Wikipedia:Non-admin closure

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For the actual guideline on non-admin closures of deletion discussions, see WP:NACD.

In most instances, discussions are closed by administrators. However, there are several situations in which a registered editor who is not an administrator can close a discussion. This essay offers guidance to editors considering doing such a closure.

Who should close discussions[edit]

There are many ways in which competence is required when editing Wikipedia, and often more so when accurately judging the outcomes of discussions. Although there are no formal requirements for non-administrators to close discussions, in terms of time spent on Wikipedia or number of contributions made, it is important that those who do close are able to do so properly. Improper closures may have detrimental effects on the project, such as necessitating potentially time consuming reviews or contributing to backlogs for various tasks.

Editors who are experienced[edit]

As experienced editors who have passed a community review, administrators will normally have gathered the knowledge necessary to close community discussions appropriately, or to identify when they cannot and defer to others. Non-administrators who close discussions should ensure they also have the requisite experience and knowledge necessary to do so.

  • Knowledge of policy: Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy, but it does employ a sometimes complex set of policies and guidelines which document established consensus, and in some cases, legal requirements which may have serious consequences if not adhered to. Editors who close discussions should have a good understanding of when and how these apply, as well as when they do not, and how this helps uphold the fundamental principles of the project.
  • Knowledge of process: Different venues for discussion on Wikipedia often include their own agreed upon standards for procedural matters, such as how those discussions are formatted, how long they can or must continue, and what steps should be taken prior to their beginning and following their end. Editors who close discussions should have thoroughly familiarized themselves with these standards, and have enough history participating themselves that they are able to fulfill these expectations.
  • Knowledge of subject matter: Wikipedia is written and maintained by a large and diverse body of contributors, each of which have individual strengths, interests or academic backgrounds. Editors who close discussions concerning highly technical subject matter, should have the necessary background to effectively evaluate the evidence and arguments presented.

Editors who are uninvolved[edit]

Closing editors should be aware of any actual, potential or apparent conflicts of interest they may have that could effect their decision making, or give the appearance of impropriety, potentially compromising a consensus reached by the community by casting doubts on a closure. Just as editors should not act as administrators in situations in which they have been personally involved, non-administrators should not close discussions in which they have cast a !vote or otherwise already taken a side.

Just as policy prohibits canvassing for participants with the intention of influencing the outcome of a discussion, editors should not attempt to close discussions they have been improperly notified of, or notified of in a way which may cast doubts as to their impartiality.

Deletion discussions[edit]

Articles for deletion[edit]

After an AfD discussion has run for at least seven days (168 hours), it is moved to Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Old, and experienced non-admins in good standing may consider closing a discussion on that page which is beyond doubt a clear keep. However, a closure earlier than seven days may take place if a reason given in either Wikipedia:Speedy keep or Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion applies. Note that, per WP:SK#NOT, this does not authorize WP:SNOW closures. Non-admins may not use a "speedy delete" close, but may close a nomination as "speedy keep" if there is no doubt that such action is appropriate. Otherwise, non-admins are encouraged to recommend a "speedy keep" in the body of the discussion, and allow an administrator to gauge the community consensus.

Appropriate closures[edit]

Experienced non-admin editors in good standing are allowed (although not necessarily encouraged) to close some XfD discussions. Editors who wish to do such closures must be familiar with the relevant policies of the discussion venue (e.g. the notability guideline for AfD) and be able to interpret consensus correctly in such discussions.

Non-administrators should restrict themselves to the following types of closures:

  1. Clear keep outcomes after a full listing period (stated in the instructions to each XfD, this is usually seven days), absent any contentious debate among participants. This also extends to other clear closes in which the final task can be performed by a non-admin, for example Redirect or Merge (when a history merge or deletion is not required). If "Merge" is the decision then template {{Afd-merge}} should be posted at the subject article to indicate that it should be merged to a given target article (where {{Afd-merge from}} should be posted).
  2. AfDs with little or no discussion may be relisted if they're relatively new, but should not be closed as "no consensus with no prejudice against speedy renomination" by non-admins if there is a reasonable basis for deletion put forward and there was no opposition. This is because the closing admin is likely to soft delete the article.
  3. Speedy keep closures, per the criteria at that guideline.
  4. Pure housekeeping, such as closing a debate with procedural close where there were problems with the deletion nomination itself, or where the page under discussion has been noncontroversially speedy deleted, yet the debate is not closed.

