META: application for adminship on the wiki

by gwern1 min read30th Apr 201133 comments

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So, as people have probably noticed, there's fairly regular vandalism on the LW wiki which has been taking a while to address and which regular users have been trying to cope with by moving and blanking pages. This is a little silly - it doesn't resolve the problem and just generates more noise in the RSS feed for Recent Changes (to which I've long subscribed).

We need more administrators.

I suggest myself. I'm a longtime LWer with high karma, so I can't be too crazy. More to the point, I currently handle vandalism as an administrator on the Haskell wiki and have done so ~July 2010; I was formerly an administrator on the English Wikipedia (where I have been a contributor since ~2005); nor have I abused access that has been given to me elsewhere (eg. my shell account on http://community.haskell.org, the commit bit on the PredictionBook.com repo, etc.). In general, I think of myself as a wiki-savvy and trustworthy guy.

Administrators are created by bureaucrats; there are currently 3. Rather than simply message Yudkowsky or Matt of Trike, I thought I'd make my request public along the line of Wikipedia's Requests for Adminship.

If people object, please leave comments; if there are any other users who would like to be admins (David Gerard comes to mind as someone I know from Wikipedia and would trust as a LW wiki admin), likewise.

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Gwern would be good and I'm happy to volunteer. I am an admin on most MediaWikis I hang out on. (I'm one of the few who is an admin both on Wikipedia and Uncyclopedia ...)

Really, I suggest the basic admin powers - delete things, block spammers - should be granted to almost anyone who actually edits at all and is one of the community. There's almost nothing an admin on a MediaWiki site can do that is irreversible. I wouldn't autogrant them, but they should be widely spread, and the norm should be regarded as "grant" rather than "not grant". In my experience, spreading the powers far and wide saves a lot of social fuss.

(On RW, anyone who edits for more than a few days and isn't a gibbering nutter or obnoxious jerk gets swooped upon and cursed with a +10 mop. The 'crats all but stalk n00bs waiting for their moment. So far there have been no disasters. Remember the Secret of Wikipedia: most people are pretty OK if you set the environment up right.)

It looks like the current LW wiki admins were created when the wiki was started and the list has never been updated. We may need more 'crats too ... I nominate Vladimir Nesov. And Ciphergoth. (Who appears to have previously been one.) Anyone who's been around since it started and still edits is a good prospect for 'crat.

It looks like the current LW wiki admins were created when the wiki was started and the list has never been updated. We may need more 'crats too ... I nominate Vladimir Nesov. And Ciphergoth. (Who appears to have previously been one.) …

I cleaned the list up a week or so ago. I meant no offense to ciphergoth by removing him (I couldn't remember official permission to grant that power so removed it).

Wmoore and I have Bureaucrat power without authority, so there is effectively only one Bureaucrat (with six arms).

I am in discussion with Eliezer regarding this thread.

No offence taken :-) I'm happy to be an admin or bureaucrat if people like. I agree with David that we should err on the side of handing out adminships quite freely.

I know of no reason ciphergoth couldn't be an admin if he wanted, if anyone cares.

Am getting pissed off with not having the "skipcapcha" privilege - I'd still love to be an admin if there's a way to move that forward. And I still think we should hand out adminships like candy to anyone we think is a good sort, it doesn't give you the power to do lasting harm.

The main role for a bureaucrat is social: deciding who gets to be an admin (after whatever process, if any).

In the model I propose, where basically everyone becomes an admin unless there's good reason not to, a bureaucrat's job would be to judge that and swoop on people and bless/curse them with the mop. So admin freely, 'crat a little less freely.

(On RW, almost everyone is an admin, but admins have somewhat less powers than on WP, e.g. RW admins can't edit the interface, only 'crats can do that. I would suggest only doing such things on LW if and as needed - KEEP THINGS AS WIDE OPEN AS POSSIBLE TO MAKE A WIKI WORK.)

People worry about admin status lots and lots on Wikipedia. This is because humans obsess about social status, not because it does any good toward writing an encyclopedia - it's an anti-pattern and really shouldn't be imitated.

I don't think not enough people being admins was ever an actual problem that prevented people from doing useful stuff on LW wiki. There's just too little interest. If giving admin status can incite interest, that's good, but I'm skeptical.

I don't think not enough people being admins was ever an actual problem that prevented people from doing useful stuff on LW wiki.

To keep things clear, I (as opposed to David_Gerard perhaps) never meant to suggest that adding some admins & vandalfighting capability would make the wiki take off. (I'm not too clear on what the wiki's function is, in general.)

I just wanted the admin bit so I could deal with the vandalism that routinely passed through my RSS feed - I'm willing to contribute to that extent but not much more.

My main reason for the suggestion is not a positive effect in wiki writing, but to avoid a negative effect from social reasons: it avoids the failure mode on Wikipedia, where adminship is such a HUGE DEAL that they're actually having trouble finding people who want to subject themselves to the trial by ordeal required. Making adminship easy also increases personal social buy-in, and particularly if they're familiar with how awful the process is on Wikipedia.

