Wikipedia:RfA reform (continued)/Sysop on request

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Jimbo Wales asserted in this discussion a desire to implement a process alternative to RfA. A process to serve the interests of Wikipedia, and the group of editors who may avoid requesting adminship mainly because they are not favorable to the current process. It is preferred that this process be reasonably expeditious in delivering a sub-set of administrative tools to qualified applicants upon reasonable request.

A new user group, tentatively called Admin apprentice will be created with limited administrative authority (this needs to be defined). The admin apprentice will demonstrated their fitness for the full tool set by their conduct as an apprentice. After a determined period of time and/or number of log actions, without incident or major concern, the apprentice admin will be granted full administrative authority. It is also desirable that any user who achieves administrator by this alternative means will by its own virtue be subject to a standard recall which also must be developed. It is also desired that this proposal develop initially as a trial, with evaluation parameters in place. After the trial, the process will be evaluated and go to the community for consensus to permanently adopt the alternative, or discard the endeavor as failed.

This policy tells us that adminship was "not a big deal". Yet it has become a big deal for many (for good reason). Mainly because it is viewed as a lifetime appointment, with excessively cumbersome means to remove the right. Therefor a tenet of this proposal is to return to standards where it is truly not a big deal. It will be a chance for someone to assist the project with firm foreknowledge that the bit can be easily removed upon cause. Like rollback this is not a lifetime appointment; if it's not abused, you retain it.

Administrators will continue in their full role as well as future candidates who succeed RfA. These proposals are not intended to replace RfA or other attempts at reforms that are part of the RfA reform 2011 project‎. The RfA process would remain viable and likely assume additional roles associated with this proposal, in particular as part of the recall process.

Sysop on request[edit]

Sysop tools on the MediaWiki software are fairly powerful, but also easily segregated. On English Wikipedia, they have been segregated into a number of roles, such as Oversight or Bureacrats. The Sysop user right is what we call admins, and they are defined by a toolkit that includes the following:

  • Block editors with various degrees of severity
  • Protect, move-protect, and semi-protect articles
  • Edit protected articles
  • Move move-protected articles
  • Delete (hide) and un-delete articles
  • Revision deletion (hiding) and undelete
  • Access to certain special pages, mostly logs, that help the process of vandalism monitoring and other cleanup tasks
  • Ability to revert sysop actions by self and of other sysops

In addition to the tools, admins are also given community trust abilities:

  • Establish interaction and topic bans, with binding force, after the community or ArbCom imposed sanctions
  • XfD closings beyond what non-admins can close
  • Generally given trust as mediators in dispute resolution
  • enable other editors to have Userrights such as AutoPatrol, Rollback and Reviewer

This toolkit has not always been defined this way, for example, rollbacker rights were once admin-only. What all of these tools have in common is that they are easy to monitor and to revert, with no possibility of permanent harm to any information on the wiki. Unlike Bureaucrats and Oversighters, admins cannot affect the user rights of other admins (only of editors) or permanently remove content. Unlike Checkusers, admins cannot access detailed, potentially private information. An orderly process of access to sysop tools can be set up, under the supervision of Bureaucrats and a comprised group (if approved). This process requires the addition of an "Admin apprentice" with different levels of tools and community sanction. "Administrators"[1] are already defined and discussed further in this document. These will be the rights and responsibilities of the new "Admin apprentice":

Admin apprentice[edit]

This role would be a tool-only role, with no implied community trust beyond the ability to technically use the tools (under limitations) according to policy. For example, one viable suggestion is to restrict the admin apprentice from taking action to block an account of over 100 edits limiting their actions to IP's and newer accounts. Deletion of articles where a contributor of over 100 edits is a part is also a limiting factor for consideration. They will not engage dispute resolution, adjudication, or topic bans which remain an administrators prerogative. Discussions would still be subject, for example, to the non-admin closure rules for deletion, as this process often has a dispute resolution component.

It will have some of the technical abilities the current sysop role has:

  • Semi-protect articles
  • Delete (hide) and un-delete articles
  • Revision deletion (hiding) and undelete
  • Access to certain special pages, mostly logs, that help the process of vandalism monitoring and other cleanup tasks
  • Ability to revert sysop actions by self

But these are reserved to "Administrators":

  • Block editors with various degrees of severity
  • Protect and move-protect articles
  • Edit protected articles
  • Move move-protected articles
  • Ability to revert sysop actions of other sysops
  • Adding user rights to accounts

Essentially, "Apprentice admins" would have all the tools needed for cleanup, maintenance, and general vandalism protection, whereas "Administrators" would have these tools, plus a number of tools that are more generally used in dispute resolution issues, such as edit warring. They will also have the ability to revert actions of other admins, to prevent WP:WHEEL issues in the "Admin apprentice" tier. They will also have the trust of the community to perform dispute resolution duties not tied to tool use.

