Wikipedia talk:RfA reform (continued)

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Combine RFA2011 and RFA2012 proposals into draft RFC?[edit]

I plan to copy and combine all the proposals in WP:RFA2011 and WP:RFA2012 into a new draft RFC which I will not open or announce, but leave open so that senior admins and others can refine the ground rules and proposed RFC procedure in preparation for opening the RFC, perhaps in a few weeks or months. My initial impulse is to draft ground rules with blanks for three "senior admins" to close the RFC after 60 days, then open a new RFC to select between conflicting approved proposals, and then open another RFC six months later to decide whether to return to today's status quo. I am interested in others' ideas about drafting such an RFC.

Please comment at Wikipedia talk:RfA reform 2012#Combine RFA2011 and RFA2012 proposals into draft RFC?. 75.166.207.214 (talk) 00:10, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

Revisiting - time to do something[edit]

In the light of Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Σ and its talk page, perhaps the time is now ripe to rekindle some interest in reform. Genarally, the idea we discussed for introducing minimum criteria for candidacy was to reduce the number of NOTNOW/SNOW, however, that seems to be no longer the major concern.Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 09:27, 8 October 2012 (UTC)

Examined all 100+ support RfAs that failed since Jan 2009. Only one (Everyking 5 in 2009) had a higher number of support and oppose votes:

(In chronological order)

Some of these are very unpleasant in the extreme but are no means the most unpleasant among all RfAs over the period. Some particularly nasty experiences were had by some candidates who actually passed, which gives credence to the claims that even users who stand a very good chance of passing are reluctant to apply for the bit - evidenced by the many responses received from canvassing possible candidates who meet the highest criteria and without a blemish in their history. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 06:58, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

