Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Jtneill (Bureaucrat)

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Jtneill (talk • email • contribs • stats • logs • global account)[edit source]

Jtneill has been a prolific contributor of high quality learning materials and an enthusiastic supporter of OER. During his tenure as custodian he has consistently shown the qualities that our community values - level headed discussion of sometimes contentious issues and a willingness to seek a common ground that binds our community and moves us forward towards our goals and vision. I can honestly think of no better candidate for bureaucrat. --mikeu talk 14:45, 18 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

mentorship[edit source]

James, it would be my pleasure to mentor you for bureaucrat. --mikeu talk 14:45, 18 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Candidate, please indicate here if you accept one of the above mentors:

I am willing to give it a go as bureaucrat and try to help the WV community - it will be another learning curve - and I am happy to be mentored by Mike, thankyou for the offer. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 21:04, 18 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Comments and/or questions for the candidate[edit source]

Process and policy[edit source]

Questions: How exactly do you "mentor" a 'crat :-)? I thought these things were supposed to be more along the lines of a conformation !vote. --SB_Johnny talk 12:18, 19 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Seems from looking through Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Archive of nominations for full custodianship the bureaucrat process to date has consisted of discussion/vote. Looks like this needs clarification here: Wikiversity:Bureaucratship. Nevertheless, I would appreciate assistance from experienced others if I'm to undertake such responsibilities. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 12:30, 19 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Yeah, the proposed policy on the subject is a bit vague. As far as "mentorship" there really isn't much that can be done, due to the fact that it is not possible to test the use of the tools. That is, a 'crat can't undo flagging an account as a custodian, for example. So that part would be more along the lines of brief discussions of how/when to use the extra buttons. In keeping with the spirit of the draft policy my plan was to keep the nomination open for 10 days for community comments and/or questions. A crat will then assess consensus before making the decision to flip the bit. This would be followed by a vote that is left open for at least a month. How does all this sound to everyone? --mikeu talk 13:03, 19 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I would think it is all-important for a candidate to be trusted the community, not another bureaucrat. Any "mentorship" should simply be along the line of comrade advice, and, most importantly, it would not be proper for the mentor to write a "formal report", which, however innocent it may be, could still influence the result. While I do not doubt the integrity of the current bureaucrats, it is not a good idea to give overwhelming weight to a community member with extra tools. Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 09:20, 20 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Wikiversity in 7 years[edit source]

Questions: James, where do you see Wikiversity in 7 years? How will WV be then? ----Erkan Yilmaz uses the Wikiversity:Chat (try) 14:42, 19 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I am thinking back two years - what changes have happened - and then using this to guess about what is likely to happen:
  1. A lot of changes in who the contributing users are, a lot of new custodians, a lot of old custodians no longer active (quite a turn-over)
  2. Some controversial deletions and blockings that have influenced community spirit and relations with the WMF board
  3. Overall, slow growth of content and overall number of edits, articles, active contributors - Wikiversity:Statistics
  4. Much content by relatively few contributors, but also many people coming for short experiments with using Wikiversity
  5. Most content is learning-related and not very much research-related; this could change esp. for example if a wiki-based peer-reviewed journal model and conference proceeding hosting etc. developed
  6. Wikiversity is quite tertiary/adult learning oriented; this bias will probably remain, but as mediawiki becomes better known and more usable, there is hopefully prospect for learning projects targeted at younger learners and more informal learning.
  7. The name Wikiversity is gradually coming better known
  8. Material about Wikiversity including policy is gradually developing, but quite slowly
  9. Desire from educators using Wikiversity to access more innovative functionality esp. for teaching and learning - so is WV to stay as just a mediawiki - or if there is a critical mass of interest which coalesces with board support, could/would WV become a grander, more experimental online learning environment - I'm not sure - maybe, it depends
  10. Clarification of WV:Scope. This is currently still murky. I imagine this will crystallise in 7 years.

-- Jtneill - Talk - c 16:12, 19 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Bureaucrat policy, role and duties[edit source]

