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Differences between admins and non-admins

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This blog represents my personal opinions, though most of those opinions are rooted in facts.

I've seen a number of comments by non-administrative members of TSW, commenting along the lines of 'if you want to do something, you need an administrator to do it'. I don't hold it against users who might think this, but I do want to take this opportunity to set the record straight regarding what Administrators are, and perhaps more importantly, what they are not, and how this relates to a regular user.

Firstly, let's go over the main technical aspects of administratorship; the tools given to Administrators by the MediaWiki software. These are:

  • The ability to do a one-click rollback of bad edits (this is extended to admins by default, but is also available to Rollback users).
  • The ability to delete pages on the wiki.
  • The ability to protect or semi-protect pages on the wiki from editing.
  • The ability to block other users from the wiki.
  • The ability to change visual and functional aspects of the wiki, through the editing of .css and .js and other MediaWiki pages.

There are a couple other tangential tools or actions admins can take that non-admins can't. Additionally, while I lump administrators and bureaucrats into one category of administrators for the purpose of this blog, it's worth noting that bureaucrats are not much different from administrators. There are only two key differences between admins and bureaucrats, and both are written into the MediaWiki software:

  • Bureaucrats are able to promote and demote other users, whereas Administrators cannot
  • Bureaucrats cannot be demoted (by local users), even by other bureaucrats.

In addition to the technical aspects of what makes an admin an admin, there are a couple things we here on The Sims Wiki allow our admins to do, above and beyond what we allow regular users.

  • The ability to use templated warnings to warn users of rules violations
  • The ability to serve as channel operators on The Sims Wiki IRC channel.

Beyond these items, there really isn't much an admin can do that a non-admin can't. Specifically, there is no rule preventing a non-administrator from:

  • Posting to the Admin Portal talk page
  • Starting a thread in the Community Discussions forum (or any forum, for that matter)
  • Writing a community blog post (so long as it's relevant)
  • Warning a user for breaking a rule (as long as the warning doesn't use the Warning template)
  • Creating pages with the 'The Sims Wiki:' prefix.

There are a few reasons why this is. Firstly, all users are encouraged to be bold and to pursue whatever action is needed to solve a problem or to address an issue. Administrators don't need to facilitate everything nor do they need to be consulted on every decision. It's also important to mention that you can't break anything... all actions can be undone if needed. That means all users should feel free to experiment and edit (within the confines of common sense and our policies) without fear that they'll be punished for screwing something up.

As a final point... ultimately this wiki needs to be run by the community and for the community. It may appear that admins 'run the wiki' but this absolutely shouldn't be the case. The decisions that need to be made as a group (i.e. not the minor stuff) should be made by a collection of users, admins and non-admins alike. When you get down to it, the opinion of an admin is no more or less valid than that of a non-admin. All users on The Sims Wiki who follow a few simple rules (don't be a jerk to people and don't ruin stuff, mostly) have a place in the wiki's decisions and in the wiki's management. It really is something that all of us - whether you're an admin or not - are able to do.

-- LiR speak ~ read 08:30, November 27, 2012 (UTC)

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