Wikipedia talk:Requests for removal of adminship

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Note: This proposal stems from several lengthy discussions and proposals, including: My thoughts here, and this, this, this, and this; and many past discussions, including those found here. - jc37 21:19, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

The process explained[edit]

The idea is to not create something out of whole cloth, but to use existing terms and processes so to reduce creating additional bureaucracy, and also to minimise any learning curve.

The goal is to create a process for community-wide discussion concerning the question of whether a particular admin should continue to be entrusted with the tools of adminship; with the possible result of those tools being removed.

Overview[edit]

The process is focused only on "the tools and responsibilities of adminship", per existing practice and policy concerning such discussions, including at WP:AN/I or WP:RFC/Admin. Questions of concerns or sanctions which may apply to any editor (and not directly to the tools and related responsibilities of adminship) are beyond the scope of this proposal for similar reasons.

The application of editorial sanctions (such as a topic ban) due to such discussions, presumes that such sanctions also apply to the editor's use of administrative tools and/or responsibilities. So, there is no reason to expand/complicate this process. (Especially as Bureaucrats have made it clear previously that they would prefer to not have their responsibilities expanded as to require them to close such discussions.)

Nomination[edit]

WP:RFC/Admin (a link to a section of WP:RFC/U), already has a process for requesting comment concerning an admin's actions related to the tools and responsibilities of adminship. So the nomination and certification part of that process should work well enough for this process.

The reason for certifiers is to create a "gatekeeper" safety valve of sorts. The idea is to try to minimise lynch mobs, as well as wasting the community's time. Admins may close contentious discussions, or need to take actions for the good of the project and the community. And those actions may be unpopular. If there was no "gatekeeper" on this process, then not only would it lead to potential constant witchhunts or lynch mobs, but would have the affect of causing admins to no longer wish to deal with contentious situations. And as this is a volunteer project, that would obviously be detrimental.

And the reason for the minimum of 3 admins as certifiers is because on one hand: those who currently have the tools and responsibilities of adminship are more likely to understand how it is to carry those tools and responsibilities. And admins are a pretty diverse bunch. If you can't find 3 experienced admins to support an RRA, then there's a reasonable doubt whether it is valid.

And note: RRA is an adjunct process. It doesn't replace current processes to remove adminship. So it's not preventing those processes in any way. So, for that reason, and because RRA (like any discussion of an editor (like RFA, AN/I, RFC/U, etc.) can be a contentious environment (and so inappropriate nominations should be weeded out as soon as possible), the gatekeeping mechanism has more weight than "anyone can propose an RRA".

Discussion[edit]

The discussion process is essentially the same as RfA. This is for several reasons. First, it would again be using an existing process, for the same reasons noted above. It allows for community-wide discussion. And it allows for utilising bureaucrats as closers in the exact same way the assess an RfA close.

The sections Support/Oppose/neutral are both from RfA and most any other straw poll discussion on Wikipedia. Advise and Admonish are from many Arbcom final decisions concerning admins. One of these are what arbcom would often enact as a final decision regarding an admin's actions, when not endorsing de-adminship. So adding these two sections, gives the community that same option.

Closure[edit]

The closure choices of successful/unsuccessful are intentional to match the current close at RfA. This allows bureaucrats to assess consensus and close an RAA the same way they close an RFA, with advisement and admonishment being something additional to potentially note.

I have read comments from bureaucrats where they are uncomfortable with expanding the bureaucrats' role in determining consensus much beyond what they do now. So the choice is still just an up or down result; successful or unsuccessful. Is there consensus whether the community does or does not continue to trust the individual with adminship?

Review[edit]

Historically, Arbcom was given the ability to ask for de-sysopping of an admin long ago. It was part of User:Jimbo Wales granting some authority to a community-selected committee. Back then, arbcom would ask a steward to "push the button" to remove the adminship. Now bureaucrats can push that button. (Back then they could only push a button to grant, not remove).

Arbcom is at the top of the community WP:DR process. (Besides JW and the foundation etc.) Afaik, in practice (and policy) no one else can ask for de-adminship (outside of emergency de-sysop).

So we need to leave the channels open. Arbcom needs to be free to take whatever action as a committee per policy. That said, arbcom has been at times historically rather slow to act. So I added the 7 day/30 day time frame deadlines into the proposal. But at the same time, added a (likely necessary) vest pocket veto to the process.

And while this is all going on, the admin who has had the RRA closed as successful has had adminship removed. This is to prevent any issues. If the community has decided they cannot trust the editor, then there may be a question of trusting them with the tools while arbcom reviews everything. But it must be labelled as "temporary" because arbcom can obviously potentially vacate the close result.

All that said, I hope arbcom reviews every RRA. But beyond hoping, I don't believe there is anyway the community can "force" arbcom to review anything. Which is another reason the deadlines and the "pocket" veto review result are necessary.

Reasons for requesting an administrator review[edit]

The current text lists a "pattern of misbehavior or abuse" as the reason for initiating this process. I believe that problematic administrative actions do not have to stem from misbehaviour or abuse. In the end, what is at question is whether or not an administrator can appropriately evaluate and carry out community consensus and policies. Thus I suggest rewording to something like this:

Request for administrator review is a process for the community to call for a review of an administrator's actions while carrying out administrative duties, to examine if they have exhibited a problematic pattern of misjudging community consensus or policies.