Questions: Can you explain why Wikiversity does not have an official policy on Bureaucratship? Can you explain why Wikiversity needs another bureaucrat at this time? If you become a bureaucrat, will you follow the spirit of the proposed policy on bureaucratship? Does it bother you that you have been nominated for bureaucratship by someone who has failed to follow the rule that "bureaucrats do not have the right to use their status to appropriate any undue influence in community discussions" and has damaged the Wikiversity community through his actions in important matters such as supporting emergency desysop proceedures being performed on Wikiversity custodians when no emergency existed? Can you work constructively with the god kings who have done great damage to Wikiversity? Do you intend to be the next god king? --JWSchmidt 14:59, 19 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I was surprised that Bureaucratship policy was still in draft. I guess its like many of the draft policies - it hasn't been worked on much lately and probably it isn't referred to very much. I've started making some edits and will try at least to reflect my experience/observations in that doc as I go along. The first part of that policy is actually I think very good (haven't checked who wrote it or if its adapted from other projects?) - it describes the "spirit" very nicely. The procedure could be tightened up/clarified. I moved how many bureaucrats does WV need to the talk page - but perhaps it should go back on the policy page? I guess WV needs as many bureaucrats as it needs to do the functions and responsibilities assigned to them. Too many might be a problem, not enough might be a problem. It seems only mu301 and sb_johnny have been active bureaucrats lately (cormaggio is not very active for some time and sebmol in my time hasn't been around). sb_johnny has had tools recently removed and has been offered them back. Do we need 3 active bureaucrats? The other sister projects have more but they are busier too. But, for me its an open question - the community can decide if it wants another bureaucrat. If we consider the problems you've encountered with WV - I wonder if they'd be better or worse with an extra bureaucrat such as this one - well, I'm not planning to do much differently except get on with my work and help out adminwise where it seems I can. I relate to the spirit of consensus and content development/improvement, so it may be that my greater problem according to some will be not so much god king stuff as not acting more strongly, such as in the recent breaching experiment issues. I don't mind being bold in content creation, but it seems less boldness with power tools is more natural to me. Do I have a problem with being nominated by mu301? No - the community response will be fine with me. Would I have liked there to be a different outcome to the conflict(s) which lead you being desysoped and blocked? Yes. So this time around, I'm trying to be more involved. I've learned a lot from your wiki blog and questions asked of myself and others - and would appreciate your ongoing guidance and counsel esp. about what you think should be done differently. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 16:12, 19 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I don't understand your thinking about the failure of the Wikiversity community to make official the policies it needs. Are you saying that Wikiversity does not need to make official policies like Wikiversity:Bureaucratship...because they are not "referred to very much"? Here is a test case: I was falsely accused of "manipulating" the process by which Wikiversity policies are developed. That false charge was made by Mu301 (bureaucrat) SB_Johnny (bureaucrat) Cormaggio (bureaucrat) McCormack (custodian). McCormack called me troll and told me that he would never talk to me again and then he prevented me from responding in the kangaroo court he set up for presentation of his false charges against me. SB Johnny told me to fuck off and leave the project and that people refuse to develop needed Wikiversity policies just because I had worked to develop them. Mu301 and Cormaggio participated in an emergency desysop and removal of my custodian status when no emergency existed, "justifying" their action with more false charges against me. What is your assessment of the impact (on policy development) of bureaucrats and custodians who falsely accuse someone like me (who has tried to develop Wikiversity policies) of policy manipulation? In such an atmosphere of intimidation, why should anyone try to develop policies? In your judgment, to what extent have Wikiversity bureaucrats disrupted Wikiversity policy development process and prevented the development of needed policies? --JWSchmidt 04:11, 20 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I guess I see policy as one source of information to help inform how we might go about things. If its well-developed, then hopefully its a good guide. If its not so well-developed, then its less useful as a guide and maybe even counter-productive. Since Wikiversity is still in relatively early stages, many policies are still in development. I'd rather see them stay as draft in that case until they are in good shape for making official. Where there are incidents relating to policy along the way, we should be trying to adapt/improve relevant policy. I respect the considerable development you and others have put into WV policy - where's there's controversy/disagreement in policy development this in many ways is just as valuable if not more so to me as policy itself because it gives clues about problematic aspects of the policy. Maybe I'm naive but I prefer to assume good faith on everyone's part - yourself and current and previous contributors, custodians and bureaucrats. Through ups and downs, rights and wrongs, it has got us to now - and I am interested in what humanity can make of the current material and functionality on going into the future. I'm happy to have a go at working with anyone else who wants to also try to contribute and improve this project and open academic practices - I doubt the result will be satisfactory to all. I would like to learn from mistakes, address grievances, and move forward. That's what it looks and feels like from my POV. I am wondering what you'd like to see done differently at the bureaucrat level in order to better address your concerns about what has happened in the past/present and to possibly improve how similar situations are handled in future? -- Jtneill - Talk - c 05:20, 20 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
"wondering what you'd like to see done differently" (above) <-- Before the hostile takeover of Wikiversity by people who abuse their positions of trust, custodians, on the basis of their personal judgment, deleted obvious vandalism and blocked obvious vandals. Other custodian actions (page deletion, blocking) should only follow community discussion and should be guided by written policies. I refused to become a bureaucrat here because there was no rule saying that a probationary custodian could be terminated instantly upon request of the candidate's mentor....I think that is a reasonable part of the custodian mentoring process. Bureaucrats can rename user accounts according to their best judgment. Bureaucrats have no emergency duties and they should not conduct Wikiversity business off wiki. Their main job is to act after community consensus has been established with respect to user account status changes. In particular, it is not the job of bureaucrats to perform emergency desysop procedures when no emergency exists. The only "emergency" I know of is what has sometimes happened at Wikipedia: a administrator's user account is hijacked, and going to a Steward for help in such a situation can be done by anyone. Do you agree with the above? I'm particularly interested to know what you would have done, as a bureaucrat, in a the case of Mike.lifeguard. Can you state for the record that as a bureaucrat you would have made Mike.lifeguard a full custodian? Is it your intention as a bureaucrat to make policy violators custodians? --JWSchmidt 18:30, 20 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

This pretty much aligns with my perspective; some points for further discussion:

