Talk:How to be a Wikimedia sysop

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The following section is a cut-and-paste of a discussion on the Wikiversity:colloquium about sysop training. --McCormack 12:17, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

The new Wikiversity Maintenance Hub and training new custodians[edit source]

The background to the new Wikiversity Maintenance Hub was that I had decided to spend a lot of recent time improving navigation, and slowly migrated from introductions to other materials in the Wikiversity namespace. Finally I got into all the pages which were of use to custodians, and eventually all this evolved into something called the Wikiversity Maintenance Hub. So it was rather an accident. While doing this, it occurred to me that what was emerging would be excellent training for custodians.

The basic idea: It has occurred to me that the current custodian training programme (which we call "mentorship") is a little thin. So far as I know (correct me if I am wrong), mentors usually adopt an extremely laissez-faire approach. In general, this might not be a bad thing, but it really lets down the well-meaning candidate who lacks knowledge about where to start. Having castigated a probationary for his lack of effort myself, it then occurred to me (far too late) that it's probably our own fault for failing to show candidates where to make their efforts. The Wikiversity Maintenance Hub is an accidental and belated answer to this problem, which might help us in the future. The maintenance hub offers a great place for probationary custodians, experienced custodians and ordinary users to all get involved in Wikiversity maintenance. It pulls the whole system together so that it makes it easier and more obvious to people how they can help. You'll never run out of a task.

Custodial learning projects: the maintenance hub is not yet framed as a learning project, but that would be the next step.

First Wikiversity, then Wikipedia: following evolution into a learning project, we could then begin to offer our training programme to other Wikimedia projects. Admins on other projects could practice maintaining Wikiversity as part of (only part of) their adminship training. We would provide other wikimedia projects with training, and in return they would provide their people and some of their time, for the duration of traineeship.

And finally, the world! MediaWiki is used by lots of outside organisations. Generally visitors to such sites expect the same standards of courtesy and culture of editing as they would find at Wikimedia projects, but in practice they rarely find it. The self-appointed admin (I was one, I know!) of a self-installed MediaWiki site has no idea how to be the same as a proper Wikimedia admin. So there's a real training potential here.

