User:Varks Spira/Wikipedia administrator

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Wikipedia administrators[1] are editors who have access to a number of tools that allow them to carry out certain functions that regular editors cannot. They can restrict the editing of problematic articles or other pages in Wikipedia, block problematic users, [2], and delete and restore pages and images.[3] All administrators have the capacity to undo any administrator-level action taken by another administrator; repeated reversions of this type are known as a wheel war.[4] The English Wikipedia has approximately 1600 administrators, while other language-versions of Wikipedia have significantly fewer.

An editor becomes an administrator on the English Wikipedia by going through a week-long public vetting process known as an "RfA", or "Request for Adminship". During the RfA, the prospective administrator is typically asked questions on a wide range of hypothetical situations, as well as to explain any past actions which questioners may think inappropriate. The heart of the RfA is the comments expressed by editors in support of, opposed to, or neutral regarding making the editor an administrator.

The authority to increase an editor's system access privileges to "administrator" level rests with a group of elected "bureaucrats". In general, though the opinions expressed by editors during an RfA are not consider to be "votes", bureaucrats look for "rough consensus", and almost always fail candidates with less than 70% support and promote candidates with over 75% support. 70-75% is a discretionary range where crats may either pass or fail candidates.

Bureaucrats in turn are accountable, if problems are alleged, to an elected arbitration committee, and to Wikipedia's co-founder Jimbo Wales.[5] Bureaucrats may not remove administrator privileges. That may only be done by elected "stewards".

The decision to delete a Wikipedia article is made in one of three ways, always by an administrator:

  • In a "speedy deletion", if the article seems to clearly have no merit. Typically a regular editor will tag such articles to bring them to the attention of administrators.
  • If an editor challenges the article via a "proposed deletion", and no one objects within seven days.
  • By the community of editors via discussion at WP:AFD. A final action to delete requires administrator privilege and is based on the administrator's interpretation of the discussion; here good arguments with reference to policies and guidelines are supposed to be given much more weight than the number of editors expressing an opinion in favor of or against deletion (any editor can nominate an article for deletion via AfD).

An academic article that needs to be read.[6]

History of the Wikipedia administrator position[edit]

Across all language-versions, or solely English Wikipedia?

Administrator ranking in the hierarchical structure of the various language-versions of Wikipedia[edit]

Need other language administrators to participate in writing this section. What place do Spanish Wikipedia administrators have in their hierarchy? How about French Wikipedia? German Wikipedia? ... etc etc etc

Day-to-day administrator activities[edit]

This section needs filling in.

Simon Pulsifer, who became well known for his prolific contributions and as a human interest story.

Non day-to-day administrator activities[edit]

An English Wikipedia administrator named Andrew Lih wrote a book about Wikipedia entitled The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia.[7]

At a now-defunct website called Wikitruth, several Wikipedia administrators documented and criticized the Wikipedia project.[8]

In 2009, the New York Times imposed a voluntary media blackout pertaining to Times employee David S. Rohde, who had been kidnapped while working as a correspondent in Afghanistan; in addition to minimizing coverage of the incident in traditional media, the Times also worked with Wikipedia administrators to prevent unsubstantiated information from being inserted into the Wikipedia article about Rodhe. Rohde escaped after eight months of captivity. The Times subsequently explained their actions as having been motivated by concern for Rohde's life: if his captors had had a clearer understanding of the extent to which Rohde was valued (based on, among other things, the amount of publicity surrounding his disappearance), the likelihood of his being killed would have been significantly greater.[9]

Controversies pertaining to Wikipedia administrators[edit]

In 2007, an English Wikipedia administrator using the screen name "Essjay" created a media storm when it was discovered that he had falsely claimed to hold university degrees;[10][11] Essjay subsequently ceased all participation in Wikipedia.

In 2008, Cade Metz published an article in The Register entitled "Wikipedia ruled by 'Lord of the Universe'", alleging that a Wikipedia administrator using the screen name "Jossi" had been in a conflict of interest when editing the Wikipedia article about spiritual leader Prem Rawat[12]; Jossi subsequently ceased all participation in Wikipedia.

In 2008, a pro-Israeli group named CAMERA was exposed for trying to rewrite Wikipedia articles on the English Wikipedia to reflect their point of view.[13] CAMERA intended to have some of its members elected as administrators so that they could override the decisions of others when controversies arose that concerned CAMERA's interests. A CAMERA member named Zeq recognized that an administrator had to appear to be neutral in arbitrating a dispute with an Israel-related article, which requires that an administrator is not involved with the editing or writing of the article, and had discussed a scheme to get around this rule, and had also discussed a method of targeting pro-Palestinian administrators by having editors make deliberately provocative edits to Palestine-related articles in the hopes that an editor who may be Palestinian would revert the edit and could be reported to an administrator working as a CAMERA operative by an editor who would also be working as a CAMERA operative.[14]

In June 2009, as a result of several complaints from psychologists about Wikipedia providing public-domain images of Hermann Rorschach's original inkblots -- and of the subsequent edit war -- a Wikipedia administrator "protected" the the Wikipedia article about Rorschach's inkblot tests for three days; during those three days, only other administrators were able to edit further edits. In July 2009, the edit war resumed; a different administrator re-imposed the protection measures, this time for seven days.[15]

Mathew Ingram in The Globe and Mail reports that "Senior administrators have been accused of being a 'cabal' of high priests who keep out anyone not deemed worthy"; Ingram did not state who had made these accusations, nor did he define "senior".[16] Cade Metz in The Register reported about an exclusive mailing list that had been used by Wikipedia administrators to discuss private issues. There are websites, such as The Wikipedia Review, that criticize Wikipedia, its administrators, practices, policies, editors, readers, and content.[17]

In a keynote address at Wikimania 2009, free-software activist Richard Stallman accused Spanish Wikipedia of political bias for restricting links to the political news aggregator and believed that Spanish Wikipedia's administrators aggravated the situation by banning those Wikipedians who had complained; however, the lead organizer of Wikimania 2009, Patricio Lorente, explained that the restrictions concerning links to were not political, but were instead an issue of spam.[18]