Administrators, commonly known as admins and also called sysops (system operators), are Wikipedia editors who have access to technical features that help with maintenance. English Wikipedia practice is to grant administrator status to anyone who has been an active and regular Wikipedia contributor for at least a few months, is familiar with and respects Wikipedia policy, and who has gained the trust of the community. They can protect and delete pages, block other editors, and undo these actions as well. These privileges are granted indefinitely, and are only removed upon request or under circumstances involving high-level intervention (see administrator abuse below). Administrators undertake additional responsibilities on a voluntary basis, and are not employees of the Wikimedia Foundation.
In the very early days of Wikipedia, all users functioned as administrators, and in principle they still should. From early on, it has been pointed out that administrators should never develop into a special subgroup of the community but should be a part of the community like anyone else. Generally, the maintenance and administration of Wikipedia can be conducted by anyone, without the specific technical functions granted to administrators. While the tools granted to administrators are technical and do not convey authority per se, administrators are people that are entrusted with, if not used properly, very harmful tools.
Because administrators are expected to be experienced members of the community, users seeking help will often turn to an administrator for advice and information, or in a dispute. In general, administrators acting in this role are neutral; they do not have any direct involvement in the issues they are helping people with.
Administrator tools [ādihtan]
The wiki software has a few important features that are restricted. The tools cover processes such as page deletion, page protection, blocking and unblocking, and access to modify protected pages and the mediawiki interface.
Full details, and comments on their use, are listed at Wikipedia:Administrators/Tools.
- Note that administrators as a rule see exactly the same IP information about users, that other (non-administrator) users see, and can neither view pages deleted using oversight, nor modify other users' bot or sysop status. Each of these require additional permissions that are only granted to a very few users.
There are no official requirements to becoming a Wikipedia administrator. Anybody can apply regardless of their Wikipedia experience. However this does not mean that there are no standards to be aware of.
Instead, adminship is oriented to communal trust and confidence, rather than checklists and edit counts; each user will have their own way to assess their confidence in a candidates' readiness for the role.
No big deal [ādihtan]
An often paraphrased comment about the title and process of administratorship – referred to as sysops here – is the following, said by Jimbo Wales in February 2003:
I just wanted to say that becoming a sysop is *not a big deal*.
I think perhaps I'll go through semi-willy-nilly and make a bunch of people who have been around for awhile sysops. I want to dispel the aura of "authority" around the position. It's merely a technical matter that the powers given to sysops are not given out to everyone.
I don't like that there's the apparent feeling here that being granted sysop status is a really special thing.
A more modern clarification of this statement as of 2008, would be that administrators have high levels of responsibility, and their correct use of the tools and appropriate conduct is considered very important. But the title of "administrator" is not a big deal, nor should the process of acquiring it be presented as a big deal. No extra decision-making ability goes with adminship, nor any extra voice in consensus decisions. In that sense, whether a person is an administrator is not, in and of itself, important.
Becoming an administrator [ādihtan]
If you are interested in becoming an admin, you should first read the guide to requests for adminship and the nomination instructions. When you are ready, you may add your nomination to the Wikipedia:Requests for adminship ("RFA") page, according to these instructions. A discussion will then take place among fellow editors about whether you should become an administrator. After seven days, a bureaucrat will determine if there is consensus to give you admin status.
You should become familiar with Wikipedia by editing for a while before requesting or accepting a nomination for administrator status; you need to know what you are doing, and other users will need to recognize you in order to agree on trusting you with admin tools. Keep in mind that each language's Wikipedia has its own policies for administrators, which may differ from this (the English) Wikipedia.
Although multiple user accounts are allowed on Wikipedia in general, only one account of a given person should have administrative tools. The sole exceptions are by agreement of Arbcom or the community.
Be careful, please!
If you are granted access, you must exercise care in using these new functions, especially the ability to delete pages and the ability to block IP addresses. You can learn how to do these things at the Administrators' how-to guide and the new administrator school. Please also look at the pages linked from the Administrators' reading list before using your administrative abilities.
Administrator tools are also used with judgment; it can take some time for a new administrator to learn when it's best to use the tools, and it can take months to gain a good sense of how long a period to set, when using tools such as blocking and page protection in difficult disputes. New administrators are strongly encouraged to start slowly and build up experience on areas they are used to, and by asking others if unsure.
If you have exercised your right to vanish, and return under a new name, your new name can request administrator access by contacting a bureaucrat privately and producing satisfactory evidence of being the same user, provided you did not originally request desysopping under controversial circumstances. This will not guarantee privacy, however, as new accounts which are granted sysop rights without an RfA tend to attract attention and speculation.
Administrator conduct [ādihtan]
Administrators, like all users, are not perfect beings. However in general they are expected to act as role models within the community, and a good general standard of civility, fairness, and general conduct both to users and in content matters, is expected.   When acting as administrators, they are also expected to be fair, exercise good judgment, and give explanations and be communicative as necessary.