This wording may also help keep the discussion focused on the administrator's behaviour in serving the community. isaacl (talk) 23:25, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

That, I think, falls under misbehaviour. - jc37 23:56, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Misbehaviour carries the connotation of knowing the correct behaviour and choosing to act differently, whereas misjudging community consensus can be done in good faith. isaacl (talk) 00:00, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
I kinda agree - I was thinking about it and changed it to "inappropriate behaviour", and came back to tell you only to find you've responded : ) - jc37 00:02, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for making the change. Naturally, I believe my wording to be more concise :P (and in the interest of collegiality, I'd prefer to avoid the imagery of a no confidence motion) – but let's see what others think. isaacl (talk) 00:17, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm not totally tied to the phrase. But it seems to me to convey rather well that this is entirely (and only) about community trust. - jc37 00:20, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
It's a bit too absolute for my tastes; personally I think it implies an all-or-nothing choice. isaacl (talk) 00:26, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Not quite, but close. The idea is to keep this process very focused. If it gets bogged down into anything beyond a simple question of assessing an admin's behaviour related to the use of the tools and responsibilities, it will becomes the typical trainwreck, and nothing will gain consensus.
Also, I've read commments from several bureaucrats that they don't want the role of bureaucrats expanded much beyond what they do now. Which is why I've kept this very clearly to use terms that already exist in RfA and are used by Arbcom.
I wasn't going to add the advise and admonish sections, but after several lengthy discussions (some which I read and also some I was in), I can see the value of having those sections, as long as we make it clear that they are still implicit opposition to the question of de-adminship. - jc37 00:37, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Maybe I should make that more clear on the page - That this process is only to begin if inappropriate behaviour is asserted and certified, and the singular question of the process is, in relation to that assertion: Does the community continue to entrust this individual with the tools and responsibilities of adminship.
Nothing else. - jc37 00:40, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
I suspect there will be those who will choose to dispute the certification, and so the discussion will inevitably review the actions in question. Thus the process may as well incorporate this review into it. isaacl (talk) 00:45, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Disputing the certification is easy: place your reasoning and signature under "oppose" section in the RAA. QED. - jc37 00:54, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
It's not a binary process; some will want to discuss the certification to more closely examine the evidence, as is appropriate in Wikipedia's (for better or worse) consensus driven environment. Sure, this could be done in an RFC/U, but I suspect many people will dislike breaking up the conversation into two phases (many attempts I've seen to structure discussions into phases have failed to be observed). isaacl (talk) 01:01, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
I wasn't specific about this on the page, just pointing at the certification process of RFC/U. It has a time limit of 48 hours for the certification process. That said, I'm open to the question of whether people should be able to plant their thoughts under support/oppose/neutral/etc. during the certification process, or need to wait until after the nomination is certified. - jc37 01:08, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Centralize this discussion[edit]

This is a remarkable example of the hazards of decentralizing discussions. While I appreciate that this page has been written in good faith, it's not helpful to the community to have two competing proposed policies as well as an RFC on the same topic all at once. I urge the author to consider folding this into the current RFC rather than further dividing the community's ability to focus on the central concepts. Risker (talk) 04:26, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

I've already linked this in the current RfC. This is actually an extension of the original proposal I wrote at WT:RFA (per the discussions there), which predates (and may have inspired) the RFC, and everything subsequent. - jc37 04:40, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
I had the same thought Risker did... so I'm going to post my comparisons and thoughts (and hopefully others will follow) at the RfC. Shadowjams (talk) 04:46, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Perfectly fine with me. This proposal (in its previous layout of a bulleted list) was transcluded to the RfC at request of WTT, the RFC's creator. If there was a way to transclude this, I would. But I hesitate to do so due to length. - jc37 05:01, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Finally[edit]

Is it real? Can we FINALLY create a de-adminning process that actually holds sand? This is a proposed process that I support 100%. - Burpelson AFB 14:48, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Term limits[edit]

This comment is not particularly pertinent to the current discussion (except that it might mitigate against the need or desire for a separate de-adminship procedure), but for a while I've been contemplating the notion that adminship should not be for life, but for a pre-determined period of time, say 5 years, at which time an admin would have to stand for "re-election". My feeling is that such a limitation would take the pressure off of the desire to de-admin someone, since they would be coming up for renewal in a relatively short time anyway, and would also be something of a check on admin misbehavior (which I do not perceive as being widespread) and malfeasance (which is somewhat more prevalent), since an admin's behavior would be subject to periodic review. The "renewal" process would not be as comprehensive as RfA -- in legal terms, there would be a "presumption of innocence" about the renewing admin, and renewal would be the expected result of the process, unless compelling evidence or commentary was presented to prevent it.

It seems to be that Wikpedia's lifetime adminship policy was a reasonable one for a start-up project which had no idea how successful it was going to be, but now that Wikipedia is middle-aged and successful, a different standard should be applied.

I don't expect this idea to take root immediately, but I'd like to put a bug in people's ears to perhaps inculcate the idea for the future. Beyond My Ken (talk) 08:34, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Does this 'renewal process' you suggest require a bureaucrat to close it? Currently there are approximately 1500 admins. Term limit of 5 years would mean approximately one renewal process every day. --Anbu121 (talk me) 09:08, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Only half of those admins are active and rather fewer sufficiently active to pass an RFA, so while there would still be a problem handling the first wave it wouldn't be close to 1500, I suspect we'd be lucky if three hundred admins were willing to go through another RFA. Even so three hundred simultaneous RFAs would be ridiculous, even thirty would stretch the community to properly handle. More seriously our problem is a declining number of active admins, getting rid of pretty much all the semi active ones and many active ones is only going to make the problem worse. Term limits are sensible for roles such as politicians and judges where there are a limited number of positions, but they don't make sense for an unpaid volunteer role where there is no shortage of mops, just of mop wielders. ϢereSpielChequers 12:21, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Agree with WereSpielChequers being a sysop is just not the same thing as being a politician. Being a sysop is not a higher status and it shouldn't be treated as such. De-sysoping is necessary in a very few cases. Regularizing it is not a bad idea. Turning sysops into politicians creates an internal conflict of interest for them (they'd need to NOT take appropriate but tough decisions in certain areas), and deviates from core aims of WP: ie being an encyclopaedia not an experiment in democracy and not being a bureaucracy--Cailil talk 16:46, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
1. The "first wave" for currently standing admins would have to be staggered in some way so as to deal with them over a period of time. New admins would go by the standard time period.

