Forum:Bureaucrat discussion

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This thread was archived on 14 January 2012 by Liquidhelium.

Hi guys. In the past couple of days there has been some discussion over the role and purpose of bureaucrats on our wiki. So far the discussion has been strewn across multiple talk pages, Zamorak’s RfB and privately, none of which I believe are appropriate venues for a serious, much-needed discussion like this. There’s lots of confusion in the community around what we expect from bureaucrats in terms of trust, impartiality and community involvement, and that confusion has come to a head multiple times on the current RfB. Talking about this now will save us from the drama that could come along in future RfBs and in the bureaucrats’ interactions with the community if we don’t have a clear-cut interpretation of what we want out of them.

If you haven’t already, please take a look at RuneScape:Requests for adminship/ZamorakO o as well as this and this for the earlier discussion. I'm sure someone else will give some other links.

I want to see what the community thinks about:

  • Bureaucrats distancing themselves from affairs of their community in order to remain impartial.
  • Whether or not Forum:Certain unfair RfA arguments... applies at all to RfBs, specifically if we have a quota.
  • If bureaucrats serve any more purpose than the functions related to their rights; whether they’re “authorities”.
  • If they have an “aura” around them and if there’s a way to dispel it.

I’d encourage everyone, including and especially the bureaucrats, to chime in their two cents about this. Thanks. ʞooɔ 10:42, December 18, 2011 (UTC)


Comment - 1I think that b'crats distancing themselves from our community is a step in the wrong direction. First of all, it loses the trust aspect as b'crats seem to be random people that I know nothing about and have never interacted with. If they must distance themselves from the community in order to remain neutral on RfBs/RfAs, they should not be a bureaucrat. It should be a skill someone already possesses at the time of their RfB. It's not something that can be achieved simply by being inactive/unaware of what's going on on the wiki.

2Hmm. Good question, might have to come back to you on that one. If I said it shouldn't apply (which is what I currently feel like) I'd be contradicting myself.

3I don't see them as authority figures at all as I rarely even see them. They are, and should be considered, members of our community that have a few extra tools *points to "it's not a big deal"*.

4An aura? Well, when I see a b'crat, the first thing I usually think is "hm, haven't seen him in months" or "gee, nice of you to stop by". (; To dispel this elusive beast aura I'd say they should play a bigger part in our community. I think people get the wrong impression of b'crats (see #3) since they are so rarely editing. People might confuse that with them being almighty and powerful, so powerful that they are above editing. My 2 cents. sssSp7p.pngIjLCqFF.png 19:25, December 18, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - I believe in a balance between the two extremes. It would be nice for people to stop extrapolating general statements of limits to either extreme.

1. Bureaucrats should be fairly involved such that they understand what goes on in the community, but they should also be distant enough so that they are not too emotionally attached to any particular individual to be an adequate judge on things like RfA/Bs.

2. Again, a balance is needed. Too few bureaucrats isn't a good thing, but neither is too many. Azaz said, and I agree, that once you get past an ideal number, then the rest become "dead weight" and become more like sources of strife than concord. This has been seen in this year's RfAs, where bureaucrats have overruled each other, or have come close to doing so.

3. If the bureaucrats once served any such role, they have ceased to be authority figures on account of their general absence.

4. No such thing exists. I agree with Fergs on this one. --LiquidTalk 21:53, December 18, 2011 (UTC)

4 cents -

  • I believe we should have active 'crats. I do not like the idea of crats removing themselves from the community to remain neutral, because they should be able to put their feelings aside and read the arguments on the page.
  • I'm not entirely sure.
  • They do not have any other purpose. In order to be a leader, one has to be around and make decisions. They're not around enough to have been able to create that mindset around here, and I believe that having active crats would not change the image of them not being leaders. In a large amounts of Wikis that have crats as leaders, it's because the community believes in being run by that group. We do not work that way, as there is no "administrative veto", "admin-only vote", or even "crat-only vote".
  • With how rarely they come around, I tend to wonder "What happened that made one come around?" If we had more active crats, that aura could never come to play.

svco4bY.png3Gf5N2F.png 23:04, December 18, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - Over the years, we have adopted an odd notion of what a bureaucrat is and what they perform in the community. Whether it be that they are trusted with the tools or given the tools during the early days of the wiki, we shouldn't expect more of them than we do our administrators.

