User:Lifebaka/RfA Review Recommend Phase

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A Review of the

Requests for Adminship Process

Overview

Question

Reflect - (Stats)

Recommend

Collate

Present

The Review Process
Methodology - Discussion

Requests for Adminship

Welcome to the Recommendation phase of RfA Review. In this phase, you will be asked to offer suggestions and proposals to address specific concerns and problems with the current Requests for Adminship process.

The questions below are taken directly from the 209 responses from the Question phase, each of which offered editors' thoughts and concerns about RfA. Based on those concerns, we identified the most frequently mentioned problems and included them here. These are the elements of RfA that are currently under review.

Please take your time and read through the concerns below. For each item, you are invited to offer a proposal that addresses the concern. Where possible, you are encouraged to provide examples, references, diffs and so on in order to support your viewpoint. There isn't a limit on the scope of your proposals; the sky is the limit, here. The intent of this phase is to get ideas, not necessarily to write policy - recommendations that gain traction and community support will be refined during later phases.

Most importantly, Answer as few or as many questions as you wish. All responses are evaluated, so any information you provide is helpful.

If you prefer, you can submit your responses anonymously by emailing them to User:Ultraexactzz. Anonymous responses will be posted as subpages with the contributor's details removed. If you have any questions, please use the project talk page at Wikipedia talk:RfA Review.

Once you've provided your responses, please encourage other editors to take part in the review. We stress that editors who didn't participate in the question phase are encouraged to participate now - more responses will improve the quality of research, as well as increasing the likelihood of producing meaningful results.

Once again, thank you for taking part!

Questions[edit]

Selection and Nomination[edit]

A1. Editors note that the RfA process can be daunting to prospective administrators, and that the process itself may discourage otherwise qualified candidates from seeking adminship. How can this "Selection Bias" be countered?

  • Response:
There are two issues playing through my mind on this one. The first is that the atmosphere at RFA could be changed, so that it isn't so possibly hostile and discouraging to those who do not pass (and some who do). This would help lower the stress levels of candidates, because they will not feel as though editors are looking for reasons to oppose.
On the other hand, it strikes me that this "Selection Bias" may be a good thing, in that it weeds out those who are not bold and self-confident enough to become good admins. While it is healthy for an admin to doubt himself on occasion, he shouldn't unless first given good reason.

A2. Editors expressed concern over unprepared or unqualified candidates at RfA, noting that their candidacies result in NOTNOW and SNOW closures that can be discouraging. In lieu of minimum requirements for adminship, how can prospective candidates be educated about RfA and the community's expectations of its administrators?

  • Response:
If people don't want to educate themselves about RFA, there's not much we can do to try to force it on them. We currently give new users a warning when creating new pages, but it seems to get disregarded fairly often (judging by my experience when I did new page patrol and current CSD patrols). Setting minimum requirements is sorta' against the spirit of RFA in general (it should be based only on trust), but very low ones to week out the obvious NOTNOW candidates might not be a bad idea. I'd suggest setting it at around 250 edits and 3 weeks on the project, as there's no way a candidate below that will pass, as there's not enough data to decide if the candidate is trustworthy or not.

A3. 44 editors expressed concern over excessive co-nominations. Some of these editors advocated a limit on co-nominations, perhaps capping them at one or two per candidate; others recommended asking prospective co-nominators to post a Strong Support in lieu of an actual nomination statement. How can the concern over Co-nominations be addressed?

  • Response:
Limiting it would sorta' be WP:CREEPy, which ain't a good thing. People should just use common sense. If your co-nomination statement doesn't really add value to the nomination, make it a support instead. Generally keeping nomination statements short is a good thing; we don't want !voters to tl;dr it.

The RfA Debate (Questions, Election, Canvassing)[edit]

B1. 60 editors expressed concern over the number of questions asked of candidates, and indicated that questions should be limited in number. How can this be accomplished? What limits could be fairly imposed? Are there alternative means for the candidate to provide information about themselves without the prompting of questions?