2. The idea that there is nothing special about being an admin is a relict of Wikipedia's past, and is no longer true in fact, although it is still supposedly true in principle. I'd rather deal with reality.

3. This is not intended as a social experiment at building a model community (a complaint which canbe turned around and leveled at the current Wikipedia infrastructure as well), it's intended to make editing Wikipedia a better experience by making admins more responsive to the needs and desires of the community, rather than being (in effect) self-regulating. De-sysoping by ArbCom is too remote and unused a procedure to be an effective check on ordinary malfeasance, as opposed to extraordinary misbehavior. In the real world, doling out permanent positions is done only rarely, and for good reason. Making adminship a lifetime appointment endows the position with much too much importance (hence point 2 above), while making it a limited position subject to periodic renewal makes it more ordinary.

4. I don't suggest this because I believe admins, in general, do a bad job. In fact, I believe precisely the opposite, that they're generally pretty good at what they do. However, my observation of the community convinces me that a mechanism is needed to allow the release of pressure for some editors under some circumstances, and the renewal process would act as a more benign pressure valve than the "de-sysoping" process, since the emphasis is on renewal instead of on removal. Beyond My Ken (talk) 20:38, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Thinking of adminship as a "position" isn't accurate. Adminship is fundamentally different from political positions in that (a) admins are not expected to be leaders, and (b) there is no limit on the number of administrators. A more accurate comparison would be with something like a driver's licence. Both serve to certify someone as being suitable for having access to some tool which could do some serious damage if used inappropriately. However in many places driver's licences do not expire, at least not until the holder reaches advanced age, though it is possible to lose it for serious rule-breaking.
I don't think a system of term limits would do much good. For a start a lot of admins would choose to resign rather than go through the process, especially inactive or semi-active ones. If the reconfirmation process looks anything like RfA then this problem would get a lot worse. Consequently we would have decimated the admin corps for no particular reason. You admit that admins are generally good at what they do, so the reconfirmation process would in most cases be a waste of time (assuming it works properly). Hut 8.5 10:40, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Agree with Hut 8.5, I think that term limits would just be a lot of work for not a lot of gain. Callanecc (talkcontribs) talkback (etc) template appreciated. 12:31, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

YMMV, but I find the idea of a "renewal" process to be a drama fest waiting to happen. And as has been said many times by others, admins often do the unpopular jobs that need doing. And if they have to constantly go before a renewal process, they would become more politically/diplomatically minded, and not help in such ways, and then the project would suffer. - jc37 13:38, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

I think after a period of adjustment, renewal, an ordinary process with the presumption of success, would be much more drama-free than any of the de-sysoping proposals, all of which are not ordinary and regular and therefore would attract much more polarized commentary -- but, as you say, YMMV. I'm not opposed to having a de-sysoping procedure below ArbCom, I just think that renewal would be structurally and psychologically better. I won't push the idea, I just wanted to put it out. Beyond My Ken (talk) 17:13, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Requiring all administrators to undergo a renewal process, is not the way to go. Administrators already go through a review process every time they make a controversial decision. If the decision is upheld by community consensus, then the administrator's status does not need to be questioned. Now, if there's an admin who's regularly getting their decisions overturned by community consensus, that's a different matter, and perhaps a re-examination of their administrator status might be appropriate. Admins whose decisions are routinely upheld though, shouldn't have to jump through any extra hoops. --Elonka 23:16, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Timing[edit]

In an RFA the timing is up to the candidate, I've run twice and nominated several times and I know how important it is to fit an RFA into your real life commitments. You need to start it at the beginning of a long editing session and be available every day for the first three or four days at least. I'm assuming a recall would demand just as much time as a contentious RFA, but in this proposal the timing is not under the control of the subject. Arbcom has a similar issue, but they build in more time and have been known to delay things. You could mitigate this by having the timing decided by the three admins, but they would be unsuitable as they are presumably amongst those clamouring for a desysop. Alternatively you could have a system whereby the admin in question could say "now is not a good time for me to start a 7 day process like this, but I'll start this off within x weeks at the first time that suits me". Though somehow I doubt that a group of people sufficiently riled up to call for a desysop would be impressed at such a statement however it was phrased and however much personal detail the admin was inappropriately pressurised into revealing. ϢereSpielChequers 12:38, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Sounds good, and the way to fix the 'putting it off issue' is that the admin right is temporarily removed pending the RRA. That way if they want to put it off they don't have the admin right - giving them an incentive to get the RRA done. Callanecc (talkcontribs) talkback (etc) template appreciated. 13:41, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
If the issue is dire enough that an immediate removal of administrative privileges is warranted, there are existing procedures for this. isaacl (talk) 13:59, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Concur with Isaacl - that is a presumption of guilt Callanecc. WereSpielChequers makes a good point. Most of us have real lives and don't have infinite time for WP. BUt on balance I think if the admin who was a subject of the recall was sufficiently busy that they had no time for it then they should petition the 3 admins or ArbCom for a continuance of the commtte's choosing--Cailil talk 16:30, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Or after x period time (of the admin saying I'm too busy) they temporarily lose the mop. Plus if they are too busy to talk to the community, then (maybe) they are too busy to be an admin anyway (for that time period). Callanecc (talkcontribs) talkback (etc) template appreciated. 16:53, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Arbcom deals with such timing issues as well. The simple way to deal with it is to acquiesce to the request, while noting that obviously that also means they won't be taking any admin actions in the interim. If they do, then obviously they have time for the process. - jc37 13:38, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

