Wikipedia talk:Age and adminship

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To many sections[edit]

I have deleted some of the sections, feal free to add them back.Gears Of War 14:20, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Some thoughts from KieferSkunk[edit]

Hi RedThunder. Thanks for getting this essay started. :) Here are some thoughts from the point of view of an interested adult - feel free to incorporate or ignore them as you see fit.

Considering anyone for adminship, regardless of age, is usually a matter of trustworthiness. The Requests for Adminship process generally presents, in some form, three central questions about the candidate that help to determine whether granting access to the admin tools is a good idea:

  1. How well do you understand Wikipedia policies and guidelines, and how willing are you to abide by them?
  2. If given the admin tools, how do you plan to use them?
  3. Why do you want to be an admin? What's in it for you?

The first question is usually answered by a combination of the candidate's contribution history (and his/her demonstrated involvement in policy discussions, Wikipedia namespace, participation in forums such as AfD, Admin Noticeboards, etc.) and their response to questions posed at the RfA. There are, of course, other questions, and there are many criteria upon which a person is judged. Additionally, people responding to an RfA often have their own individual opinions as to what's important to look for in an editor. But the three questions above have traditionally been the most important, and there are various ways to answer them that people evaluating a candidate may employ.

Remember that being an admin places considerable responsibility on the candidate. The candidate will have the power to delete pages, block users and otherwise do things that can have a serious impact on the overall project and the community if misused. This is why trustworthiness is such a big deal, and why it's an even bigger deal when considering someone under the age of 18 (the most generally recognized age of adulthood). There are not only legitimate questions about a person's ability to wield the tools in a responsible manner, but there are potentially legal implications as well - if someone damages Wikipedia in a significant way, who is held responsible? If a minor violates Wikipedia's acceptable use policy, is there a possibility that more people than just the minor will be affected? This is, naturally, a difficult question to answer.

Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that many minors do not yet understand the significance of what adminship really means. Many people want to become admins because they believe that adminship is a position of power, authority and prestige. And while this is partially true, it does not mean admins get to rule over the community or make policy decisions (except to enforce existing policies), nor do they become part of an exclusive club, contrary to popular belief. Adminship has been likened to the position of a janitor, a person holding a mop and a bucket. In business, janitors often have greater access to work spaces than most employees, simply because it's their job to clean the rooms. An admin is much the same way - their job is to help keep Wikipedia clean, with the assistance of more powerful tools that normal users don't have access to.

This is why the questions above are so important. Let's look at it another way: The U.S. government (and the governments of each state) set certain ages at which people are allowed to perform various tasks, and these numbers are based on observed and demonstrated ability and maturity to handle the responsibility of each task. In most states, a minor can get a driver's license at the age of 16, they can vote and enlist in the military at 18, they can drink alcohol at 21, and they can rent vehicles at 25. It's probably a good bet that many people under these age barriers feel they are qualified to do the task, and in some cases they can demonstrate this. But in the world of government, there are no exceptions - too many times has a teenager been given the keys to a car and promptly killed or seriously injured someone with it because they weren't driving it responsibly. It is a question not just of technical skill or rational understanding, but also of maturity and proven responsibility.

On Wikipedia, there are currently no set policies or guidelines for how old someone must be to become an administrator, but most existing admins and bureaucrats will agree that age does play a role. While it would obviously be impossible for a minor to kill or injure someone through Wikipedia, it is possible for him or her to disrupt it and cause damage to the project as a whole. Any admin candidate has to be able to show that they can handle tough situations, including personal attacks and disruptive behavior, with grace and without prejudice, and they must not fall into being disruptive themselves, lest they violate the same policies. It's all too easy to get into an argument with someone and take a statement personally, and an admin has the power to retaliate with a block – an action that is usually considered an abuse of power. So, the question becomes: If you are in a tough situation, how will you respond to it?