  • Response:
While I would love for there to be some sort of limit on how many questions can be asked a candidate, any limit we place on it would necessarily be arbitrary and wouldn't work in all situations (there will be instances where candidates need to be asked quite a few questions, and any limit high enough to allow for this would be useless anyways). So, let's just apply some common sense on the part of participants to just not ask excessively many questions.
As far as alternate means, candidates are already allowed to make statements at the beginning of their RFAs. We just don't make this information terribly well available. Promoting it would likely help with this sort of thing, assuming candidates know there are things they'll want to explain before hand.

B2. Editors expressed concern over the content of questions, with 43 editors disapproving of "Trick questions", 8 disapproving of questions that require only a quotation from policy to answer, and 54 favoring questions that relate directly to the candidate and their experiences, contributions, conflicts, etc. How should the scope of possible questions be determined? Conversely, how would the decision to remove bad-faith or problematic questions be made, and by whom? What subjects should be specifically off-limits, and why?

  • Response:
Candidates are already allowed to choose which questions they do and do not answer. Or, at least they're supposed to be able to. What'd help is if we saw the "optional" questions as more optional. Right now they're semi-mandatory, in that you do have to answer most of them to avoid gathering opposition for not.
There are a few ways to deal with this. We could ignore oppose !votes with the rationale "didn't answer question(s)" (or any variation thereof). We could set up some sort of outside panel, of elected members or volunteers (I personally suggest the 'crats), to look over the questions asked to candidates and remove those which fit the criteria above (questions with only one answer, questions with policy-quote answers, etc.) and remove them from RFAs. We could just encourage candidates to not answer all the questions, with the assumption that if it's important it'll get answered.

B3. Editors note that RfA is seen as a negative process, with issues such as badgering of opposes, personal attacks, and a general lack of civility being prominent concerns. How can the RfA process be changed to address these concerns?

  • Response:
Changing the process won't change the participants (though certain things I saw suggested in the question phase would cut down on the amount that happens but cutting out most of the !voters), so I'm not sure exactly what can be done. My first thought is to more rigorously apply WP:CIVIL and WP:NPA in the discussions, but there isn't really any reason why that can't be done right now, so whatever reason it isn't being done likely isn't something that's easy to control. I will revisit this later and see if I can figure anything out.

B4. The very nature of the RfA process was disputed. Some editors desire rationales with every vote, and favor a more discussion and consensus-based process similar to other processes on the English wikipedia. Other editors desire a more vote-based election, where the raw numbers of supports and opposes are the critical factor. Is there one of these methods that would provide a clearer consensus on the community's view of a candidate? Or, alternatively, is a hybrid of the two preferable, and how should that be structured?

  • Response:
I am one of the ones who would prefer a completely discussion-based process. RFA as it currently stands is basically a vote. If a candidate gets >75% of the vote, he passes, <75% and he fails. This isn't how the English Wikipedia says it's supposed to work. Until and unless the rest of enwiki becomes a democracy, ruled by supermajority, RFA shouldn't be. I know some people like the way it is now, so that completely bogus rationales still fly, but I kinda' doubt there's consensus to eliminate consensus. Take the vote out of RFA and let the 'crats do what they're job is: judge consensus.

B5. The amount of discretion held by Bureaucrats to remove or discount problem votes was also discussed, with some editors favoring increased discretion for Bureaucrats. 25 editors also favored a detailed closing rationale from Bureaucrats, detailing the specific factors that resulted in the candidate being successful (or not successful). What changes to the RfA process or format could clarify community consensus on this issue? Should Bureaucrats take a more active role in managing (or clerking) ongoing RfAs?

  • Response:
Mostly mirroring the same as above. Give the 'crats discretion to figure out what the consensus actually is, as stated in B4. Idea for managing ongoing RFAs in B2.

B6. 68 editors noted that a limited form of Canvassing or advertising would be acceptable, if such canvassing was done on-site and in a neutral fashion. How could a candidate advertise the fact that he or she is a candidate for adminship, while being completely neutral in the audience to which he or she advertises?