Having any user with the vast amount of tools at their disposal, regardless of being a sysop or bureaucrat, distance themselves from the daily activities of the wiki to remain impartial is a poor decision and ideology. When we have users that do remain distant from the community, how will they know what is really in the best interest of the wiki? Setting up any user group this way presents a problem for the editor in question and the community at large. There will be bias regardless of who is deciding even with consensus. It is the weight of the arguments that the deciding party takes into account which troubles me when they are either too distant or too attached to the issue at hand.

I loathe having a quota for any user group. Albeit we can't have more than five editors in a couple groups dictated by Wikia Inc., but setting one for bureaucrats is just another issue we'll regret. I do agree with the assertion that too many deciding parties can cause conflict, but this can also occur with sysops on Yew Grove threads and other tasks that are not bureaucrat-specific. This also runs into the previous discussion on inactive administrators, removing inactive administrator tools and requirements for staying a bureaucrat. While failed, they addressed the "dead weight" that we have continually rebuked. If we want a quota, let's start there. Otherwise, this particular issue is dead weight.

I've only ever considered bureaucrats authorities when I first began editing in 2008. Since then, no. I don't consider any bureaucrat an authority more than the next user. I do, however, consider some users more of an expert in areas they constantly deal with. With most of our bureaucrats rarely editing, I generally don't see them as an expert of anything other than being in the right place at the right time during the lifespan of the wiki. Nothing that any bureaucrat or administrator performs can or should be considered the final decision. Therefore, they do not serve any other purpose other than the two additional rights they house and passage or revoking a request for the sysop or bureaucrat group right.

I'm not entirely sure what it is meant by an aura, but the image presented to the community here is just bad. Get rid of the ideology of them being an illusive beast or whatever individuals refer to them today and it'll be a start. Going by the user list, only five bureaucrats have even logged in since 1 December. We are not like other wikis, but I'd rather not have to force someone to volunteer to dispel the aura that people may or may not perceive of bureaucrats. Ryan PM 23:24, December 18, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - I don't really understand the point of the ability to delete revisions, add usergroups, and to close rfas being so distinct, so scrutinised, so debated. I understand that the rights could have very bad consequences if they were to be abused, but is it really worth having a seperate usergroup, being added to such debatably even more scrutinised then that of administrators?

What I'm trying to say is that I don't agree with the bureaucrat usergroup's existence. I think that with the scrutiny that the community has on rfas, that most of our active admins could be easily be trusted with one or more of the crat rights. For example, RevDel. What is the point of having such a basic, useful right be applied only to crats?

To modify UserRights. We could have that right applied to admins like we did with checkuser. Same with the ability to close RFA's.

If it were up to me, we would abolish Crats all together, make RevDel an admin right, and give the rights to close RFA's and modify UserRights like we did with Checkuser. Have five or so admins get it with small, quick consensus. I really don't think it would need anymore than that.

Having a separate usergroup, regardless of how heavily joining it is scrutinised, just for a few basic rights seems pointless in my mind.

I'm sorry if that doesn't answer your questions, but I can't talk about what I think Crats should do if I don't think Crats should exist in the first place.