Inappropriate closures[edit]

Non-admin closure is not appropriate in any of the following situations:

  1. The non-admin has demonstrated a potential conflict of interest, or lack of impartiality, by having expressed an opinion in the discussion or being otherwise involved, with the exception of closing their own withdrawn nomination as a speedy keep when all other viewpoints expressed were for keep as well.
  2. The outcome is a close call (especially where there are several valid outcomes) or likely to be controversial. Such closes are better left to an administrator.
  3. The non-admin has little or no experience editing Wikipedia generally, or has little or no previous participation in deletion discussions.
  4. The result will require action by an administrator:
    • Deletion (except for certain TfD discussions)
    • Moving an article into a page (such as a redirect) that can't be accomplished by a regular editor
    • Unprotecting a page
    • Merging page histories

Inappropriate early closures may either be reopened by an administrator ("Decisions are subject to review and may be reopened by any administrator",[1] from Wikipedia:Deletion process#Non-administrators closing discussions) or could result in a successful request to redo the process at Wikipedia:Deletion review.[2]

Pitfalls to avoid[edit]

  1. Extra care should be taken if a closure may be controversial or not clearly unambiguous. With the understanding that the closure may be reversed, non-admins should generally avoid closing such discussions, especially if the non-admin is relatively new to the relevant deletion process.
    • The nominated item is a controversial topic, or the discussion is controversial. This may be indicated by the broad topic area, related discussions, and previous XfDs.
    • That the item meets appropriate closure is a close call, for example, does "10-2" in favor of keep count as "nearly unanimous"?
  2. Contrary to popular belief, especially among newer editors, discussions are not a vote. Administrators use rough consensus to determine the outcome. The process of rough consensus requires administrators to occasionally ignore opinions (sometimes called !votes) because they are against policy, made in bad faith, etc. If you are reviewing a debate and find yourself trying to decide if a !vote should be ignored per the rough consensus guidelines, and doing so or not doing so would likely affect the outcome, then this is not the kind of debate that an inexperienced editor ought to be closing.
  3. No consensus closes (with the exception of WP:NPASR closes) should generally be avoided, as they require more difficult analysis of consensus.
  4. Avoid closing a discussion if you have an opinion on the topic or its suitability for inclusion. Never close a discussion to supervote (i.e. !voting by closure).

Templates for discussion[edit]

As the result of a 2015 request for comment,[3] consensus allows for non-administrators to close discussions at Wikipedia:Templates for discussion as delete. Non-administrators should follow the same steps as administrators, found at Wikipedia:Templates for discussion/Administrator instructions, with the exception of the final step of proposing speedy deletion using {{db-xfd}}.

Other deletion discussions[edit]

In general, XfDs other than AfDs and RfDs are probably not good candidates for non-admin closure, except by those who have extraordinary experience in the XfD venue in question. If there is a serious backlog on one of these venues, consider asking a very familiar admin who closes many of this type of discussions for their advice. Many of these venues have complicated criteria to consider, employ complicated templates, require additional logging elsewhere, or require the use of bots to run jobs to complete the tagging or other cleanup tasks that are required. If a closer does not take all the required steps, it can create significant problems that may go unresolved for an extended period of time.

In particular, closing FfDs should be avoided by anyone who is not experienced in closing debates in this venue. Images are frequently transcluded into articles, templates and user pages. Those closing these type of debates often have to review the "what links here" special page and determine if other cleanup needs to be done, such as removing the "deletable image caption" templates everywhere the image is used. Those who regularly close these venue debates likely know how to use bots, scripts and third-party tools to help them do so.