I suppoort jc37's solution - it addresses the problem (the admin in question won't fdo any admin actions during the delay period), while also addressing the issue of the admin's right to time it for when (s)he's available. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 19:19, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, this feels about right to me. --j⚛e deckertalk 02:49, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
It occurs to me that we might also allow admins to ask their renewal to be done early, say, up to two months before it would normally happen, at a timing of their own choosing. --j⚛e deckertalk 16:46, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Potentially toxic environment[edit]

I'm opposed to this idea in theory. I just don't feel comfortable having a community process similar to RfA where people are by necessity discussing everything that is wrong with the administrator in question. It is the same inherent flaw that exists in other venues such as user conduct RfCs or the incidents noticeboard at its worst — it encourages people to humiliate and degrade their colleagues for not being perfect. Never underestimate the power of a gang mentality and its tendency to snowball into something out of control. I'm not one to support bureaucracy, but if a sysop is causing problems for the site and their conduct continues unabated, then they can be desysopped through contacting ArbCom, who've lately shown no reluctance in removing the bit from those who've lost the confidence of the community to retain it. This process has the potential to bring out the absolute worst of the Wikipedia community, and I seriously doubt it'll make adminship less of a "big deal" (quite the contrary, in fact). Master&Expert (Talk) 06:21, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

People say such things even without such processes.
And the certification stage is designed to be a safety valve against "gang mentality". - jc37 13:40, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Like Master&Expert, I have concerns about the type of environment this could create. If this became a sort of witch hunt and many users decided to request de-sysopping for issues that may be largely trivial (and based on subjectively-made individual calls in situations in which there may not be one "right answer"), this could effectively serve to cause administrators to leave Wikipedia. Even if a determination is made that a nominated admin should not be de-sysopped, the negativity of the process could be enough to cause a user to leave. This process would not be about looking for the good in users, but in actively pursuing the bad. There would be a presumption of guilt and wrongdoing on a basis of nomination, and I see no way of overcoming this obstacle. Some users whose RfAs fail choose to leave Wikipedia and feel personally hurt by the experience; there's no doubt this could easily happen if an administrator feels unjustly attacked or accused. Personally, I think this matter is best left to ArbCom. Michael (talk) 09:01, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Master&Expert speaks my mind on this. At this point, the main reason we have an arbitration committee is to deal with removal of adminship in an evenhanded, fair, evidence-based fashion. While the committee is not perfect I believe they are far better than a community-based system would be:

  1. Admins who do the job well accumulate enemies over time as every close call an admin makes upsets someone. Initiatives like this disincentivize measured involvement in difficult matters.
  2. Anyone who is a regular at RFA, RFC, or AN/I can tell you that scope of conflict is a big deal. Anyone who can mobilize one or two dozen seasoned editors can create the appearance of consensus, early, and the result can snowball. The worst conflicts we've had as a project have involved groups of 3-5 editors who are heavily involved in Wikipedia and who also have close personal ties to each other in real life. Such groups mutually reinforce and distort any sort of threshold or voting system that might be in place.
  3. A well-researched vote on a decision to revoke adminship requires effort. Past experiments have shown that marginally researched votes are the norm (even as is the case at RFA). When I was working on arbitration cases I would typically spend several hours going through the evidence in a case where revocation of someone's adminship was being considered, to be sure and understand context and be sure no exculpatory considerations were being missed. Understanding the timelines of disputes was the most difficult aspect of this, as events leading to calls for revocation of adminship often unfold quickly on multiple pages with people making edits and other actions too quickly to have seen discussion elsewhere.
  4. This doesn't solve any problem we actually have. In most cases, admins who don't understand what the community expects resign by themselves. In some cases the arbitration committee becomes involved. Where is the list of bad admins that will provide grist for Jc37's beautiful new machine?