Cheers. Matt (t) 06:34, December 19, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - As I've said before, I don't believe that distancing oneself from the wiki for the sake of remaining neutral is good. In fact, it is most certainly detrimental. And honestly, while a bureaucrat can probably get by without knowing what's really going on and learning about a candidate solely through the comments on an RfA (which is how most of the requests are judged, or so I believe), is this really a precedent that we want to continue with? In my opinion, the most important part of an RfA is how much the candidate has displayed that they have a need for the tools throughout the course of regular editing. Sure, anyone could potentially make use of the tools if they were given access to them, but the question really is whether they have shown their ability to make good use of the tools. Personally, I wouldn't want to judge something like that without having seen their contributions first hand in context. Let's project this situation onto something a little bit more comparable to closing an RfA. Yew Grove threads aren't exactly similar since they rarely deal with a specific user in the detail that an RfA does. However, administrators have the ability to close RfCMs, user-related requests that aren't quite unlike RfAs in the nature of their process. I wouldn't feel comfortable closing such a request unless I had personally witnessed the user's interaction with other users in the chat to give context to individual comments on the request. No, this does not mean I would filter comments through a biased opinion that I formed from what I have witnessed. It simply lets me see where editors are coming from when they comment. Now, looking back at RfAs, I feel that bureaucrats should ideally approach the situation similarly. Comments without context may not be as meaningful. And as Fergie said earlier, if a user must distance himself from the community to such an extent in order to remain neutral in closing an RfA, then he should not be a bureaucrat. I trust the judgement skills of all of our administrators; they know how to remain neutral when it's required. While I don't know the bureaucrats as well, I trust their judgement as well based on what I have read in old Yew Grove threads from before they became administrators and from before they became bureaucrats. They really should not have to distance themselves from the community in order to remain neutral. It's honestly baffling how such a precedent has become so deeply rooted within our community.

On the issue of whether or not "Forum:Certain unfair RfA arguments..." applies to Requests for bureaucratship, I cannot give a straight answer. I don't believe in a quota, but I do believe that users who are obviously not using their tools should have them removed with the option of reclaiming them should they ever decide to become active at some point in the future. Given that this notion was met with a mixed response in the threads that Ryan mentioned above and Forum:A long overdue cleanup, this isn't necessarily what most of our users think. However, the "Certain unfair RfA argumentes..." forum established that the argument that there were enough administrators on the wiki already as a reason to oppose a candidate was a poor one given that the wide range of administrative tasks on the wiki called for a diverse array of users to perform them all. However, the role of bureaucrat only adds the ability to grant some extra user rights to the other abilities that administrators have. The guidelines for adding awb, rollback, and custodian user rights are so set in stone that it does not really require a bureaucrat to do so. In all honesty, an administrator could do this (and the requests would always be processed within the hour instead of just within the day). The more important task that they have is to judge RfAs. Since this only happens once every so often, I don't think that having an enormous number of bureaucrats would necessarily benefit the wiki as much as having an increasing number of administrators would.

Are they authorities? No.

Bureaucrats do seem (for some reason or the other) to have an air of mystery. I believe that this is closely related to their severe inactivity in all aspects of the wiki. They rarely comment on Yew Grove threads, and I cannot remember the last time that a bureaucrat closed a Yew Grove thread. Given that this is the center of community discussion on this wiki, the lack of comments from the current bureaucrats means that the vast majority of users do not know what these users are like. I am not inclined to believe that many users are willing to sift through previous Yew Grove threads and RfAs to find out what these users truly believe. As far as I know, only two users have looked through all of the past Yew Grove threads and Requests for Adminship. So yes, the current bureaucrats do seem to be completely detached from the community, and the perception about these users really should change. I might share more of my thoughts on the matter at a later time, but I'll just leave this short bit here for now. Suppa chuppa Talk 07:38, December 19, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - What is the point of having the bureaucrat usergroup be separate to the admin usergroup? The only thing that 'crats can do that non one else can is that they can close RfA/RfBs and bot requests and they can hand out rollback, AWB and custodian rights. They also have access to rev-delete, but I will ignore that as certain admins also have that tool.

Giving out the rollback, AWB and custodian rights is a matter of 2 questions: Does the person requesting the rights have the requirements? And in the cases they don't, is there some special reason that they should still receive the tools? It has been suggested a few times that these abilities should be given to admins, and why not? The first question is matter of the most basic arithmetic, while the second, which would be a rare occurrence, requires a slight judgement call, which would become a lot easier if the person giving out the rights was active.

