Friendliness: a radical proposal

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Friendliness: a radical proposal

Neil Harris
Thesis:

The main reason why Wikipedia seems unfriendly to beginners is the
reduction in the assumption of good faith. A lot of this could be
resolved simply by creating large numbers of new admins. This should be
done automatically. So why not just do it?

Argument and proposal:

Many admins and edit patrollers find themselves forced into an
aggressive stance in order to keep up with the firehose of issues that
need to be dealt with, a surprising amount of which is fueled by
deliberate malice and stupidity and actually does require an aggressive
and proactive response.

This is not the admins' fault. The major reason for this is the broken
RfA process, which has slowed the creation of new admins to a trickle,
and has led to an admin shortage, which in turn has led to the current
whack-a-mole attitude to new editors, and a reduction in the ability to
assume good faith.

I'd like to move back to an older era, where adminship was "no big
deal", and was allocated to any reasonably polite and competent editor,
instead of requiring them to in effect run for political office.

If, say, over the next three years, we could double the number of
admins, we could halve the individual admin's workload, and give them
more a lot more time for assuming good faith. And, with the lesser
workload and more good faith, there will be a lot less aggression
required, and that will trickle outwards throughout the entire community.

I can't see any reason why this shouldn't be done by an semi-automated
process, completely removing the existing broken RfA process.

Now it might be argued that this is a bad idea, because adminship
confers too much power in one go.  If so, the admin bit could be broken
out into a base "new admin" role, and a set of specific extra "old
admin" powers which can be granted automatically to all admins in good
standing, after a period of perhaps a year. For an example of the kind
of power restrictions I have in mind, perhaps base new admins might be
able to deliver blocks of up to a month only, with the capability of
longer blocks arriving when they have had the admin bit for long enough.

All existing admins would be grandfathered in as "old admins" in this
scheme, with no change in their powers. Every new admin should be
granted the full "old admin" powers automatically after one year, unless
they've done something so bad as to be worthy of stripping their admin
bit completely.

None of this should be presented as a rank or status system -- there
should only be "new admins", and "old admins" with the only distinction
being the length they have been wielding their powers -- admin "ageism"
should be a specifically taboo activity.

Now, we could quite easily use a computer program to make a
pre-qualified list of editors who have edited a wide variety of pages,
interacted with other users, avoided recent blocks, etc. etc., and then
from time to time send a randomly chosen subset of them a message that
they can now ask any "old admin" to turn on their admin bit, with this
request expected not to be unreasonably withheld, provided their edits
are recognizably human in nature. (The reason why "new admins" should
not be able to create other admins is to prevent the creation of armies
of sockpuppet sleeper admin accounts riding on top of this process -- a
year of competent adminning should suffice as a Turing test.)

So: unless there is a good reason not to, why not do this?

-- Neil


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Re: Friendliness: a radical proposal

theo10011
On Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 11:43 PM, Neil Harris <[hidden email]>wrote:

> Thesis:
>
> The main reason why Wikipedia seems unfriendly to beginners is the
> reduction in the assumption of good faith. A lot of this could be
> resolved simply by creating large numbers of new admins. This should be
> done automatically. So why not just do it?
>
> Argument and proposal:
>
> Many admins and edit patrollers find themselves forced into an
> aggressive stance in order to keep up with the firehose of issues that
> need to be dealt with, a surprising amount of which is fueled by
> deliberate malice and stupidity and actually does require an aggressive
> and proactive response.
>
> This is not the admins' fault. The major reason for this is the broken
> RfA process, which has slowed the creation of new admins to a trickle,
> and has led to an admin shortage, which in turn has led to the current
> whack-a-mole attitude to new editors, and a reduction in the ability to
> assume good faith.
>
> I'd like to move back to an older era, where adminship was "no big
> deal", and was allocated to any reasonably polite and competent editor,
> instead of requiring them to in effect run for political office.
>
> If, say, over the next three years, we could double the number of
> admins, we could halve the individual admin's workload, and give them
> more a lot more time for assuming good faith. And, with the lesser
> workload and more good faith, there will be a lot less aggression
> required, and that will trickle outwards throughout the entire community.
>
> I can't see any reason why this shouldn't be done by an semi-automated
> process, completely removing the existing broken RfA process.
>
> Now it might be argued that this is a bad idea, because adminship
> confers too much power in one go.  If so, the admin bit could be broken
> out into a base "new admin" role, and a set of specific extra "old
> admin" powers which can be granted automatically to all admins in good
> standing, after a period of perhaps a year. For an example of the kind
> of power restrictions I have in mind, perhaps base new admins might be
> able to deliver blocks of up to a month only, with the capability of
> longer blocks arriving when they have had the admin bit for long enough.
>
> All existing admins would be grandfathered in as "old admins" in this
> scheme, with no change in their powers. Every new admin should be
> granted the full "old admin" powers automatically after one year, unless
> they've done something so bad as to be worthy of stripping their admin
> bit completely.
>
> None of this should be presented as a rank or status system -- there
> should only be "new admins", and "old admins" with the only distinction
> being the length they have been wielding their powers -- admin "ageism"
> should be a specifically taboo activity.
>
> Now, we could quite easily use a computer program to make a
> pre-qualified list of editors who have edited a wide variety of pages,
> interacted with other users, avoided recent blocks, etc. etc., and then
> from time to time send a randomly chosen subset of them a message that
> they can now ask any "old admin" to turn on their admin bit, with this
> request expected not to be unreasonably withheld, provided their edits
> are recognizably human in nature. (The reason why "new admins" should
> not be able to create other admins is to prevent the creation of armies
> of sockpuppet sleeper admin accounts riding on top of this process -- a
> year of competent adminning should suffice as a Turing test.)
>
> So: unless there is a good reason not to, why not do this?
>
> -- Neil
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l