The Uninvited Co., Inc. 19:53, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Let me try to respond to your several points in order:
  • arbcom vs. community sounds similar to the comparison of representative gov't vs "true" democracy. There are pros and cons to each. We have a long tradition of embracing community discussion. I think that allowing the community to have a community-wide discussion regarding de-adminship is in that spirit. And incidentally, if the community did decide to have such a community-wide discussion, regardless of whether in the format I propose, would anyone actually suggest that a "consensus" of over a hundred commenters (typical of these sort of discussions) should be ignored? I think in such a case, arbcom would likely meet and follow up with endorsing (or not) the results of the community discussion. (Which is what I have inherent in this process.)
  • As you may or may not already know from my comments here, there, and elsewhere, on your first point, you're preaching to the choir : ) - Yes, adminship is not a popularity contest by any means. And for the reasons you note, among other reasons, there are good reasons to not want it to become so. And yes, we shouldn't be penalising those who perform tasks which may be considered unpopular. That said, what is unpopular to some, may be considered appropriate by others. So I dunno if this concern has as much weight as we might think.
  • Your next point is very worrisome - I think we've all seen such things. And I will not argue that at times, Wikipedia discussions can have a "bandwagon" feature to them. But again, this is one of the "con" arguements of representative vs community-wide. The same arguement could be quite successfully applied to XFD among other things. Either we embrace community-wide discussion, or we don't. I don't believe you're suggesting this, but I have seen others suggest that we elect arbcom to do the community's "dirty work". I just don't like that idea. If anything, I think the project is suffering because the community is becoming less and less involved in such processes. Accountability for one's actions is really starting to look like it's buried under paperwork "over there" somewhere, and if one is a decent wiki-lawyer, they can pretty much do whatever, carte blanche, for some time. The negative peer pressure (by that editor's "friends") for starting action against an editor can easily dissuade someone from initiating such proceedings, as "not worth the effort". And so, this is a very real hindrance to WP:DR. And needless to say, the project suffers.
  • For your next point, I agree. But, again, this also well applies to RfA (and XfD for that matter). So like any such process we will have "drive-by voting", unfortunately. One way to help counter that is that we tend to require 2/3 rather than 1/2 for success in such discussions. If anyone has a way to get people to even read a nom/proposal, much less do the due dilligence related to that topic at hand, please let me know : )
  • I believe that this solves (or helps solve) several issues actually. Though YMMV, of course. The main one is to help reduce the community fear related to entrusting someone with adminship. It also helps cut through the bureaucracy that currently exists in the WP:DR process. After all, the result of this process is merely removal of some extra tools. I am surprised that we seem to consider that as some "higher" thing than banning an individual from Wikipedia. If the community can be trusted to ban someone, why can't the community be trusted to say that "we no longer trust the editor with the admin tools and responsibilities, so please remove them".
That last point is the crux. So far most of the arguements against this process essentially come down to not trusting the community. With the implication that the tools are sacrosanct to whomever is granted them, and shouldn't be removed by community request.
I find that arguement un-wiki.
But as I said, above, YMMV. - jc37 23:55, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

Some considerations: need, burden and side-effects[edit]

When considering any proposed process, I think it is useful to ask the following question: Would the new process address a need that currently is unaddressed, or improve existing processes, without imposing an excessive administrative burden or causing significant negative side-effects?

  • Is there a need for a process, other than binding arbitration, to strip editors of the 'sysop' user right?

To be honest, I am not convinced that there is a need for such a process. However, the fact that every year there is usually at least one formal proposal (and lots of general discussion) about this issue (see here) suggests that many editors do perceive a need. The attraction of RRA is that it is essentially an expansion of an existing process (WP:RFA) rather than an entirely new process.

I do not think so. Since the process is quite streamlined and designed to mirror WP:RFA, it should be easy enough for the community and bureaucrats to handle. Even for ArbCom, I see no significant increase in workload; after all, in the absence of RRA, any request to remove adminship would be processed through ArbCom anyway.

  • Would the proposed process cause significant negative side-effects?

Potentially. In particular, I have three concerns: the good-faith pursuit of alternatives; the "potentially toxic atmosphere" of RRA nominations; and the decline in the number and activity of administrators.

  1. Prior to the initiation of an RRA, genuine attempts should be made to correct the sysop's behavior. These attempts should include, at a minimum: (1) direct communication and engagement with the sysop; (2) informal mediation or advice by one or more neutral, uninvolved editors; (3) community discussion at an appropriate noticeboard (such as the Administrators' noticeboard or AN/I) or a full-fledged user request for comment. I think that this should be a prerequisite to any request for removal of adminship.
  2. It is quite likely, in my opinion, that the atmosphere of many RRAs would become toxic. However, the same can be said of the alternative to RRA: formal arbitration. Often, cases before ArbCom are characterized by acrimony, accusations, and an unhealthy and unproductive exchange of grievances, complaints and criticisms. The only way to counteract this is for uninvolved editors to attempt to exert a calming influence and to demand a civil and honest exchange.
  3. The number of administrators is declining. We have, at this time, roughly as many administrators as we did in 2007. Perhaps more worrying is the fact that we are gaining new admins at the slowest rate since 2002 – an average of 2.5 per month in 2012, compared to roughly 10 per month in 2009, about 30 per month in 2006 and 10 per month in 2003. Therefore, it is crucial that we take steps to prevent the abuse of this process for the purpose of harassment. The requirement for three administrators to certify a nomination is a fine idea, though I favor a higher number, but it is not enough. I propose at least one more limitation: specifically, that the RRA process be used no more than once per administrator.

