Features and admins
RFAs and active admins—concerns expressed over the continuing drought
This week's "Features and admins" includes Saturday 5 – Friday 11 February. Our regular coverage of new featured content appears under the special story.
, c. 1873, from the new featured list Philadelphia Phillies all-time roster (D)
, which lists all players with surnames starting with the letter D. The Phillies are the oldest continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional American sports, dating to 1883.
was the Phillies' catcher for 13 seasons (1902–14). This baseball card
showing his portrait is held in the Library of Congress. The age of the team and its history of adversity have earned it the distinction of having lost the most games of any US sports team.
RfAs and the decline in active administrators
RFA trends January 2010 – January 2011
The number of successful RFAs has continued to fall over the past year, despite a temporary spike last August after The Signpost's story on the RFA drought, and a sudden (but not statistically significant) upswing at the start of this month. Over the past four years, the fall in numbers is significant: 408, 201, 119, and last year just 75 promotions. The author of that Signpost report, WereSpielChequers, maintains a page of information on RFAs. We asked him to comment on the trends over the past six months: "RFA is perhaps not as gloomy a story as the raw figures might suggest. A good trend is that self-nomination, once seen as a bit of a negative, is emerging as almost the norm at RFA; and I'm happy to see the drop in unsuccessful RFAs, as I hope it's largely the consequence of changes such as semi-protecting WP:RFA and other measures to dissuade the WP:Notnow candidates with only a few hundred edits from running."
However, WereSpielChequers is concerned about the declining number of successful RFAs, and his experience has led him to an original view. "RFA has been in a deepening drought since the unbundling of Rollback in early 2008. Having spoken to editors on a few other projects, I think we could operate with far fewer active English Wikipedia admins than now, but only if we are prepared to make adminship a much bigger deal than it once was, shifting from the model of admins as ordinary editors who mostly do non-admin stuff, to the more full-on model that one of my Spanish Wikipedia contacts described as 'appoint a new admin, lose a good editor'. I think this future would work, though we wouldn't be the sort of community that I'd like us to be."
WereSpielChequers asks what he sees are six critical questions: "(1) With total edits broadly stable at 200,000 a day, how long can we afford to have our number of "active admins" dwindle by 1% a month? (2) What would the trend be and how much of a safety margin would we have by defining active admins rather more strictly than one edit in the past 90 days? (3) Active, uncontentious editors with more than a year's experience can usually get through RFA without difficulty, so why are so many editors waiting three years or more? Should we do more to persuade editors with between one and three years' experience to become admins? (4) WP:Admin coaching seems to be moribund; would it be worth reviving? (5) Does the community want adminship to become the big deal that the RFA crowd are making it, or would people be happier with adminship being a less exclusive club? (6) Would people prefer a large number of active editors who also happen to be admins and occasionally use the mop, or a small number of admins who have little or no wikitime for non-admin activity?"
Our bureaucrats are primarily responsible for managing the RFA process. The Signpost asked their opinions on the issues raised here. For Dweller, the relevant issue is not the definition of active admins, but "workload and queues; the stats are just one way of measuring problems, [and anyway,] bots do a lot of work previously done by admins." He thinks "a lot of people have been scared off RfA, with good reason. Others are simply waiting to be asked, because they're too modest to self-nom." On WSC's last point , he says that obviously everyone would prefer a mix between those two extremes, "which is the status we currently have". How much of a big deal should adminship be? Dweller believes the current balance is about right. "The problem lies with the small number of RFA participants." He emphasises that above all, "RfA's biggest problem is that too few long-standing editors frequent it."
Anonymous Dissident says: "The promotion rates over the past few years are concerning, and the issue merits immediate attention by the community. If the number of active admins continues to diminish while Wikipedia continues to grow, we'll have major problems on our hands. What strategies might be considered? I don't think a reformatting of the system or a paradigm shift are in order; the RfA process is not "broken", as has frequently been asserted. Instead, we need to look for ways to adapt the culture to these dire conditions. We need to be more open when evaluating candidates, especially on matters of time served and experience in particular areas. We need to dispel the notion that adminship is for a privileged and powerful few, so that more editors will have the courage and inclination to lodge candidacies. In short, we need to revive the attitude that adminship is not a big deal, clichéd though its mention may appear."
WJBscribe says RFA is currently failing in its role of creating new admins. "Either attitudes at RFA need to change or we as a project need to consider other ways of appointing new administrators. The cost to the community in terms of too few active admins doing too many tasks is hard to see but I believe it is there. In particular, I worry that there is now too little capacity for admins to double-check the work of others and ensure that 'routine' blocks/deletion/protections are being done correctly."
The Signpost welcomes two editors as our newest admins.
- 5 albert square (nom), from the UK, works in the field of technical support. She has been a Wikipedian for almost two years, with nearly 34,000 edits, half of them in article namespace. She is a member of the Guild of Copy Editors and has participated in the backlog elimination drives. 5 albert square has been active at Administrator intervention against vandalism and Requests for page protection
- ErikHaugen (nom), a programmer from California, has been a Wikipedian since 2005, although until a year ago edited only occasionally. Erik works at History merges to fix the large numbers of cut-and-paste moves on Wikipedia, a seriously backlogged area, and intends to contribute to article deletion processes and the backlogs on CAT:AB, such as Requested moves. He will also contribute to New-page patrolling.
