be a good idea for you to highlight the controversy in answering the standard question "Have you been in any conflicts over editing in the past or do you feel other users have caused you stress? How have you dealt with it and how will you deal with it in the future?". You can note how you dealt with the controversy, cite example edits by you and your responses to uncivil comments made by others. In referring others to a past edit it can be useful to provide a "diff", a unique and durable link to a post. However, if you have been involved in edit wars (other than against blatant vandalism), or been uncivil on those pages, it may adversely affect your RfA.

One possibility is to start a peer review on yourself, and contact all editors who may have conflicts with you. If you can have all objections raised against you before your RfA, you will be able to better respond to any objection and you can judge your prospects of being made an administrator.

General advice for nominators[edit]

Nominators should be careful in their decision to nominate someone for administrator status. As noted above, the RfA process can lead to unsavory results. A nominator should consider the possibility of the negative impact on a nominee, and ensure they are making appropriate nominations.

A nomination consists of an introductory nomination statement, followed by three initial questions to be answered by the nominee. When you craft a nomination for someone, including yourself, you should outline in the nomination statement why you think the nominee should be an administrator. You might offer some information on where the nominee has done significant work, areas where the nominee has already helped out with administrator appropriate tasks, how long they have been with the project, and their ability to handle stressful situations. Single-line nomination statements will do little to aid the nominee, and may hinder the RfA.

When nominating someone, it is generally a good idea to ask them if they would like to be nominated before crafting an RfA nomination per the instructions at Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Nominate. If the person you want to nominate is willing to accept the nomination, you should place the {{subst:RfA-nom|YOUR USERNAME}} template on their talk page. This provides some basic information on what the nominee should do.

Once the RfA has been created, it is a good idea to work in concert with the nominee to carefully craft the nomination before listing it at WP:RFA. You can advise the nominee on their answers to the questions, fix any errors that might have been made on the RfA either by yourself or the nominee, and generally prepare the RfA for a successful run. Common errors include not formatting the closing date properly, not officially accepting the nomination on the RfA, and the nominee voting for themselves. Poorly prepared RfAs are not looked upon well by RfA contributors as for some this shows a lack of careful attention to process and detail and a lack of respect for the RfA process.

While voting is in progress, be ready to answer any enquiries the applicant puts to you. Should the process go sour, consider advising the applicant of the option to withdraw (as Closure below).

Nomination process[edit]

The RfA nomination process evolves. Initially nominations were an ad hoc assemblage of comments made on a mailing list. Later, the process became more formalized as the WP:RFA page. As time has gone on, efforts have been made to improve the process. The process we have in place now is relatively straightforward.

Before nomination[edit]

Either you or another editor may nominate you to be an administrator. Anyone can be an administrator, and anyone can nominate a candidate. However, keep in mind that nominees who have not been on Wikipedia for very long are not necessarily well regarded, as they are less likely to perform effectively as administrators and they are not widely known by RfA voters. It's considered good practice to approach the nominee first to find out whether he/she would accept the nomination.

To nominate yourself, follow the instructions as they are outlined at Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Nominate. For someone else to nominate you, they should likewise follow the appropriate instructions on that page. There is also a list of editors willing to consider nominating you. If you have been nominated, then again follow the instructions on that page. Once, by following the instructions, an RfA has been transcluded (i.e. posted) to WP:RFA, the nomination is open for discussion. RfA subpages should not be commented on before being posted to RfA, nor should votes be cast on the RfA subpage until the nomination is posted to the RfA page.

Administrator nominees should move slowly in this process. There is no deadline, and no need to rush. It is better to get it right than to move too quickly and make errors.

During the nomination[edit]

An RfA remains open for seven days, beginning from when the nomination is posted to WP:RFA. RfA contributors will make comments when they wish. RfA contributors will generally add additional questions to the standard three questions that currently are part of every RfA. Administrator nominees should stay involved on their RfAs so that they may answer these questions or any other comments raised on their RfA. Absence by the nominee from the RfA process during the seven days it is open can harm the chances of success. While it is appropriate to respond to comments and questions raised on the RfA, it is important to keep in mind that the RfA is not a forum for debate except as it closely relates to the nominee's acceptability as an administrator. Poor behavior by an RfA candidate will generally have negative consequences.

Closure[edit]

Sometime after the seven days for the RfA have elapsed, a bureaucrat will review the RfA and close it. A bureaucrat will close the RfA as soon as this is feasible, which may be hours or even a day or two after the formal closing date. Do not remove your own RfA from WP:RFA unless you are intentionally withdrawing your nomination from consideration.