Requested move discussions[edit]

Renaming pages (known as moving a page) generally does not require administrator permissions. Although requested move discussions are conventionally closed by administrators, experienced and uninvolved registered editors in good standing are allowed to close requested move surveys. Any non-admin closure must be explicitly declared with template {{subst:RMnac}} placed directly after the reasoning for the close within the {{subst:RM top}} template.

Non-admin closes normally require that:

  • The consensus or lack thereof is clear after a full listing period (seven days).
  • There are no more than a few associated subpages that need to be moved along with the move of the page under discussion, such as voluminous talk page archives.[4]

Requests for comment[edit]

Any uninvolved editor can close a request for comment or RfC. However, these may be particularly challenging closures for multiple reasons:

  • The need for closure: Unlike other discussions on Wikipedia, RfCs do not require a formal closure, and doing so may often be unnecessary or even counterproductive. Editors should asses whether closure is needed at all, or whether the discussion has come to a natural conclusion on its own, and reached a consensus which is self-evident to those involved, rendering a closure moot, and an inaccurate closure unnecessarily problematic.
  • The scope of the consensus: As one of the most general purpose types of semi-formal discussions on Wikipedia, RfCs are also potentially one of the most far reaching and long lasting in their consequences, are regularly used to determine consensus on important matters of policy, and often require a subsequent RfC to overturn their results to the satisfaction of the community. Editors should consider not only whether their assessment of the consensus is correct, but whether the discussion might be better closed by an administrator as a matter of form, resulting in a judgement that would be less likely to be challenged, even if the substance of the outcome would be the same.
  • The nature of the question: By their very nature, RfCs are exceptionally open-ended, both in the types of questions that are posed, as well as the types of discussions that may follow. Many RfCs are not simply yes or no decisions, but a choice between multiple qualitatively distinct options. Even then, the consensus that results from an RfC may not be in favor of any of the options initially proposed at all, but a completely new choice originating in the discussion itself. Editors should be keenly aware that the opening of an RfC is merely the impetus for debate, but not determinate of the type of consensus that may result from it.
    Additionally, although RfCs are ideally proposed in a neutral manner, so as not to affect the outcome based on the viewpoint of the originator, editors who close such discussions should recognize that they are evaluating not only the arguments made, but the nature of the question posed, and whether it is put forth in a valid and neutral manner, in accordance with Wikipedia policy and guidelines, and how that may have affected the direction of the debate.
  • The nature of the discussion: By default, RfCs run for 30 days. Particularly contentious ones may run for much longer, and involve a great many contributors. Editors should be aware that the length of the discussion does not lessen the importance of each argument made, or the requirement to take all such viewpoints into consideration. Editors should not attempt to close discussions where they cannot commit the sometimes considerable time and attention required to do so.

Just as other editors are free to question or criticize the actions of administrators, they may also do so for non-administrator actions, such as closing an RfC. Non-admins are similarly expected to promptly justify their decisions when required. As always, editors questioning or justifying a close are expected to do so within the bounds of civility, avoiding personal attacks, and assuming reasonable good faith.

Additionally, per this RfC, any non-admin close of an RfC should not be overturned if the only reason is that the closer was not an admin.

Alternatives to consider[edit]

Wikipedia is a work in progress and in most cases there is no deadline for closing discussions and enacting their results. Rather than attempting to close a discussion, consider contributing as a participant instead. A weak local consensus that is reached between few editors or with little discussion is likely to be limited in its applicability and impact. Likewise, editors who reach a strong agreement on an issue, but who may have overlooked an important policy related aspect of their decision, may come to a strong but nonetheless invalid consensus that is quickly overturned or simply never enacted.

Consider also whether one of several avenues for editor notification may be helpful in broadening discussion:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Administrators should not revert a closure based solely on the fact that the original closer was not an administrator, based on consensus following this request for comment. Per WP:ADMINACCT, administrators are expected to promptly and civilly justify their decision to revert based on an assessment of the local consensus and application of Wikipedia policy and guidelines.
  2. ^ Discuss with the closing editor first before starting a deletion review.
  3. ^ See Wikipedia talk:Templates for discussion/Archive 19
  4. ^ Administrators have the ability to move up to 100 pages in a single click.