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STOWiki talk:Policy/Admin selection/Archive

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This is an archive of STOWiki talk:Policy/Admin selection.

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There has been a small amount of discussion about coming up with an admin selection process that would, at a minimum, give the community a voice in choosing admins. At this point, having the community choose admins through a vote has been not ruled out (or for that matter, even discussed yet, leaving it very much on the table).

The process I'm most familiar with is GuildWiki's RfA process, having participated in a few of its votes. Note that while this policy involves a community vote, the admins still have final say whether an potential admin actually gets promoted. I have very mixed feelings on this point, which I'll discuss more later. Right now, I just want to get the discussion started. (I'll also probably write a draft policy for discussion later this week.) Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 17:42, 27 March 2012 (UTC)

I have no real preference. The only opinion I have, having it happen to me a number of times, is having such a position dumped on a person without them being asked first. That needs to not happen. Even asking first before being nominated would be a plus but not sure if that's possible in this kind of environment since we have no way of contacting one another except in a public manner. --Drmike 19:26, 27 March 2012 (UTC)
Well that's just an obvious courtesy that should happen whether it's written in the policy or not. Although in my opinion, the nomination would count as "asking", since the nominee is given an opportunity to respond with their decision to accept or decline the nomination.
"...we have no way of contacting one another except in a public manner." There's Special:EmailUser/<username>. It does require that both you and the user you want to contact have entered an email address in your preferences, but it is an available method for private communication. —Dr Ishmael User Dr ishmael Diablo the chicken.gif 20:38, 27 March 2012 (UTC)
the nomination would count as "asking"
Um, yeah. Dr Ishmael you're now running my support forums as my newly nominated moderator. There's 300 open forums threads. Have fun. :D
Oh and you're not getting paid or receiving any extra benefits. Have fun. :D --Drmike 23:51, 27 March 2012 (UTC)
That's promotion or assignment, not nomination. I have no objection to adding a requirement to attempt to contact the person privately first, but as you said, that isn't always an option.
And why would a site where we're all volunteers want to dump admin status on someone who doesn't want it. I've already said it once, and I'll say it again. I don't support that, and I'd vote against any policy that includes the possibility of a forced promotion. I also doubt anyone else in the community would support that, so unless someone wants to speak up who disagrees, I don't think this is a dead horse that needs any further beating. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 12:04, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
You opened this up for discussion. Please take this discussion seriously. Your dead horse has happened to me nearly a dozen times over the years. wordpress.com, wordpress.org, V7N (twice), digitalpoint, WHT, webhosts that I have had accounts at and a number of other places online. All of those without any sort of notification, warning or "Do you want to do this?" ahead of time. Considering I work under a number of NDAs and other agreements where even a hint of conflict would cause legal concerns and bills, this is a concern. I'm sorry you don't understand that.
Please note that we've suggested a possible means of private contact, that we've both agreed this is an important courtesy, and I've already agreed to make a required attempt at private contact before nomination part of the policy draft. If you can still somehow make an argument that we're not taking this seriously, I don't see how. Until someone actually disagrees, I fail to see how this point needs any further discussion. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 14:58, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
Eyes is right, that's not a nomination. Nomination is, "I think Drmike would make a great sysop, let's vote to promote him!" after which you can say, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" and you don't get promoted. —Dr Ishmael User Dr ishmael Diablo the chicken.gif 14:34, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
You'll note that even GuildWiki's policy has the user being notified as the last step in the process. --Drmike 14:20, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
That is not the last step in the complete process - that is the last step in the process of opening the RfA. After that, the nominee gets to accept/decline, the community votes on the RfA, and only after all of that will the admins make their final decision to promote or not.
I think what's confusing you is that GuildWiki doesn't document every single little detail in their policies. We allowed processes to grow naturally in the day-to-day running of the wiki, then documented those processes as policies, rather than writing the policy first in order to dictate the required process. —Dr Ishmael User Dr ishmael Diablo the chicken.gif 15:05, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
For a better perspective of the complete process, looking at one of the archived RfAs is better. I see now I should have linked to one of those from the beginning. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 15:29, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

Choice by outright vote or admin decision

As I mention above, I have mixed feelings on the final decision being left to the admin team.

