Wikipedia:Administrator accountability

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What is this about?
This is a proposal to require all administrators to identify to the Wikimedia Foundation.
Why require identification? Isn't adminship "no big deal"?
Primarily, requiring identification increases administrator accountability and responsibility. Currently, Wikipedia is one of the top-ten most-visited websites on the Internet. Administrators have the potential to cause substantial harm to the site. They are given access to privileged information (deleted pages), they are able to block users, and they are able to disrupt site operations if truly inclined. Wikimedia's legal counsel Mike Godwin has previously stressed the sensitivity of deleted contributions.
Would the identifications be public?
No. All identifying information about the administrator would remain confidential.
Who is currently required to identify to the Wikimedia Foundation?

Arbitration Committee members have often become identified in order to obtain Oversight or CheckUser, and it is expected that all future candidates will be identified whether or not they obtain these tools.[clarification needed]

How would administrators identify? What would be involved?
There are two methods of identification used for Wikimedia-related projects:
  1. The standard identification procedure (used for stewards, et al.) involves scanning or faxing a copy of a driver's license or passport and submitting it to the Volunteer Coordinator of the Wikimedia Foundation.
  2. The alternate identification procedure involves simply submitting your real name via e-mail, a practice used by the Toolserver and the volunteer response team (OTRS).
Isn't it possible to forge the information or send in someone else's information?
Yes, it is. However there is a certain amount of trust being placed in the people who are chosen to be administrators that they will comply with reasonable requests such as submitting identification. The same identification techniques are used with CheckUsers, Oversighters, stewards, and members of the Arbitration Committee. Forging this information also may constitute a criminal offense in some jurisdictions.
Isn't it too much burden on the Wikimedia Foundation?
The Wikimedia Foundation serves the Wikimedia community. If there is a project mandate that identification be required, the Wikimedia Foundation will need to accommodate this request, whether that involves hiring an extra intern or another staff member. Ultimately, it's mostly a matter of receiving faxes or e-mails and creating a simple list—something that the current staff is likely able to handle.
Is this proposal trying to remove underage administrators?
No. Administrators who are underage can identify using a standard telephone.
What would happen with inactive administrators? Would they be removed?
No. Truly inactive administrators (no edits or logged actions) would be left alone. If an administrator returned from inactivity, they would be required to identify within a reasonable time period.
Are there similar practices with other Wikimedia-related projects?
Yes. Members of the volunteer response team and users with Toolserver accounts are both required to submit their real names before being granted access.
Would the information ever be used? If so, how, and in what scenario?
(question brought from WP:VPR discussion, please replace this with the answer)


  1. ^ Editors with access to information defined as private by the Wikimedia Foundation privacy policy are required to have their name on file for legal reasons. Before this is adopted the specific reasons need to be listed here. [clarification needed]
  2. ^ Agents of the Wikimedia Foundation are required to have their name on file and prove they are adults for legal reasons. Before this is adopted the specific reasons need to be listed here. [clarification needed]

See also[edit]