On the whole, I like this proposal for removal of adminship more than any other I've seen over the past several years and think that it needs only a few tweaks. -- Black Falcon (talk) 20:44, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Thank you for commenting. And great points.
To take your last point first, I think by having such a process in place should actually help with the tone at RfA, an so by extension, should help with gaining more suitable admin candidates willing to request adminship.
While I suppose I wouldn't mind more admins acting as "gatekeeper", I dunno if we'll be able to set more than the 3 admins. the reason is that there are those who might see it as "cabalism" amongst admins. I've heard arguements that any "established editor" (a term which is unfortunately subjective in definition) should be able to certify.
If we add more than 3 admins, how would we avoid turning the certification into a mini RRA of itself?
Plus, the admins are there more to stop frivolous or harrassing noms. Arbcom review is what is more acting as the prevention of miscarriage, or lynching.
I'm not sure about the last limitation you suggest. "Now that I've been through an RRA, I've now a licence to do whatever I want, with at least some impunity." It's the main flaw of any rule against double jeopardy. We of course don't want constant cases, harrassment and so on. But "never" is a problem too. The tough part is setting a "how often" is rather arbitrary, and almost never matches community need. I want to protect the admin and the community at the same time; and also, somehow with minimal bureaucracy. I'm definitely leaning more than a bit on the 3 admin certification requirement. But I think that those who do the job, while of greatly divergent opinion and/or perspective, are most likely to have a unique insight into such RRA requests.
RRA would likely have a tone similar to what we see at RfC and/or AN/I. People are involved, and asked to express their thoughts. As you note, there's not much that can be done about that save clamping down on needless incivility.
I do like your points about steps to try before requesting an RRA. Contact the admin first, and try to work it out. Then try a WP:3PO of some kind. And finally an AN/I on the particular actions in question. And noting that these should also help with acting as gatekeepers against frivolous or harrassing requests.
I'm of course happy to discuss the above. In addition, are there any other tweaks you would suggest? - jc37 23:51, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for your detailed response. Your reasoning is convincing, and I am happy to see that we are in agreement on some main points.
You might be right about RfA. The knowledge that there is a community-driven mechanism for removing administrators might allow editors to be less stringent in their evaluation of admin candidates. You also make a convincing case for limiting (to 3) the number of admins needed to certify an RRA.
The problem with setting any sort of limitation on the number or frequency of RRA nominations is, as you note, that it will invariably be either ineffective (too weak), inflexible (too strong, such as "never") or arbitrary (e.g., "2 years"). I think, however, that an inflexible or arbitrary limitation is better than an ineffective one or none at all. My thinking hinges on my understanding that RRA would be an alternative to a standard ArbCom case, and neither a replacement of nor a prerequisite for it. As such, admins who "survive" an RRA still can be held accountable through the standard arbitration process.
I can't think of any other tweaks at this time. As I mentioned elsewhere, a large part of the appeal of this proposal (for me, at least) is its simplicity and straightforwardness. -- Black Falcon (talk) 03:36, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
I don't see RRA as an alternative to an arbcom case so much as a way to request tool removal from an editor without needing to have all the rest of the bureaucracy of a case. Community discussion, closed by a bureaucrat, reviewed by arbcom. Though of course at any time, arbcom can turn it into a case if they so wish. But a case allows for broader things, both in scrutiny and in possible sanctions. One of the benefits of this system is due to the limitations of the possible results, those commenting are limited as well. So for example, "So-n-so should have the tools removed because they reverted my edits" isn't going to cut it in an RRA, as it didn't involve the tools. But that reversion could potentially be part of an arbcom case, because a case handles much more in WP:DR than merely whether the community continues to trust the individual with the tools.
Or to put it another way: RRA is not about sanctioning an admin. Being an admin is merely a set of tools and responsibilities added. It's about giving the community the opportunity to withdraw their collective consensus of entrusting an editor with those tools and responsibilities. While at the same time, making certain that it's not being attempted for harrassment or frivolous or lynch-mob reasons. The latter being the purpose of the RFC/Admin-style certification step.
Anyway, as you said, it sounds like we are of similar minds on this : ) - jc37 06:58, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

Comment[edit]

I haven't read the other threads here. One thing pokes out—I don't think ArbCom will appreciate being given a deadline (well, especially such a short one). Tony (talk) 10:44, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

RfA has a time frame as well. The idea is to have a process which is shorter than a full arbcom case. If Arbcom decides they need a full case, they can elect to start one as noted at Wikipedia:Requests_for_removal_of_adminship#Arbcom_jurisdiction. - jc37 14:56, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps you're right. On which and that, have you read the Chicago Manual of Style? Tony (talk) 10:54, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
I know that in the US there is a preference to use "that" for everything : )
Here's an OED article.
And here's one from Kent Law: [1]
Anyway, that and which aside (lol), thanks for looking this over : ) - jc37 15:45, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
I would prefer if arbcom fail to complete the review by the time limit or don't do it at all then the decision from this process should stand and not be reversed. By using Arbcom as a final review the process is still very similar to what we have now. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 21:05, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
My understanding when making this, is that the power to desysop lays with arbcom (due to deferral by Jimbo Wales), and that is something we as the community cannot change. - jc37 21:52, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

Not learning from history[edit]

I'm seeing many of the same mistakes being made in structuring this proposal as took place with the last (major) failed de-adminship scheme in 2010. I would strongly urge this proposal's proponents to review my comments on the last proposal's more serious problems at User:TenOfAllTrades/CDAresponse. While that proposal and this one aren't identical, there are enough similarities to make the last round's critiques relevant.

In particular, note that presenting this as a 'mirror RfA' is a specious, misleading, and dangerous analogy, for the reasons I outline. This process will also suffer the same problems with canvassing and a tainted jury pool (editors contacted and invited to submit relevant evidence will also tend to participate in the voting). The process provides a privileged place from which to attack an admin without risk of blowback. The process will suffer from chaotic back-and-forth submission of evidence and rebuttals while voting goes on. Bureaucrats weren't selected or evaluated by the community to decide this type of situation; their traditional role hasn't involved adjudicating inter-editor disputes. And so on.

Finally, when I wrote my comments nearly three years ago I noted that there were other routes to desysopping that did not require the rigamarole of a brand-new process. At the time, the ArbCom had just handled the desysopping of Craigy144 by motion at the community's request; from start to finish the entire process took less than two weeks. In July of this year, the ArbCom desysopped Carnildo by motion in just four days when they were presented with a clear pattern of poor judgement capped by a bad block. When there is a clear and unambiguous breach of the community's trust, the ArbCom is capable of acting decisively and promptly. (The long, slow Arbitration cases are the messy ones involving many different editors and interests: the cases that absolutely shouldn't be handled by a speedy, sloppy RRA, CDA, or RfDA process that doesn't and can't examine more than one party.)

