Wikipedia:What adminship is not
This is an essay.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. This page is not an encyclopedia article, nor is it one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, as it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.
This essay describes what adminship is not.
Admins do not have "command authority" in the sense that some imagine. They can draw a line based on policies, norms and judgement, and enforce that line with the tools. They often have good insight and suggestions to users, and they should be good at gaining others' co-operation and working with people. But they do not, ever, act as "managers" to people in the business sense. They implement policies which the community in broad has agreed upon. Thus for example:
- They do not "decide what people see". An admin who deletes a page can only do so under circumstances the community has decided: in accordance with the communal decision. They are implementers—they do not decide the policy. Likewise admins implement a standard of editorship and use of blocking and protection which has already gained consensus via a discussion (in which admins have absolutely no special authority of any kind).
- They do not need to know how "everything works". They need to know enough not to misuse what they touch, and to conduct themselves well. The emphasis is on "not making mistakes", not on "doing it all". Users do things, admins just handle the few exceptions where for practical reasons we don't let every new user do so. Even very experienced admins—including those elected to higher positions than admin—usually don't know how everything works.
- Admins are users that the community trusts to operate the tools. If an admin goes for a year without making an edit, it doesn't necessarily have an impact on their trustworthiness when they return to editing. Hence an admin's obligation isn't to "do" any specific role; rather, to act responsibly if or when they do take action.
- Admins should gain broad respect, but frankly no user is obligated to respect or listen to them (it's not a requirement of editing), and many will not. Blocking is not merely a tool to be used instead of talking to people.
High standards are needed, but many people will have misconceptions of what it is that admins actually do. Mostly, admins are:
- users the community has chosen based on experience and trust.
- users who have consistently good standards on general conduct as editors.
- users who are allowed to act as custodians of the tools that for pragmatic reasons need to be restricted in access (due to the presence of many people on the Internet who would use them for purposes that don't help the project).
- users who are trusted to only use the tools provided to enact a decision within the standards that the community has decided, and not otherwise.
Adminship is not a trophyEdit
Being an administrator does not place you in an elevated status within Wikipedia. It is not the user-equivalent of a good article or featured article. Administrators rapidly find they have no extra sway in policy or other decisions because of an RfA. It does not affirm a user's contributions as an editor and is not an award for good editing or other good service. You will not gain respect simply by being an administrator. It may help to consider the other meaning of the word administrator, that is one who facilitates, rather than one who controls.
Adminship is simply a statement that the individual is a normal user whom the community views as likely to use the extra tools responsibly if allowed access to them. An admin is just a normal user with a mop and a bucket. It certainly does not give you any Sergeant-like authority.
Adminship is not an entitlementEdit
High edit counts and a dedication to Wikipedia often demonstrate reliability and aptitude for adminship. However, candidates with high edit counts sometimes fail to pass a Request for adminship, because RfA is about a user's approach and attitudes, not about "how much they do". This is not personal; it does not mean that the community fails to appreciate your contributions. A number of exceptional editors are not admins and will never be, some through choice, some through communal consensus. A number of admins regularly ask to drop their adminship, to leave behind administrative chores and get back to editing instead. Sometimes good contributors simply do not have the proper temperament to be admins; but they are still valuable. No number of edits or length of time on Wikipedia entitles one to adminship.
Adminship is not diplomatic immunityEdit
Every administrator must keep in mind that admins are tools of Wikipedia as a whole. This means that all policies apply to admins just as they do to any user—if not more so. Admins can be readily blocked, stripped of their admin tools, or banned. Admins must follow all of Wikipedia policies (such as the three-revert rule) and uphold consensus and a neutral point of view.
Adminship is neither compulsory nor necessary to aid WikipediaEdit
Administrators have access to useful tools not available to other users, and are able to use these to serve Wikipedia in additional ways. However, some Wikipedians do not wish to become administrators—despite having the expected levels of experience and community support. Users may always reject the opportunity or nomination to stand for adminship. Additionally, many tools and site areas exist for ordinary users to help in ways they might not have initially considered—see Contributing to Wikipedia. Users can label the ways they contribute by, for example, joining WikiProjects and using the relevant Userboxes.
Adminship is not a gameEdit
Putting yourself up for or nominating other Wikipedians to have an RfA is not a game and is serious. When you are an administrator you don't just block and unblock who you want, delete and undelete what you want, go around editing protected pages when you want or go protecting and unprotecting whatever you want. It's important to realize that any action you do with these functions can be reversed by another admin. Actions should be taken with good judgment. Be sure there is a consensus before your next action.
Blocking in particular is one of the most contentious acts an administrator can perform and is considered a very serious matter. Poorly placed blocks can result in you becoming unpopular with prominent members of the community, with apparent personal attacks towards you being defended as justifiable under the circumstances. On some occasions, a poor blocking history can result in an admin being desysopped.
Adminship is not for saleEdit
You, and only you should have access to the extra tools. Your access may be revoked if you are caught allowing someone else to use your account.
Adminship is not a big dealEdit
Adminship is not meant to be anything special beyond access to extra editing tools which, pragmatically, cannot be given to every user. It does not give any extra status, weight in discussions, or special privileges beyond what is necessary to technically use those extra tools.
- Wikipedia:Requests for adminship
- Wikipedia:Administrators' how-to guide
- Wikipedia:Administrators' reading list
- Wikipedia:Administrator Code of Conduct
- Wikipedia:Advice for new administrators
- Wikipedia:General sanctions
- Wikipedia:Adminship is not for new users
- Wikipedia:What (other) user rights are not