Also, it's worth pointing out that a person's response to age-based scrutiny can say a lot about that person's readiness to take on such a position of responsibility. While it's difficult to pin down exactly what kind of response may sway the opinion of a person opposed to a minor's adminship, a person placing an oppose vote based on age may be looking for a sign from the candidate that they possess a level of maturity more like an adult's - that they can handle criticism without getting too worked up over it. A responder who sees this may be more likely to change their mind. Likewise, if an RfA fails and the candidate becomes overly discouraged, threatens to quit Wikipedia, or becomes disruptive in any sort of retaliatory fashion, it only serves as proof that the decision to fail the RfA was the correct one. This is true both of adults and minors, but it is worth pointing out that it tends to happen more frequently with minors.

Finally, the third question, "What's in it for you?", is not usually asked in this form, but it can be an important one. Many people actively want to become admins - some even make it their primary goal on Wikipedia. While it's fine to want to be an admin, being solely focused on becoming one usually means the person doesn't quite get it. Many people believe that when they become an admin, they'll graduate to some new level of contribution to Wikipedia, but in reality, it only adds a few new tools to their already formidable arsenal of editing tools. Many people also feel that becoming an admin is a great personal achievement, something that will earn them great recognition. In most cases, however, an admin doesn't receive any more respect or recognition than any other editor – as an editor, respect is earned through community participation, whether or not one has a mop.

Some of Wikipedia's best admins are the ones to whom being an admin makes no real difference to their editing patterns. If a candidate shows they intend to keep editing whether or not they are granted admin privileges, they will be more likely to succeed in their RfA. In other words, indifference to adminship is often one of the more endearing qualities of an admin.

Hope this helps. :) — KieferSkunk (talk) — 15:46, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Damn, Kiefer! I want to be you when i grow up :) Shapiros10 contact meMy work 18:04, 26 June 2008 (UTC)
As a non-admin simple observer who's well over 18, I'll just say I think Kiefer summed it up wonderfully. The main thing, I think that needs to be taken from all this is that 'it is possible for him or her to disrupt it and cause damage to the project as a whole. Any admin candidate has to be able to show that they can handle tough situations -- people already complain about admins in general abusing their power/position simply by being "rawr I'm an admin listen to me" even without actually using the tools. The best admins, I've found, are the ones who are quiet about it and just do what they need to when they need to. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ (talk) 19:35, 26 June 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. :) This is something I've been thinking about and kinda mentally putting together for a while, but never had "committed to paper" until this point. This WIP essay page gave me a good excuse to write it out. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 20:11, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Technical trouble?[edit]

I'm very confused. I remember editing this page.. I think it was yesterday. I added a link to my essay on Ageism. Now, it's gone from my contributions list, and I don't see it in page history. Was I dreaming or something? I remember saying something about "user essay in shameless support of ageism" then someone else removed the "shameless". Now, I see no evidence of this whatsoever. Am I going crazy? Anyone have any idea what happened? Friday (talk) 14:53, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

A few edits got deleted. —giggy 14:57, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
I didn't see that in the log.. oh, I get it, the page move interfered with me seeing the right log. The bizarre thing is, these edits do not show up in my own contributions list when I look at deleted edits. Friday (talk) 15:00, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
Also, the history of neither page mentions these deleted edits. Page histories usually tell you how many deleted edits there were- I just checked, and this behaves as I remember it on other pages. Is there some odd bug involving moved pages and histories? Friday (talk) 15:09, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps. The edits don't show up at Special:DeletedContributions/Friday? —giggy 15:13, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
Nope, they do not. Friday (talk) 15:14, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
There were a few edits that got deleted for the purpose of removing the age of a minor, and it's possible your edits got lost in that. Please just add them again if they don't include details about a minor's age. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 18:53, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
Hint: when deleted articles vanish from the deleted contributions list, there's a good reason. – iridescent 19:06, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
If they're not in the deleted edits and sysops can't see them either, well you can probably guess what happened. Please, though, can we leave mention of people's ages out of this? One sysop had to personally redact his age details from the page yesterday. Not good - Alison 20:58, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
How is this a valid use of oversight? Oversight is only for extreme emergencies like removing phone numbers and addresses, not for redacting ages. SlimVirgin's abuse of oversight via Jayjg is bad enough without you decent administrators doing it, too. --Dragon695 (talk) 05:51, 28 June 2008 (UTC)
I've been waiting for this comment. Please see Wikipedia:Revision hiding, particular section 1. it's regarded as non-public personal information. Please also see Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/Arbitration_enforcement#WP:Age_and_Adminship and Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Protecting children's privacy. Furthermore, one of the ages posted was done so against the wishes of the subject. A member of ArbCom, User:FloNight has already commented on a previous case here just yesterday. I've had personal experience, as an adult, of being stalked as a result of Wikipedia. Said stalker is actually in jail right now. I don't want to see something similar happen to anyone here. This is my final word on the matter and if anyone has any issues regarding use of oversight, please direct comments to the Arbitration Committee. Thanks - Alison 06:05, 28 June 2008 (UTC)
Sorry about that. We only did that for a example, but it is dangerous.Gears Of War 21:03, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, I'm a bonehead. Not sure I've run into oversight before- I assumed it would still let people see that something was deleted, and that it would only hide the actual content. Friday (talk) 21:09, 27 June 2008 (UTC)