While there seem to be a lot of editors who like the idea of developing a shiny new process, there seems to be a shortage of actual admins engaged in a pattern of abuse who are somehow slipping through our cracks. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 21:21, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Ok, I've read through your comments, and the links (I liked KB's bus analogy : )
And I think I must respectfully disagree with your assessment. AFAICT, this proposal very clearly has attempted to deal with the vast majority of the concerns you noted there.
As for the cabalish/votestacking concerns, if the community can ban an editor with similar discussions, and that without the safety valves that this proposal has, I would think that the community should be able to desysop.
And there is of course the processes for emergency desysop. This is merely adding another way.
I'd respectfully ask that you re-read the proposal, as this is dramatically different than CDA (as I read it). - jc37 20:12, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

I support this[edit]

I haven't looked into this very much just yet (I do intend to do so), but I expect to support this proposal. AutomaticStrikeout (TC) 03:57, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

  1. After having read the proposal, while I do feel it may be a little too difficult to certify a request, I nevertheless strongly support the proposal. AutomaticStrikeout (TC) 04:35, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Why has this been locked?[edit]

There is no good reason offered. The edit-summary gives some lame reason like "soon to have high visibility". Well, so what? I see no vandalism thus far. It's not a good sign. Tony (talk) 14:03, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Unprotected. Ruslik_Zero 18:48, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Certification[edit]

Three noms is not bad, but restricting them to 1 per year is impractical. Restricting users to 1 decline per year, however, might change the tenor of RFA? Rich Farmbrough, 01:01, 10 January 2013 (UTC).

I am supporting Rich on this issue, no need to restrict. If someone goes crazy nominating inappropriately, then a topic ban may be appropriate. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 10:30, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm not strongly tied to this restriction, but I'll note that it came out of several discussions at WT:RFA, and I included it merely due to others' concerns. - jc37 21:52, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

Supermajority[edit]

The failure to give specific numerical values for this makes this proposal ambiguous. Depending on the percentage,, this would either be an extremely easy or an extremely difficult way of removing an admin. If we reject a RfA when between 30 and 40% of the community think the person unqualified, why do we require later that 80% is needed to find the person unqualified? I do not know what the number should be: UI'd suggest the same standard we use for arbcom, a simple majority. With the support levels suggested, this is unnecessary, because anyone who can actually get 80% opposition will have been removed already. DGG ( talk ) 02:24, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

I don't see anything in the proposal about !vote percentages, supermajorities, or an 80% number, but I'll proceed as if it were there anyway. The RfA process (Not WP policy or guideline) generally requires 70-80% support !votes for the RfA to pass. However, turning this on its head and allowing a 30% minority to remove the tools doesn't make sense, because as in most social structures, on Wikipedia the preference is generally not to change the current order, thus a large majority is required to grant adminship, and a large majority would be required to take it away. Granted, that isn't how XfD works or how other community-based decisions are made, but recall that Wikipedia is not about democracy, it's about consensus, and the percentages don't really matter that much. Anyway, according to my reading of the proposal, the result would be determined by a Bureaucrat, and judging consensus would be entirely at their discretion. Then, to top it all off, the final decision is made by Arbcom. Even with all the safeguards, there's some concern that the requirement of only a simple majority would lead to greater risk of lynch mobbing, which is why a supermajority has been suggested. Rutebega (talk) 02:56, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

I think that you need to set some specific level of support that would be needed to retain the tools—personally, I think that, at the very least, you ought to have 50% of the community supporting someone's continuing adminship. That's much less than required to obtain the tools in the first place, but it also prevents having a situation where someone gets to continue while having only minority support. I also think the proposal needs to be simplified a bit: get rid of the advise and admonish options and just have support or oppose. The advise option seems particularly superfluous. Everyking (talk) 16:23, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Advise and admonish are directly taken from arbcom case results. - jc37 21:52, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

Administrator approval?[edit]

Why does this process require certification specifically from other administrators? ElKevbo (talk) 19:25, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

There are several reasons for requiring approval specifically from admins, the most obvious being that admins are considered trusted members of the community. This isn't the best reason though, especially when considering that if all admins were saints, we wouldn't need RRA in the first place. A better explanation might be that admins have knowledge of the tools and how to use them properly, and therefore should know, even more than a typical editor, when an admin has misused their tools, and when they have merely made a difficult or unpopular decision. Rutebega (talk) 00:19, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
I appreciate your reply but I'm not convinced. The inference is that other members of the community are not as trustworthy as admins which I reject. I also reject the idea that admins are uniquely capable of understanding that admins are sometimes placed into difficult situations that require unpopular actions. Both ideas seem to assume a sufficient level of experience, judgment, and maturity is only possessed by admins.
Of course, leaving the process of removing admins completely in the control of admins is inherently problematic, too. ElKevbo (talk) 09:15, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
While I'm sure that some admins are less trust-wortyhy than some other admins, I think that the average admin is probably more trustworthy than the average user from any less-autherized group on Wikipedia. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 19:22, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
It's relevant to consider the context of the "trustworthiness". We do not trust admins to make unilateral decisions about content itself above and beyond any other user, even if they just signed up or are editing as an IP. We do trust them, for the most part, to know what is and is not an appropriate use of the admin toolset, and of course other admins by definition have a better understanding of the pressures admins are subject to and should generally be able to recognize the difference between an honest mistake and abuse of the tools. This process would have admins as its gatekeepers, they would not have more of a say in the discussion itself than any other user. I'm not entirely sure I support it myself, but I think it is important that we consider the actual role admins are intended to have in this if we are going to have a serious discussion about such a process. Beeblebrox (talk) 03:26, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Nod BB. The certification part is one that just obviously needs strength but "not too much" strength. There are those who want it free and open to anyone, and others who feel that even 3 admins is not enough. from reading over quite a few (a LOT of) discussions, I think at least 3 admins as certifiers was a fair compromise amongst all the concerns. That said, I'm happy to see this further discussed. - jc37 21:52, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

