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UESPWiki:Administrator Noticeboard/Archives/Proposed Policy: Administrator Re-elections

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Proposed Policy: Administrator Re-elections

This discussion has been closed by rpeh - see WP:SNOWBALL. Please do not modify it.

I think the time has come to put into effect a mechanism that ensures administrators continue to enjoy the support of the community.

Currently, UESP has ten administrators. Of these, three (Endareth, Garrett and Wrye) were never elected. One (Nephele) was elected with the votes of only two users, neither of whom are active any more. Two (Ratwar and TheRealLurlock) had only one vote from a currently-active member - somebody who just returned after a nine month break. The other four are more recent, but even in these cases, Eshe's support only contains three still-active users out of eight votes; less than 50% is not impressive.

Since the mandate for an administrator role is given by users, it is essential to ensure that the mandate is kept up to date and renewed when necessary. This offers both an easy way for an admin to step down, and for the community to remove them where necessary. It's clearly not acceptable that somebody retains the extra powers and responsibilities if the community no longer supports them.

To this end, I propose that each admin be automatically re-nominated on the anniversary of his or her election and a re-election vote is held using the same rules as for new admins. If he or she is no longer interested in holding the role, simply declining the renomination would be enough to close the election.

*Support: as proposer. rpeh •TCE 08:37, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment: Not a terrible idea, but they need to be forewarned (as in, they know it's coming, and we know they know.). Also, I think Nephele and Wyre are exempt; Nephele's proven invaluable to the wiki, and Wrye.... well, okay, have no excuse there. but he's Wyre! I also think that a lot of the current admins will see this in a bad light, particularily Ratwar. Sorry, Ratwar, but it's true, you probably will. Can't really blame you, though. •Atreus• 08:47, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
Nobody would be exempt. I doubt Nephele would have a problem being reelected, and although Wrye might not be interested in the light of his last few posts, I doubt he would either. That doesn't mean that we should just assume the result. rpeh •TCE 13:46, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Question How is keeping their status detrimental to the wiki? Elliot (talk) 09:41, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
I didn't say it was detrimental. I'm saying that an admin who no longer has the support of the community shouldn't be an admin. It's exactly the same idea behind elections all over the world. Nothing in this new policy would stop somebody standing again if they decided they wanted the job back. rpeh •TCE 13:46, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
It was a simple question, not an implication. Elliot (talk) 19:20, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
And I gave a simple answer. rpeh •TCE 06:03, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Support I think most of these shouldn't have any problem getting re-elected,and if they do... well that's what the community wants. I would add though that if there is a concesus to alter this by one vote (at least in the case of Nephele) since this is a re-election and we really need admins that they be left with their current status for at least a week or two and then have a new re-election.--TheAlbinoOrc 14:54, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
    (Edit Conflict) All I meant was that there needs to be some margin; if one or two peoples votes tip it then we need to wait for a bit before doing anything because that isn't a significant majority. (As far as Nephele being exempt she does a lot of the server things that are necessary to keep the site running)--TheAlbinoOrc 16:58, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose for now: I think the idea is sound in principle, but there are some details I'd like to see worked out first. If they can be, I would support the proposal. For example, if an administrator is up for reelection but happens to be away on vacation at that time, the vote should be delayed. Similarly, if an administrator has left, I don't feel a vote should occur in absentia since they may not be aware of, or wish to respond to, anything said about them. I realize that may not fit with the original proposal, though. Assuming that admins weren't voted on in absentia, I would want to see some kind of re-acclimation period before an administrator is voted on. For example, supposing that a clear-cut vandal came along today and coincidentally, someone like TheRealLurlock or Endareth returned to block the vandal, I'd have no qualms with that. If they stayed around, then we could give them a month or two before voting so that all users could get a feel for the returning admin. I certainly couldn't speak to Endareth's suitability as an administrator, for example, since he (she?) hasn't been significantly active since the end of 2006. If he was considered suitable as an admin at one point, though, I'd be willing to give him a couple of months "on trust" and see how he did. Finally, I also agree that this should apply across the board. Even though I doubt Nephele would have any difficulties, it's not fair to say that some admins are exempt (except Daveh, of'd be kinda hard to vote him off the island <g>).
    (Point of clarification: I'm equally fine with the status quo as I am with voting once a year; the above comments were made from the POV of the proposal going through.)
    • Question: If we do this for admins, should we also do it for patrollers? Robin HoodTalk 16:09, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't think an absence of a couple of weeks would make a difference. An admin who doesn't realise he or she isn't going to be around during their re-election can't be a very good admin, but I'm sure some scope for variation should be allowed - eg, during the launch of TESV I'd rather concentrate on getting the content in place than having elections. For the moment, let's concentrate on the basics then we can work out the details. Second, patrollers are less important but yes, I don't see why the same rules shouldn't apply there too. rpeh •TCE 06:03, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