  • Response:
Bot generated listed, or a preapproved list of places that are acceptable would work. My own thoughts would be public boards such as WP:AN, WP:AN/I, and the village pump, as well as the talk pages of Wikiprojects or other Wikipedia: namespace areas where the user is active (might want to limit the scope in how far down the child-tree we want to allow the Wikiprojects, however, to avoid projects with 3 participants and such). It'd also help to have a boilerplate template designed to be used in this, which basically states the same thing as {{Rfa-notice}}.

Training and Education[edit]

C1. Though 73 editors responded favorably to the Admin Coaching programme, 39 were critical of the process for "Teaching for the test", or for being an RfA preparation programme rather than an Adminship preparation programme. In what ways could Admin Coaching be improved to focus more on adminship itself?

  • Response:
I'm working on a program at User:Lifebaka/Coaching which I hope will work, though I'm still constructing it as of writing this. I'm a big fan of informal versions, basically.

C2. In evaluating New Admin School, some editors noted that a Mentorship element would be of great benefit to newly minted administrators - something that Admin Coaching provides in a direct one-on-one coach-coachee team. Similarly, 15 editors characterized Admin Coaching, a primarily pre-adminship process, as being invaluable after the RfA, which is traditionally when New Admin School is used for training. Are there areas where the two processes overlap, and can be made more complimentary? Are there common themes or elements that could be shared between the two processes, in order to improve the effectiveness of both?

  • Response:
Speaking as a relatively new admin, I must say I found the New Admin School a great technical resource. It tells how to do the basic admin functions step by step. Simply pair that with a more seasoned admin from each area the new admins wants to learn, and you've got a recipe for success (for those who need it, of course; likely quite a few new admins won't). Seems clear to me.

Adminship (Removal of)[edit]

Note: I be writin' the below on Internation'l Speak As a Scurvy Dog Day. Arr...

D1. Editors noted that the current voluntary Admins open to Recall process is redundant to Dispute Resolution process such as Requests for Comment and Arbitration. In the absence of Recall (i.e. if it were removed altogether), how could existing processes be adapted to more effectively deal with issues of administrator abuse?

  • Response:
Thar be no way to have th' voluntary process walk the plank, so I be not thinkin' that be a thing to consider. Thar be little we can do to have administrat'rs walk the plank now besides sailin' to ArbCom or RFC/U. I be thinkin' RFC/U be given bigger cannons to scare them landlubbers off.

D2. Editors cited the voluntary nature of the Admins open to Recall process as problematic, and 40 went as far as to recommend a mandatory process for all administrators, either as a mandatory form of Admins open to Recall, or a more formal version of the process administered by Bureaucrats. As a separate process from WP:DR, how could the current recall process be standardized for use as a mandatory process? Who would be responsible for such a process?

  • Response:
Thar be no way to have th' voluntary process walk the plank. If we be makin' it mandatory, adminstrat'rs still be able to make a new voluntary one. 'Tis is a losin' battle, and thar be more booty to be had elsewhere.
If we be wantin' a mandatory process, I be thinkin' it be overseen by th' 'crats. They be smart mateys, let 'em whip the scallywags into shape.

D3. 44 editors criticized the recall process for being too open to abuse, both through spurious or bad-faith calls for an admin to be recalled, or through administrators who fail to follow through on a commitment to stand for recall. How can the recall process be amended to address these concerns?

  • Response:
Thar be two ideas. First, we could make it mandatory. 'Twouldn't be a good idea, I be thinkin', as it would be not solvin' the first probl'm.
Second, we could make the whole thing walk the plank. 'Twould be hard to enforce. It also not be a good idea, as it be not solvin' the second probl'm.
I not be thinkin' up a single thing that solves both probl'ms. But I also be thinkin' that we ain't too bad off now. Thar be plenty of booty and rum to go around.

D4. Some editors recommended that administrators be required to stand for some form of reconfirmation after a given period of time. How would such reconfirmation be structured? How long would an admin have before such reconfirmation would be required? Could such reconfirmation be triggered by an effort to recall an admin, and how would that be handled? What form would such reconfirmation take (RfA, Straw Poll, etc)?