I deleted it under WP:CSD#G7 after I realized it was a abherration to all young people editing wikipedia. Shapiros10 contact meMy work 15:07, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

Probably a bad call. Other people had edits on that page also. This page was a wonderfully useful illustration that kids really do act like kids. Friday (talk) 15:14, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
Thanks a lot, sir. It made me feel like a douche when I (the author) read it. You like making me feel like a douche? Shapiros10 contact meMy work 15:15, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
No, I don't. Sorry about that. I just feel that useful information is, well, useful. Friday (talk) 15:17, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
Yeah yeah yeah. Do kids even have a place here if they're constantly being discussed negatively? Shapiros10 contact meMy work 15:18, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
Chill man. Just a friendly convo. But the as for Friday, the cabal was there as a sign for our disproval of ageism.Gears Of War 15:20, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
Shapiros: We have nothing against kids on Wikipedia, and you'll find that most people don't discuss kids at all, at least in any specific context, unless there's a reason to. Age is, whether you like it or not, a significant factor when deciding on who gets the admin tools, but that doesn't mean you have to take it personally. As I've said to GoW before, and as I touched on in my essay above (and now on the main page), the fact that someone takes this stuff so personally is a sign that they're not acting in a mature manner consistent with that of an administrator. The "cabal", which was seen as a retaliatory (and disruptive) action against the unsuccessful RfA in question, and other actions that really only serve the purpose of creating drama, are things that just reinforce the points that were brought up in the RfA - that age and maturity *are* a factor.
I hate to put it in such a "parentlike" manner, but it is my belief that you'll look back on this in a number of years and realize where us adults are coming from. It's not like we haven't been in your shoes at one point or another. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 18:59, 27 June 2008 (UTC)


The Dear Leader has proferred his thoughts on the issue. As I think it would be – ahem – "sensitive" of me to edit this particular article, I won't insert them myself, but they probably should be included. – iridescent 21:03, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done,I have added Jimbo's thoughts to the page.Gears Of War 21:10, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

"most of our admins should be college students or graduates"[edit]

Kinda biased. Not really a welcoming message. Df124r (talk) 02:57, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

Age and desysopping[edit]

The essay fails to address one point: if a young person manages to become an admin without anyone knowing his/her age, and only sometime after the successful RfA is it revealed that they're young, have there (and would there) be any cases in which the admin gets desysopped as a consequence? Of course, if the user had demonstrated good use of the tools for a long time, they likely would, but if, say, the age info comes out just after the successful request, would they be desysopped? Gparyani (talk) 02:06, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

Nothing like that has ever happened. All cases of involuntary desysopping have either been for misbehavior or inactivity.
As a more general comment, the "should younger editors be allowed to become administrators?" controversy has faded out in recent years, as we have had far fewer younger people becoming experienced editors interested in adminship. (My own answer to the question remains yes, for what it's worth.) Newyorkbrad (talk) 02:15, 17 July 2015 (UTC)