Okay, that seems fair. I'm still not big on voting inactive admins out, but let's see how the overall vote goes before we worry about the specifics. Robin HoodTalk 14:10, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose Simply enough, I do not think it will benefit the wiki in any way. We can call for a vote of confidence anytime to get rid of admins, and that's bound to stir up plenty of debate. But forcing a vote when there's really no need for removing the admin? Unnecessary. Furthermore, of the admins now, I believe all of them all still capable of administration, even if they've been inactive for quite a while. --Tim Talk 16:51, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose A vote once a year for each administrator? It seems it would get rather busy and undoubtedly controversial. I don't think removing admins is really a good policy, and neither does Wikipedia. Elliot (talk) 19:20, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose I don't see why this would be necessary. Something like this can be handled perfectly fine on a case-by-case basis. To echo Timmeh a little, a vote can be called for if an admin's suitability for the role comes into question. --GKtalk2me 21:42, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
  • 75%opposse admins can be denouced any time but still...if someone who has a problem with a admin might be afraid to say something but wiht this they may report there problem--GUM!!! 23:10, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment I don't think some of the people voting so far realise the state of the problem. Forty Percent of our admins have never received the vote of an active member of the site. A month ago, that figure would have been an astonishing SIXTY PERCENT! This is clearly not acceptable in a community that claims to be governed by consensus. The site's administrators need to be able to demonstrate that they have the support of the community. At the moment, this is clearly not the case. A simple re-election would remove the need for an embarrassing de-admin vote: in 4 cases, admins would simply be removed due to inactivity. Other cases would be decided on merit as and when they became eligible for renewal. rpeh •TCE 05:58, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
    So since the voting age in America is 18, the President has to be reelected each year to include the newly eligible voters? (Not a perfect analogy, but still.) Elliot (talk) 17:25, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
That's a terrible analogy. Presidents are re-elected, every four years. Part of the reason for that is the changing electorate, so it sounds like you're now supporting rpeh's proposal. 18:05, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
Which is why I said every year. Elliot (talk) 18:30, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This has been discussed a couple previous times on UESP (Things That Need to Happen; De-adminship for inactive admins). However, I refused to participate in either of those discussions because I had many reasons to suspect the discussions were primarily intended to disrupt the community. I'm responding this time because the proposal was initiated by a respected member of the community and therefore deserves a full response. The length is because I'd like to summarize my opinion for once and for all, and also probably because there's some amount of accumulated back log from my past non-contributions.
On Wikipedia, this is tagged as a perennial proposal -- two, in fact Demote inactive admins and Reconfirm administrators -- which they've discussed and rejected multiple times. There are links at WP leading to several very long discussions covering nearly every possible opinion; FWIW, this poll seems to provide the most complete list of arguments and counterarguments. WP's summary of the counterargument basically describes my main reactions:
In general, this policy has been opposed both by administrators who themselves tend to go through periods of inactivity and do not wish to be forced to maintain token levels of activity to maintain adminship, and by people who believe that there is no substantive security concern. The developers have pointed out that an active account is in far greater danger of becoming compromised than an inactive account. A side effect is that this may raise a barrier for inactive admins to become active again.
I'd be tempted to leave my response at that, except that UESP is not Wikipedia. I also think my recent experiences provide useful examples of this policy's implications -- examples that have more direct relevance to UESP than Wikipedia's examples.
While mandatory re-elections might be a bad idea on Wikipedia, I think the specifics of UESP mean that they would be even worse here. Two specific reasons are:
  • On UESP there are constantly comments / complaints about the shortage of available admins. At UESP's size, we'll probably always be at risk of gaps in admin coverage. A policy to arbitrarily remove admins will inevitably lead to a situation where a vandal cannot be blocked because the only available person is a recently-returned admin who has lost his/her privileges for no reason other than being absent from the site at the wrong time. Therefore, I'm certain this policy will harm the site, while also seeing no apparent benefit.
  • Perhaps I'm an optimist, but I'm convinced TESV is going to be released -- and then be followed by one, maybe two, expansions. Which means UESP policies can't ignore the implications of the instant chaos produced by the release of a new game/expansion. It's obvious that the number of UESP editors will go up dramatically -- not just new editors, but also many old editors and admins are likely to return. Furthermore, my experience with SI's release says that a significant fraction of the previously active editors are likely to leave, scale back their contributions, or avoid the new game's namespace -- after all, we all want to play the game before learning spoilers from UESP. Which is a long-winded lead-in to the main point: a very likely time for inactive admins to reappear is after the release of a new game. At which point, UESP is likely to be desperate for experienced editors, in particular admins. Furthermore, any nomination under such conditions is likely to be nearly superficial -- a ton of new members; no time for anyone to properly research/evaluate the nomination -- or at least far less meaningful than their original nomination. In which case, how does a new nomination accomplish anything useful? I don't want our hands to be tied by policy written under the assumption that there's always time to leisurely repeat an approval process.
