Wikipedia:RfA cheatsheet

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Know your answers before you go!

Questions on Requests for Adminship, when first introduced were meant to help the nominee in expanding on his nomination statement. In the recent times, there was an explosion of "optional" questions that gave concern to an over-emphasis on testing rote learning and how it becomes like an academic examination.

The three standard questions[edit]

1. What admin work do you intend to take part in?
2. What are your best contributions to Wikipedia, and why?
3. Have you been in any conflicts over editing in the past or have other users caused you stress? How have you dealt with it and how will you deal with it in the future?
The three original questions are deliberately open-ended, so the answers can vary considerably. Any other editor may ask any additional 'optional' questions of the nominee if they feel it necessary.
On every request for adminship, these three standard questions are included in the nomination template. Although the page says they are optional, not answering them will bring lots of opposition to your candidacy.
These questions are meant for you to elaborate on your nomination. The way you answer the questions also gives hints about your style of communication. Answer them honestly and politely. Generally, Wikipedians expect you to express an intention to use the tools in a regular process (say AfD); some editors oppose on the grounds that "there is no requirement for the tools".

"Fixed" questions[edit]

Unlike the three "real" questions, these are generally questions which have a right answer, and if you answer it wrongly, your RfA will probably fail. Here is a list of some of the most commonly asked questions:

  • What is the difference between a ban and a block?
A : In the simplest form, a block is simply the technical ability to remove write access to the encyclopedia. A ban is a social construct that is enforced by the community.
The answer to this is found in the banning and blocking policies. Basically, a ban is something that is given to a very small number of users. It means that they cannot edit Wikipedia, ever, under any circumstances. Bans are given by ArbCom, the community, or Jimbo. A user is de facto banned if no admin will unblock. A block is something that occurs on Wikipedia pretty much all the time. It basically "blocks" the user from editing. It is designed to be preventative, such as against a vandal. It normally does not last long, and an indef-blocked user can return productively under another account if they choose. Blocks and bans can be of varying lengths, but bans are normally longer, and cannot be revoked without a discussion of some sort. Unlike blocks, bans are placed as a consensus of users, instead of just one admin.
  • When should cool down blocks be used and why?
A : They should never be used.
This question attempts to test your understanding of the blocking policy. Blocks issued are preventive, and therefore a block is not to be used as a punitive measure. Giving a cool-down block would only inflame the situation. See the policy concerning this.

Other open questions[edit]

  • If another administrator removes material from an article and cites a BLP concern as the reason – but you believe the material does not violate BLP policy and should be included – what do you do?
This is more of a personal answer, but nonetheless, there are things that you should and shouldn't say in response to this. Whatever the case, discussion is key. Do not revert it. The user in question may be removing based on a volunteer response ticket from the subject themselves. They may have more information on it than you do, and it is therefore a bad idea to revert. What is probably best is to just accept it in practice. In your answer, you should explain that you would engage in discussion with the admin, or on the talk page. You could additionally explain the importance of the BLP policy in your answer.
  • What is your opinion on WP:IAR?
The first thing to realise is, that WP:IAR does not mean "Do whatever you like." Actually read the policy. It means, that if a rule is preventing you from doing something to improve the encyclopedia, break it. It is not a "get out of jail" card for breaking rules though. You must have some justification to break them, and be prepared to explain yourself. A very useful essay on ignoring rules is here. You can only really give your opinion on IAR when you fully understand what it is – when you do understand, you will be able to give an opinion that won't get you opposed.
  • What is your opinion of WP:AOR and would you add yourself to it?
Be familiar with the past controversies of WP:AOR. It may sound like a good idea, but it has caused many problems in the past. As with IAR, you should only really be able to give an opinion when you know what it is. The question of adding yourself to it is a personal choice – if you say no, be prepared to give a good reason why not, and if you say yes, be prepared to explain what your conditions would be, and why you would add yourself.
  • Please choose a question from User:Filll/AGF Challenge and give an answer, including your reasoning, below. Thanks, and good luck. :-)
These are actual hard questions. Do not be misled by the multiple choice options: for RFA you need to provide an actual essay answer. There is no one correct answer, there are several approaches that might work. Some approaches might show that you are in a hurry to resolve issues, other approaches might reveal that you are a kind-hearted person, or conversely, you might reveal yourself to be a cold-hearted bureaucrat. So think carefully about how you want to approach the situation.
  • Consider the following hypothetical scenario which will test your understanding of WP:CONSENSUS. Five editors take part in a discussion. Four of them argue in favor of outcome A, one of them argues in favor of outcome B. The arguments of the advocates of outcome A are weak and are easily refuted by the one editor who argues in favor of outcome B. The one editor who argues in favor of outcome B offers numerous policy-, guideline-, and common-sense-based arguments, none of which are refuted. You are the administrator whose role is to formally close the discussion. What is the outcome of the debate, A or B?
This question was widely discussed on the main RFA talk after it was asked on a number of RFAs.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] The question presents at least two false dilemmas and a logical fallacy. Seldom are there only two possible outcomes to any situation. Additionally, rarely will an administrator need to close a discussion on as little information provided. The perceived correct response to this question relies on the ability of an individual to know when they should act as an editor and not an administrator. In the proposed situation, an editor should simply participate by leaving their !vote, presumably in favour of outcome B. A close in favour of outcome B would be seen by many as a WP:SUPERVOTE and overreaching of an administrator's discretion in determining consensus. Alternatively, a close in favour of outcome A would likely be determined as following, incorrectly, majority rule and therefore contrary to WP:CONSENSUS, WP:ROUGH CONSENSUS, and WP:VOTE among other policies, guidelines, and essays. Even inaction would be preferable until a stronger consensus was formed. In terms of custodial actions that could be performed, the discussion can be left open, or in places like deletion discussions, be relisted. Further consensus can be sought by "soliciting outside opinions" such as at WP:RFC or by listing (in the case of AFDs) the debate at del sorting. Lastly, sysops are "never required" to act administratively or assigned a role to formally close a discussion. They are volunteers like anyone else.

"Project space" will almost always refer to the Wikipedia: namespace. Don't ever assume it means WikiProject. If you don't know this vital part of RfA jargon, you will almost surely fail.

WP:CSD questions[edit]

The most important thing to remember is strict adherence to the CSD criteria. If there is any hint of significance, it is better to PROD or AFD or just tag for improvement. When in doubt, do not apply a CSD tag.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ RFA: Everymorning Apr 2015
  2. ^ RFA: Jakec Mar 2015
  3. ^ RFA: EuroCarGT Feb 2015
  4. ^ RFA: Fenix down Feb 2015
  5. ^ RFA: Cadillac000 Feb 2015
  6. ^ RFA: SarekOfVulcan 4 Feb 2015
  7. ^ RFA: Titodutta Jan 2015
  8. ^ RFA: MelanieN Jan 2015