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As time marches forward, editors to The Sims Wiki come and go. Some editors make only a few changes before they vanish, never to be heard from again. Others may spend months or years improving the wiki before slipping into their own quiet retirement. Still others may work on the wiki, but with less and less passion and involvement until, one day, they simply aren't there anymore. These things are true of regular users, and also of administrators and bureaucrats. The disappearance or retirement of these users is especially notable because of the tools they possess that regular users do not, and because administrators usually are a part of the backbone of the wiki community. The absence of a once-active admin is very often noticed, not because the administrative tasks go unfulfilled, but because their leadership is lost.
As I've stressed so many times in the past, you don't need to be an administrator to make a difference on the wiki. But, at the same time, administrators do make up an important and necessary part of the community. Over the past weeks and months, once-active administrators like K6ka, Beds, Dharden, and me have become less active. This process may continue, or it may reverse, but if it continues, the wiki will soon be short of several previously-active users, in addition to the several other once-prominent editors who no longer edit here. It is always important, therefore, to bring new editors into the community, to continually rebuild a sense of leadership with our editors, and to promote new administrators.
If you're reading this, odds are you're an editor of this wiki. You may be a long-time contributor or just starting out. You may have a strong idea of how wikis in general function, or you may be brand-new to this type of platform. There are many resources out there that explain how things work, but I want to go a different route. I want to appeal directly to those current (and future) wiki editors who may be considering, now or in the future, applying for administratorship. The Sims Wiki's Request for Administratorship (RFA) process is very well-established and straightforward. What is often not straightforward, at least to new applicants, is exactly what is and should be expected of applicants. Sure, there are listed-out minimum requirements, but even users who have exceeded these requirements have been denied promotion. Why? The short answer is that these users haven't done enough to demonstrate their readiness or to show that they would make good administrators.
With all this in mind, I've come up with a couple tips for users to follow if they hope to one day become administrators.
- 1. Participate
It really goes without saying that administrator candidates need to be active in editing the wiki. We don't have a minimum edit requirement to apply, but serious candidates are going to have a wide breadth of edits under their belts before they submit an application or accept a nomination. But participation goes much further than becoming a skilled editor. The Sims Wiki has a number of community features and initiatives that require active participation from editors. The Sims Wiki's range of featured content, for instance, need user nominations and votes to determine new content to feature. As is often naggingly repeated, the community discussions forum always has threads open and awaiting editor input. There is no lack of work to be performed on deficient articles, fanon assistance and peer review, wiki development, or in myriad other places on the wiki. You don't need to be an administrator to do any of these things, but administrator applicants should be active in many of these areas.
- 2. Take initiative
I can say "be bold" until I'm blue in the face, but still some people will hesitate to take the initiative in certain situations. So many users are inclined to defer to "more experienced" people, often administrators, to make decisions and take on leadership roles. Therefore, one of the best ways that a user can demonstrate their readiness for administratorship is to take on some of these roles themselves. If you see a problem on the wiki, fix it! Even if your solution isn't perfect, it's much better than waiting around for someone else to try and fix it, or waiting for an administrator to notice. If you have an idea for how to improve something on the wiki, implement it! There are very few times where you need to restrain yourself from taking action, and these situations are usually well spelled-out in policy. The vast majority of the time, you do not need permission or community consent to take positive action, and taking action can actually help to define the community consensus if things are otherwise unclear. Taking leadership over a project or showing the initiative will help the wiki improve, and can go a very long way to demonstrating that you're ready to take on administratorship.
- 3. Step outside your comfort zone
It's easy to edit the wiki from your own particular wheelhouse. Maybe you're a fanon writer, content to work on your fanon while helping other aspiring writers create their own content. Maybe you see yourself as a Sim biographer, updating and creating pages about Sims and adding their biographical information. Maybe you write about in-game objects, or have a knack for writing articles about Simology, or like to edit articles about worlds and neighborhoods. All of us that edit The Sims Wiki have certain fields about which we are very confident. Editing these articles is often a labor of love and we tend to spend most of our time focusing on these few areas. However, administrators often have to step into areas of the wiki that they may not be familiar with; an administrator may need to resolve a dispute regarding biographical information on an article about a particular Sim, or assist a user in creating their first fanon articles, or help update a template or add new categories. The only way to be truly proficient at all these tasks is to perform them. As well, being well-versed in the different areas of the wiki can help you stave off boredom, because there truly is never a lack of things to do! Don't limit yourself to the same range of pages or the same kinds of activities. Instead, demonstrate an ability to edit the whole wiki, even if it is at first daunting or confusing to step into different places. A good administrator candidate can demonstrate a readiness to edit, even in areas that they previously were not comfortable working.
- 4. Communicate
Administrators, even when working on "administrative tasks" like blocking or page protecting, often do not work alone. Administrators communicate with each other via the Admin Portal talk page, admin's noticeboard, wiki Chat and the IRC channel. This is especially true when making difficult or tricky decisions or completing complex tasks. Every administrator has their own strengths and weaknesses, and communicating between administrators can harness the collective strengths of the whole administrative team, while minimizing their weaknesses. As well, administrators do not edit the wiki alone; there is a reliance on regular users to help develop content as well. What is often lacking, however, is communication between regular users. Users who hope to go further in the wiki would do well to reach out to their fellow editors, via talk pages, wiki chat, or the IRC channel. These bonds of community and often friendship can go a long way to improving the whole wiki, making everyone's lives easier, and can make even monotonous tasks enjoyable. Communication can also minimize disagreements and confusion, and can smooth over those bumps in the road when they do occur. So whether or not you aspire to be an administrator, I encourage you strongly to talk to your fellow users whenever you can!
- 5. Don't be afraid to want it
There is a stigma attached to "wanting" to be an administrator, and I feel this prevents many otherwise qualified candidates from putting their names forward. The issue is a subtle but significant one - how can you demonstrate that you are ready and willing to lead, without making it seem like you're over-eager? This is a fine line that many have had to walk in the past, but I'll try to simplify things a little bit. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be an administrator. What is a problem is when you only want to be an administrator; when your focus is on earning those rights, not for any sort of constructive use, but simply because you see it as a step up the ladder, a badge to be earned, or prize to be won. One sure-fire way to ensure that you never become administrator is to develop an obsession over becoming one. However, there is nothing wrong with demonstrating an interest in the position or an ambition to become one. This ambition, however, needs to be matched with an honest and genuine interest to develop the community, regardless of whether or not you have administrative rights. It's often easy to tell when a user has a true interest in building the wiki, versus users who simply want the "special" status they imagine is bestowed on administrators. Candidates who truly care about the wiki, who have participated widely, acted boldly and taken initiative to lead, worked in many diverse areas of the wiki, and have been an active and vocal part of the community are easy to spot and very easy to see as deserving of those rights and they, in turn, need not be worried about how their administrative ambitions look for others.
As I've tried to stress so many times, administratorship is not a prerequisite to leadership. The points above should all make it clear that you don't need to be an administrator to lead or to make the wiki a better place. At the same time, however, the wiki does and always will need active, passionate, and compassionate administrators to keep things running effectively. We are always looking for new leaders to take up the task - do you feel up to it?