Beyond that, I personally think that my recent experiences provide a perfect example of why this is a bad idea. Basically, this proposal means that I would have had no admin powers when I returned to the wiki a few weeks ago. Suggesting I should be exempt, as in a previous comment, seems somewhat meaningless. First, my experience could just as easily happen to a regular admin -- I'm bringing this up as an example, after all. Second, I don't think I'd want to be exempt. Passing such a policy would be a statement that the majority of the community needs first-hand interaction with an admin before the admin can be trusted and, furthermore, that trust must be explicitly given. My additional user rights mean that the community's trust is even more important: because there is no log monitoring my server activities, I can't provide distrustful editors with evidence if questions arise. Yet somehow this supposedly critical need to review all admins doesn't apply to me?
Therefore, during these last couple weeks I would have, for example, been unable to do any of the blocks listed in the logs. In many of those cases the vandals/spammers would have been left unblocked for hours, because there have been several occasions when I have been the only available admin, sometimes for half of the day.
Furthermore, the practical reality is that this proposal would imply that I'd be unlikely to be restored as admin until about July (in my particular situation any renewal of my server access might not be possible until September, but I'll stick to what would apply to any admin).
Why so long? First, it would be at least a month before I would even start a new admin request. A small factor is that I wouldn't want to waste anyone's time with the request until I felt confident I had really returned. Far more importantly is that the entire point of the proposal is for the admin to be approved by the currently active wiki members -- and the majority of those members know nothing about me. They would need a month to have a fair chance of participating in any admin nomination. Even now, the newer editors impression of me is probably based primarily on my admin-type activities. Without my admin privileges, they'd be forced to base their opinions largely on a series of edits to obscure Oblivion Mod:Save File Format subpages -- a year's worth of such edits might not even be enough ;)
Second, in past cases it has taken as long as 47 days (for Timenn) from the time a nomination starts to the time it is made effective; a 20-day interval seems typical. Policies about UESP admins can't ignore the fact that UESP adminship requests do not, and probably never will, happen overnight. Daveh has never been involved in UESPWiki on a daily basis -- which I think is probably essential as part of Daveh's long-term commitment to ensure that UESP stays alive for years to come.
Which is why I say it realistically will be two months from the time an ex-admin returns before that admin can return to helping with admin duties. Two months during which they could otherwise be helping out -- and providing new editors with direct evidence that they're trustworthy, which is far more meaningful as evidence than any nomination discussion.
Furthermore, there's the real possibility that de-adminship would discourage an admin from returning to UESP -- and, no, not out of spite at losing their privileges. Two primary motivations for my return to the site were to (a) help cover any admin shortages and (b) help with issues that need server access. Take away my privileges, and I would have felt like there was little reason to return -- I'd feel more productive pursuing other projects/interests. Alternatively, ex-admins might find it easier to simply start a new account -- why go back to the old account with its inevitable baggage/dirty laundry if you have to effectively start over again no matter what? Either way, someone who was once considered to be one of the most valuable members of the community is effectively lost permanently instead of temporarily.
For the record, I'm not the only example of an admin returning after a lengthy absence -- Eshe, for example, was active for several months last year after a year-plus absence. Her return, and her ability to act as an admin when she returned, unequivocally helped the site. Again, a case where this policy would have harmed the site without any justification.
In general, if any of the people on the inactive admin list were to return tomorrow, I would welcome the help, unconditionally. Of course that's true of the admins with whom I've worked in the past. But it's also true of Garrett and Endareth, both of whom had basically left the site before I became actively involved. First and foremost, I trust Daveh, and therefore I'm willing to trust his selections. To some extent, insisting that I be given the right to reapprove decisions about Garrett and Endareth would be comparable to insisting that Krusty's nomination be redone just because I wasn't here when the vote was made. In both cases, I trust the people who made the decision, and therefore see no reason to question the decision unless I have some type of evidence to the contrary. Beyond that, their entire wiki contribution history can be reviewed by anyone who is interested -- not to mention their contributions to other wikis (e.g., is Garrett is an admin at Wikipedia and a bureaucrat at StrategyWiki). In every case, I trust the inactive admin's judgment to determine the best course of action upon returning: whether to simply step down; whether to voluntarily seek re-nomination; whether site policies need to be learned/re-learned; whether he/she is ready to just dive straight in; or any other possibility.
As far as arguments comparing admin nominations to political elections, they're fallacious, besides the obvious Wikipedia is not a democracy guideline. There is no limit on the number of possible wiki admins. Since keeping inactive admins on the list does nothing to prevent new admins from being added, regular re-elections are not a necessary mechanism for guaranteeing turnover. Furthermore, politicians are elected based in large part on their agenda -- their opinions on specific issues and whether voters agree with those opinions. Issues change, politicians' opinions change, and voters' opinions change, so re-elections are necessary. On the other hand, admins are approved primarily based on their impartiality and whether they can be trusted to enforce wiki policy -- characteristics that don't change overnight. The basic facts in each year's re-election would be largely the same, with the potential for the "discussion" to be dominated by comments stating effectively "Support: see original nomination".