At the time of publication there is one live RfA, for ErrantX, due to finish 18 February.
From the new featured article, English composer Frederick Delius
, aged 45, photographed in 1907
From the new featured article, User:Edgar181
's adaptation of the crystal structure of a rhodocene
derivative, after Donovan-Merket et al. (1998). The element rhodium is shown in purple, and the characteristic two rings of five carbon atoms on either side of it can be clearly seen.
From the new featured list, Grammy Award for Best Rock Song
: Bruce Springsteen, 1995 recipient, performs in 1988 in the most unlikely location, East Germany.
Fourteen articles were promoted to featured status
- Frederick Delius (nom) (1862–1934), an English composer in the Romantic tradition. (Nominated by Brianboulton and Tim riley; picture at right)
- Battle of Towton (nom), fought on Palm Sunday 29 March 1471, has been called the "largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil", in which King Edward IV "chased his opponents out of England or killed them", according to nominator Jappalang.
- Adelaide leak (nom), the revelation of a dressing-room incident that occurred during the third Test match of the 1932–33 Ashes series between Australia and England, more commonly known as the Bodyline series. As nominator Sarastro1 puts it, it's the story of "the people involved, and how much they hated each other".
- Tales of Monkey Island (nom), a 2009 graphic adventure video game. (S@bre)
- 1950 Atlantic hurricane season (nom), the first year in which hurricanes received names. The season saw many very strong hurricanes. (Hurricanehink)
- Rhodocene (nom), a molecule containing an atom of rhodium – a transition metal – bound between two planar "ring" systems of five carbon atoms. The hydrogen atoms are omitted for clarity. (EdChem; picture of a derivative at right)
- Adenanthos cuneatus (nom), a shrub native to the south coast of Western Australia and originally described by French naturalist Jacques Labillardière in 1805. It is grown in gardens in Australia and the western United States, and a dwarf and prostrate form are commercially available. (Casliber and Hesperian)
- Stark Raving Dad (nom), the premiere of the third season of American animated television series The Simpsons, originally aired in 1991. (Scorpion0422)
- Startling Stories (nom), an American pulp science fiction magazine published from 1939 to 1955, with characteristic cover art by E.K. Bergey. (Mike Christie)
- Thomcord (nom), a seedless table grape variety developed in 1983 by Californian grape breeders working for the US Department of Agriculture. The article has received an expert review by one of the men who created the variety, Dr Ramming. (Visionholder)
- U.S. Route 30 in Iowa (nom), a major east–west US highway that spans 330 miles (530 km) across Iowa, from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River. (Fredddie)
- Allegro (musical) (nom), one of the most eagerly awaited Broadway musicals ever. Nominator Wehwalt says "it just could not live up to expectations and closed after exhausting its advance sale and a bit more. Perhaps ahead of its time, perhaps fatally flawed because of a poor plot?"
- Entoloma sinuatum (nom), a poisonous mushroom found across Europe and North America that causes primarily gastrointestinal problems that have been described as highly unpleasant. (Casliber).
- Monticolomys (nom). Nominator Ucucha says, "In 1929, someone caught a nondescript little brown mouse on Madagascar, which landed in a museum full of nondescript little rodents. However, this particular little brown mouse turned out to be unknown to science."
Eight lists were promoted:
's The ugly duchess
(c. 1530), a satirical oil-on-oak painting possibly based on a drawing after Leonardo da Vinci.
Six images were promoted. Medium-sized images can be viewed by clicking on "nom":
- The ugly duchess (nom; related article), a satirical portrait painted by the Flemish artist Quentin Matsys around 1513. It is thought to be a caricature of Margaret, Countess of Tyrol, and served as inspiration for the Duchess in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The work is held by the National Gallery of Art, London. (Created by Quentin Matsys.)
- Écorché by Honoré Fragonard (nom; related article), the flayed figure of a horseman and his horse, prepared by anatomist Honoré Fragonard. Fragonard was the first professor of anatomy at the National Veterinary School of Alfort and prepared thousands of anatomical pieces. In 1771, after six years of teaching, he was dismissed from the school as a "madman". (Created by Commons user:Jebulon.)
- Hagia Sophia Church, Sofia (interior) (nom; related article), the nave of the church, dating to the 6th century CE, located at the centre of the Bulgarian capital. (Created by User:MrPanyGoff.)
- Pedro II of Brazil (nom; related article), the second and last emperor of Brazil (Created by Mathew Brady and Levin Corbin Handy.)
- Jammed phases of the Biham-Middleton-Levine traffic model and Free-flowing phase of the Biham-Middleton-Levine traffic model (nom; related article), two more animations of a self-organising cellular automaton traffic flow model in addition to the two that were promoted two weeks ago; they now make a set of four. (Created by User:Purpy Pupple.)
- Making of a Death Mask 2 (nom; related article). A death mask is a wax or plaster replica of a person's face made after their death. Here, two workers, circa 1908, use plaster to create a mould of the deceased person's face; this mould will then be used make the death mask. (Created by Bain News Service, originally uploaded by User:Howcheng, restoration by User:AutoGyro; picture below.)
Information about new admins at the top is drawn from their user pages and RfA texts, and occasionally from what they tell us directly.
New featured picture: death masks are wax or plaster replicas of a person's face made after the person's death. Here, two workers, circa 1908, use plaster to create a mould of the deceased person's face. This mould will then be used to make the death mask.