I think those are two separate issues. I don't think having a large number
of admins would have an effect on apparent friendliness to beginners, if I
had to guess I would say having more admins would probably increase the
degree of alienation. Admins do a lot of janitorial tasks, having more would
prob. increase the administrative activity. This is in addition to having
new admins who wouldn't have been properly vetted by the community, which
would bring in new and unknown admins into the equation. There is an another
school of thought, who believe that some admins might be the problem.
Beginners might not be able to separate or understand that an admins actions
is isolated and doesn't represent the larger community, they're probably
unaware of possible recourse available to them after an administrative
action.

The second problem is the current RfA process, which I agree has been
getting really restrictive for genuine candidates. I saw people oppose
deserving candidates for the most trivial of reasons, from a single userbox
to not being descriptive enough in edit summaries. I agree that we need to
reconsider the current RfA process, the number of new admins has been
falling steadily. I would support going back to the old days when adminship
wasn't a big deal, but it has to be restricted to deserving candidates. The
current standards don't need to be applied so stringently in my opinion.

As for the tool to inform eligible candidates, I believe there might be
something similar already available to find qualifying candidates, using a
bot to inform eligible candidates is not the issue. Its the current RfA
process thats intimidating to editors. Dividing the Admin bit in two has
probably already been considered to some extent, the rollbacker rights on
en.wp might be an example. I think we need more admins and to a certain
degree, they need to go through some community vetting but not at the
current level of scrutiny.


Theo
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Re: Friendliness: a radical proposal

Raul Gutierrez
In reply to this post by Neil Harris
Greetings all. I have been monitoring exchanges regularly, but never felt
the urge to respond to any topic, here is my first.

As a beginner, I found Wikipedia, in addition to unfriendly, very abstract
and complex.

Wikipedia Spanish has a problem with editors, and I can see in the text
below some of the things I have experienced, where is why:

I am a big archaeology fan and decided to undertake a personal project,
enhancing the quality of archaeology articles, mainly because I noticed that
many articles did not exist in Spanish or in English.

What was worst was that many articles exist in English and not in Spanish,
naively I set out to fix some of it, by investigating, researching and
adding bilingual articles, in some cases simply translating from English and
a few from German, Italian, etc. So I guess I found the reason why there are
far too few Spanish articles.

At a point in time, I encountered empowered and authoritarian Spanish text
editors that vandalized my contributions, deleted articles, made Wikipedia
rules on the go, etc., and offered no explanations. The last resort measure
I had was to stop creating Spanish articles. In English, however it has been
a pleasure, I have found people very proactive, friendly, helpful, etc. For
details about my contributions and comments, see my user page, under
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Gumr51. I have a lot of time to research
on my personal project, however very little time or interest in arguing or
engaging in sterile debates with Text Editors, that I have no clue who they
are, what is their knowledge, or actual interest are, since the environment
is very impersonal, few even provide their real name.