Out of curiosity, is there some reason to believe the nervousness about applying is a new phenomenon? I recall putting off an offer to nominate me in February 2007 because I was afraid of what'd get said about me, etc. Ultimately, any person going through any test of whether they have the community's trust is going to be upset to hear "no", and why "no" if they care enough about the project to be a plausible admin candidate. WilyD 08:09, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
There are no new phenomena. RfA degenerated to a snake pit a long time ago as examination of the links above will demonstrate. Anyone who has a clean history, and can fulfil some of the more serious criteria practiced by the civil regular participants should have nothing to fear. That will not exclude disingenuous voting however, from those who use RfA as a platform to demonstrate their aversion to the concept of adminship in general as a feature of Wikipedia. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 09:22, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
That is key, RfA has become a contrarian's paradise, where they are given more free reign than any admin board or talk page. I'm starting to think having the primary page be a straight up and down vote with all discussion on the talk page would be a better idea. This way people can vote without the fear of their vote being directly undermined or attacked. Dennis Brown - © Join WER 12:55, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
Wikipedia:RfA reform (continued)/Candidates#Comparison RfA other Wikipedias shows that no comments generally accompany votes on es-wp (although advised for oppose votes) or se-wp, with de-wp restricting comments to a single paragraph, and prohibiting commenting on other votes (within the RfA itself).
  • I'd support something similar on en-wp, which should result in a tidier and less distracting presentation (an untidy RfA is bound to reflect badly on the candidate, not always through any direct fault of theirs). Detailed discussion of issues arising could be restricted to area(s) at the bottom of the nomination page or on the associated talk page.
-- Trevj (talk) 13:47, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
I also support disallowing threaded discussion on the RfA page. Everyone should be allowed to cast their own (single) vote of unlimited length, but no one should reply to those votes. If someone is compelled to discuss someone else's vote (or any other topic), then that discussion must be started on the talk page of the RfA. This will eliminate badgering, and should greatly limit the breeding of drama (or, at the very least, move it off of the main RfA page). I would love to see someone start an RfC on this proposal. -Scottywong| spout _ 22:52, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
  • After a very long and fruitful conversation with Kudpung today, I think we all should read all the archives. He assures me that a lot of the ideas that we might have, likely have already been discussed in the many subpages. He said it was about 3 hours of reading, and I want to spend the next couple of days reading and digesting the information and data that has already been gathered here by a great number of experienced people. I'm tired of talking, I'm ready for action, which starts with reading what has already been discovered. Dennis Brown - © Join WER 23:25, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
    Noted the 3 hours' reading. I'll try to fit that in, if possible. -- Trevj (talk) 07:25, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
  • For what it's worth, I don't think Sigma's RFA is reason to revisit RFA reform. While I've spoken out in a limited context of Sigma's RFA, the system basically worked, even if it was IMO harsh. Steven Zhang, TTTSNB2, and Ironholds 3 all show larger problems I think need to be addressed, but not in the heat of the moment from this recent RFA. That said, if someone can manage to ram through some changes, I have no objection to it. MBisanz talk 23:32, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
    Actually, I would disagree as to the system working. Abuses took place, and people tolerated it simply because the candidate suddenly fell out of favor. That is hardly ideal. Dennis Brown - © Join WER 08:51, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
    There's actually more than that. I saw the abuses, thought "Oh no, not this again", and turned off from it in disgust. And that wasn't the right thing to do - "All that's needed for evil..." and all that. -- Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 09:00, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
While I agree with MBisanz that 'the system basically worked' and indeed generally those who should pass generally do, and those who shouldn't don't. How it works is not acceptable and our major concern now is the overall collateral damage this kind of behaviour is doing to Wikipedia. The actual process is not broken but RfA has come to be regarded as a playground for those seeking a venue to be nasty and spiteful with impunity and real change can only come from them by either changing their ways, or staying away from RfA, and if they can't, they need to be made to. Such systematic disruption of an important process is no different than vandalism on Conservapedia. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 09:38, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
And this is actually costing us editors. Not just admin candidates, but actual editors turned off at how abusive the system is. The badgering of voters at RfA is causing many to stop participating there as well. It is to the point that we have to swing the pendulum in the other direction, and become less tolerant at RfA than we might be in other venues when it comes to disruptive behavior, it needs some informal clerking, forcing extended comments to the talk page, and blocking disruptive people until the end of the RfA. The problem in part is a seeming lack of clarity as to what is acceptable and what is not. Dennis Brown - © Join WER 10:27, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
If the problem is a lack of clarity as to what is acceptable, perhaps it would be helpful to modify the edit notice that people see when they're voting on an RfA. You could add material about the length of comments, badgering, civility, etc. Here's an example of how it might be tweaked. ~Adjwilley (talk) 17:27, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
  • If you are interested in my views in this discussion, I will be happy to participate, though they appear to be sharply different than what I am reading here. In a nutshell, the concerns expressed about the recent Rfa are that we turned away a decent candidate and it was because of the lengthy oppose that turned the tide of the voting. I was grateful for the work put into that oppose, and voted against, because I thought the concerns regarding maturity were quite valid. Now, my experiences in WP:CDA in 2010 convinced me and many others that admins will fight tooth and nail to avoid community de-adminship. I have had particularly nasty experiences with abusive admins who have had agendas of various types, though I have never been blocked once in over 50 k edits, and frankly I choose to err on the side of caution in an Rfa !vote. I don't think eliminating !voter commentary is the answer, because the problem is much bigger. We have to think outside the box about the current state of adminship, but going away from people's comfort zone usually gets me and others shut down via "hatting" or tag-team dismissive comments that don't touch on my points. And by the way, I have been a volunteer at WMF under Cary Bass in San Francisco in 2009-10, have been reasonably deep in many aspects of the organization, and think a top-down shakeup of the current entrenched admin community, up to and including a mass de-adminship and/or tool/block-power unbundling, is the only way out of this mess. I don't see much will to do that currently at WMF. Yet you have a lot of angry editors who get stomped on and leave the project, for very different reasons than Rfa's threaded comments. Any discussion, in my view, that does not take these factors into consideration is just adding to the larger problem. Again, that's how I see it. Jusdafax 11:39, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
For my part, I am disappointed that a good admin candidate was rejected - but that is not my complaint. The problem was the appalling way in which *some* participants expressed their opposition - it was done with no respect for the person they were attacking, and looked more like a baying mob calling for a lynching. -- Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 11:55, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