  • Response:
Arr, I not be likin' reconfirmation. Thar be good administrat'rs I be not likin', and thar be bad administrat'rs many be likin'. Controvers'al administrat'rs likely be losin' their administrat'r buttons from it, 'cause of small things.
Note: I be writin' the above on Internation'l Speak As a Scurvy Dog Day. Arr...

Overall Process[edit]

E1. The earliest version of the RfA policy states that adminship is granted to "anyone who has been an active Wikipedia contributor for a while and is generally a known and trusted member of the community."[1] Current policy leaves the definition of a "trusted editor" to the community. Editors offered a wide range of basic characteristics desirable of administrators, including Trustworthiness, competence, and communication skills. How could the RfA process be amended to either A) more fully ensure that editors selected as admins do indeed have the full trust of the community, or B) more fully fit the community's expectations for administrators?

  • Response:
The problem here is that the community doesn't know what it wants in order for an admin to be a "trusted editor". This is where most of the drahmahz of RFA comes from, because otherwise good candidates can have a single, sometimes minor, flaw that torpedoes their entire RFA (without as many fun explosions, either). The only alternatives I've come up with to a consensus-based or voting-based system, such as the one we have in place now, is to have simple and straight-up requirements in order to become an admin, but that sort of system is all too easily game-able.
My thought for what would help fix the problem the most is for !votes with crappy or without rationales to be weighted less than well reasoned ones (probably using some sort of semi-objective system, to avoid unnecessary controversy in up- and down-weighting !votes; i.e. "you just don't like me" sorta' things). I've wanted to draw up a system like this for some time, but haven't yet gotten around to it (mostly because it'd take a lot of work and I'm lazy :P).

E2. Editors expressed concern over the format of the Requests for Adminship process. Some suggested that RfA has become a form of high-impact editor review, while others expressed concern over the view of Adminship itself as a goal or "trophy" that all editors should attain after a certain period of time. In taking the RfA process as a whole, what elements work well? What elements should be removed or amended?

  • Response:
Most of the process works relatively well. By which I mean most other systems suck gigantic monkey balls compared to it (set "upgrade" point, anonymous voting, etc.). So, drastic changes to the system are probably going to result in it not working as well. I've proposed some ideas above, none of which I've fully thought through (no doubt most of them won't work), that I hope will remedy some of the issues at RFA.
What I've seen that works well mostly is candidate selection. Then again, there's not much we can change there. The only other directions I can think of are removing nominations (which will cut out those who are too afraid to run without a nom), removing self-noms (which will cut out those who work in low traffic areas), or moving to an entirely arbitrary merit-based system, where the "upgrade" is automatic when a certain edit count (possibly in certain areas) or action count is reached (which, again, is really easy to game). So I highly doubt nothing needs doing to this part, except maybe having more people nominate. 718smiley.png
The two parts I see as causing the most controversy are the !voting and the questioning. Most of the questions that I take issue with are just kinda' silly to ask; any candidate worth their salt will get them right, because they have a right answer. I'm still hesitant to disallow them, however, as a wrong answer to one of those questions really should be a bad thing, and is telling that a candidate didn't do their homework. I "helpfully" linked to the WP:RFACHEATsheet one a few RFAs to help some candidates out if they hadn't seen it already. Having someone do that would probably help.
As for the !voting, I don't think there's anything that can be done to get rid of people who just want to be nasty (they could be blocked for violating WP:NPA and WP:CIVIL, but those blocks would seem kinda' punitive rather than preventative). We could drive them off of RFA by just ignoring them (for example, using a weighting system to weight trollish or uncivil !votes down to worthless), which only solves the problem locally (though doing that sort of thing site-wide is probably a good thing...).

Once you're finished...[edit]

Thank you again for taking part in this review of the Request for Adminship process.

Your responses will be added to Category:Wikipedian Recommendations to RfA Review, which will be used to review the responses after this phase is concluded.

This question page was generated by {{RFAReview}} at 20:42 on 12 September 2008.

  1. ^ "Requests for adminship". 2003-06-14.