  1. "custodians, on the basis of their personal judgment, deleted obvious vandalism and blocked obvious vandals" -> yes - and improve other content they are concerned about - and bring to community attention content they think is out of scope and which they haven't been unable to improve so it is within scope
  2. "there was no rule saying that a probationary custodian could be terminated instantly upon request of the candidate's mentor" -> I'm not sure about this - one would run the risk of a probationary custodian who the community thought was OK not being allowed through - I seem to vaguely recall there was a situation like this - do you know the link? I guess the probationary custodian could then seek renomination with another mentor. And, a mentor should be able to terminate that mentorship just as a mentee should be able to. So, the more I think about it, the more this would seem to be a good idea. Shall we take it Wikiversity:Custodianship? -- Jtneill - Talk - c 00:34, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  3. "Bureaucrats can rename user accounts according to their best judgment." -> yes, and I'm guessing where in doubt with the help/advice of stewards
  4. Bureaucrats have no emergency duties." -> yes - there is nothing in Wikiversity:Bureaucratship which suggests to me any emergency duty responsibility - they can only remove the bot group tool from anyone. Emergency is a strong word and other than the hijacked admin account scenario or perhaps excessive wheel-warring I can't imagine much emergency that bureaucrats have any special powers to deal with - e.g., they can't desysop.
  5. "Bureaucrats should not conduct Wikiversity business off wiki." - yes - I have generally resisted/avoided IRC and email etc. I think this has inherent dangers, particularly for those with access to extra tools. I am however interested in some of User:Leighblackall's comments about did people try getting together by phone/webcam etc. to help to try to sort out their differences - or just to work and collaborate together. User:Leighblackall is a custodian who I nominated and mentored and is currently working at University of Canberra - we catch up regularly and Wikiversity is often amongst our conversations. So, whilst I very much agree with "on-wiki" management, I wouldn't wish to exclude or deny that other communications are also a part of Wikiversity. But I do know what you really mean I think: So, for me, I'd agree that wikiversity should be openly managed and thus it is fundamental and critical that everything should be on wiki - where adjunct communication processes could aid on-wiki dialogue, these should also be considered and their usage openly reported.
  6. "[Bureaucrats] main job is to act after community consensus has been established with respect to user account status changes." -> Yes
  7. Regarding Mike.lifeguard - I just spent (only) 5 minutes skim reading it again. I really couldn't say without spending I suspect some hours on go back through all the links and diffs as to how I would approach finding consensus. That's not particularly helpful, I know, but regarding the first principle of "consensus" - the voting was clearly in favour, but consensus is much more than voting and ultimately is should be consensus that matters - there was obviously some notable community concerns from yourself and Hillgentleman about Mike.lifeguard's WV editing - this was probably the most controversial and most WMF/mediawiki experienced probationary custodian I had nominated/mentored. I would also not offer an interpretation of consensus as a bureaucrat for a custodian I had nominated and mentored - so that also makes me cautious. More recently I've been suggesting or supported extended probationary periods for probationary custodians I've not been sure about - perhaps this could have been an option to consider with Mike.lifeguard's WV probationary mentorship, especially since he didn't have a substantial WV editing history before custodial nomination.
  8. "Is it your intention as a bureaucrat to make policy violators custodians?" - Well, its not my intention. I hope you and others would continue to help limit the possibility. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 00:34, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • What would happen if the Wikiversity bureaucrats did not all agree to make a particular probationary custodian a full custodian? Is mentoring probationary custodians just a formality? As specific examples, please explain how Mike.lifeguard and Adambro were mentored while they were probationary custodians. As a bureaucrat, would you close a community discussion about full custodianship before the candidate had answered all the questions asked by the community? --JWSchmidt 04:05, 22 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
    • My understanding is that its not about whether bureaucrats all agree, but about whether the community agrees. Discussion amongst bureaucrats I think should be more about "has there been due process" than "what should the outcome be".
    • Where there is community disagreement then a bureaucrat should work with the community through due process towards consensus.
    • I also think its OK to have an outcome of "no consensus" if that is this case rather than force an uncomfortable consensus. I think a bureaucrat's responsibility includes helping to ensure that the dialogue and record is as complete as possible, and that a candidate has answered all reasonable questions and concerns.
    • How were Adambro and User:Mike.lifeguard mentored? These were Wikimedia/Mediawiki experienced candidates both technically and procedurally. This can be an advantage (e.g., less need to learn tools) but also a challenge (because WV might want the tools used differently than on other projects). So, for me its been more about helping to encourage such candidates to learn about the spirit and way of WV - which for me is, as you've argued - is about trying to improve/help/support content development and learning communities.
    • Whilst the mentor concept is I think a useful one, I would also like to see more community mentoring and more community feedback happening to probationary custodians on their talkpages at the time. I think this could help to improve the process and outcome.
    • Gotta run, I hope I've answered your question? (not sure) -- Jtneill - Talk - c 21:34, 22 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
      • From above: As a bureaucrat, would you close a community discussion about full custodianship before the candidate had answered all the questions asked by the community? --JWSchmidt 23:52, 22 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
        • No, as long as all those questions were reasonable. Which leads to: "What is a reasonable question to be asked of a candidate for custodianship or bureaucratship?". We could do with some better guidelines about this. I am recalling I think situation(s?) in which candidate discussions were closed by bureaucrat(s?) in which you felt that reasonable questions had been asked but gone unanswered. How would I handle this kind of scenario? Ideally, preventatively (e.g., by hopefully encouraging such questioning/discussion to take place earlier on talk pages) - but perhaps also by trying to help the questioner in his/her quality of expression and the candidate in his/her interpretation/understanding and responsivity. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 05:45, 23 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
          • perhaps not you, james, but there are bureaucrats (not necessarily in wikiversity) who like to use the magic words "it is time to end the drama" in cases that we really should talk about. much of the perceived "drama" lie in the fact that no two person think in the same way, and it often happens that two sides of a debate use completely different radio frenquencies - e.g. social v. logical, left brain v. right brain, etc, or maybe they have completely different sets of assumptions of what wikiversity should be and they forgot that difference. what would you do (and what is your track record) in these situations? Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 06:11, 23 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
            • At the end of the day, we've got to make a call on candidacy for custodians and bureaucrats. The Wikimedia model is for so-called Bureaucrats to do it and not everyone is going to like it. My final call on things like custodianship is more likely to be either extended probation time or to close for full custodianship than to reject. I'm assuming we're here to encourage and support potential custodians who are keen to learn and help - unless there is evidence that sysop tools exposes the project to significant negative risk which outweighs potential benefits. Whatever way we look at it, its a judgement call. I will try to listen and explain my reasoning. From what I've seen so far at WV (2 years) the underlying tension is between inclusionism and deletionism which can then lead on to blocking and power issues. Somehow we need to discover a "healthy balance" betweeen inclusionism and deletionism in order to move and grow through issues like Wikiversity:Community Review/Wikimedia Ethics:Ethical Breaching Experiments. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 06:43, 23 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
              • "At the end of the day" <-- I don't understand what you mean by "the end of the day". Yes or No: do bureaucrats have the power to decide when a community discussion is over and if consensus has been reached; if more time is needed, can a bureaucrat extend a community discussion? Yes or No: would you make a declaration of community consensus on a custodian candidate under conditions where the candidate had not answered reasonable questions from the community? By "reasonable" I mean any questions about their participation at Wikimedia projects that are asked in good faith. As a bureaucrat, would you allow Wikiversity community members to make assumptions of bad faith about people who ask questions during community discussion? Would you allow another bureaucrat to close such an important community discussion (candidate for custodian) and falsely claim that there was consensus? How do you define community consensus? Given historical precedents such as the Poetlister case, should all custodian candidates routinely be subjected to checkuser analysis? As a bureaucrat, the next time that someone from outside of the Wikiversity community comes here and imposes a bad block, performs an emergency desysop when no emergency exists, or performs an out-of-process page deletion, will you act to correct the problem or smile and do nothing? --JWSchmidt 12:55, 23 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Sorry if not everything here is the yes/no form you're after (but my perceptions are not particularly black/white):