[-][anonymous]10y 0

A healthy wiki is a living thing with lumpy and smelly bits.

LW wiki is not a healthy wiki, it's important to keep this in mind when making decisions about it.

It's not a "huge deal" here, the fact that there is a failure mode somewhere else doesn't automatically translate here.

But it doesn't automatically mean it doesn't. Note that WP, like LW, is largely populated by huge nerds who like detail and getting things right. I suspect there's more for LW wiki to learn from WP than most wikis would have to learn from it. I could be wrong, of course., this is personal surmise rather than experience.

Comparison with Wikipedia is difficult, as there is a crucial difference that Wikipedia has a huge number of contributors, as the world's Schelling point for collecting facts.

Anyone who's been around since it started and still edits is a good prospect for 'crat.

I don't precisely know how the privileges are set-up for this wiki but since in the standard set-up the main ability of crats is to make admins and modify rights flags(which aren't an issue here since we don't have any specialized flags as far as I can tell) then it might make sense to bundle the rights.

You're now an Admin.

Historically I've been handling these tasks, but sometimes I have other commitments and take a while to clear the backlog (cleared now). It'll be good to have at least one other person who feels responsible, but there have been no regular editors on LW wiki for a long time, and it's difficult to judge based on activity in different modes. On the other hand, there is probably little point in the judging, since everything is reversible, including the adminship.

(So far as I can see, we didn't have too much of an unattended spam infestation, and given that there are usually no repeated postings by the same spammer accounts, clearing out the pages works just as well as anything else. Banning by IP once led to preventing access to a normal user, so I don't do that anymore, and the spam under current captcha is rare enough. One note though: there is no need to rename the pages, this only creates an additional alias, and it's all clear from the log anyway.)

A note of thanks to you, Vladimir. You're doing a great job, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates it.
(This reads a little stiff - Australian males are not well trained in gratitude - but it's heartfelt. Thanks.)

Seconded. I especially think the post summaries on sequence pages will be handy to lots of people.

meta:
You replied to my comment with a note directed to V. Because you replied to me, I received notification of your comment (but he didn't). To see your praise he'd have to check back here. If you'd commented on his comment and said something like "I second matt's thanks" you'd have communicated the same thing but V'd have been more likely to see it.

I especially think the post summaries on sequence pages will be handy to lots of people.

I don't understand why you stated this here. I neither participated in writing of post summaries, nor plan to, and I even think that adding post summaries to primary sequence pages might be a bad idea, if they are too wordy.

Ah, ok. I thought I remembered seeing some edits from you adding post summaries. Anyway, I like the post summaries.

You're now an Admin.

Vote up if you approve of gwern's request.

Vote up if you disapprove of gwern's request.

Please do work for free!

Further discussion on the LW wiki and its purpose over here. Vladimir considers me unfit to be editing the LW wiki at all ... currently trying to get to the core of an as yet unstated vision of what forms of usefulness are acceptable.

Ah, it's in a different thread, didn't notice (conversation started here). I don't consider you unfit for editing the wiki, I consider you unfit for leading (or shaping, but leading is more actionable) an effort that brings a lot of new content to the wiki.

I don't consider you unfit for editing the wiki, I consider you unfit for leading (or shaping, but leading is more actionable) an effort that brings a lot of new content to the wiki.

I am glad to see your wariness. I was getting a bad feeling when David_Gerard started presenting himself as a wiki authority - especially when it came to editing content. The one time I recall David referencing his wikipedia editing I was appalled by what he had done to the page. It actually lowered the extent to which I am willing to trust the content on wikipedia when it comes to pharmacology. The scary thing was that I would have taken it at face value if I had not already searched pubmed myself.

I have no doubt David has much to offer in terms of wiki management skills but the potential for a dominant influence over content creation specifically was scaring me. (Just not enough that I was willing to volunteer to work on the wiki myself. The wiki is not quite that much of a priority.)

And FWIW I agree with this - David, I'm glad to see you've brought your energy and smarts and Wiki-editing knowledge to the project, but I don't think of you as an LW-style thinker.

I'm telling you stuff that is well known to work for bringing wikis to life, you're telling me that looking to experience is cargo culting and that the LW wiki is a special case for reasons you aren't stating. Someone is actually going to have to do stuff for it to work, and so far you're not offering anything whatsoever, neither ideas nor actual participation. You're treating me offering ideas on what has worked for other wikis as if it's a threat. I submit that this is a problematic attitude which will leave your wiki as dead as it is - treating ideas first as threats is something lots of wikis have died of.

What is your vision of what the wiki is for? What forms of usefulness to people do you consider a good idea? I'm asking you to make positive statements of your own, rather than why other people's ideas are bad.

As an aside, you are systematically not being technical when leading an argument. You are misrepresenting the discussion a lot and making other errors, like offering false dichotomies or appealing by connotation. This reduces the efficiency of communication, for example I left our conversation of the wiki unresolved for this reason.