Case for admin selection

It has certain advantages, especially on a small wiki. A community vote could potentially be easily subverted, and giving the admins the ability to override a vote helps us to perform a key part of our role: protecting the community and the wiki from abuse.

Example: Despite being in the sitenotice on two different occasions, on the Project:Community portal page, and two different times on Project talk:Community portal, it took more than two months just to get the minimum number of votes needed for our new deletion policy to pass. I then realized I could have easily then just let it quietly win, but I didn't like the implications of allowing it to win "by stealth", so to speak. (That's why I put it in the sitenotice a second time.)

It's not hard to imagine someone nominating themselves, accepting, and getting some friends to make the minimum needed votes, and then letting the minimum time pass quietly. There are similar concerns, like only a particular part of a community making any real votes. Admins having the power to overrule a vote lets us protect the community from abusive votes or ones that don't seem to reflect a broad community viewpoint.

Case for community vote

We'll get the obvious out of the way quickly: there's nothing saying admins might act in bad faith, but I think this isn't the real concern. (If we were likely to act in bad faith, we'd be less likely to get selected in the first place.) No, the bigger problem is the risk that we convince ourselves we're acting to protect the community or the wiki when we override a vote when we're really just forcing our conceptions about how the wiki should work on others.

I've seen it happen with a vote on GuildWiki. I want to note that I don't hold any hard feelings against the bureaucrat who chose to overrule the vote (even though I supported the candidate's promotion myself), because I can understand exactly how he ended up talking himself into believing she wasn't suited for the kind of wiki culture we had there. (The bureaucrat eventually changed his mind as well.) I certainly can't promise I'd be immune to the same kind of thing; part of being human is not always being able to recognize your own biases. And this doesn't just happen on a personal level; a few people can easily talk each other into sharing the same bias.

A third option?

The question I need to ask then, is a third option preferable, and if so, what form should it take? There are lots of possibilities, and none of them are going to be perfect, so it's up to us to decide what risks we're willing to live with in choosing new admins. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 13:59, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