I haven't seen anything yet about bureaucrat's role in community discussion yet other than for custodian/bureaucrats nominations (maybe I've missed something?) By "end of day" I mean that yes, eventually, someone needs to call time, summarise consensus, and make a decision/action. And bureaucrats are asked to perform this role in the cases of custodian/bureaucrat nominations.
"Would you make a declaration of community consensus on a custodian candidate under conditions where the candidate had not answered reasonable questions from the community? By "reasonable" I mean any questions about their participation at Wikimedia projects that are asked in good faith." No I wouldn't, in so far as we understand the same thing by "good faith", which I guess leads into what is "reasonable", "good faith" etc. I think there should be critical examination e.g., as one would expect for a position of responsibility/trust.
"Would you allow another bureaucrat to close such an important community discussion (candidate for custodian) and falsely claim that there was consensus?" Others I imagine would read consensus differently to me. I would need to feel pretty strongly that there was a misreading of consensus to oppose another bureaucrat's reading of consensus, but its possible.
"How do you define community consensus? Given historical precedents such as the Poetlister case, should all custodian candidates routinely be subjected to checkuser analysis?" I'm happy with description at Wikiversity:Consensus. I don't have a strong view about checkuser for custodian candidates. The poetlister Signpost article seems to describe a rather isolated and benign case? Perhaps if such problems were occurring within WV then CU for candidates could be considered. But from what I understand of CU it should only be used where there is a very good reason to do so and other avenues to address issues have been tried. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 14:04, 23 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
"As a bureaucrat, the next time that someone from outside of the Wikiversity community comes here and imposes a bad block, performs an emergency desysop when no emergency exists, or performs an out-of-process page deletion, will you act to correct the problem or smile and do nothing?" I'm not intending to suddenly run around and police others' actions. Basically, what you see is what you get - the best predictor of my future behaviour is probably my past behaviour. I intend to take seriously the described responsibilities in WV:Bureaucratship - but I'm thinking that perhaps I'm seeing the role of bureaucrat more narrowly than you? I don't intend on imposing my interpretation of what is right and good on every WV situation. I like this description from the bureaucrat policy page: "Bureaucrats do not have the right to use their status to appropriate any undue influence in community discussions - their participation in such activities is on a par with any other community member, insofar as is possible. Whatever influence they may have should be akin to that of any other community member, according to the weight of their opinions or their previous participation in the project." What motivates me is creation of open content within my areas of teaching, research, and service and in giving back some service to the WV community as a user, sometimes as a custodian, and occasionally as a bureaucrat. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 14:04, 23 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
How will you decide what to do?[edit source]

Question: Since Wikiversity:Bureaucratship is a proposal that could be changed by anyone at any time how will you decide what to do and what not to do? -- darklama  15:24, 19 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