Since this is voluntary work, I would have liked or expected for the text
editors to advise or comment on problems they encountered, I spent a few
weeks last year asking for help and advice, I did get support in English,
but not in Spanish.

I believe that in addition to "quality" text editors and their "power
levels", somebody may require to qualify the editors expertise in the
content of articles, beyond the Wikipedia rules.

I will continue adding English archaeological articles.

Regards from a frustrated Mexican bilingual "Wikipedian",

Raul Gutierrez


-----Original Message-----
From: [hidden email]
[mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Neil Harris
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2011 12:13 PM
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
Subject: [Foundation-l] Friendliness: a radical proposal

Thesis:

The main reason why Wikipedia seems unfriendly to beginners is the reduction
in the assumption of good faith. A lot of this could be resolved simply by
creating large numbers of new admins. This should be done automatically. So
why not just do it?

Argument and proposal:

Many admins and edit patrollers find themselves forced into an aggressive
stance in order to keep up with the firehose of issues that need to be dealt
with, a surprising amount of which is fueled by deliberate malice and
stupidity and actually does require an aggressive and proactive response.

This is not the admins' fault. The major reason for this is the broken RfA
process, which has slowed the creation of new admins to a trickle, and has
led to an admin shortage, which in turn has led to the current whack-a-mole
attitude to new editors, and a reduction in the ability to assume good
faith.

I'd like to move back to an older era, where adminship was "no big deal",
and was allocated to any reasonably polite and competent editor, instead of
requiring them to in effect run for political office.

If, say, over the next three years, we could double the number of admins, we
could halve the individual admin's workload, and give them more a lot more
time for assuming good faith. And, with the lesser workload and more good
faith, there will be a lot less aggression required, and that will trickle
outwards throughout the entire community.

I can't see any reason why this shouldn't be done by an semi-automated
process, completely removing the existing broken RfA process.

Now it might be argued that this is a bad idea, because adminship confers
too much power in one go.  If so, the admin bit could be broken out into a
base "new admin" role, and a set of specific extra "old admin" powers which
can be granted automatically to all admins in good standing, after a period
of perhaps a year. For an example of the kind of power restrictions I have
in mind, perhaps base new admins might be able to deliver blocks of up to a
month only, with the capability of longer blocks arriving when they have had
the admin bit for long enough.

All existing admins would be grandfathered in as "old admins" in this
scheme, with no change in their powers. Every new admin should be granted
the full "old admin" powers automatically after one year, unless they've
done something so bad as to be worthy of stripping their admin bit
completely.

None of this should be presented as a rank or status system -- there should
only be "new admins", and "old admins" with the only distinction being the
length they have been wielding their powers -- admin "ageism"
should be a specifically taboo activity.

Now, we could quite easily use a computer program to make a pre-qualified
list of editors who have edited a wide variety of pages, interacted with
other users, avoided recent blocks, etc. etc., and then from time to time
send a randomly chosen subset of them a message that they can now ask any
"old admin" to turn on their admin bit, with this request expected not to be
unreasonably withheld, provided their edits are recognizably human in
nature. (The reason why "new admins" should not be able to create other
admins is to prevent the creation of armies of sockpuppet sleeper admin
accounts riding on top of this process -- a year of competent adminning
should suffice as a Turing test.)

So: unless there is a good reason not to, why not do this?

-- Neil


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foundation-l mailing list
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Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l


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Re: Friendliness: a radical proposal

Fred Bauder-2
Only people who are fluent in Spanish have a prayer of solving problems
on the Spanish Wikipedia. Somebody's got to grasp the nettle, maybe not
you, but somebody, actually a determined group of somebodies. Faith...