So much the plan. Comments welcome. --McCormack 13:50, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Comments. I think it is useful to have a learning resource about maintenance tasks at Wikiversity. Sometimes people show up in IRC #wikiversity-en and want a task that they can work on for a short time. In the past I have usually told them to look at Template:Opentask. My main comments (below) are my reaction to the part of the page that is described as "a quick how-to" on how "to become a custodian" (the version currently at Wikiversity:Maintenance). In my view, the "quick how-to" does not place enough emphasis on the existing policy for custodianship which says, "Custodianship is not a big deal," and, "If you have a record of good editing then you are likely to be trusted and be granted the privileges custodians have". I suppose different people have different ideas about what constitutes "good editing". A few days after the launch of Wikiversity I made a short statement of my thoughts about what constitutes good editing and what indicates if someone should become a custodian. The key elements of my views, which have not changed are: "Wikiversity mainly needs people who can contribute to building Wikiversity content; for example, by working on learning projects," and, "custodian candidates should demonstrate (by good editing) their commitment to the Wikiversity project". Of course, the word "mainly" leaves room for other ways that custodian candidates can demonstrate commitment to Wikiversity, and I have supported candidates who have demonstrated their value and commitment to Wikiversity in a variety of ways. I think Wikiversity should make use of the available diversity in what people have to offer to this project. I am not comfortable with the idea of adopting a Wikipedia-like approach which puts an emphasis on vandal fighting or "maintenance jobs". I do not agree with the idea that, "before you even think of applying, get stuck into a lot of the maintenance jobs below which anyone can do". If we pushed this approach it would be a radical change in the nature of Wikiversity custodianship. It would shift Wikiversity towards the approach used at Wikipedia, an approach which selects for many administrators who have no interest in supporting the mission and goals of the wiki project where they have the sysop tool. The Wikipedia approach selects for people who will do a bunch of mindless tasks and then become a mindless administrator. Many such administrators have ended up disrupting the project and they have to be de-sysoped, often following ugly fights that go all the way to the ArbCom. Yes, doing "maintenance tasks" is one way to demonstrate commitment to Wikiversity, but I do not view it as the preferred way. I agree with the idea that evidence of willingness to do some boring wiki-jobs is a good trait in a custodian candidate. There are boring tasks that are a normal part of creating useful learning resources and good editors who show attention to those details of good editing demonstrate their commitment to Wikiversity. There is a range of behavior patterns among sysops from 1) sysops who use the sysop-tools as part of their routine editing to create and develop useful learning resources and 2) sysops who do little to create and develop learning resources but spend a lot of time looking for messes to clean up. Wikiversity should respect this diversity, not pretend that custodians have to adopt one specific pattern of editing. In particular, I reject the idea that Wikiversity should start following the methods of Wikipedia where good editors are not allowed to become sysops because they do not meet arbitrary requirements for participation in particular categories of "maintenance jobs". --JWS 16:28, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
It's really great to have this hub, and I thank McCormack profusely for his tireless work. :-) I would also like to endorse the learning aspect of custodianship - Wikiversity has explicitly adopted an apprenticeship model, which is entirely appropriate to its mission - so I would like to see this hub broadened from a set of resources to become a learning community around custodianship, where custodians and aspiring custodians can discuss common interests and current and past issues in order to help aspiring custodians figure out what happens/works/is required etc. However, I am interested in the evolving definition of [[custodianship - am I right in perceiving or framing the definition of custodianship as, on the one hand, a maintenance-focused role, and on the other, an indication of community trust? I know these are not really on opposite hands (as it were), but are obviously interlinked - we need to trust people to give them the custodian tools (eg. page deletion, user-blocking). But it is significant, I think, to see custodianship as more-than-maintenance - I think the renaming from "admin" to "custodian" was an indication that the role was about maintenance, rather than anything else. So, this discussion does seem to be heading towards a definition of custodianship - what it entails, the kinds of things they do, and, of course, the limits of the role. I would be keen to further this, and to start making explicit descriptions of what "custodian" means in Wikiversity - building on what John has just posted. Cormaggio talk 20:38, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
"the renaming from 'admin' to 'custodian' was an indication that the role was about maintenance" <-- I was just trying to refresh my memory about this and so I looked at Wikiversity talk:Custodianship. There is some interesting stuff there. In the beginning, there was an effort to steam-line the process of creating new custodians. In fact, I'd say that a significant number of custodians have been "rushed" into "office" out of fear that we did not have enough eyes watching for vandalism. I recently saw a statement of concern about how quickly probationary custodians can be created, particularly the fact that this can involve no community discussion. Maybe it is worth looking again at the old idea that new candidates for custodianship should be subject to 5 days of community discussion before they become custodians. As I recall, a significant part of my own motivation for wanting to use a term different from "administrator" was that "administrator" has a particular meaning within formal educational institutions. I did not want people seeing the term "administrator" in the context of a website called Wikiversity and jumping to the natural conclusion that "administrator" had its conventional meaning as normally found within an educational institution. It is fairly common at Wikipedia to speak of getting access to the sysop tools as being "given the mop", meaning that you have tools that make it easy to clean up messes (in particular, rolling back or deleting vandalism). The term "custodian" seemed suitable for describing someone who has a mop. I think the choice of such a term was made in an effort to promote the idea (originally from the early years of Wikipedia) that "adminship is no big deal'. --JWSchmidt 21:47, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
I could hazard a guess, but just for the sake of clarity, what is the particular meaning of "administrator" for you in formal educational institutions? Cormaggio talk 03:45, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
The description provided here corresponds to my understanding of the term. --JWSchmidt 04:32, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Name of this project?[edit source]

I have been thinking that this project should be called How to be a MediaWiki sysop rather than How to be a Wikimedia sysop. Thoughts?

That does sound a bit more inclusive. Perhaps it could be forked... --Remi 03:38, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Hi Remi. Good question - and one I had thought about when making the title. When Mediawiki is used outside the Wikimedia Foundation, the sysops usually run the websites in a highly authoritarian fashion (as "their" websites, which they usually are). The most crucial thing about sysop training is the human side rather the technical. The human side is something which is especially unique to the Wikimedia Foundation. However my concept is that we should be turning this "human side" or "Wikimedia culture" into a exportable product/service. People running Mediawiki as a mere technical gadget for content management can be tempted by us to "buy into" the Wikimedia culture. Put it another way: Mediawiki = technical gadget. Wikimedia = organisational culture. --McCormack 09:01, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

I've created a redirect for the moment. :-) John Vandenberg (chat) 04:31, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

Right-hand menu[edit source]

Not sure why user:jtneill removed this. I've put it back for the time being. Please leave comment here if removing again. --McCormack 09:04, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

The menu has an undesirable "wikiversity" feel to it due to the title "Administering Wikiversity" - this learning project shouldnt be just for Wikiversity, but applicable to any collaborative volunteer wiki project. John Vandenberg (chat) 04:32, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
I tend to agree that this particular learning project might be better without the Wikiversity specific sidebar. We'd like to attract editors from other mediawiki projects, and this might confuse someone new to the site about the topic. --mikeu talk 22:11, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Language[edit source]

It is important to add, that custodians can work on their English (or other languages).--Juandev 23:21, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

some more suggestions[edit source]