These pages should serve as a guide for users who are thinking about or planning on becoming a Wikipedia administrator. This homepage serves as an introduction to Wikipedia and roughly defines the role of an administrator in relation to other roles on Wikipedia. It also details the basic policies of user conduct, as it is difficult to become an administrator if one is not an active, trusted, and considerate user first.
Information about Wikipedia
Wikipedia was founded by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger in January 2001. The project is meant to be a free encyclopedia, located on the Internet, with content that can be added and edited by users in a multitude of languages. It is supported technically and financially by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation (also founded by Wales), which also manages other wiki projects like Wikiquote, Wiktionary, and Wikimedia Commons, among others. The primary characteristic that separates Wikipedia from other online encyclopedias is that nearly all content is added and maintained by volunteer editors, of which virtually anyone can become, creating an account is not necessary. There are also minimal restrictions on what pages these editors (even anonymous ones) can alter content on, mainly limited to articles that are targets for vandalism or are related to a controversial current event. Two important principles that editors are required to follow when making their edits is to only use information that is verifiable (backed by a reputable source) and to take a neutral point of view (avoiding biases of any kind; political, religious, moral, etc.).
User Access Levels
To understand the role of a Wikipedia administrator, one must examine where administrators fit in the power structure of the Wikimedia Foundation.
||Users make up the bulk of people accessing Wikipedia, as well as the people making edits. Users can be either registered or unregistered. Unregistered users can make basic edits, but are restricted from some more advanced actions, such as uploading images/files. Registered users start with less restrictions (such as the ability to upload images/files), and can gain "autoconfirmed" status with seniority, further reducing restrictions.
I am an example of a registered user, Matt Cavanaugh.
||Often perform similar tasks to that of Wikipedia users, but have access to tools that users do not, such as the ability to edit protected pages, delete pages, block users, revert pages, etc. Administrators are selected via a process of community consensus called 'Request for Adminship'.
Administrators often perform duties similar to a janitor, such as clean-up of vandalism, and thus their tools are likened to a janitor's mop. An example of an administrator would be one of our campus ambassadors, Rob Schnautz.
||Main role is to regulate user group rights on Wikipedia. For example, it is the bureaucrats who have the ability to promote users to administrator status, but only after clear community consensus (such as during the RfA process). Other user groups they can add accounts to include bureaucrat, bot, account creator, and reviewer. They also have the ability to remove these user group rights, remove an IP block exemption, or rename user accounts. Bureaucrats are also chosen based on a process of community consensus called 'Request for Bureaucratship'. The standards of selection are much higher (consensus of around 85%), and thus the number of bureaucrats are much lower than the number of admins.
The logo for bureaucrats includes a crossing wrench and screwdrivers, alluding to how they fine-tune user permissions and signifies their role as primarily maintenance.
||Another form of sys-op similar to administrators and bureaucrats, the primary difference being that stewards have complete access to wiki interface tools on all wikis associated with the Wikimedia foundation. This means that they have access to all editing tools, and have total control over anyone's user rights/groups. Generally speaking, they deal with issues that local administrators/bureaucrats cannot deal with. For example, if a wiki does not have any administrators, they can quickly step in and perform that role. Another role is to deal with cross-wiki emergencies. Stewards are also elected, and have a similar threshold for consensus as bureaucrats (around 80%).
The Steward logo has several version, the common theme being related to locking/unlocking, with a Wikimedia logo rather than a Wikipedia logo (showing that they are active in all Wikimedia wiki projects).
||Those directly employed by the Wikimedia foundation generally handle server-side issues with Wikimedia wikis, and generally do not directly regulate wikis. The notable exception to this rule is Jimmy Wales, who belongs to his own user access level titled 'founder'. The group allows Wales to have total access to user rights. Actions taken by the 'founder' account are extremely rare, and are highly monitored by the community.
Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia and founder of the Wikimedia Foundation. His account is the only one to feature the 'Founder' title.
There are many other highly-specialized user access levels, a full list of which can be accessed at Wikipedia:User access levels.
The Five Pillars of Wikipedia
These are the basic rules of conduct for every Wikipedia user.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia: This rule is in place to define the specific content that Wikipedia users should focus on building. This means that Wikipedia includes elements of encyclopedia, almanacs, and gazetteers. This differentiates it from other Wikimedia sister projects.
Wikipedia is written in a neutral point of view: This simply means that every article should look at every point of view available, without advocating a particular point of view. Wikipedia articles are strictly informational, and not spaces to engage in debate. All information must cite verifiable, authoritative sources.
Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify, and distribute: Wikipedia is founded on the principle of free use, and all content on Wikipedia is freely licensed to the public. This means that editors do not own the contributions that they make. This is essential to how Wikipedia operates, as it allows all content to be freely edited and redistributed without the need for permission, licensing fees, etc.
Editors should interact with each other in a respectful and civil manner: Self explanatory, but essential for a collaborative project like Wikipedia. This includes the idea that one should always make edits in good faith and assume that other users are doing the same, unless proven otherwise. When there are conflicts, it is important not to disrupt Wikipedia as a result, conflicts should be contained to talk pages or private messages.
Wikipedia does not have firm rules: The point behind this pillar is that the rules (including the ones above) of Wikipedia are not set in stone, interpretations may vary over time. However, one must always recognize the spirit and intent behind the rules. This is to encourage people to experiment with Wikipedia in good faith without fear of making mistakes.