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Navigating the Wilds of Adminship

Sannse August 1, 2013 User blog:Sannse Google
Ropebridge
There's some skill in being a good admin, and some pitfalls too. So how can you avoid those pitfalls, along with the crocodiles that are likely in the pit! Here's some thoughts on how to navigate around them, and find your way safely across the wiki landscape.

The Cliff of Required Perfection

Wikis are accumulative. If things are working well, the smallest start can build into a beautiful article. All you need is for someone to make that first edit and then others to help build on that. Wikis are never finished, there's always something more to add, and even a little helps the wiki more forward. But sometimes admins insist that only complete articles are added to the wiki. The risk of that, is that you may end up with a lot less articles overall! So be tolerant of imperfection... it's the best way to strive for perfection.

The Impassible Valley of Over Protection

Vandalism is a regular problem for admins. And it's natural to want to protect pages so that it can't happen. But then you are protecting pages from good edits too. Think of the best wikis on Wikia, you could never have created the Yu-Gi-Oh wikia by yourself, but if you were the first admin and protected all the pages - you would have had to. So be sparing with protection, and use it for as short a time as possible and on as few pages as possible

The Rapids of Admins-Too-Soon

Something I've seen on new wikis, is founders giving people admin rights as soon as they join the wiki. This is very understandable, it's exciting to get those first few users, and normal to want to encourage them to stay by giving them rights. But trust in your fellow editors comes with time, conversations, and a record of good edits. It's best to wait until you have built up a bit of a relationship with others before making them admins. That way you know you can trust them not to suddenly block everyone and start writing "earwig!" on all the pages.

The Quicksand of the Lone Admin

On the other hand, not adding admins for too long can also be a pitfall. It can be hard to invite someone else to share in the management of a wiki, especially when you aren't sure they will do things right. But wikis work best when they grow into community run projects. More admins spreads the load, allows everyone to discuss key decisions, and gives continuity if people move on. Your first fellow admins don't have to be perfect, as long as they are trustworthy, helpful and willing to learn.

The Beartrap of Harshness

Admining sometimes takes a level of firmness. An admin who is too gentle won't want to address bad behavior, cut off an argument, or block someone for being disruptive (especially someone they like!). But, at the same time, over harshness can be just as bad. It's important to keep messages from admins polite (including block reasons) because they set the tone for the wiki. A calm and friendly wiki has a better chance of attracting and keeping good contributors

The Labyrinth of Leadership

One of the hardest problems for admins to navigate, is the line between listening to the community, and making decisions as one of the leaders of the community. If admins had to talk to the community and vote on every ban or reversion of vandalism, the wiki would grind to a halt! Admins need to administrate. But, at the same time, a community run project needs community input on important decisions. For example, on some wikis, the normal process is for admins to ban general vandals without discussion, but talk to the community (and the user concerned) when there seems to be a need to ban a regular contributor. Other wikis have the line set more or less towards one end of the scale - you need to find the balance that's right for your wiki

And balance is almost always a key thing when navigating the Rope Bridge of Good Adminship. Extremes in words or actions tend to lead to extreme situations and disagreements. If you are able to navigate your way through the many decisions and discussions involved in looking after an active wiki community, you will be one of the great explorers that find the path to good adminship.

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