It's a catch-22. Most users are probably hesitant to edit that Bureaucrat policy page. Custodian/Bureaucratish users are probably most motivated to make changes but risk shaping it to suit them. But we should try to improve it to address past or present concerns. I'm happy to jump in but a little hesitant to be too bold. What do you think needs to be changed? (could be here or on the policy talk page). How will I decide what to do - ask others, look for consensus, hesitate, scratch my head, bite my lip, and make a decision/action if it seems needed/appropriate that is hopefully consistent with the spirit of the policy, WV, and the WMF. And be open to undoing if a better way can be found later. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 16:22, 19 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Controversial custodian nominations[edit source]

Question: I am mostly concerned with the implicit priviledges of users with the Bureaucratic tools. We know what is the job of a bureaucrat. There has been controversial candidates for custodians; I can remember User:Salmon of Doubt and there were probably others. Can you pick a few examples and comment on how you would evaluate their nominations? Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 09:30, 20 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

  1. I've commented on Mike.lifeguard's probationary custodianship in the previous section
  2. Taking a quick look at Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Salmon of Doubt - maybe part of the problem here also is the relatively short WV editing history before probationary custodianship - this one wasn't successful, so its not clear to me from that page what happened in the end - no indication of consensus or vote at all? Looks like maybe it just petered out: User talk:Salmon of Doubt#Suspend for a while?. There is nothing in policy about edit count per se as a criteria for Wikiversity:Custodianship - but maybe we could think more about ensuring that probationary custodians should first have a respected WV editing history.
  3. My understanding is that as a bureaucrat I would want to see community consensus and to use this as the basis for evaluating custodian nominations. From what I can tell looking at Mike.lifeguard and Salmon on doubt's nominations and others a significant risk may be a bureaucrat "calling" or "making" consensus too early - instead of facilitating and waiting for consensus. Where there is a lack of consensus, one strategy could be for an extended probationary period. Looking at Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Archived - overall there are not actually many failed nominations. In general, I don't see much of concern/controversy in there. Most of these look to be newish editors who generally lack sufficient experience in WV to yet earn the trust of the community. Looking at Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Archive of nominations for full custodianship there are many of WV's key contributors as well as some valued ones who have since resigned or been desysoped. There are a couple of controversial ones at the time of nomination (e.g., Mike.lifeguard and Salmon of doubt) but most of the custodial trouble has probably been later on e.g., Remi etc. which, although he/she left disaffected I think overall as a community we were patient and communicative and came to consensus that it was better for the WV community for Remi to not have custodial tools because his/her edits/actions had become somewhat unpredictable and difficult to follow, without accurate edit summaries etc. In the end, he/she was particularly disingenuous sockpuppeting and trolling. But earlier on, Remi was a valuable custodian. Terra's nomination was also a somewhat difficult one, but again I think it was generally well handled - the community learned about Terra, offered feedback, gave an opportunity and mentorship, and Terra eventually resigned the tools (I think). I guess I would endeavour to help find a good outcome all around via policy and community discussion. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 01:10, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Do bureaucrats have the priveleges to say what consensus is or call on custodian resignation?[edit source]

Question: Do you think the small group of users with bureaucrat tools have the priviledge to say what the community consensus is or call on another custodian to resign? Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 09:30, 20 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I don't see anything in Wikiversity:Bureaucratship that would suggest that bureaucrats have such "priveleges".
  1. At the end of the day, a key issue is interpreting "consensus". Consensus that is not there should not be forced, but at the same time I imagine it is important that bureaucrats can make good judgements about consensus. It has that "judging" element which is why the community should be concerned about whether they trust someone put into such a role.
  2. As for calling on another custodian to resign, I guess anyone could do that to anyone. But I think that's potentially a more problematic action if done by a bureaucrat because that is someone who has been entrusted with a role which requires impartiality. So, I would hope that were I ever to feel the need to call on a custodian resignation, that it would have been through due process (talk page, custodian feedback, community review) and that consensus would have lead to a community decision to desysop. In that case there is still no need to call on resignation - it can just go to a steward. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 01:23, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Such priviledges are unwritten but they do exist. If you go to Meta making the request and saying that the bureaucrats on the projects have talked and agreed bla bla bla..., the stewards are likely to oblige. My concern is that, while I don't think any one of our bureaucrats wants to be partial, everybody has blind spots, and the spot becomes bigger when the matter is closer to their own being. In short, I would like to clarify - do we have the following convention: A bureaucrat's reading of consensus is bigger than mine because they have gone through the community confirmation. Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 04:53, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
OK, I see what you mean - by virtue of being designated "bureaucrat", such a person's requests to meta/stewards are much more likely to be complied with because they would assume that the request represents consensus. Thus, a bureaucrat's interpretation of consensus is likely to carry more consequence (for better or worse) than a non-bureaucrat's. This would seem to be the case. Do I think this is a convention: "A bureaucrat's reading of consensus is bigger than mine because they have gone through the community confirmation." I think we have a community in which some people feel as though some bureaucrat actions have not been reflective of consensus. Given the potentials for abuse of power at this level I have been wondering whether something like an annual election/review of bureaucrats might be a healthier way - maybe its too a big thing just to allocate such status indefinitely. If a community feels uneasy about a bureaucrat's actions (or lack of action) there needs to be mechanism for review and discussion. Currently I guess its Community Review but that kind of implies that the Bureaucrat has really trangressed beyond acceptability. An annual review mechanism might encourage more clear and ongoing community monitoring and feedback to bureaucrats. In many ways it seems to me that its the community that needs to mentor bureaucrats in how it wants consensus determined. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 05:35, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I would like to see that happen. Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 11:56, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Who volunteers to summarize all the ideas about the bureaucrats so far on the bureaucratship (talk) page? ----Erkan Yilmaz uses the Wikiversity:Chat (try) 12:06, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I think it really needs to be spelt out, for something close to what I described has been happening right in front of your very eyes:

quoted from this page, permanent link. Note added by --Abd 01:04, 28 April 2010 (UTC),


