From time to time we repeat the topics of our blogs, for the benefit of new users and as a reminder for our old experts, that have been editing on Wikia for a long time. I talk to a lot of Wikians and sometimes ask them for advice, primarily to understand how their communities work. If you look at a community from the outside, it can look quite chaotic! It reminds me of an ant-hill — lots of busy ants — and only if you look from a distance, you can see the structure. Everybody is working towards the same goal, or at least tries to. How does this all come together? You have guessed correctly: With the help of our awesome admin force!
Instead of just writing a blog and giving you my thoughts, I collected the thoughts of several admins.
What I asked them was:
"What makes a great Admin?"
Cyanide3: "A good admin should be patient and neutral when it comes to disputes in the community. He or she should be a good example, edit actively, lead projects, make design suggestions and be available to the users,"
Ben Braden: "A good admin for me is someone that works day and night on his responsibilities, has an open ear for his colleagues — even if he may not feel like it at the moment. He should be conscious that the community elected him and that he could be demoted. His behavior should be humble. To be an admin means more work and he should be competent enough to do a good job. He should also be charismatic to lead his community through possible trying time. He should be proud of his wikia and represent the community positively. Engagement, humbleness, competence, charisma and pride make a great admin."
Flüstergras: "A good admin organizes and manages his wikia and helps the other admins, in case there is more than one. He knows which subject area spans the wikia, which articles should be written for that and he where the construction areas are. He or she shares this information with the community, so that people know where they can best contribute. In bigger communities it is essential that the has organizational talent and he should be able to answer questions to authors and visitors around the theme of the wikia. It goes without saying that he knows everything about editing (syntax knowledge) and quite frankly he should realize that he is not the "Emperor of China", just because he was elected to be an admin!"
TRon69-SAO: "An admin should always have an open ear for his community. Being an admin is not a privilege, it can sometimes be a hard job serving the community"
Rain: "An admin wants the best for his community, stays neutral during conflicts, can put himself into the others shoes and keeps calm. It is sometimes necessary to take time-outs — just click on the red cross in the upper right of your browser window!"
I have summarized what all the responses have in common:
The most important factor in any conversation with others is to listen. Listen to the worries and ideas of the users and try to be neutral. That can he hard, since most "talks" on Wikia happen in writing. What is missing in those messages is the body language, mimic and the tone. You can test by reading a statement pretending to be angry and then reading the same statement with a smile on your face. It makes a huge difference! Assume good intentions and do your best to understand where the users are coming from. If you can't understand it, it is okay to ask some questions. Most people really mean well — and you already have something in common: You are fans of the same subject!
It is reasonable to expect that admins are competent. What does that mean? Admins are experts around the theme of the wikia and can assist the users in the community with technical and social problems. Can you expect that an admin knows everything? Probably not. Most likely they won't have a solution for everything. A great admin though does not have an issue to admit that they don't know everything and if needed will go get advice from a fellow admin or maybe contact Wikia staff.
Successful communities have structure. It does not work if everyone works on something without a bigger plan. An admin should know what is wanted and needed in the community. We suggest that there are rules in a community and users should respect those rules. Examples for technical rules can describe i.e. the category and template structure, and social rules can describe the behavior in the wikia. A great admin establishes and maintains the rules with the help of the community. New users will be made aware of the structures and rules in the community. An admin should never be a ruler, like the Emperor of China, instead he should be a colleague that works side by side with you on building and maintaining a community.
Oldies but goodies
Reading material from the past on the Admin subject:
What makes a good admin for you? Let us know your thoughts. Any feedback and comment about the subject is appreciated!