Currently, there is an open-ended debate regarding whether a nomination that is going poorly should be removed from WP:RFA. There is no standard by which such nominations are removed, nor any consensus on whether they should be removed. Nevertheless, some bureaucrats and other parties occasionally do remove RfAs that are going poorly. You should not take offense if this happens; it is being done to protect you from ill will that may be generated by the RfA. If you did not wish to have your RfA prematurely removed, you may petition the person who removed it to reinstate it. You may find who removed the RfA by reviewing the page history of WP:RFA.

If you would like to withdraw your nomination after it has opened, you may do so simply by editing the RfA to strike out your acceptance of the nomination and indicating your desire to withdraw instead. To do this, place <s> before your nomination acceptance, a closing </s> after your acceptance, and indicate your desire to withdraw. This might look like this:

Candidate, please indicate acceptance of the nomination here: I accept the nomination. I withdraw my nomination.

If you'd like, you may remove the RfA from WP:RFA on your own, but you are not required to do so. If you do so (though again you are not required to), you should edit the RfA after you have removed it from WP:RFA and place {{subst:rfaf}} at the very top of the page, {{subst:rfab}} at the very bottom of the page, remove the entire line that contains the "Voice your opinion on this candidate" link and replace it with '''Final''', change the ending date to the date you withdrew, and update the final tally of votes. Additionally, you should edit Wikipedia:Unsuccessful adminship candidacies appropriately to include your nomination. The date you should use on that page is the date you withdrew.

Thankspam[edit]

The community is divided about successful candidates posting unpersonalised "thanks for voting" messages to voters' talk pages, though personalised thanks for particular reviews, comments and questions are perfectly in order. If you do send a message to everyone please respect those editors who have put "no Thankspam" messages on their talk page, and make sure your thank you does not look like a barnstar. A perfectly acceptable alternative is to post a thanks message instead on your own talk page and/or the talk page of your RFA.

If you disagree with consensus[edit]

It is the job of bureaucrats to determine consensus when closing a request for adminship. As RfA is not a straightforward majority vote, there is no precise "pass" or "fail" percentage, and the bureaucrat may discount comments which were made in bad faith or are of questionable validity. However, as an approximate guide, you are likely to pass if you achieve at least 80% support. Nominations which receive less than 70% support are unlikely to be successful, except in exceptional circumstances.

If you feel that a nomination is wrongfully declared as unsuccessful, you may petition the bureaucrat who made the decision. This can usually be determined by looking at the page history of WP:RFA and seeing which bureaucrat removed the RfA from the page. Bureaucrats do have the option of extending RfAs where they think this is necessary. Another possibility is to wait for some time and either renominate yourself or have someone else nominate you for a second time. Many current administrators did not pass their first nomination, yet had a later nomination easily succeed. In some cases, administrator nominees have tried more than twice. In one case, a nominee tried seven times. Your first nomination is not your only chance to become an administrator.

Bureaucrat nominations[edit]

Bureaucrat nominations (RfB) are also considered on WP:RFA. Bureaucrats are at present responsible for three tasks: determining consensus on RfA and RfB and granting rights on successful nominations, answering requests to change usernames, and assigning bot flags. The RfB process is similar in nearly all respects to the RfA process with a few exceptions:

  • Bureaucrat nominations are generally done only by request of the nominee.
  • The bar for determination of consensus for acceptance as a bureaucrat is higher than for an administrator.
  • Bureaucrat nominees typically undergo significantly more scrutiny than an administrator nominee.
  • Bureaucrat nominees are expected to be fully aware of current debates around RfA and of its guidelines.

As a result of the higher level of consensus required, almost half the requests for bureaucrat status have been rejected, whereas more requests for adminship are approved.

What is often looked for by RfB contributors[edit]

  • A strong participation in requests for adminship, with sensible rational reasoning for opinions.
  • History of productive administrator work, especially with regards to determining consensus (e.g. in XfDs).
  • Civility.
  • A good record as an administrator.
  • A need for bureaucrats.
  • A full understanding of what consensus to promote is, and understanding of when to and when not to promote under extraordinary circumstances.
  • A good record of providing clear reasoning for their actions.

Re-adminship[edit]

Former administrators may seek reinstatement of their privileges through RfA unless prohibited from doing so by an arbitration remedy.

Admins who resigned voluntarily, under uncontroversial circumstances, can ask to skip RfA. Upon a review to confirm that the user both was in good standing at the time of the de-adminship and is in good standing currently, a bureaucrat may restore access rights. If there is any question that reinstatement would lack community consensus, the user will be referred to RfA. The guiding principle for such decisions, per WP:CRAT, is that bureaucrats may grant adminship only when doing so reflects the wishes of the community.

See also[edit]