Closing the tool requests are the main "jobs" of our bureaucrats, and the main sticking points on most RfBs. While admins can close RfCMs, they can't close any other of these types of requests. All the tool requests function in an almost identical manner, with the difference being the rights being given out. You could say, the chat moderator tools aren't as "important" or "powerful" as the other tools, but wouldn't we want exactly the same standard for determining consensus for all tools, not have a lower standard for "lesser" tools? A simple way to do this would be to make the closure of RfCMs to be done by 'crats only. But if this is the case, then can we trust our admins to determine any consensus, including threads here on the Yew Grove?

What I am saying here is not that I don't trust our admins to close any discussions, of course I trust them otherwise they shouldn't be an admin, but that they should also be trusted to close RfAs. If an admin can't be trusted to know when it is appropriate for them in particular to close the discussions, and when it is better for them to stick clear of the closure, then surely they can't be trusted to do the same with all other discussions, like on the Yew Grove, and therefore shouldn't be an admin.

The only reason against having 'crat tools being merged into an admins tools that I can think of, other than no one has ever done it before, is that we might then have admins fighting over who closes it, possibly forcing a rushed decision. My first point to this, is again, if someone rushes decisions just do they can close these things, are they really mature enough to be an admin? My second point is that I'm sure not every admin would be closing these discussions. I know for a fact that I wouldn't shut any at this point, and I'm sure there would be other admins with similar opinions.

There are also admins of many different activity levels, and ones who can take a completely neutral viewpoint while knowing the person and being active, which removes the activity point. We won't need a "quota" as they are simply admins, which answers the 2nd point. They won't be seen as an authority, which we shouldn't have on the wiki anyway, see RS:SOW, which is the 3rd point. And finally there would be no aura around them, as they are just admins, who shouldn't, and I don't think do have an aura around them. Hunter cape (t).png Sentra246Blue hallowe'en mask.png 10:12, December 19, 2011 (UTC)

If admins rushed consensus to beat another admin to closing an RFA, I'd lol. Matt (t) 10:26, December 19, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - I've seen two interesting ideas about bureaucrats, so I thought I'd expand my previous comment.

Firstly, the idea to abolish the bureaucrat group and give the ability to close RfAs to five administrators made me laugh. Not only does this establish a hard quota, those five administrators are de facto bureaucrats, in everything but name.

The second, more interesting idea, is to essentially give all administrators the ability to close RfAs (for simplicity's sake, the ability to close RfBs will be treated as identical as closing RfAs, as for practical purposes there isn't much difference). Granted, this isn't as revolutionary as it might sound; administrators can close all other forms of discussion. Administrators sometimes even close RfAs in the case of candidate withdrawal, RS:SNOW, or, in the only case I can think of a sysop closing a successful RfB, laziness by bureaucrats (check the timestamps). I cannot think of a case of a sysop closing a successful RfA.

Granted, I do have some reservations about this idea. I'll ignore the near-unanimous support or near-unanimous oppose RfAs, as it doesn't take a genius to close those. My issue with this idea arises more with the contentious or controversial RfAs. The fact that RfAs have the potential to be contentious over personal issues (as opposed to other discussions, which are contentious mainly over impersonal issues) means that it's significantly harder to maintain a neutral point of view. Furthermore, the fact that many users have preconceived notions going into RfAs (about a user or about the nature of the RfA process itself) makes it all the harder to set aside personal convictions and adopt a neutral point of view. This is what I believe separates a bureaucrat from an administrator. I (and a host of other sysops) were sysopped mainly for countervandalism, not for consensus determination. You can hold a lofty view of your own neutrality, but in the moment it is a lot harder to maintain a neutral point of view than you might imagine.

I know that if I could close RfAs, I wouldn't close any of the borderline/contentious ones (which is why I'm never running for bureaucrat). But would every administrator do that? The problem when you have too many individuals capable of closing discussions that they get a lot more emotionally invested in is the potential for the dead weight to cause discord. In response to Ryan's comment above that the dead weight argument has been debunked, I'd say otherwise, as sysop tools aren't removed mostly because they are countervandalism oriented, whereas bureaucrat tools are consensus-determination oriented. If a thread was created in the shoes of the ones cited above, but focused solely on removing inactive bureaucrats' rights, it is possible for me to support that.