Leaving aside our seemingly different views of what the definition of a "good admin candidate" is (and I don't want to rehash the Rfa, myself) I think you had abuses on both sides. To be as brief as possible, I think when you have adminship a lifetime "promotion" with the power to block or otherwise intimidate regular users, with admins who communicate and canvass in a non transparent manner via IRC, a method many are unable to access, and when you have admins banding together to make it difficult for the community to take their powers back, and when many of those admins were given their powers in the early era of Wikipeda when it was much easier to pass an Rfa, then you have a situation that engenders deep resentments. That's the real issue here, again, as I see it. Jusdafax 12:12, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
The candidate is irrelevant now. The question is the behavior of others, regardless of who the candidate was. What you are talking about is taking away admin powers. There have already been two serious proposals and one major RfC on that topic earlier this year. WP:RAS and WP:RRA, which were part of Wikipedia:Requests for Comment/Community de-adminship proof of concept. They were all widely advertised and that was the venue you should have discussed those concerns, particularly since the response from the community was rather tepid. THIS proposal doesn't cover desysoping, it covers RfA, which is a completely different topic. Accusing admins of "banding together" isn't particularly helpful or civil, particularly considering the great number of admins who are working very hard to make it easier to pass RfA as well as to be desysoped, and actually participate in desysop discussions. Dennis Brown - © Join WER 12:29, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
  • Sure, there may well have been "support" abuses too, but it's abuse of the candidate that I'm specifically referring to, because abuse of candidates is what really turns people away from running. I don't doubt there are many reasons for dissatisfaction with the whole concept of adminship and for the resentments that surface in RfAs (and I suspect we would be largely in agreement about them), but I don't think there is any excuse for using them as a basis for abusing the candidate. But yes, I think there are at least two levels that we could address this on, one being addressing the underlying reasons for dissatisfaction in the first place. But we should also address the problem of individuals who abuse the process by taking out their general resentment on the candidates - there were plenty who formed their supports and opposes in perfectly respectable and civil fashions. -- Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 12:37, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
(ec) Dennis, the actual admin !vote at WP:CDA in 2010 is what I am talking about. But that is just one aspect I mention and you ignore the others and dismiss me as unhelpful when I am pointing out larger issues, and as usual my other points are ignored. So it goes. Boing!, for what it is worth I deem the underlying reasons for dissatisfaction the key to this discussion. The abuses in the process of Rfa could be solved by an uninvolved admin hatting or otherwise removing uncivil comments. Pretty easy solution, and easy to implement if that power isn't abused itself. I absolutely oppose restricting lengthy !votes if they are civil and comment on valid concerns. Jusdafax 12:49, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
"The abuses in the process of Rfa could be solved by an uninvolved admin hatting or otherwise removing uncivil comments": Perhaps so, and that did happen in one case, but it just led to warring over it. And you surely don't need reminding what a horrible can of worms the concept of "uncivil" is around here. The mooted solution would probably just replace one intractable problem with another - how would you feel if I hatted something I thought was uncivil, and you thought it wasn't? -- Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 13:11, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
I didn't care for being hatted on this very page, previously. But I got over it, and came back to comment again! I'd say enforcement of existing rules of civility in Rfa's solves the problem. I think a double standard has existed at Rfa for a while. Stop that, problem solved, in my view. To be frank, I see some of this as an attempt to shut down longer !votes that stop Rfa candidates with issues from getting extra buttons. Perhaps I am wrong, however. Jusdafax 13:22, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
Considering that we're facing a looming admin shortage, I think our time would be better spent figuring out how to make it somewhat easier for qualified candidates to become admins, as opposed to figuring out how to make it easier to desysop current admins. I find it hard to believe that the attitude at RfA would naturally relax if all we did was add an easy desysop procedure. To paraphrase recent interesting comments on my talk page, that change would not create sufficient selection pressure to force a change in behavior. There are also other side effects to that solution which are undesirable. Rather, we should be proposing ways to eliminate the lynch mob attitude at RfA, while ensuring that unqualified candidates still don't make it through. -Scottywong| communicate _ 14:15, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm not dismissing you Jusdafax, I'm saying there is a time and place for everything. The RfC I pointed to was the time and place for desysop. This project is the time and place to figure out how to fix the ills of WP:RfA. They are two different problems. It is important to stay on topic. Dennis Brown - © Join WER 15:17, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
  • This project was originally created to be able to work without the unproductive blog-style banter at WT:RfA and its snide comments. Comments and threads here that are just to complain about the good faith efforts of those who are trying to get RfA improved are off topic. Theories and conjecture that the people here have an agenda are also misplaced - we're here to examine all suggestions, and if shortening the posts at RfA is one of them it will be examined objectively along with all the others. RfA has demonstrated time and time again that it is capable of sorting the wheat from the chaff - those who should be given the bit generally do, and those who are not ready for it generally don't. This object of this project is to discuss possible remedies for the snake pit it has become. The general consensus is that it's the voters themselves who are at fault and that's where we need to look for solutions. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 15:08, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
The only real solutions to the problem fall into two categories: one category are solutions that bring about a voluntary, grassroots change in editor attitudes and behavior in RfA, and the other category are solutions that enforce new rules of engagement to ensure that those who are unwilling to change their attitude/behavior cannot derail the process. The first category is proving to be far more difficult than the second. I'm a firm believer that change will not happen naturally or organically (or, at least, it won't happen naturally within the time frame we need it to happen), and that any change will need to come from mandating rules of engagement. Kudpung, is there a subpage for discussing (or where a discussion has already taken place) a proposal to move all threaded discussions to the RfA talk page? If not, I'd be interested in creating one. -Scottywong| soliloquize _ 18:09, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
It was discussed somewhere but only briefly. If I remember rightly, the conclusion was that it would only put the nastiness somewhere else, and that sit might even invite longer discussions that are held on the RfA main page, hence possibly inviting even more civility, PA issues, and disingenuous comments. We've seen the result of this at Sigma's RfA, but if you would like to start a thread on it at to obtain more community intt to the idea, you are of course more than welcome to do so. I would suggest either here or here. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 03:14, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
  • I would support introducing no threaded replies, with the exception that the candidate may offer factual corrections in a threaded response, and the original poster may offer a further factual response. So we might have "oppose because of this diff," to which the candidate may respond: "but that is out of context, look at the next diff," to which the opponent may respond: "but here are five other diffs showing the same behaviour." But no one else is allowed to jump in, and the opponent and candidate are advised to keep things strictly factual (never "you're horrible," "no I'm not," "yes you are").

