Thursday, 15 January 2009

Commons RFA is turning into English Wikipedia RFA

Yes, you read right. It's a bit of a late post really because it's been happening slowly but surely for months, but I thought I'd write about it now. People try to promote the idea that Commons is a lovely place to work, where everyone works together in peace and harmony. Frankly, I prefer English Wikipedia. This is one of the reasons I resigned on Commons. While English Wikipedia is far from perfect, its community is larger so there are a larger variety of people.

While not strictly an RFA, ABF is having an RFB on Commons. People make a huge deal out of bureaucratship. I wish I knew why. Perhaps it's because they have the only irreversable action that can be given to just anyone (as opposed to Checkuser/Oversight where one must be identified and over 18). I have never understood why bureaucrats do not have ability to reverse +sysop. So much so, I managed to get the ability added on Meta-Wiki.

Anyhow, this RFA has had three opposes in particular that bother me, all by respected admins on the project, one a bureaucrat, two checkuser and two steward. Such people have influence, and they know it. So it is very important they use it wisely. Let's look at the opposes in question:
Oppose. ABF is a very good contributor to Wikimedia Commons, but I feel unsure about giving him the big mop. While I have no reason to believe he'd be unfit for user renaming or SUL stuff, I am really uncomfortable with giving him the ability to promote sysops. Nothing personal, I think ABF is a good sysop, but I happen to think we have much better candidates for bureaucratship. guillom 19:14, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
What's wrong with this? There's no evidence or examples. Not a single one. While RFA is of course about giving ones opinion on a candidate, it would be immensely helpful for the rest of us to give some kind of reason for this "bad feeling". Guillom has simply not explained how ABF would be bad choice, just that he would be.

Oppose I believe ABF is a hard worker and I am grateful for all the time he puts into Wikimedia Commons. I wish, however, he would have asked the advice of sitting bureaucrats before accepting this nomination. This is a completely different role than sysop; and while I trust ABF's abilities for the sysop role, I have to oppose his nomination for bureaucrat. This is not personal, nor is it an indictment of my faith in ABF's good faith and honest intent. Bastique demandez 19:18, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
What's wrong with this? Since when do people need to ask advice before nominating? We don't ask before making an admin nomination - why are bureaucrats so special? Bureaucratship is indeed a completely different role, but only as an historical accident. If things had gone differently, admins and bureaucrats could share the same abilities. It does not require any better judgement than an admin, even less so. I trust ABF to evaluate consensus on RFDs, as we should since he's an admin. Therefore, he should be trusted to evaluate consensus on RFAs, which are really a vote count anyway. Any sensible person with a calculator can do it. Bastique continues, explaining he trusts ABF as an admin, but not bureaucrat. He neglects to explain why though, and that it isn't personal (though of course it is personal, it's ABF's RFB...)

Oppose - ABF is a fine administrator but simply is not the best choice for this role. Despite ABF's activity in nominating users for adminship (and his participation in other RFAs where they are not the nominator), I do not think they have the requisite judgement to perform promotions. This is not to say that they are untrustworthy per se, however they are not well suited for this role. I too wish ABF had consulted some trusted users (whether bureaucrats or not) prior to this request. I would have much preferred to avoid making such statements in public, however given that this is a live request, I find myself unable to support this candidate. Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 20:16, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Mike does not think he has the necessary "judgement" to perform promotions (though promotions are not difficult at all). As with the other two, he does not explain how he gets that idea, just that he does. And again, who is to suggest that ABF didn't contact anyone first (not that it's necessary)? He is supported by Cecil, a bureaucrat, who clearly thinks differently to the others. And there are other trusted people supporting him.

I am currently supporting him. I don't have issues with people opposing, but opposing with improper or lack of reasoning is unhelpful to the candidate, other voters, and merely looks like well-poisoning. Being opposed is not a pleasant thing, I assure you, especially from well-respect users. Pull your finger out and oppose properly if you have to do it.


Aaron Schulz said...

You definitely *appeared* to "call out" some people here. But I think this kind of criticism is actually a step forward. We can't just mention "too high standards", "requirement creep" or "the System" as the problem anymore. Specific examples are needed, which requires shining the light on some specific votes.

Some people may not like it, but as you wrote it, it doesn't seem personal after a closer look.

Lar said...

One of your criticisms is to question "why should ABF have consulted with other crats"

ABF left me a message on my talk saying he wanted to talk to me. Unfortunately it was on a day when I was away from my machine, and when I got on IRC he left the very minute I got on.

I'll bet dollars to donuts (an old US expression, it means give very good odds, although donuts cost about a dollar each these days, it seems so it's not actually "true" any more) that his RfB was precisely what ABF **wanted** to talk about. And if I'd caught him, I would have advised him to seek out other crats and to consider not standing just yet... for the very reasons given by the opposes you are not comfortable with.

MutterErde said...

That was clear. Without Jimbo's help abf couldn't become an bureaucrat on commons. Btw. ABF would need Jimbo's help to become an admin at also (see there his first try with comments as "LOL" or "Das soll wohl ein Witz sein" (Is that a joke?!)".

It's really a pity that Kanonkas has reverted my initiative on Jimbo's talk site, before he could read it. But I will try it again.

David Shankbone said...

Good post.

Anonymous said...

If 'crats must have near-unaminous support from the community to become a 'crat, why can they promote users, but not demote them? I believe that a decent and sensible 'crat can be trusted with demoting users.

While the English Wikipedia might be an exception, smaller wikimedia projects should have their own 'crats be able to demote, rather than having to ping the stewards. Just my two cents.

--stay sic!