Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2022-09-30/Interview

ScottishFinnishRadish's Request for Adminship: Find out firsthand what our newest admin, ScottishFinnishRadish, does with a chainsaw.

The recent RfA of ScottishFinnishRadish saw 331 votes with 72% supporting his becoming an admin, making it the fifth most attended RfA since 2006.[1] Here's their firsthand account of the process which eventually resulted in them being handed the mop.

1. How would you describe your experience being a candidate at RfA?

It's a mixed bag. On one hand, it's wonderful to see the amount of support and positive feedback about your editing, and to see that the work you do is appreciated. On the other hand, there's the obvious negative of seeing the negative opinions and views. There's also plenty of valid and constructive criticism from both groups as well as the neutrals.

The worst part about it is not having any real avenue to address things you see as plainly wrong. Responding to opposes would be considered badgering, so you're left hoping someone challenges the oppose or someone asks a question regarding it. That, in part, contributes to the adversarial nature of an RFA between supporters and opposers. A lot of the time you're left just shrugging and leaving incorrect assumptions or false statements unchallenged. Maybe that's part of it? Making sure you can sit and take abuse, because that is a common position for admins to find themselves in. When you have to block, topic ban, or otherwise sanction editors they're often going to be upset and lash out. A contentious RFA is great practice for that, and a decent way to show editors that you can handle it.

2. Does your experience give you any ideas on how to improve the RfA process?

First, have a bot or any admin close the discussion right when it's over. If you've been sitting through a week of contentious RFA, that end point is a light at the end of the tunnel. Let's have a bit of sympathy on someone who's endured a stressful week-long experience and just cut it off. Having an end to look forward to helps, and watching it go by without actually ending does not help at all. That seems like the least contentious change you could make to RFA to make it a little better.

On a larger scale, a week-long question and answer/discussion period followed by a private poll might make some people more likely to run, and I think it would be more constructive overall. Having the back and forth, the discovery of diffs, the explanations and all that complete before voting opens makes sure everyone has access to all of the information before supporting or opposing. Also framing it as a discussion without the supporting or opposing might make it a bit less adversarial.

3. Do you have any advice for editors considering running for adminship?

Read contentious RFAs closed in the discretionary area and decide if that's how you want to spend eight or ten days of your life.

3a. What made you decide to spend eight or so days of your life doing this?

Well, mostly because I didn't assume it was going to be quite the experience it was. I was also interested in helping out in more ways. I went into a bit more detail in question 6, but there were a few harassment sprees on user pages that put me over the edge into deciding it was worthwhile. If going through a contentious RFA is what it takes to stop editors from being called racists or baby-killers on their talk pages, I'll accept that.

4. Do you think RfA is too harsh towards good-faith candidates?

It can be, but that's on a process level. I'm sure each person contributing believes what they're saying, and view their concerns as valid. That's why fixing parts of RFA is difficult. It's about trust more than anything and "I think they may be lying about having a prior account," even without evidence, is directly a trust issue. As long as the main criteria is "do you trust this editor," there will be contentious RFAs like mine.

Back when John Kerry was running for president of the US I had a friend who said he couldn't vote for Kerry because "his face looks like a horse." You can't convince someone you don't actually look like a horse, and as long as RFA is about how people feel about you, there's not a whole lot that can be done. To be clear, this is common on the support side as well, supporters just have the benefit of anything without an explanation being read as "per nom."

5. Do you think RfA is too harsh towards non-"content creators"?

It can be, depending on if people are looking for a way to avoid saying the candidate looks like a horse. Everyone is allowed to come up with their own criteria, and to be honest, I thought 5000 mainspace edits, two GAs, eight articles rescued from WiR declined drafts, and over a thousand edit requests implemented would have been reasonable to show that I create content, and am familiar with it. Others obviously disagreed. My bigger concern is the disdain often shown for content curation. At this point, curating the content on the encyclopedia is on par with creating new content in terms of necessity. Vandalism, NPOV, COI, UPE and all of the other acronyms are big problems on an encyclopedia with too few people to keep an eye on it. There are 14,000 transclusions of the COI template alone. Spam is constantly added to articles and talk pages, and administrator tools are often necessary to deal with this disruption and the ancillary disruption around it.

Editors get harassing and obscene messages on their talk pages because of their views on content. LTAs commit vandalism and harass editors. BLP violations are added all the time. Why would the people who are primarily responsible for reverting this not qualify to have the tools to deal with it fully? Would we ask the janitors and guards in a museum to create sculptures or paintings in order to qualify to keep the place clean and kick out vandals? Additionally, contentious articles require significant discussion and compromise to produce high quality, neutral articles. Viewing talk space edits as anything other than content related seems out of place to me.

6. Some editors brought up that it seemed like you wanted to be an admin. What role does perceived "eagerness" play in the RfA process? Do you think administrator is a desirable position?

I don't know, on a grand scale, what role perceived eagerness plays in the process. I haven't really studied it enough to make an educated statement on it. I'm not really certain why people thought I was aiming to be an admin, and when Vanamonde93 first reached out to me I told them I wasn't interested. After some discussion, they said they would reach back out to me in a few months. When they reached back out I had recently been dealing with a few LTAs and talk page harassment and I thought the tools would be worth it just to stop that disruption quickly. I felt that I had a reasonable use for them, and what the hell, might as well give it a whirl. Being an administrator, for me, is desirable the same way any other tool is. I never had any other permissions because I had no need for them. I requested rollback at one point, but after using Twinkle I realized I didn't need it and removed my request.

7. Do you think changing the lifetime tenure of admins would lower the high stakes atmosphere of RfA?

Possibly, although it doesn't seem like recall criteria generally swing any voters. There may be some slight reduction of stakes, but then you're asking editors to go through slightly less stress initially, but then repeat it. It may work out, or it may not, I just don't know.

7a. Perhaps because recall isn't binding and if I recall correctly there's never been a successful one. What would you think of making recall binding?

I don't think it would matter that much to most of those taking part in RFA, but I'm not really an expert. I think that in most circumstances where a recall would be successful the admin would likely be at Arbcom anyway. Also, in general, admins aren't making that many wildly incorrect calls. I'm sure there's a place to find the number, but I'm sure there's an enormous amount of admin actions taken daily. The actual percentage of problem admin actions, and problem admins is very low.

As far as actually making it binding, I'd be fine with that. If you're giving the community another reason to trust you at RFA, it stands to reason that you shouldn't be able to break that trust without repercussions.

8. What do you think of "No need for the tools" as a reason for opposing an RfA?

It depends on what "no need for the tools" means. I don't expect most people who run for RFA have no plans for what they would do with the tools once they have them. There's even a whole question about it.

When I first bought my house I didn't have a chainsaw. I didn't need one. But there were some things that I could only do once I had one, so I went out and got one. I do much more chainsawing now that I have one, and my property is better for it. If someone does a good job with whatever they're doing, giving them another tool isn't likely to make anything worse.

9. Was your candidacy worth it?

Yes. The constructive criticism and the outpouring of support from other editors were worth it. That said, if there were no consensus I would not run again. If I knew how it would have been before running without knowing the outcome, I would have to give it a lot of thought.

See also

Category:Wikipedia RfA debriefings


  1. ^ Statistic from User:FormalDude/RFAs