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Wikipedia:Hat collecting

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A large collection of hats
All these hats to choose from…

Hat collecting is the process of gaining rights on Wikipedia (and other wikis) just to show off or to boost one's ego, rather than because you have any actual use for them. Voters in the request for adminship process need to decide whether or not the user requesting adminship actually has a use for those rights or is simply "hat collecting". This is why adminship candidates should have some clear idea why they want to become admins, rather than simply the feeling that this is what one does at a certain stage in one's Wikipedia career.

Not having a particular user right doesn't mean you are somehow deficient. Lots of people don't have file mover, but that's because there's only a small community of people who care about maintaining the file namespace. But on the converse, having file mover doesn't mean you are an expert on file moving, it just means you've been granted the ability to do it. For some administrators, handing out rights to a reasonably trustworthy user is a very simple way to prevent them from persistently making requests of that form.

Of course, one should be very careful before alleging that someone is hat collecting. Simply responding to everyone wanting rollback or even everyone wanting to become an administrator with the accusation that they are a hat collector marks a failure to assume good faith.

If you are applying for rights, be sure to show why you think you can improve Wikipedia by having those rights, generally by showing a positive record of actions and attitude. Don't just assert that you'll find the tool useful, give evidence of why you need the tool and you'll dramatically reduce accusations that you are simply collecting hats.

  • If you are applying for rollback, point to anti-vandalism efforts (AIV reports, RFPP reports, user talk pages with warnings on etc.)
  • If you are applying for autopatrol, point to the articles you created.
  • If you are applying for file mover, point to file namespace work, to use of the {{Rename media}} template. Don't assume that because you have a right on Commons, that means you automatically deserve it on Wikipedia too (and vice versa): while it is great that you do work on Commons, admins on Wikipedia want to see that you understand local policies before handing out rights.

Don't just collect hats, wear them after you get them!

Tell-tale signs that the community looks for

  • Minimal competence: admins being asked to grant user rights are being asked to express trust that the user is able to operate within the policy without satisfactorily answering to relevant questions asked regarding the policy.
  • Requests that show no obvious clue as to what the user right in question is for.
  • Requests that cite hypothetical benefits as evidence.
  • Users who have requested absurdly advanced rights (steward, global rollback, Wikimedia Foundation-approved Researcher, CheckUser/Oversight etc.) as if getting user rights is a "start high, negotiate down" procedure.
  • Repeated requests with no actual change in behaviour.
  • Spending time after having the rights declined complaining about how other users have such rights but they don't.
  • Inflated claims about how they have rights on other Wikimedia projects and a feeling that this entitles them to rights on the English Wikipedia, even if there are more complex policies at English Wikipedia.
    Similarly, some users may use lower-level rights on the English Wikipedia to request other rights elsewhere, so that they can then turn around and request more advanced rights here, citing their cross-wiki hat collection as evidence of their worthiness.

Possible signs

  • Ignoring notices on Requests for permissions or Requests for adminship that discourage relatively new editors from applying for rights.
  • Overly participating in admin areas (e.g. the administrators' noticeboard) or unnecessary clerking of such areas.
  • Participating in project namespace discussions from the start without other contributions including content contributions and counter-vandalism.
  • Advanced knowledge of Wikipedia from the very start—hat-collectors may thoroughly read policies and guidelines to get their wanted hats faster (note that this might also indicate sockpuppetry).
  • Not showing a genuine need for rights when requesting them.
  • When a request is declined with good reasoning, repeatedly asking for how to obtain the right in question.



Hat collecting can occur across wikis, with users using the rights they've got at one wiki to bootstrap an application on another wiki. This isn't always a problem: most of the user rights require trust. If a long-standing Wikisource admin turns up, there is a good reason to presume trustworthiness compared with a completely new user.

But remember, some wikis are, or were, very lax about handing out user rights. The Simple English Wikipedia once gave a user rollback after two edits... on the basis that said user also had rollback on Commons. (Admittedly, this is no longer done.) Likewise, some rights like autopatrolled or reviewer have many different technical meanings on various wikis, with vastly different associated levels of trust (some higher than here, some lower). Some even automatically allocate extra rights, like the English Wikibooks, which gives out rollback and reviewer by an automatic process. Be careful not to place too much weight on rights on other projects when considering granting them at the English Wikipedia.