Restoring adminship by default[edit]

I don't like that Arbcom has an effective "pocket veto" where by completely ignoring the community, it can overturn a community decision. If the Arbcom wishes to overturn a community decision, it should have to do so affirmatively. TotientDragooned (talk) 19:37, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Agreed! Sven Manguard Wha? 05:04, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Is this a theoretical issue, or is there a specific case you're talking about? And yes, ArbCom should explicitly say it's overruling the community consensus when it does so, not ignore it. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 11:43, 17 January 2013 (UTC)
I have to assume that this provision was included in the proposal to avoid trespassing on ArbCom's jurisdiction. If the tools could be taken away without consensus from ArbCom, then this process would obtrude upon ArbCom's current jurisdiction over removal of adminship. —Rutebega (talk) 19:40, 17 January 2013 (UTC)
I am agreeing with TotientDragooned, and you can see my comment above. Arbcom can assert their jurisdiction, but I think if they do not make a statement at all, then the community choice should be honored. Perhaps they can say "hang on" and then we can give them more time to chose to override. But by totally ignoring it, it should not mean that they are opposing a decision. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 10:33, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
In that case, arbcom would never act. Look at how often arbcom sidesteps making a decision if they don't "have" to. In the case of desysopping, they should follow through on this responsibility. This helps "nudge" them to do so. - jc37 21:52, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

So this is a request, for comments, on a proposal, to create a new process, to allow for removal of adminship, through community discussion, but subject to arbcom adjudication. Furthermore, arbcom retains full jurisdiction, and can alter this process in any (valid) way it sees fit. Then it might be simpler to just let arbcom deal with removing adminship. Cenarium (talk) 03:55, 20 January 2013 (UTC)

Amen to that. —Rutebega (talk) 02:54, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

The idea is to give the community more of a voice in the process. As I've said elsewhere, if the community can totally ban someone, I think it's odd that the community cannot desysop. The latter merely removes some tools and responsibilities. The former removes the ability to edit altogether.

So this proposal is a way to allow for such community discussion. That said, afaik, only arbcom (and/or Jimbo Wales) can ask a steward (or bureacrat now) to desysop someone. So this proposal is in deference to that. - jc37 21:52, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

A "Request for Revalidation of Adminship" process[edit]

On the Spanish Wikipedia, a process called "Revalidation of Administrators" exists. The process is activated after a short discussion held in their Administrators' Noticeboard, where a user requests the revalidation by posting evidence of incorrect behaviour and other things that would be considered grounds for a desysop. After some time, if 12 users in good standing support the evidence and the revalidation, the revalidation proccess begins. In this process, similar to an RfA, users vote to find consensus to remove or not the sysop bit from the administrator in question.

I think we can take that example and design a similar process for en-wiki. The Spanish Wikipedia has 131 sysops and we have 1600 here, so, modifying a bit their design, we can have three users in very good standing (never blocked, 5000 edits, 1 year, preferably admins) requesting the revalidation, which has to be approved by 25-to-50 users in good standing (never blocked, 2000 edits, 6 months). If it is approved, then a new request for adminship is filed. If the user gets a support rate of 75% or more, they retain the rights; otherwise, the user loses the bit and the right is removed by a bureaucrat or a steward under a cloud (the user will only be able to regain the sysop through a fresh RFA).

If needed, we can also add that two or more bureaucrats are needed to certify the evidence and request to be legitimate before opening the new RfA. As we have a great trust on bureaucrats, I think they are the ones needed to certify the requests if this is needed. Also, this new request for revalidation of adminship will last for 14 days instead of 7 (It can last for 7 days, but es-wiki has them lasting for 14). If you want to see an example, an es-wiki administrator named Ganímedes is currently undergoing a request for revalidation of adminship which was requested by administrator Phoenix58 and supported by 16 users. Regards. — ΛΧΣ21 22:29, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

This is very similar to the WP:RRA process I have proposed. How it differs:
  • Afaik, the ability to ask stewards or bureaucrats to desysop rests solely in the hands of Jimbo Wales and arbcom, and so having arbcom be part of the process is necessary. To hear that that is not the case on another wikimedia wiki, is very interesting.
  • except for the arbcom part of the process, it just takes 7 days.
  • It just takes at least 3 admins to certify a go-ahead for the process (instead of the two tiered 3 + 12)
  • it adds the "advise" and "admonish" options that arbcom has used when assessing a desysop situation.
  • The percentage requirement is to be considered the same as RfA, rather than saying a set number like "75%".
Otherwise, it looks very similar.
I considered the 3 bureaucrats for closers idea, but since arbcom will review the close of an RRA, I didn't think it necessary. If arbcom wasn't there, then probably the "3 closers" practice would probably be needed. - jc37 23:12, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

Arb com role[edit]

As it stands, the process is no simpler than going to arb com directly; the community can and does express its opinion there; as it stands, The effect of this with the present default to not desysop, will be to force arb com to consider it within the time limit if they wish to desysop every case will necessarily be follow by a arb com discussion of the issue, where every question that was brought for discussion will be discussed yet another time. If they do not wish to desysop, they will still have to decide to do nothing--I cannot imagine they will not discuss all community requests. It's not clear to me whether they will do it in private--at present, except for emergencies, their decisions are generally in public. DGG ( talk ) 04:06, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Still "in process"?[edit]

Is this proposal still being considered? It seems like after this much time has passed, a decision either way (to close or to adopt) should be made. 69.125.134.86 (talk) 18:23, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

I'm re-looking over all the contributions to the discussion(s), and will be proposing something similar in the not-too-distant future. - jc37 18:59, 29 July 2013 (UTC)