The case I'd make against the community-vote-only option is the same that you seem to be making against the policy change system with your italicized example: the community is too small and doesn't have enough interest in the administrative details of the wiki to satisfy an arbitrary vote threshold. I would rather decisions be made based on informed opinions from 2-3 users than on a simple vote that barely reaches the minimum number of responses. The ideal situation is both: allow a community vote, but also encourage discussion of the issue, which happens to be the way RfAs are supposed to work.
Also, I think it's simply a smart idea to allow an administrative override of any community "vote," as long as said override is discussed and decided on by a majority of the active admin team. (I'm not as completely buggered by the idea of community votes as someone like, say, Auron, but I do recognize that a simple up/down vote can never fully reflect the nuances in the community.) In the case you point out on GuildWiki, the bureaucrat made the decision on his own (against a community vote of 15-1) without consulting the sysops at all. I would have raised a stink about that if I weren't taking a wiki vacation at the time due to a personal feud with said bcrat. —Dr Ishmael User Dr ishmael Diablo the chicken.gif 15:34, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
In the outline you posted, I have a problem with the wording of step 5: "The admins decide whether to override the community vote." The process implied here is that a) the vote = the decision, and b) the admins have veto power on that decision. A better way to think of the process, and how it works on GuildWiki, is a) the decision always rests with the admins, with b) the community able to influence this decision through the RfA process. Some wikis don't include a vote on the RfA at all in order to clarify this; on the other hand, a vote is more accessible for people who don't feel like taking the time to participate in a discussion.
A better wording would be, "The admins make the decision to promote or not, taking account of the community's opinions as expressed in the RfA." —Dr Ishmael User Dr ishmael Diablo the chicken.gif 18:01, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
How about having current Admin say before the vote. Community nominates Joe. Joe accepts. Admin team decides if they think Joe might make a good admin or not. If not, Notify community nomination rejected by admins, give reason, move on. If accepted, go to vote, vote results binding. --Svpaladin 14:25, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
The purpose of the RfA (the vote and discussion) is to gather community opinion on the nomination in order to help the admins make a better decision. Without it, the admins may not be familiar enough with the nominee to make a well-informed decision. —Dr Ishmael User Dr ishmael Diablo the chicken.gif 14:41, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
I'd suggest, that a community vote is binding, unless a majority of admins casts a veto. That way we would have the option to stop obvious misuse of the nomination procedure while on the other hand we cannot instate new admins without community support. Regards, --RachelGarrett 11:07, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
If we do make such a change spelling out how the administrators' part in this goes, then we'll need a reasonable definition for an active administrator in the policy. That's part of the reason the current language in the draft is not specific as to hpw administrators make the decision--to avoid having to lock ourselves in on a point like that. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 12:32, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
What you describe is really no different from what I proposed, except in the language used. Allowing the admins to veto a supposedly binding vote defeats the purpose of calling it "binding" in the first place, and then you're left with the admins making a consensus decision based on the community's input.
Ideas like "majority" and "binding vote" really shouldn't be used in wiki policies, as they do nothing but place restrictions on how the wiki can function. Policies should not be used to restrict anything; rather, they should enable the community to do things more efficiently.
Remember that a policy is not a law - it doesn't have to go into specific detail on how every conceivable situation should be handled, unless there is a very specific and very obvious need for such. Since this policy is introducing a new method of admin selection that this wiki has not used before, there is no need for it to be restrictive in any way.
Admittedly, open-ended policies have the potential to create disagreements when people interpret them differently - but restrictive policies can also create disagreements when a situation comes up that doesn't fit into the detailed rules of the policy. In my experience, the open-ended approach is preferable as it allows the community to re-interpret policy when necessary in order to adapt to new situations, instead of going through the lengthy process of revising the policy itself (like we're doing right now). The new interpretations can often lead to revisions of the policy, but in that case the consensus has already been reached and the policy update should be quick and painless.
Wow, I hadn't intended to get into such a long-winded discussion of meta-policy here. TL;DR - I feel that language like "binding vote," "majority," and "veto" is unnecessarily restrictive. —Dr Ishmael User Dr ishmael Diablo the chicken.gif 14:46, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
This idea also has one significant difference beyond specificity: it would disallow us from promoting anyone without a supporting community vote. I haven't had time to think over the ramifications of that and don't have an opinion either way yet. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 15:01, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
What about a case where the nominee is generally held in good regard and would probably make a good admin, but another user holds a grudge against him and gathers some other users to vote in opposition, and the vote ends up being very close, e.g. 4-6? The restrictive version would let the bully win and prevent this nominee from being accepted. The open version would give the admins the opportunity to recognize that the ballot had been stuffed and promote the nominee anyway.
I guess the real issue under debate here is where the "power" resides - with the admins or with the community - and whether the group with the power can be trusted to use it responsibly. The irony is that the admins in this discussion (Rachel and Eyes) are advocating for giving power to the community, whereas the non-admin (myself) wants to give it to the admins! —Dr Ishmael User Dr ishmael Diablo the chicken.gif 15:39, 23 April 2012 (UTC)

(Reset indent) This isn't the first time I've encountered this irony here. But, after consideration, I believe the case for leaving selection power with us is solid. Even though admins can abuse it, that should be less likely than some random members of the community coming in and abusing some accidental loophole. The fact that all new admins will have to do this should decrease the likelihood of getting someone who will abuse this power in the first place.

So I support either leaving the draft policy as written, or if the community prefers, perhaps we could try to make the spirit of the policy more clear in the final section. At least that way, the community would be encouraged to call out any obvious abuse and we'd be discouraged from going against the community vote unless we believe there was something legitimately wrong with it. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 08:59, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Seeing that there has been no discussion here since April despite the sitenotice linking to it since before then, should we consider the current draft policy? KarikaCommunicator 19:41, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

I was thinking of holding the vote on this at the same time we vote on the skin. It might get more attention that way. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 06:06, 8 July 2012 (UTC)