Wikipedia:Thank you for your vote

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The Requests for adminship process at Wikipedia draws participation from many Wikipedians. As with other formalized processes here, many editors have nothing to do with the process at all, others may participate once or twice, and others become RFA regulars. If an editor becomes a regular participant in the process, we can infer that they have some interest in the quality or number of editors who are given administrator rights.

Serial "oppose" voters[edit]

Occasionally, an editor will contribute to many RFA discussions by opposing very many, or all, requests for adminship. Sometimes, such an editor will oppose for reasons that seem to have nothing to do with the candidate in question, and sometimes the oppose votes will be given with reasons that seem absurd, or irrelevant, or simply unreasonable. Sometimes, such an editor will oppose over and over again, always with precisely the same reason.

There may be different reasons that an editor chooses to vote according to such a pattern. Whatever the reason, be it principled or otherwise, a common effect is that other editors become upset with a serial "oppose" voter. Some editors characterize such a voting pattern as "trolling", although determining the actual motivation of another editor can be difficult. More moderately, some editors characterize serial "oppose" voting as disruptive, and indeed, disruption does seem to result.

What does a serial oppose mean to the candidate?[edit]

Suppose you are an admin candidate, and suppose someone opposes your candidacy based on a silly reason:

*Oppose. It's raining. -User:Serial Oppose Voter

It may be tempting to respond to this voter by asking, "What has the weather got to do with it?" Someone familiar with the particular voter might be tempted to reply, "Why do you always vote this way in RFAs? Are you trying to cause disruption?" If the editor opposes enough adminships based on the weather, there might be a great many Wikipedians who become tired of such votes, and who want to see the editor stop.

Before responding in a confrontational manner to the oppose voter, consider: If someone opposes your candidacy based on the fact that it's raining somewhere... is that really an "oppose" vote? If the best reason that someone can give for opposing your candidacy is absurd, then you must be a pretty qualified candidate.

If there are more serious grounds for opposition, those may be voiced by other editors, but the "It's raining" vote is not going to have any effect on the outcome of the RFA. The worst effect it could really have is to drag the discussion off-topic, which can be disruptive.

"Thank you for your vote"[edit]

In the interest of preventing disruption, here is a suggestion for responding to a serial RFA "oppose" voter. When you see the vote above, simply reply:

*Oppose. It's raining. -User:Serial Oppose Voter
*:Thank you for your vote. -User:Good Faith Admin Candidate

This response validates to the voter that his opinion has been registered, other RFA voters are shown that the candidate is unfazed by the silly vote, and the process may continue peacefully. No further engagement is necessary. If the "oppose"-voter pushes the issue, and becomes confrontational themselves, then we can deal with them accordingly. If, however, they're happy to be recognized and then passed over... problem solved!

Sincere, not sarcastic[edit]

The idea is not come across as insincere or sarcastic. If you find that "Thank you for your vote" comes across badly, there are many other ways of communicating the essential idea.

  • "I don't understand why you're opposing me, but thanks for participating anyway. :)"
  • "I'm sorry you feel you have to oppose my adminship. If I'm approved for the bit, I'll strive not to let the community down."
  • "Thanks for registering your opinion. I'll think about what you said."
  • "Noted."
  • "If there's anything I can do to address your concern, please let me know."
  • "I guess that's your opinion, and you're entitled to it!"

The point is to put the basic idea into words that you can say with full sincerity, and without any contemptuous digs at the opposer. Any incivility engaged in by the candidate in this context is likely to work against their candidacy (in which case it's good that we detected it before granting the privileges).

There are as many ways to get the idea across as there are editors, and there's no guarantee that your attempt at de-escalation won't backfire. Remember how poorly tone and mood can come across online.

Don't worry too much though, about how you say it. Civility is not about never offending anyone; it's about managing situations where you do inadvertently offend someone. De-escalation is a great admin skill, so where better to practice it at one's RFA?

Why do it this way?[edit]

The benefit of this approach is that it eliminates the disruption caused by the otherwise benign "oppose" votes that will not be counted by the bureaucrat who closes the request. Another benefit is that this response models our best practices for dealing with potentially disruptive editors. We let the editor know that they have been heard, we de-escalate any conflict that may be occurring, and then we calmly move on.

Doing this is a skill that is very often useful on article talk pages, and modeling that skill in the process by which we create admins is altogether fitting and proper.

What if others argue with them?[edit]

If someone tries to engage the serial oppose voter in further discussion about their vote, consider that, since the vote itself had nothing to do with the candidate, further discussion of it is equally off-topic. The RFA is not about the rain – it's about you. If some editor insists on confronting the serial oppose voter, consider gently directing that editor to this page, or simply let them know that, "Thank you for your vote"—or some appropriately worded equivalent—is all the reply that is needed. Again, this can be said many ways:

  • "Hey, I appreciate your defense, but I think he's made his position clear, and I accept it. Let's leave it at that, ok?"
  • "It's his opinion; he's entitled to it."
  • "Since the discussion of his !vote seems to be moving away from the merits of the candidate, maybe we can move it to the talk page?"
  • "I've moved that bit to the talk page."

Remember, the point is to communicate the following:

  • The opposer's opinion has been heard.
  • The opposer is entitled to their opinion.
  • There is no need to argue over the opposer's view.
  • Nobody is freaking out – the admin candidate is as cool as a cucumber.

Wouldn't this just be feeding a troll?[edit]

This question is one that might come up in connection with a serial "oppose" voter. What if their votes are cast in bad faith, in an attempt to troll the discussion?

This is certainly possible, although it is difficult to say in a particular case what any editor's true motives are. Due to this inherent difficulty, many editors refrain from accusations of "trolling". Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to consider the consequences of any strategy in a trolling situation.

What trolls want[edit]

A troll's motive is to cause disruption, anger, and drama. If no disruption, anger or drama occurs, then a troll is not satisfied. Therefore, no troll is fed if their vote is allowed to stand in peace. If the "oppose" voter truly is a troll, they will have to try harder to get their prize. When they try harder, their behavior necessarily becomes more disruptive, and it can be handled appropriately.

Until the potential troll escalates their behavior beyond calm voting, it is extremely difficult to have sanctions made against the editor. If someone registers a trolling vote, and editors begin to make accusations of bad faith, then those editors are placed in a weak position. Since many will argue that they caused the disruption, sanctions against the "troll" become difficult to obtain, much drama is created, and the troll is therefore successful. If a troll manages to generate enough anger in enough editors to be banned from the project in a high profile debate, then they are especially successful.