How to be a Wikimedia sysop/Content

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Things you really ought to know beforehand[edit]

If you are going to be a sysop on any Wikimedia or MediaWiki project, here are some things which you really ought to know about, preferably already. It would be a faux pas not to be capable in these areas. Find out quickly and don't get caught with your trousers down.

  1. Transclusion and Substitution
  2. Templates
  1. The difference between consensus and majority rule
  2. Proper etiquette for discussions, including:
    • Signing properly
    • Civility
    • Not disrupting other people's posts by inserting content in the middle
  3. Namespaces
  4. Image copyright
  5. Security: hacking into a sysop account is a prize attraction for vandals and pretty well spells your wiki-death; try and use a secure password. Some people didn't.

Things you should tour, learn about and do[edit]

Do you see the "[rollback]" next to some of the edits in the RC board?

This is a beginning of a list of the "places" and "tasks" that a probationary and/or relatively inexperienced custodian probably should engage with - please expand or link to detailed info:

  1. Tools
    • Blocking, deleting, protecting, rollback. Try the last 3 on your own pages as a test; then try blocking yourself and see if you can repair the damage. You'll notice you have a couple new buttons: "protect" and "delete". Best way to experiment is create some pages in your userspace and see how they function. On your watchlist and recent changes you'll also notice 2 more options: edits can be rolled back, and you have the option to block users. Try rolling back your own edits somewhere, and maybe block yourself to see what blocked users see when they try to edit (don't worry, you can unblock yourself... you just can't edit while your block is in place). Finally, have a look at Special:Log/delete. If you go to one of the deleted pages, you'll see an option to view/undelete. have a look at pages deleted recently to get an idea of what should just be deleted.
    • When to use the tools (which is mostly about knowing when not to use them and knowing all the many alternative courses of action which exist)
  2. Generating dynamic content with MediaWiki
  3. Managing vandalism
  4. User page - some ideas for sysop user pages - update your user page accordingly
  5. Sysop-related content for specific WMF sisterprojects:
  6. Local Project:Policy: Each sister project has its own local policies, as well as each also subscribing to some overarching Wikimedia Foundation policies. Familiarise yourself with these - also check their talk pages to help anticipate related issues that are likely to arise.
  7. There's nearly always custodians on our IRC channel as well, if you want to pop in!

Long-term projects[edit]

This is currently a list of ideas. Feel free to expand.

  1. Creating tutorials for newcomer editors. Sometimes would-be sysops are themselves still weak at their basic wiki editing skills, and one of the best ways to perfect your own skills is to pass them on to somebody else. By creating tutorials for newcomers, students of this course not only contribute to Wikiversity in practical terms, they also raise their own editing skills to the level where they will be able to help and advise newcomers in the future. Suggested tasks:
    1. Improve Help:Contents and Help:Wikitext quick reference
  2. Participating in and extending the maintenance hub. The maintenance hub is a wide, varied list of maintenance chores which can be performed at Wikiversity, and gives students experience of the typical problems which arise in the everyday administration of an active MediaWiki installation. Most things which sysops do don't actually require "sysop status" and can be practiced before becoming a probationary sysop.
  3. Discuss the future of Wikiversity. A good way to learn about the present of a project is to face the challenge of trying to help plan its future. See Wikiversity:Vision.
  4. Checking licences of uploaded files (mind you, this could also go on the maintenance hub).

Short-term projects[edit]

  • Creating this How to be a Wikimedia sysop project.
  • Drawing up a religious content policy. WV has increasingly become a target for fringe religious groups who clothe their advocacy materials in various layers of educational intent. How do we deal with this? Check the recent contributions of McCormack and SB_Johnny to find materials with which to start putting together a draft policy.
  • Developing Advanced Wikiediting

Discussions[edit]

Discussions can sometimes be frustrating things where worn-out issues arise again and again without any conclusion being reached. On the other hand, engaging in them can be educational, in that one learns about the issues rather than the solutions which Wikimedia projects constantly face. Old hands may hate these topics, but newcomers need to work through them all the same and experienced users will need to tolerate and help with this process. These discussion options are offered in the hope that participating in them will be educational, not in the hope that agreement will necessarily be reached.

  • Big deal: are offices and privileges on Wikimedia projects a "big deal" or not?
  • Etiquette: suggests some good practices for handling difficult situations on Wikiversity.
  • Models for adminship: has adminship on Wikipedia become a mere fetish? has Wikimedia Commons found a better model?
  • What is consensus? - and how to reach consensus.
  • Unwritten rules. User:Poetlister left the following comment about "what makes a good sysop": "Each wiki has its culture, often not explicitly written down but understood by regulars. Even sysops on one wiki often make mistakes by failing to realise that things may be different on other wikis." Should unwritten rules be allowed, or is the job of the good sysop to ensure transparency of operations?