Proposed criteria[edit]

Pending refinement by discussion, these are the initially proposed criteria for request consideration:

  • Having been an editor in good standing for at least 1½ years with 6000 edits across the main name spaces (Article, Article Talk, Wikipedia, Wikipedia Talk); This is the same criteria for an "Experienced Editor" service award.
  • At least 12 active months within the most previous 18; the most recent 4 months must have been consecutively active (an active month is greater than 100 edits)
  • Having the rollbacker and/or filemover rights for at least 6 months with no confirmed report of misuse of these tools
  • Never have been desysoped (in the old or new roles) as part of a sanction or otherwise problematic reason - an exception is voluntary desysop in good standing as part of vacations etc.
  • No good faith blocks in the last year, no blocks for clear vandalism or legal threats ever (edit warring is not vandalism) - if the block was found to be in error or otherwise bad faith it doesn't count
  • No current topic bans or in the last year, other than general topic sanctions that apply to a group of editors rather than an individual
  • No interaction bans, ever
  • No confirmed history of sockpuppetry or meatpuppetry, ever
  • No confirmed SPAs - Bureaucrat discretion in this sense


Admin apprenticeships will have a fixed term; six months has been suggested. Apprentices are free to request more terms after the first, but should state that they are doing so. Bureaucrats may, at their discretion, regard perpetually renewed apprenticeship as a reason to advise an RFA; after three or four terms the community should be able to tell whether an apprentice is using the tools and will make a good admin.

Request process[edit]

  • Request is made in an appropriate area set up for the purpose, stating criteria are met
  • Request seconded by RfA clerks or any "Administrator" if it seems criteria are met
  • Bureaucrat reviews request based on criteria, with some discretion given for borderline cases, and adjudicates:
    • Accept - tools are given immediately
    • Declined because/Not now - one or more criteria not met under non-discretionary reasoning, or doesn't meet time-based criteria. These editors cannot appeal to RfA, but if they believe a mistake was made, they might appeal to the bureaucrat in question to revise the adjudication.
    • RfA Advised because - most criteria met, but there are borderline issues that require community consensus, editor then has the option of going to RfA for appeal. This is a discretionary recommendation of the Bureaucrat only to be done when there are clear borderline issues (for example, concern with technical ability, not enough "Wikipedia" namespace participation etc).
      • This RfA can be requested for full "Adminship" however it stands to reason that if this is done the community might not favorably view requesting the position of higher trust.

If a request is Declined because/Not now the editor might request again when the conditions are met. If it is RfA Advised because, the editor can appeal to RfA immediately, or can attempt a request again after the because issues have been addressed and sufficient time has passed. Repeated requests after time has passed that are RfA Advised because can be considered as permanently needing an RfA. Repeated requests without sufficient time between them can be seen as disruptive.

Criteria for Desysoping apprentice admins[edit]

In this proposed two-tier sysop process, the possibility of using the tools in a disruptive fashion is minimal, but still exist (in particular, deletion/hiding). As such a process for temporary or permanent removal of the tools once granted might be needed. Easy come, easy go suggests that since the process for getting the tools is relatively easy and with little community input, and largely automatic if the criteria are met, so the process for removal of the tools should be relatively simple and without the need of community input (although of course the community might provide such input).

This process will make a difference between good faith misuse because of misunderstanding policy, and misusing the tools in what appears to be a willfully disruptive fashion:

  • Good faith misuse results in revocation of tools for at least one week, but no more than a month, to allow the user to get acquainted with the specific policy or policies in question - repeated blocks for this reason can result in permanent revocation for reasons of basic competence, likewise, the first block should always be for one week because of an assumption of competence
  • Misuse in what appears to be a willfully disruptive fashion is to be dealt with in a discretionary fashion, but should only be permanent in extreme or repeated cases
  • Cases of behavioral issues (such as getting temp-blocked from editing for reasons other than misuse of tools) can be acted upon by Bureaucrats on their discretion but should match the block in length on the first offense, subsequent issues are ground for permanent removal

The process for deciding would be again led by Bureaucrats (with assistance from DR Admins or RfA Clerks as needed):

  • A page similar to SPI or such would be made available for the community to report possible misuse of tools, Bureaucrats should monitor this page and act quickly (as the potential for disruption using tools is higher than without tools, but also because as little as one diff is needed to make a call - it should be black and white to determine misuse)
    • A bureaucrat can act on any report as he or she sees fit
    • In case of a significant backlog (more than an hour old), a RfA Clerk or a DR Admin can decline a request (as invalid - i.e. no misuse) or possible (to flag it for Bureaucrats, who can decide if the misuse warrants action and what kind of action)
    • Bureaucrats who see misuse as part of their regular editing can act without a report as long as the removal is logged properly
  • A log of all removal of tools, regardless if reported or not, and with a reason, who removed the tools and for how long, will be kept as a subpage of the reporting page, apart from the automatically generated user rights log - it will be archived by clerks or via bot
  • The user has the option to appeal the Bureaucrat decision via RfA


This role would be the same as current sysops. RfA will not be affected and operate under their current process, or whatever process emerges from the 2011 RfA reform discussions.

To be clear:

  • In order to become an "Administrator", any editor might seek an RfA
  • This includes those editors that do not meet the criteria for the new admin role, in particular the time-based criteria - the idea is that while more recent editors can be the subject of an RfA, it does take time to demonstrate worthiness of sysop-on request


  1. ^ Nothing in this proposal will affect current or future administrators who are successful at RfA.