5 days are over. It seems positive to me... --Gbaor 09:47, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

I think there might be a lack of consensus. I think the closest there might be to consensus is that 4 people seem to be of mind that he will be a good custodian, while 3 people also seem to be of mind that waiting awhile longer is a reasonable option. This could mean that AFriendman is good custodian but discussion of full custodianship should wait awhile longer. -- darklama 14:27, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Overall the response has been very positive and I personally have confidence that we've got a good choice here. But I do feel that it is important that the community doesn't feel that the process is too rushed or that the candidates are not getting enough guidance in learning. My feeling is that it should be no big deal to extend a mentorship to give all wikiversity contributors an opportunity to get comfortable with the candidate and to allow plenty of time for the candidate to get a feel for when to use the tools in real world circumstances. The probationary period is extended for 4 weeks. --mikeu talk 03:31, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

- are we "lucky" in the sense that we happened to have Bureaucrat MikeU who decided to respect the community and call on pause on Gbaor's judgement, or should that not have happened in the first place? Without having it in ink, it is all too human for well-meaning bureaucrats to decide to do what is really the responsibility of the community. Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 20:24, 27 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

There is some unclarity, I've found, over the function of administrators and bureaucrats in closing discussions and taking action. Sometimes it is said that the job of a closer is simply to assess consensus. In fact, the wiki model is one of distributed decision-making, and decisions are always made by a single person. There is no mechanism for the community to command, to exercise an executive function, except through giving advice, and there are strong traditions that advice, if coherent, i.e., if showing a consensus, is to be respected, but that does not normally create any obligation to follow the advice and act contrary to one's own opinion. No administrator is obligated to close a discussion, it's voluntary, and a bureaucrat is simply an admin with a special privilege.
In theory, any editor can close a discussion and declare a result, and this is often done when the editor concludes, from the discussion and his or her own investigation, that a decision is being made that does not require admin tools. If an editor closes a deletion discussion with Delete, though, how would this be implemented? Remember, we cannot command anyone. While it's possible that an admin would agree to do the deletion, the admin could simply be the closer if willing to take responsibility. I've suggested, indeed, that an admin might choose to trust a set of editors, which could be reversed if there is objection and the admin investigates and concludes it was an error, but that's not the basic model.
When an admin makes a decision in closing, and someone else disagrees with it, the first step isn't a formal review, (say, DRV on Wikipedia), as is often assumed. The first and least disruptive step is to Talk with the closer. If there was a deletion and you have new evidence, for example, if you present this to the admin, the admin can reverse the decision. If it was the "community" that made the decision, a new discussion would be needed. That's why this system of individual responsibility for decisions is efficient (when it works).
Bottom line, a bureaucrat always has discretion over the use of tools. If a bureaucrat makes a decision that is clearly contrary to consensus, the bureaucrat should be prepared to defend it, but it is not, per se, incorrect. As with all administrative decisions, the administrator should be careful about personal involvement, and, absent emergency, should recuse if personal involvement, or even the appearance of personal involvement, is present. Problems with this decision system arise when this is neglected. Also should be kept in mind that no decision is permanent on a wiki.
Two questions were raised here: Does the bureaucrat have the "privilege" of saying what consensus is? Sure, but anyone does. A bureaucrat may refer to the bureaucrat's own judgment of consensus, in closing or declining to close.
The other question was "Can a bureaucrat call on a custodian's resignation?" Again, any editor can do that. Bureaucrats do not have the privilege of removing group rights, except for bots. This is reserved for stewards. Stewards act according to their own judgment, and they could elect to specially respect the call of a bureaucrat, or not. If it's an emergency, I'd say, there is an obligation to make a rapid decision. It can always be undone. Otherwise, I'd expect a sane, uninvolved steward to want to see a discussion first. --Abd 14:58, 28 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Encourage new custodians[edit source]

Question: Would you actively seek out promising Wikiversiters and encourage them to help out as custodians? Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 09:30, 20 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I see custodianship and bureaucratship as "no big deal" - and would encourage others to step up, have a go, see what you can do to help. So far I have nominated and mentored Mike.lifeguard, Adambro and Leighblackall - I initiated and encouraged Leigh's nomination, Adambro not so much (but I think I did propose it to him), and Mike.lifeguard's nomination was initiated by SB Johnny and supported by me. I am currently mentoring AFriedman (who requested my mentorship). As a bureaucrat I'll continue to do this - but also encourage other custodians to seek out possible new custodians and mentor them. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 01:34, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Usurpation requests[edit source]

Question: What are your thoughts on Community Review/Usurpation of usernames? Under what conditions should usurpation be considered and what process should wv follow for considering such requests? --mikeu talk 15:27, 20 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I've read over that CR and added comments. It seems to have been triggered in part by BewareofDoug's request to be Doug. I do not see why Special:Contributions/Doug should be usurped. BewareofDoug IMHO should seek out a different, unique user name or stick with his/her current one. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 02:01, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Voting[edit source]