    I would also support asking bureaucrats to start clerking the page as soon as an RfC turns nasty. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:00, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

(edit conflict)"I think our time would be better spent figuring out how to make it somewhat easier for qualified candidates to become admins, as opposed to figuring out how to make it easier to desysop current admins." In one of several "2p's" I have on the subject of RFA, my thoughts on this statement is that making it easier to give an editor about whom the community has limited knowledge the opportunity to delete project pages, sanction editors and join in gang warfare at WP:AN, WP:ANI etc. seems irrational. I would be happy to give many of those I would usually oppose the opportunity to prove me wrong, provided the community had the chance to re-evaluate after 3 - 6 months. Admins on approval is better than a bad Admin for life. If you don't see the connection between the current pillories & stocks approach and the fact that we are giving someone tools for life then maybe that proposition should be tested. Leaky Caldron 19:06, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
I have some sympathy for this POV, and consider it a desirable goal for all admins to be open to recall. IMHO there's a link between this issue and the actual RfA process, regardless of the participation level in previous disscussions about desysopping. There may even be community support to impose mandatory recall on longstanding admins, regardless of the conditions under which they were originally appointed many years ago. Although such a move may result in an immediate loss of a number of admins, it could result in a net benefit to the project if the community's faith in adminship were restored elevated (I'm not suggesting that faith is completely lost, and I don't currently have enough knowledge/experience to even attempt to evaluate this). -- Trevj (talk) 20:24, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
Interesting idea. I think I'm going to get some popcorn and just sit back and watch how this unfolds. :) Leaky Caldron 20:31, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

This project needs renaming and complementing with another project[edit]

This thread is off-topic. That doesn't mean that the ideas aren't worth discussing, just not on this page. This page is about discussing direct solutions to improving the RfA environment. The ideas discussed in this thread are indirect solutions that aim to reform what it fundamentally means to be an admin, with the expectation that those changes elicit an organic change in the RfA environment. No one is saying that one solution is better than the other, we're just saying that we want to keep the discussion on this page on-topic. I hope this request can be respected, and I encourage the creation of a forum to discuss proposals that reform adminship. -Scottywong| confess _ 03:46, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

This project is misnamed. It is not about reform, it is about buttressing the status quo. It should be renamed something like "Empowering RfA". It is has nothing to do with the deeper admin reforms that need to take place on Wikipedia.

It should be complemented with another project where real admin reform can be discussed. There is no forum on Wikipedia for editors who would like to see more workable and effective admin structures. The problem is that, even if it were started, such a project would rapidly sink into the Wikipedia quicksands, just like the distant RfC Dennis pointed to above. Past attempts at such discussions demonstrate how quickly admins and admin hopefuls sink them. Content builders are usually interested in building content, and don't want to spend what they see as wasted time on admin issues. They tend to assume that those who want to look after admin issues will do it in a way that enables content development. Increasing, I would suggest, content builders are also fearful of the consequences of raising their heads above the parapets, the insults, misrepresentations and threats.

The facts are simple, but it seems they need to be restated from time to time. Eventually the current admin system will collapse under the weight of its own dysfunctions, and then there might be a new dawn and renewal of Wikipedia. I agree with Jusdafax in the thread above. Unbundling admin tools and reassigning them on a needs basis, and decoupling the discipline of editors by establishing a separate board of some sort, with members voted in for finite terms by the community as a whole, would go a long way to restoring respect for the way Wikipedia is administered. Strangely, certain admins accuse me of having no respect for authority. It's rather the opposite. I have the utmost respect for enlightened authority, and very much support any moves to work towards that. There is a deepening divide taking place, as certain admins equate content builders with everything that is problematic on Wikipedia. Kudpung seems to repeatably call for content editors to be indefinitely blocked or site banned unless they uncritically accept the status quo. --Epipelagic (talk) 22:45, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

Very well said Epipelagic. The problems with RfA are obvious and the solutions are self-evident, yet so many refuse to see them. Instead they attempt to evict what they see as the barbarian hoi-poloi from their priestly temple of adminship. Malleus Fatuorum 23:02, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

I'll just repost part of an earlier message this for the benefit of anyone who missed it:

  • This project was originally created to be able to work without the unproductive blog-style banter at WT:RfA and its snide comments. Comments and threads here that are just to complain about the good faith efforts of those who are trying to get RfA improved are off topic. Theories and conjecture that the people here have an agenda are also misplaced - we're here to examine all suggestions, [...] The object of this project is to discuss possible remedies for the snake pit it has become. The general consensus is that it's the voters themselves who are at fault and that's where we need to look for solutions.

Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 02:51, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Then I'll just point out that you're talking cack, and are claiming a consensus that quite simply doesn't exist. Your agenda is very clear, to eliminate all opposition at RfA. Malleus Fatuorum 03:03, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Kudpung, your repost has little to do with what has been said in this thread. It is not at all "off topic" to point out that the project needs renaming. Nor is it at all off topic to suggest the project needs balancing with a complementary project. How can you say with a straight face that we're here to examine all suggestions when you seem to be refusing to examine any of the suggestions above? --Epipelagic (talk) 03:07, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Though I probably wouldn't use the language, I agree with Malleus. I don't see consensus that voters are at fault, I don't approve of the reactionary approach to an RfA on an editor I nominated and I do believe this project now appears to be agenda driven. I am afraid I'm going to have to take my name off it. WormTT(talk) 07:42, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I am afraid I am headed that way as well, Worm, unless Kudpung agrees to a more open approach to this discussion. By attempting to rigidly control the direction of this "reform," he confirms the very authoritarian tendencies many of us are concerned about. I say lets bring in all points of view and kick this around some. The process is broken, we mostly all agree. How, why and what should be the points of discussion of reform, not finding a way to limit Rfa threads and length of !votes. And frankly, I feel it bears repeating as an established fact: the most reactionary force to change are the admins themselves, who largely voted as a bloc in 2010 (see my comment above) and who arguably act to keep their powers like an entitled club with a lifetime mandate. This is a recipe for disaster, in my opinion. Thanks to Epi for the validation, and pass the popcorn Leaky. Jusdafax 14:46, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
  • I wouldn't be here if I thought the goal was to eliminate all opposing at RfAs, yet I'm here. I haven't read all the back text in this Project yet, but my goal quite the opposite: I want more people at RfA voting. I want more people at RfA as candidates. I want a level playing field for all voters and candidates. I want genuine debate, but that requires a little formality and structure or one or a few can dominate the process, which has made it ripe for abuse. If we DON'T fix it, then only the most politically astute candidates can pass, and you will only have politicians for admin. No thanks. I haven't crossed paths with Epipelagic, but Malleus knows me well enough to know I am sincere. We don't need the current system to crash and burn before we fix it, and we need to do more than just talk it down, we need to incrementally improve it. That is part of the problem, resistance to change and protecting the status quo. No solution is going to be perfect, but radical changes never take place here, so we need to at least start moving in the right direction, and chip away at the problems instead of just talking about them. That said, I don't claim to have the answers, I'm here trying to figure out what others think would be the best small steps towards fixing the problem, and I'm willing to dig in and try to make it happen. Dennis Brown - © Join WER 12:20, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm with Dennis on this one. It is a massive assumption of bad faith to say that Kudpung's agenda is to buttress the status quo. In contrast, I would say that Kudpung is making the most serious attempt at reform that currently exists on the project, and he is attempting to limit the ideas discussed to those that actually have a realistic chance of being adopted by the community at large. We can discuss "real admin reform" (which I assume means changing what it fundamentally means to be an admin) until we're blue in the face, but anyone who has been here for any appreciable amount of time knows that enormous paradigm shift proposals never succeed on Wikipedia. It's another assumption of bad faith to imply that the cabal is secretly organizing to shoot down any ideas for reform that might threaten their godlike lordship over lowly content creators. What we need is to identify specific problems with RfA, and propose targeted solutions to incrementally solve those problems. The smaller the impact to the current RfA system, the more likely the change will be adopted. Discussing paradigm shift ideas here would simply derail the process. If you don't like the topic of conversation on this page, then no one is forcing you to contribute to it. This page is about incremental changes, if you'd like to discuss paradigm shifts then you can just as easily start a different forum for that topic. I agree that this thread is off-topic, and should be hatted. -Scottywong| comment _ 14:21, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
And I say again Scotty, that as I see it you are shooting yourselves in the foot if you do that. Maybe there is a way for big ticket proposals to come to pass. Don't you think it is possible you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater by not being inclusive? We have an interesting cross-section of long-term Wikipedians here with an extremely wide range of viewpoints on the Rfa problem. As for bad faith, I have not been acknowledged on what happened in 2010 with the WP:CDA !vote. Look at it, it would have passed but for the very high percentage of admins that voted it down. This is a fact. And I also say to you Scotty, that the admin community has not got to just avoid impropriety on this topic, but bend over backward not to even appear to have same. Hatting and limiting discussion, in my view, sends a chilling message... intentionally or unintentionally. Let's meet together on this turf, right here and right now, and hash this out for a bit, then go to the wider community, even if just Jimbo's page, with the results. I think the process could well be revealing and edifying. Jusdafax 15:05, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Again, I appreciate your enthusiasm for radical reform, but I'm personally convinced that there is an extremely small chance that radical reform will be successfully pushed through. It's been tried many times in the past, and frankly, I doubt you have any radically new ideas that haven't already been discussed ad nauseum. I would rather spend my time discussing practical, incremental changes that have a high chance of success. Why not start WP:Radical RfA reform and discuss your ideas there? Being overly inclusive to discussing every possible idea here will only result in over-fragmentation, and is a recipe for getting nothing done in the end, except listen to ourselves complaining. -Scottywong| chatter _ 16:15, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
That is the key, community support. Anyone else can start any project they want to get any change they want. It looks like this project was/is about RfA support as a single thing. Just as my previous RfC was about admin sanctions as a single thing. The problem with focusing on too broad of an issue is that you can't have a coherent conversation because the topic keeps shifting. Firemen don't shoot water all over the flame, they direct it at the source of the fire. RfA is one fire. Admin accountability is another. I personally want to keep working on both, but they aren't the same thing. Otherwise, there is no chance of making any change, and it is all talk. I'm not that interested in talk for the sake of talk. I want to define the problem, pick a direction, and start chipping away at the problem, one idea at a time, building momentum. Dennis Brown - © Join WER 16:37, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Epip, Jusdafax and Malleus. Here's an idea. A 3 months probationary period and shake hands & part company if the new Admin. doesn't cut the mustard or doesn't like the empowerment. A bi-annual (biennial??) re-confirmation. Doesn't apply to the existing closed shop members - that would be seeking the impossible. Admins. should feel able to easily hand in their badge and that is far easier when you don't feel as if you are resigning from a "members for life" club. Some other fairly minor process changes, variously discussed, might also be welcome. Leaky Caldron 17:14, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
That is not an even remotely new idea. Search the WT:RFA archives and you'll see a thread on that very idea approximately 4 times per year. There is insufficient support for that idea. -Scottywong| speak _ 17:21, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