This is not to say that I am completely pleased with the bureaucrat situation as it stands now. In the case where a significant number of users disagree with a bureaucrat's decision, I would rather there be a systematic discussion-based method for reviewing that, as opposed to behind-the-scenes discussion over collusion and judgment calls. This current problem of having no method to review bureaucrats' decisions is not a major one now, as only thirteen people as of today can actually close RfAs, twelve of them have passed requests specifically for this purpose, and only three of those are actually active enough to do so. But, if sysops were given the right to close RfAs, the large influx of individuals able to close them substantially increases the probability of one sysop overruling another (simply because if you send the request to 20 sysops, there there a higher chance that one of them is sympathetic to your position than if you sent the same request to 2 bureaucrats on virtue of numbers alone). This would obviously necessitate the creation of a review mechanism, and if we have to discuss all the contentious RfAs twice, we might as well give the drama llama a permanent home here.

The point that sysops can overrule each other on YG threads has been brought up as an analogy, but I feel that this is not a very good comparison due to the impersonal nature of YG threads as opposed to the personal nature of RfAs. Are we really going to add and remove sysop from a user while two people have a wheel war over what the consensus on an RfA is? Or, are we going to leave a user sysopped for two weeks pending an appeal and remove it at the end of that period should the review determine so? That would be a lot more disruptive than anything that I've seen on the YG so far.

Anyways, this was going to be a short two paragraph comment, but expanded into a text wall. My apologies. Just an expansion on my 0.005533 Kuwaiti dinars or 667 Somali shillings. --LiquidTalk 11:51, December 19, 2011 (UTC)

By no means was I suggesting a hard quota. As you've stated, too many users being able to close RFA's would be a bad thing, and I thought 5 active admins that the community feels would be able to be neutral in closing an rfa and are competent enough in the regards of weighting opinions, etc. would be a good balance between too many and too little. Doing that would completely solve your problem you expressed with all admins being able to close RFA's. Of course, it's only a suggestion, and that number can easily be changed if the community sees fit. On the note of those being de facto crats, they wouldn't be if crats don't exist, which is what would happen if crats were to be abolished.
I'll write more in the morning. It's 11:29pm, I'm supposed to be going to sleep, but I'm sitting on my bed with my legs crossed tapping away on my iPod Touch. Cheers. Matt (t) 12:30, December 19, 2011 (UTC)
What I mean by "de facto bureaucrats" is that these administrators would essentially be bureaucrats. They won't be called as such, but your idea would essentially take the ability to close RfAs and rename that from "Bureaucrat" to "(insert creative name here)." Obviously, that doesn't change much. --LiquidTalk 12:35, December 19, 2011 (UTC)
I see your point. I should probably explain myself further.
By abolishing crats, I mean abolishing the user group in it's entirety. I feel that the extra rights that crat's get aren't worthy of a separate usergroup, with the rights so simple and basic. I understand you're point about de fact crats, and what I proposed would practically make de facto crats, but not necessarily. A user who can modify UserRights may not necessarily be able to close RFA's, for example.
I was also trying to remove the heavy scrutiny imposed on rfb's. While people can scrutinise all they want on requests for the ability to close RFA's (I can't stop them), and such right would be given to a small amount of admins, the ability to modify user rights would be given to much more admins. Assigning rollback or custodian or AWB isn't hard any pretty much any admin could do it, with abuse being easily revertable. I don't think this would have anywhere near as kuch scrutiny opposed, because it is just seeing consensus, or seeing a request from a user, checking a box and clicking a button. Matt (t) 13:00, December 19, 2011 (UTC)
Also, blame the mistakes I'm making in my writing on the touch keyboard and how awlward any full-scale editing is on mobile devices. Matt (t) 13:04, December 19, 2011 (UTC)
Heck, we could even make the ability to modify user rights an admin right and have the ability to close RFAs be the only right in question. Matt (t) 13:16, December 19, 2011 (UTC)
I have a feeling that in your case, the discussions to allow individuals to close RfAs would be exactly the same as the current RfBs. Furthermore, checkboxes to modify user rights aren't the issue at stake here. Any person can do them. We simply have that attached to the ability to close RfAs because it's simpler for a person to close an RfA and modify the user right himself than to close an RfA and poke someone else to do so. --LiquidTalk 13:47, December 19, 2011 (UTC)
Having a small number of admins that are capable of doing b'crats' work would just be like having a small number of b'crats without blue names. I don't think that would solve anything at all - either all admins should be on the same "level", or we should keep it as is. sssSp7p.pngIjLCqFF.png 17:20, December 19, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - Yes Liquid, it would hold more weight had the discussion been solely about bureaucrats for the sake of this thread. However very few if any actually exist in the archives of the Yew Grove, that isn't to say I missed some while glancing at them.