  • Support - I don't really care about the process or the rest. Jtneill would make a good crat so I'll just cut to the chase. Ottava Rima (talk) 17:58, 20 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Geoff Plourde 01:17, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support James is a great Wikiversity participant; level-headed, open (both open-minded and open to criticism), and dedicated. Cormaggio talk 07:21, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • I agree with Ottava; support. Pmlineditor  10:00, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Symbol support vote.svg Pro trusted user, it is all about the P ----Erkan Yilmaz uses the Wikiversity:Chat (try) 10:30, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support - Sure, I've read some of the short book that is being written above but I feel no need to contribute to it. This, in my view, is the best way to judge a user. Adambro 10:48, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support! - A no-brainer. --SB_Johnny talk 11:50, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support A trusted, responsible, capable user and a fantastic candidate for bureaucratship. :) --Trinity507 03:33, 22 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support From what I've seen in my time here, an excellent user. Grunny (talk) 03:44, 22 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Jtneill is one of our very best men. His enthusiasm for contributing and his equanimity as an administrator are a tremendous asset to this site. He's proven himself more than worthy of the tools he already has, and as far as I'm concerned, has earned these additional tools. --AFriedman (talk) 06:49, 22 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support I have found Jtneill a model member of our community in the dealings I have had with him. Best wishes. B9hummingbirdhoverin'æω 14:13, 22 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Both the quality and quantity of his contributions is inspiring. But far more important, imho, are the calm and level headed comments during discussions, the helpfullness to new contributors, the sincere desire to seek a common ground and the enthusiasm with which he has embraced wikiversity. --mikeu talk 15:24, 22 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Jtneill is a humble person in nature and outputs, I'm confident that power has difficulty corrupting him :) --Leighblackall 21:00, 22 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Is this on already? :) I see a bunch of very positive comments above and don't know what to add. So the short way: per others Smiley.svg (Note: the edit summary was a joke ;) ) --Gbaor 17:15, 23 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Comments on voting. I see comments above indicating that community discussion of a candidate for bureaucrat is irrelevant. I demand that the bureaucrat who closes this community discussion discount all votes that explicitly advocate voter participating while marginalizing the importance of discussion of the candidate. Consensus is determined by discussion of the candidate, not counting votes of people who disrupt the community discussion. Many support votes above are based on the false claim that a good creator of learning resources will automatically be a good bureaucrat. This faulty "reasoning" cannot be the basis for deciding what is best for Wikiversity; see Peter Principle. The candidate has made many disturbing comments in the discussion on this page such as: 1) the candidate's mistaken belief that custodians are first appointed and then the community teaches the custodian what the Wikiversity project is all about, and 2) that he will, as a bureaucrat, allow his duty to identify and act on community consensus in custodianship decisions to be over-ridden by outsiders who violate Wikiversity procedures for discussion before important actions are taken. This community discussion should not be closed until those who vote, first read and participate in the discussion of the candidate's qualifications for the position of bureaucrat. I believe that the candidate would prefer to see a constructive community discussion here rather than votes by sheeple. --JWSchmidt 14:09, 24 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
    On what basis do you "demand that the bureaucrat who closes this community discussion discount all votes that explicitly advocate voter participating while marginalizing the importance of discussion of the candidate"? You seem to fail to recognise that different users may assess the candidate in different ways. Some may seem to prefer to focus their assessment on the candidate's contributions, what they have done, whilst others may want to interrogate the candidate to gain an impression of what they say they will do or would have done in particular situations. Neither method is any more valid than the other, but I think you'd be mistake to suggest that those who haven't participated the discussion above won't have taken what has been said into account. My personal view is that community discussion of a candidate for bureaucrat is entirely relevant. That doesn't mean however that I will feel it necessary to ask the candidate a question in addition to the other questions. Adambro 14:30, 24 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
    Consensus is established by means of thoughtful discussion. For a voters to say things like "I don't really care about the process" and "I've read some of the short book that is being written above but I feel no need to contribute to it" is disruptive to the process by which consensus is established. Honest bureaucrats would strike such comments from the discussion and warn the disruptive participants. Of course, Wikiversity has a sad history of bureaucrats disrupting community discussions and preventing discussion of candidates, so some sheeple probably feel that it is not safe to participate in discussions and that they win brownie points by making clear that they are not asking any awkward questions. --JWSchmidt 20:36, 24 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
    Please avoid making disparaging remarks about users who don't have any questions for the candidate beyond what has been said. A massive amount has been asked and so it doesn't seem unreasonable that many in the community might feel they are in a position to assess the candidate from their responses and their contributions. Someone who asks many questions of a candidate doesn't become any more entitled to offer their opinion of a candidate than someone who doesn't. Adambro 20:59, 24 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
    There's not really much to discuss here. The user clearly has the trust of the community, so discussion in this case needs only be brief. Geoff Plourde 21:07, 24 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
    "avoid making disparaging remarks about users who don't have any questions" <-- I'll keep that in mind, but I can't imagine why anyone would make disparaging remarks about users who don't have any questions. I complained about disparaging remarks made by others about the procedure for reaching consensus about a candidate, such as "I don't really care about the process". This is not a popularity contest; I'm suggesting that the community should discuss what the candidate has said about how he will perform the duties of a bureaucrat and indicate how the candidate's expressed views of bureaucratship influenced their vote. --JWSchmidt 00:31, 25 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
    Its a fair comment I think JWS. I'm learning about this process and the role of bureaucrat, mainly through my friendship (with Jtneill) and an interest in Wikiversity and its governance. Is that how we've all learned here? I can understand the value of discussing the nomination, and to seek evidence that the nominee understands the role and responsibility. I can also see how the short comments in the votes could be seen as disparaging and undermining the value of the discussion. For my own vote and comment, it wasn't intended that way, apologies for the insensitivity. Let any discussion continue as needed. I know I am learning a lot by reading it. Best wishes --Leighblackall 01:27, 27 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
    I don't see anything "disturbing" in what Jtneill has written above; quite the contrary. Jtneill has answered all questions with a great deal of thought and sensitivity. I think his comments on mentoring (relating to JWSchmidt's first concern) continue practice as it has always been done on Wikiversity: to work on the basis of trust, which is strengthened through mentorship, and which, if broken, can result in removal of custodian tools. Relating to JWS's second concern, I do not believe that Jtneill's intention is to leave decisions to stewards (which is what I presume JWS refers to), rather Jtneill acknowledges that desysopping is carried out by stewards. I think Jtneill's overriding focus on consensus indicates that problematic decisions are rigourously discussed, and subject thereafter to community review. I don't see any reason why this nomination shouldn't be closed - I'll open a section below. Cormaggio talk 16:37, 15 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support. I was unsure, until I read your answers to the questions here, particularly those posed by JWSchmidt. Your answers show a level head and a great deal of thought on the matter. This, combined with your record of contributions here at Wikiversity, help me to feel confident that you would make an excellent Bureaucrat. The Jade Knight (d'viser) 22:23, 24 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • I like the guy; I liked his responses. He has my consensual nod. Countrymike 19:28, 4 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support per mikeu. SJ+> 22:56, 6 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support - Seems thoughtful, sensible, reasonable. I like the answers to the questions. -- Cirt (talk) 16:59, 10 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support per candidate's responses to questions. --Abd 17:53, 13 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Closing Nominations[edit source]