It doesn't even matter that this is an old idea, that idea isn't within the scope of this project, which is why this thread will end up getting hatted as offtopic. The goal of this project is solely the RfA process, not admins in general. You might as well talk about FA nomination process or changing AfD, they are just as offtopic. Dennis Brown - © Join WER 17:37, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm not disputing what either of you say, I'm sure you are both correct. But here's another 2p. The community, or at least the regulars that turn up at RFA, are stringent in their assessment and want more than nominees who's primary qualification is recommendations from highly prominent Admins. A job for life needs more than a nod and a wink. The ability to recall, re-confirm, or the unbundling of high risk functions would reduce the bar. Second, since the reason we are here is as a result of a highly recommended candidate who at one time was 96% until unacceptable behaviour was revealed and evasive answers provided, did not fail due to any other reason than the community had no confidence in him. I've rarely seen so many supports switch to O or N and that had nothing to do with alleged bad behaviour, which incidentally occurred on all sides. I'm not expecting any Admin to agree with any of this. Leaky Caldron 19:09, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
  • Leaky nails it. As for me, I want to treat the disease and not just the symptoms, and, again, feel an inclusive approach would be for the best. If we stay within the parameters Scotty, Dennis and Kudpung want to restrict us to, in of merely streamlining the !voting process, we should indeed examine changing the name from "reform." By the way, I rather question who "owns" this project, the operation of which is a revealing process in itself. Let's question all assumptions at this point. Jusdafax 19:36, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
A few things that should be in the current scope:
  1. Better standard questions, including some on the candidate's of off-wiki background
  2. Withold !votes until these questions and the early other questions for candidates are answered (this would reduce early oppose or support "pile ons" in at least some cases
  3. A policy on the involvement of nominators, including disclosure of all related pre-transclusion discussion and their role during the RFA itself. Leaky Caldron 19:50, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
So it sounds like Scotty and Dennis are saying that this page is focused on problems the RfA process itself, while Leaky and Jusdafax are saying that at least part of the problem with RfA is because people are really nervous about admin accountability. I think everybody has good points. Admin accountability is important, but as Dennis pointed out, trying to shoot two fires with the same hose isn't very productive. Anyway, that's my 2 c (or p) on that.
@Leaky Caldron, I'm a little curious why you think knowing the off-wiki backgrounds of our candidates is going to make the process run better. Are there any other specific standard questions you have in mind? ~Adjwilley (talk) 00:56, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
  • This closure is very wrong. Scottywong has practically fallen over himself in the haste to suppress this thread. Seven editors have commented so far. Apart from Scottywong, only one other editor thinks this is "off topic". I invite Scottywong to do the right thing by assuming some good faith and reopening the thread, so this project can retain some credibility. Either that, or change the title of this project so it does not imply it is about reform. --Epipelagic (talk) 04:18, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
    Why not just move the thread to the /Radical alternatives sub-page? Or, just start a new project. There is resistance to renaming this project, but the title of the thread also suggests complementing this project with another project, so let's create another project. (Disclaimer: I'm very new to this area, so I have no idea what already exists.) ~Adjwilley (talk) 04:46, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Because the problems with RfA are symptoms of deeper problems, and can be simply resolved by addressing the real problems. The alternatives are not "radical" alternatives, as Scottywong insists on characterising them, but simple common sense solutions that can be largely introduced in seamless stages. The project cannot proceed with integrity if it merely fiddles with the mechanics of RfA and refuses to look at the very things that most need looking at. For some reason, admins seem afraid of allowing discussion of the deeper issues and how they might be resolved. That may be because they see it as a threat to their hegemony, but in practice it would probably result in a climate that frees admins as much as content builders. --Epipelagic (talk) 05:12, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Agree with Epipelagic that the closure is wrong, and an example of the type of authoritarian action that creates deep resentments in the editing community. Also agree that dismissing the emerging discussion as "radical" shows contempt for thinking not to the liking of parties who have an agenda for Rfa. This closure of an interesting open discussion is divisive and creates factions that are out of touch with each other. I am sorry it has come to this. This type of top-down decision making by an admin is, as I see it, in fact a symbol of the very thing that makes people reluctant to !vote for lifetime admin powers for anyone. To exclude a full discussion here when a number of parties want it is breathtaking. Jusdafax 05:47, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Well, the nice thing about a volunteer wiki is you can go right ahead and start any new discussion you like, regardless of what other conversations are ongoing. isaacl (talk) 06:09, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Not on this project. --Epipelagic (talk) 06:21, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
So where do we now discuss any reform at all? I see no link. The reason for closing this seems perverse. @~Adjwilley. I have just a few issues about off-wiki activity but since the thread is closed there is no point adding more stuff here. Leaky Caldron 06:56, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Start a new page for it? -- Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 07:01, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Go ahead and make a link and start the conversation; as long as there are interested parties, discussion will ensue. isaacl (talk) 07:03, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Conversations are just groups of people who are discussing topics of interest to them. The nice thing about conversing on the web is that you can participate in multiple conversations at the same time; there is no need to mix them all together (and focused conversations can help discussions move forward.) isaacl (talk) 07:03, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
  • I do certainly agree that there are fundamental problems with the whole admin thing, and I'd love to see it all properly addressed. But the problem is, if people try to attack the issue holistically here and review "Adminship" from the bottom up, it'll achieve absolutely fuck all - see the thousands of wasted person-hours over the past years of RfA Talk as evidence. If you want to start a project/discussion/whatever to fix adminship in general, I say great and you have my full support (but I won't try to help, because I don't think it can be fixed by the Community - to me the Community, including admins, is the problem). But if a bunch of people want to try to address one small part of it - reform of the RfA process - why not let them have a go and see if they can achieve anything? And to be radical, why not wish them well in it? That is, after all, the specific reason this page was set up - it was deliberately kept apart from the swamp that is WT:RfA, and reverting it to an alternative but identical swamp would be pointless. Anyway, that's (almost) all I'll say on this, as it has gone off-topic enough already - I suggest this extra discussion should be collapsed before too long -- Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 07:39, 12 October 2012 (UTC) -- Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 08:07, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
If that is what the project is about, then its title is disingenuous, pretending to be about reform, when it only about buttressing the existing RfA. Since the project title claims it is about reform, then it is appropriate for editors to add threads about reform. It is out of order, given the current title of this project, to hat or remove this thread. If reform issues are going to be hatted or removed the project needs renaming. --Epipelagic (talk) 07:57, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
It says RfA reform, not Admin reform. -- Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 08:05, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
But it's not about reforming RfA. RfA will remain as it is. It only about procedures for controlling awkward or inappropriate comments from content editors during RfAs. --Epipelagic (talk) 08:12, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, I'd say discussion of that is on-topic here, while general admin reform is not. -- Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 08:15, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
That is supporting the point I have been making... the project needs renaming. Anyway, the reforms I have in mind would fundamentally reform RfAs in such a manner that the current problems would simply dissolve. What could be more relevant to this project?--Epipelagic (talk) 08:12, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