I don't see any inherent value to periodically polling current site members about the admins, inactive or active. We don't put every policy on the site up for re-election periodically, or throw out old policies simply because the people who contributed to the original discussion are no longer active. Instead members are free to start discussions about any policy if they feel something needs to be changed, clarified, or revoked. I think the policy system works, and I think that same basic system also works for admins. Furthermore, based on Wikipedia is not a democracy, the purpose of nomination discussions is not to hold a vote. We don't insist that any fixed number or percentage of current members must state their opinion before closing the discussion. We don't tally the numbers and declare a winner; there have even been cases on Wikipedia where admin nominees received more opposing than supporting "votes" but yet were still give the adminship. Instead the discussion is about getting a representative range of opinions, and, ideally, reaching a unanimous community consensus. In other words, the specific names attached to the opinions aren't what matter, so a new set of names doesn't need to be added to the opinions.
No arguments that have been presented demonstrating how or why re-elections would benefit the community. The primary visible effect of such re-elections would be the constant required discussions -- regardless of whether anyone in the community has anything to say or even has any interest in the discussion. And the only changes that I see coming out of such discussions have many potential ways of harming the site. So why keep bringing it up? --NepheleTalk 15:57, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
I think the arguments are clear and that you are the one making fallacious arguments. Your point about Krusty's election misses the point impressively. Under this proposal, you would get a chance to vote on Krusty's role - in just under a year's time. You say that admins' characteristics that don't change overnight, so you are admitting that they can and do change. With no mechanism for renewal, there is no opportunity for people to decide if the changes are beneficial or not. 18:05, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
If an administrator needs to be reevaluated, then a discussion can take place (which has happened before, such as rpeh's case). There is no reason to create problems where there are none. Elliot (talk) 18:30, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
There are problems. Having unelected administrators and other administrators who have not received the support of current site members is an anomalous situation. Let's take your bad analogy and use it in a more sensible way. I don't have to put up with a president I never voted for because I get a chance to vote every four years. On UESP I have to put up with whatever administrators people I have never heard of decided to elect/appoint. And knock off this "suspiciously anonymous" crap in your edit summaries. I don't believe UESP has any policy that prevents me from expressing my opinions anonymously. If I was voting, I'd use my name, but I'm not. I'm commenting because I agree with rpeh's proposal. 19:10, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose I'm changing my vote because I hadn't realized that these would be periodic; I had thought that this was a one time thing limited to admins that had not received (widespread) concensus as such their elections had not had a representative cross-section of the wiki community. You would have kept your admin rights also; the proposer stated that inactive admins returning would keep their rights for a month or two to allow everyone to become comfortable with this persons editing style.--TheAlbinoOrc 16:57, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose My vote shouldn't matter here. I believe that my worth in this community has greatly diminished since I stopped (unofficially) patrolling and paying attention. I'm not unpopular, but the idea of giving someone with no time or invested effort any more responsibility is without reason. If we consider the efforts which many of our current and past admins have given freely to the community, we find that even with sufficient cause to demote them, they still hold a great influence on the community if not by their past deeds, then by their continuing contributions.
Achieving authority in this group project shouldn't be by popularity. We contribute because we love to, and we take on responsibility when we need to. We work best as a culture of deeds. By proving that we can handle a job and fulfill its duties, we attain respect and trust. When the power structure is reversed, and we let the new recruits promote us rather than the boss, we have well respected contributers without the proportionate voice in proper decision making and people like me telling everyone what to do. There wouldn't be proper trust in authority. We would also have a bit more drive and possibly destructive activity from those seeking personal gain instead of site improvements.
Now I'm just providing some (hopefully lucid) feedback. I can only imagine the horrors which an evil admin could incur upon this centralized project which has had random server problems in the past including the smoking backup server. Without piling elections on to the worry-plates of our currently underfunded admins, let's get some more bigshot patrollers who can be admins in a few bagillion good edits. As for when the trusted authority goes against the grain of the community, there really is only the respect of feats which gives them that power, if leadership goes where the community is not willing to follow, we simply loose the community which hasn't invested so much in the project and might take another project the way they want to go. I think there are enough policies about ranks of admins/patrollers already without elections. Lukish_ Tlk Cnt 19:26, 5 June 2010 (UTC)