Wikipedia:Non serviam

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Non serviam or I will not serve, is an expression that describes the attitude of one or more editors who have no interest in becoming an administrator on Wikipedia or have not decided to become one yet. This does not mean that they no longer wish to contribute to Wikipedia by editing.

Role of the admin[edit]

The role of an administrator is closely akin to the duties and responsibilities of a janitor. They primarily involve maintaining the integrity of Wikipedia. In this respect, an admin is seen to serve the community or become dubbed a servant by regular editors.

Why the decision[edit]

There are a number of reasons why editors choose not to serve Wikipedia as an administrator:

Adminship is not editing![edit]

Some editors who work in multiple areas retain the feeling that they will not have time for the tasks they would normally perform if they were to become an administrator. These editors, while they could contribute to Wikipedia with the tools, do not wish to become admins if it might steer them away from their preferred editing roles. It is also a very real possibility that a great article builder who only wants the tools for a small subset of tasks will be confronted with opposes based on this fact (see WP:NONEED). Many editors at WP:RFA frown upon the idea of admins who choose to work in specialty areas. Thus, those editors who only do a certain type of work, feel that they have no chance in their request for adminship.

I am no novelist[edit]

Similar to the reason before, many editors participating in RfA feel that prospective admins should have created one or more good articles or featured articles. While this is usually not a valid reason to deny a candidate the tools, as adminship is about cleaning up not creating, many fear failure because they lack the skill, talent or interest to create new articles and would rather concentrate on cleaning up the messes others create.

I failed RfA before, why should I try again?[edit]

Sometimes people who fail their first RfA will try again multiple times. It is perfectly feasible that they will pass after working on those flaws the previous RfA/s uncovered. However, sometimes new or experienced editors, self-nominated or nominated by others, will, after a failed RfA, quit Wikipedia completely or at least stop pursuing adminship. Feeling that the community is biased against them already because of opposing before, they will consider past failures as a stigma. Thus they will, if we are lucky, continue to work on the project as a general editor or, unfortunately, work less or leave the project completely (see also WP:BITE).

A broken system creates only broken results...[edit]

It is an outspoken belief amongst many editors that the current RfA process is flawed. Some potential admins will not want to participate in RfA, fearing that people could not understand this problem if the critics themselves use the system (see tu quoque).


Many editors are reluctant to self-nominate, although they are perfectly willing to take up the role of administrator. While adminship is often touted as no big deal, multiple users have expressed aversion towards self-nominations, labeling them as signs of "power hunger" or the desire for status. Although these concerns have yet to be the primary reason for a failed RfA, many people are aware that such feelings exist and will avoid self-nominating. Also, while many would love to have the tools to assist the community, they fear that they will fail the process because they cannot satisfy what they perceive as criteria to pass.

Nobody wants me anyway[edit]

Similar to "I fear to fail", this reason is one of self-confidence. Most successful requests for adminship are candidates who were nominated by one or more trusted admins or bureaucrats. These nominators may influence those participating at RfA, usually leading them to support if the nominator is trusted and well established within the community. The problem is that many users are overlooked and, thus, are not nominated. It is not uncommon for this to engender feelings of mistrust or that their work is under-appreciated.

Adminship is time-consuming[edit]

Wikipedia is a volunteer project. Some potential admins feel that being a sysop will take up too much of their time, perhaps having a negative effect on their real life. They think that being an admin means steady working hours with less flexibility for other real world activities.

What if I do something wrong?[edit]

Some users feel they are not responsible enough for the role. Being an admin is often dubbed to be no big deal, but many users feel admins should be wiser than other users, serving as role models and setting an example for the community. There may be an expectation that some editors expect admins to use their real names causing many young contributors to fear real-life repercussions for their on-wiki admin actions (such an anti-privacy expectation is neither common nor treated as reasonable at RfA, however).

I am underage[edit]

Many at RfA have a problem with candidates below 18 years of age. They think that age correlates with maturity, and is thus a good technique for estimation of maturity. Users under 18 may thus consider their chances of passing RfA to be lower, and not attempt it. Although age may be a tool to help tell how mature somebody may be, it is by no means a measure of how mature somebody actually is.

"I am the law!"[edit]

Various editors are put off by the "wiki-cop" attitude of some admins and, increasingly, the expectation that admins should primarily be engaged in policing Wikipedian behavior and disputes, instead of tending to the janitorial duties the position was created for. Consequently, editors may have no interest in being (or an active desire to not be) associated with adminship, since so many admins spend most of their time at the "drama boards" where they can exercise their acquired powers to block and ban other editors, not always in accordance with actual policy.

Less freedom, more stress[edit]

Many admins in recent years have increasingly stayed away from anything that looks like controversy, out of fear of making "wiki-enemies" who will seek to desysop them. Anyone who has participated in any content or policy controversies for very long on Wikipedia may already have a "negative retinue" of grudge-bearing detractors who are liable to agitate against them, perhaps even canvassing through e-mail, to ensure RfA passage will be unlikely anyway. Admins are also frequently berated, demanded to abstain from various discussions, accused of being WP:INVOLVED, treated like non-editor functionaries, and left feeling that they have little choice but to avoid a wide variety of discussions and actions, because they will be judged by higher, often unreasonable standards, compared to "regular" editors. Many admins report that adminship is very stressful for them, and some have even been subjected to threats, doxxing, and other attempts at harassment.

The window of opportunity[edit]

There is a general trend at RfA to accept candidates with about 1.5 to 4 years of editing under their belts; less experienced candidates frequently fail because of doubts they know what they're doing yet. But there is also a countervailing trend to reject long-term editors who finally decide to request adminship after avoiding it for years. The "popularity contest" nature of RfA can turn bizarre and ugly in such cases, with reactions like: The candidate must have some hidden agenda, some new axe to grind, or why else would they all of a sudden want admin power? The candidate should have stepped up a long time ago, so why should we reward them for avoiding the responsibility for so long? The candidate is a long-term troublemaker; have a look at their behavior in this dispute [diff from nine years ago]. And so on. Even aside from unreasonable nonsense like this, there is a genuine problem: The longer one edits, the more disputes one will be involved in, and the more people there will be to vote Oppose, with a wider range of unrelated complaints from different times and places on the project that, when piled on, may seem to have a damning effect.

See also[edit]