We have three discussions that have been open a long time. I'm willing to email the current bureaucrats (Mu301, Cormaggio, Sebmol) if others think that's the way to go, or to go to meta and request steward action. Jtneill's bureaucratship would seem to be the most urgent, because he's more active and could presumably take care of the rest. Any objections or comments? --Abd 00:57, 3 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Agree about it being time to keep things moving. I tried emailing Mu301 a couple of days ago but no reply, so I'm guessing he's not around at the moment. Cormaggio is usually happy to come in and do 'crat stuff when needed - if you could ping him, that would be helpful. Haven't seen Sebmol here since I arrived a couple of years ago. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 02:06, 3 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Sebmol did a username change May 21, first edits since 2008. Mu301 last edited, this page, April 22. Cormaggio had an isolated edit May 14. I pinged him on his talk page and sent him an email with the link. If he's busy, I could try Sebmol and Mu301, or go the steward route.... --Abd 03:28, 3 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Meta's policy says they won't act if you have local bureaucrats. Potentially you may wish to consider a policy on removal of users' flags if inactive (or begin nominations for de-bureaucratship). -- Adrignola 00:14, 6 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]
And who would remove those flags? Policy is not a straight-jacket, even though wearing one with a tight fit is associated with being crazy. A bureaucrat may be inactive for a time, and it seems we have three inactive, but I doubt that this will inhibit a steward from taking the obviously supportive discussion above and closing it. The defacto situation is that we have no active 'crats, and the policy specifically refers to "active" bureaucrats. I just wanted to make sure that local bureaucrats were absent first. I'll ping the other two bureaucrats later today, and if they don't respond as well, it will be meta time for me. Someone else can go there first, no problem. Just let us know here! I'll point to any request there, myself.Because of Jtneill's comment that he'd attempted to contact Mu301, and the relative inactivity of Sebmol, I decided to go ahead and request steward closure, see below, this note added 12:34, 8 June 2010 (UTC).
As to removal of flags from inactive 'crats, seems to me like more trouble than it's worth. What's gained to justify the time of a steward? And what is lost is the possibility of one becoming active again without further fuss. --Abd 13:41, 6 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I requested a steward close the Jtneill request, with Steward_requests/Permissions#Jtneill.40en.wikiversity. --Abd 12:34, 8 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]

My apologies, I just got back from a holiday last night. Good to see that Mav stepped in. And congratulations to Jtneill! Cormaggio talk 13:52, 9 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Closing[edit source]

As far as I can see, Jtneill has answered all questions above with exemplary openness and thoughtfulness. Are there any objections to me closing this nomination? I see overwhelming support. Cormaggio talk 16:43, 15 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Sorry, I've just re-read mikeu's recommendation that we leave the discussion/voting period for "at least a month". It's been almost a month since the nomination, but not quite - how about another week, or two? Cormaggio talk 17:03, 15 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I think that sounds fine. A discussion for crat should be kept open for a bit longer than a custodian mon. --mikeu
  • Close. It's a snow support, no opposition expressed. Want to leave it open a month, fine, but not necessary. And it's been a month. Nomination 18 March. Acceptance same day. First !vote March 20. It's done. --Abd 19:11, 22 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]