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A day in the life of a wiki admin

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Leaf cutter ants

The admins of the forest?

As a long time wiki admin, I thought I'd make a list of the common things I do on at least a daily or nearly daily basis as an admin to give new admins an idea of what they might be doing or things they might have missed. Sometimes I do checks multiple times a day.

Firstly...

  • Check Special:NewPages ("all" namespaces)...
    • A good quick way to look for spammers. Spammers often like to create new fake user pages with spam links. Also they often put obvious titles in pages they create. You will see the pattern after awhile. I tend to delete new spam pages with impunity, but you may be more forgiving.
    • Look for pages that are misspelled or in the wrong namespace. If you see something wrong, you can rename the page or add a note to the page or it's talk page.
    • Look for new forum pages, talk pages or comments. Often people ask questions that I might be able to answer.
    • Look for fanfic or personal pages. On many encyclopedic wikis, there are policies for fanfic or personally only oriented pages that should be moved or the creator warned about.
    • If I see a very nice page added (one that is very helpful, interesting, or well constructed), I sometimes leave a compliment on the user's talk page who made the new page.
    • On WoWWiki we have a Patrollers group which can mark new pages or edits patrolled, but many wikis don't have this. I like to do a quick patrol of new pages, but not all edits.
  • Check Special:NewFiles...
    • A good place to do a quick check for off-topic or offensive images to be deleted.
    • Check that file names do a decent job of matching the image contents. Having images with names that are too generic or misleading makes organizing images difficult, so catching these problems early will help down the line.
    • Look for poor quality images. You can leave a note on the image description page or on the uploader's talk page.
    • Look for images that might have very large file sizes. Wikia does provide vast amounts of storage, but we don't want users to abuse it. I usually warn uploades or tag an image if the size exceeds around 500Kb, but you can decide what your threshold will be.
  • Check Special:RecentChanges...
    • Most admins prefer Recent Changes over Special:WikiActivity, but you could start there if the rate of change seems slow.
    • I basically scan for really big additions or removals, but sometimes I look at smaller removals of content as well.
    • On most wikis, Recent Changes, edits that remove content show as -34 or something like that with really big changes in bold like -1,316. So I tend to look mostly for the really big removals and click the "diff" or "# changes" link. If the page where the change is might have high traffic, I look at small removals too.
    • Also on most wikis, Recent Changes, edits that add content show as +15 or something like that with really big changes in bold like +1,255. So I tend to look mostly for the really big additions and click the "diff" or "# changes" link.
    • If I see a user who is making many very helpful or constructive edits, I try to leave a compliment or encouraging comment on the user's talk page.
    • If I see obvious vandalism, I may block the user right there or look at their contributions and block them for a specific amount of time based on the number or frequency of their vandalism. Repeat offenders get more serious penalties. Also, if your wiki has a vandal list page, add the vandal to the list with a summary of their offenses and block time period.
    • After all that other stuff, I just scan the changes for things I can help out with like fill in a missing section, add some important link or totally fix up a page that looks bad.
  • Look at other maintenance oriented Special Pages...
  • Check maintenance categories...
    • Many wikis have tag templates that put the tagged pages in categories that identify the issue or problem related to the page.
    • Not daily, but sometimes I check the category for files or pages that are marked or requested for deletion.
    • Not daily, but I check the category for pages that need to be cleaned up for some reason.
  • Scan news websites related to the topic of my wiki...
    • I like to add info or news links to relevant pages on my wiki. You have to be careful not to do too much, because sometimes you can get caught adding old news items for completeness and spend too much time doing this.
    • Other sites can give you inspirations for improvements to your wiki, new images to upload or topics to cover on your wiki.

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