Administrators who seriously, or repeatedly, act in a problematic manner or have lost the trust or confidence of the community may be sanctioned or have their access removed. In the past, this has happened or been suggested for:
- Misuse of tools (deletion, protection, blocking in clearly improper circumstances)
- Breach of basic policies (attacks, biting/civility, edit warring, privacy, etc)
- Repeated/consistent poor judgment
- Fighting with the tools (known as "wheel warring"). Summary: With very few exceptions, as soon as an action using tools is reversed by another administrator, it should not be reinstated by the original user or any admin, no matter how good the intention may be, without consensus. But see also exceptions below.
- Failure to communicate - this can be either to users (eg lack of suitable warnings or explanations of actions), or to concerns of the community (especially when explanations or other serious comments are sought).
- 'Bad faith' adminship (sock puppetry, good hand/bad hand, gross breach of trust, etc)
- Conduct elsewhere incompatible with adminship (off site attacking, etc)
Places where administrators in particular can assist [ādihtan]
Administrator rights can be particularly helpful for working in certain areas of Wikipedia.
- Incidents that may require admin intervention
- Three-revert rule violations
- Intervention against vandalism
- Copyright problems (advice for admins)
- Candidates for speedy deletion
- Administrative backlog
- Enforcing Arbitration Committee decisions
- Administrators will also find their tools useful for Recent changes patrol.
See also Wikipedia:Admins willing to make difficult blocks, where admins willing to handle more difficult blocks and other situations can make themselves known.
Grievances by users ("Administrator abuse") [ādihtan]
If a user thinks an administrator has acted improperly against them or another editor, they should express their concerns directly to the administrator responsible and try to come to a resolution in an orderly and civil manner. However, if the matter is not resolved between the two parties, users can take further action (see Wikipedia:Dispute Resolution). For more possibilities, see Requests for comment/User conduct: Use of administrator privileges and Administrator's noticeboard: Incidents
Misuse of tools [ādihtan]
Reinstating a reverted action ("Wheel warring") [ādihtan]
Administrators are strictly forbidden from fighting over the use of administrative tools by using those tools, whether for desirable reasons or not.
With very few exceptions, when an action performed using tools has been rejected to the point that another administrator has reversed it (or similar related actions were reversed), then there is almost never a valid reason for the original or any other administrator to reinstate the same or similar action (or end result) again, without clear discussion leading to a consensus decison. Administrators who do so risk desysopping for abuse of their access.
As a corollary, reversal of an administrative action should also not be undertaken lightly, or without good cause.
Exceptional circumstances [ādihtan]
With very few exceptions, once tool use has been reverted, tools should not be used by the original (or any other) administrator in that matter (even for a desirable reason). There are a few, specific, exceptions where re-use of tools may be reasonable:
- WP:BLP - material deleted because it contravenes BLP may be re-deleted if reinstated, if it continues to be non-BLP-compliant.
- Emergency - in certain situations there may arise an emergency that cannot be adjourned for discussion. An administrator should not claim emergency unless there is a reasonable belief of a present and very serious emergency (ie, reasonable possibility of actual, imminent, serious harm to the project or a user if not acted upon with admin tools), and should immediately seek to describe and address the matter, but in such a case the action should not usually be reverted (and may be reinstated) until appropriate discussion has taken place.
- Page protection in edit warring - reasonable actions undertaken by uninvolved administrators to quell a visible and heated edit war by protecting a contended page should be respected by all users, and protection may be reinstated if needed, until it is clear the edit war will not resume or consensus agrees it is appropriate to unprotect.
Note these are "one way" exceptions; for example, an exception for re-deletion does not imply that an exception exists for re-reversal, unless consensus seeking has taken place.
Removal of adminship [ādihtan]
Administrators can be removed if they misuse their powers. Currently, administrators may be removed either at the request of Jimbo Wales or by a ruling of the Arbitration Committee. At their discretion, lesser penalties may also be assessed against problematic administrators, including the restriction of their use of certain powers or placement on administrative probation. The technical ability to remove administrator status rests with stewards.
There have been alternative procedures suggested for the removal of sysop status, but none of them have achieved consensus. Some administrators will voluntarily stand for reconfirmation under certain circumstances; see Category:Wikipedia administrators open to recall.
- Hēafodgewrit: Wikipedia:Security
It is extremely important that administrators have strong passwords and follow personal security practices. Because they have the potential to cause site-wide damage with a single edit, a compromised sysop account will be blocked and its privileges removed on grounds of site security. In certain circumstances, the revocation of privileges may be permanent. Discretion on resysopping temporarily desysopped administrators is left to bureaucrats, who will consider whether the rightful owner has been correctly identified, and their view on the incident and the management and security (including likely future security) of the account.
See also [ādihtan]
- Administrators' how-to guide
- Administrators' reading list
- Advice for new administrators
- An essay on what adminship is not
- Automatically generated list of administrators
- Chart of the growth in number of administrators (through early 2007)
- Former administrators
- List of administrators with promotion dates
- Meta:Administrators of various Wikipedias - administrators in all Wikipedias.
- New admin school