This is rising to the level of WP:IDHT. I tried to be as clear and as cordial as possible. No one is trying to stifle your ideas. In fact, I'm interested in hearing your ideas. As Zebedee points out, this page is about RfA reform, not admin reform. It was specifically named for that purpose. This project doesn't need renaming, it needs to be split into two projects: RfA reform, and admin reform. Even if your admin reform ideas are designed to also reform RfA, we're actively trying to keep the discussion here focused on how to reform the RfA process itself. It's as simple as that. Rather than continuing to complain and cast accusations of bad faith, why not just start WP:Admin reform? In fact, feel free to post links to an admin reform project in the header at the top of this page, and on the main page of this project. This is getting tiresome, and continued grumbling here will lead me to suspect that this is an intentional effort to derail the discussions here. Since this thread began, no substantive discussion has taken place on this page. -Scottywong| verbalize _ 13:40, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

I've made WT:Admin reform a blue link and copied the above discussion there. Is this ok with everybody? ~Adjwilley (talk) 16:38, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
For the record, I vehemently disagree with the decision of an admin to close a discussion on the nature of adminship on what is little more than a technicality. Rather than risk an edit war by removing the archive box, I will simply ignore it by continuing the discussion. If the comment is unanswered, then clearly the discussion is dead. If others decide to ignore the archive box and respond, it can reasonably be assumed that there is a consensus to continue the discussion here, or at the very least that the closure should have been done by someone uninvolved, and in the meantime should be reversed.