Fred

> Greetings all. I have been monitoring exchanges regularly, but never felt
> the urge to respond to any topic, here is my first.
>
> As a beginner, I found Wikipedia, in addition to unfriendly, very
> abstract
> and complex.
>
> Wikipedia Spanish has a problem with editors, and I can see in the text
> below some of the things I have experienced, where is why:
>
> I am a big archaeology fan and decided to undertake a personal project,
> enhancing the quality of archaeology articles, mainly because I noticed
> that
> many articles did not exist in Spanish or in English.
>
> What was worst was that many articles exist in English and not in
> Spanish,
> naively I set out to fix some of it, by investigating, researching and
> adding bilingual articles, in some cases simply translating from English
> and
> a few from German, Italian, etc. So I guess I found the reason why there
> are
> far too few Spanish articles.
>
> At a point in time, I encountered empowered and authoritarian Spanish
> text
> editors that vandalized my contributions, deleted articles, made
> Wikipedia
> rules on the go, etc., and offered no explanations. The last resort
> measure
> I had was to stop creating Spanish articles. In English, however it has
> been
> a pleasure, I have found people very proactive, friendly, helpful, etc.
> For
> details about my contributions and comments, see my user page, under
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Gumr51. I have a lot of time to
> research
> on my personal project, however very little time or interest in arguing
> or
> engaging in sterile debates with Text Editors, that I have no clue who
> they
> are, what is their knowledge, or actual interest are, since the
> environment
> is very impersonal, few even provide their real name.
>
> Since this is voluntary work, I would have liked or expected for the text
> editors to advise or comment on problems they encountered, I spent a few
> weeks last year asking for help and advice, I did get support in English,
> but not in Spanish.
>
> I believe that in addition to "quality" text editors and their "power
> levels", somebody may require to qualify the editors expertise in the
> content of articles, beyond the Wikipedia rules.
>
> I will continue adding English archaeological articles.
>
> Regards from a frustrated Mexican bilingual "Wikipedian",
>
> Raul Gutierrez
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [hidden email]
> [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Neil
> Harris
> Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2011 12:13 PM
> To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
> Subject: [Foundation-l] Friendliness: a radical proposal
>
> Thesis:
>
> The main reason why Wikipedia seems unfriendly to beginners is the
> reduction
> in the assumption of good faith. A lot of this could be resolved simply
> by
> creating large numbers of new admins. This should be done automatically.
> So
> why not just do it?
>
> Argument and proposal:
>
> Many admins and edit patrollers find themselves forced into an aggressive
> stance in order to keep up with the firehose of issues that need to be
> dealt
> with, a surprising amount of which is fueled by deliberate malice and
> stupidity and actually does require an aggressive and proactive response.
>
> This is not the admins' fault. The major reason for this is the broken
> RfA
> process, which has slowed the creation of new admins to a trickle, and
> has
> led to an admin shortage, which in turn has led to the current
> whack-a-mole
> attitude to new editors, and a reduction in the ability to assume good
> faith.
>
> I'd like to move back to an older era, where adminship was "no big deal",
> and was allocated to any reasonably polite and competent editor, instead
> of
> requiring them to in effect run for political office.
>
> If, say, over the next three years, we could double the number of admins,
> we
> could halve the individual admin's workload, and give them more a lot
> more
> time for assuming good faith. And, with the lesser workload and more good
> faith, there will be a lot less aggression required, and that will
> trickle
> outwards throughout the entire community.
>
> I can't see any reason why this shouldn't be done by an semi-automated
> process, completely removing the existing broken RfA process.
>
> Now it might be argued that this is a bad idea, because adminship confers
> too much power in one go.  If so, the admin bit could be broken out into
> a
> base "new admin" role, and a set of specific extra "old admin" powers
> which
> can be granted automatically to all admins in good standing, after a
> period
> of perhaps a year. For an example of the kind of power restrictions I
> have
> in mind, perhaps base new admins might be able to deliver blocks of up to
> a
> month only, with the capability of longer blocks arriving when they have
> had
> the admin bit for long enough.
>
> All existing admins would be grandfathered in as "old admins" in this
> scheme, with no change in their powers. Every new admin should be granted
> the full "old admin" powers automatically after one year, unless they've
> done something so bad as to be worthy of stripping their admin bit
> completely.
>
> None of this should be presented as a rank or status system -- there
> should
> only be "new admins", and "old admins" with the only distinction being
> the
> length they have been wielding their powers -- admin "ageism"
> should be a specifically taboo activity.
>
> Now, we could quite easily use a computer program to make a pre-qualified
> list of editors who have edited a wide variety of pages, interacted with
> other users, avoided recent blocks, etc. etc., and then from time to time
> send a randomly chosen subset of them a message that they can now ask any
> "old admin" to turn on their admin bit, with this request expected not to
> be
> unreasonably withheld, provided their edits are recognizably human in
> nature. (The reason why "new admins" should not be able to create other
> admins is to prevent the creation of armies of sockpuppet sleeper admin
> accounts riding on top of this process -- a year of competent adminning
> should suffice as a Turing test.)
>
> So: unless there is a good reason not to, why not do this?
>
> -- Neil
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>



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