Anyway, I have strong opinions on RfA, and adminship more generally. My feelings on the issue are possibly too strong to accurately convey on-wiki. What I can say within policy is that those who believe that RfA reform alone is the answer are ignoring the bigger picture – possibly for a good reason, such as what they see as pragmatism (it's easier to make a small change than a big one), but ignoring it nonetheless. The tone of RfA is a problem, and a big one at that. But it's only a symptom of the problem – that people feel that adminship is now such a big deal that they need to be vociferous in their opinions. Therefore adminship and RfA are inextricably linked. RfA may be one of the main focal points, but ill-feeling about the role of admins can be seen throughout the project.

As much as I'd prefer it, I'm not saying that we must tackle RfA reform and admin reform simulaneously (or indeed the particularly thorny issue of admin tenure). But we must be mindful of the effect that one element of adminship has on the others. That is why, in my opinion, it is so important that discussions on things that would be directly affected by RfA reform be allowed to continue here, regardless of how loose their relationship to the project page is. —WFCFL wishlist 23:40, 12 October 2012 (UTC)


The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.
All of your points are absolutely spot on. Anyone suggesting that there is no link between life-long Admin and the justifiable difficulty some candidates experience due to issues of their own making is kidding themselves. If RFA was for a fixed period, a probationary period or a non-harmful toolset I would not bother turning up there. Trying to curtail participation from those who are simply trying to ensure that some strongly favoured candidates are actually ready for a life time stint of deleting content and blocking editors is not the right approach. Leaky Caldron 11:05, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Agree with the WFC and Leaky. I'll go check out the admin reform page. But what I wanted was a disparate group having an open, cordial discussion here. I didn't get that, and for reasons I don't agree with. On to the admin reform page. We stand divided, but for how long? Jusdafax 03:27, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
WT:Admin reform which was little more than a copy of the thread above, didn't gain any traction whatsoever. By misunderstanding the goals and objectives of WP:RFA2011, divisive opinions appear to have brought any hope of either RfA or Adminship reform to a standtill. More recent discussion at WT:RfA and WT:WER do not appear to have rescued the babies from the bathwater. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 07:11, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
That's true of course. Reform of the present system is fundamentally controlled from within the system. Systems which assign power to certain individuals over others are almost never capable of reform from within. And the Wikipedia admin system, despite superficial appearances to the contrary, is controlled by the admins themselves together with the admin wannabes and habituates of the various drama boards. This group always holds the casting power when it comes to the crunch. The last hope we had was intervention from outside the system. On past performance, it is clear this is not within the competence of the WMF. That leaves Jimbo Wales, who said he was going to intervene early last year. But then he seems to have backed off. So there it is. Kudpung is right on this occassion, any hope of reform is unrealistic. Wikipedia's content builders deserved a system which respected and facilitated their work, including those who aren't, and those who don't want to be admins. Instead we have what we have got. I long ceased commenting in the hope of rational reform. I comment only in the hope of lessening the obscuration and confusion content builders who are not admins otherwise experience if they have the misfortune of stumbling onto one of these boards. --Epipelagic (talk) 12:38, 2 February 2014 (UTC)