Personally, I do feel other administrators as dead weight when they don't even log in after two years as indicated by ListUsers. Very seldom do I actually use the counter-vandalism side of the sysop group right, which I feel is overrated and not why I use the tool-set today. Although if anyone has taken a glance at the aforementioned threads, I have had a mixed feeling on the issue before.

Counter-vandalism administrators are more oft than not. Same can be said for technical administrators or those from day one. I don't recall any editor becoming a sysop because they were deemed to become consensus brokers. This is my reasoning for only closing a handful of threads dealing with certain issues. I try to remain neutral as an administrator at all times, but sometimes it is hard to form any opinion based upon a thread in the Yew Grove than it is on an RfA. Ryan PM 18:37, December 19, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - The Bureaucrat flag is merely an extension of one's sysop tools which enables said person to hand out rights to other users. Asides from that, there is little difference between the two other than that perhaps the Bureaucrat flags demonstrate the trust given to said user. If we're talking about how a bureaucrat may look to have an elevated position in a forum, then perhaps that is more down to the blue font for their names. If the user wishes to maintain a neutral opinion, that is fine. In my opinion, bureaucrats should be treated as administrators are and should be liable to the same rules; this includes the idea that bureaucrats are subject to AEAE and thus should only be discriminated against voluntarily, and if you're having a problem with this then perhaps removing the blue font would be a step forward. Smuff [citation provided] 20:16, December 19, 2011 (UTC)

I'm afraid I don't follow. "...bureaucrats should be treated as administrators are and should be liable to the same rules; this includes the idea that bureaucrats are subject to AEAE and thus should only be discriminated against voluntarily..." What? Suppa chuppa Talk 21:47, December 19, 2011 (UTC)
It's entirely up to the 'crat if he wishes to remain neutral or not. Long story short, an administrator can have an opinion; why can't a 'crat? Smuff [citation provided] 22:30, December 20, 2011 (UTC)

ʞooɔ - Shying away from community affairs for the sake of an unbiased judgment is a very negative practice for any bureaucrat.

Sysops already close all of the Yew Grove threads, and while there’s no doubt that most of them are not as individual-related as RfAs, many of them are, and those sysops manage to close them admirably even if they are active. The same goes for RfCM, RfETs and RfRs, although the last two are not technically rights-related. Bureaucrats have already gone through a fairly rigorous process to see if they have the intellectual and emotional maturity to remain impartial in the face of controversial discussions, so my view is that if you can’t be fair without being out of touch, you shouldn’t be a bureaucrat.

By nature, bureaucrats are experienced editors who have a good understanding of policy and past precedents; this makes them highly valuable to the wiki as editors and community-members, so staying away from the wiki in a misguided attempt to maintain neutrality is not worth the trade-off. I think it’s possible that there is a point where someone may be too intertwined with the drama within the site to close RfAs fairly, but firstly none of the bureaucrats are anywhere near that point (look at Yew Grove posts), and if someone gets too involved with the drama they probably shouldn’t be a bureaucrat in the first place.

I assume the goal with this ideology is to give more credence to the closing of the RfAs, but to me it has the opposite effect; I would not want some incredibly old bureaucrat (take your pick) to swoop in and close RfAs; it would not me feel better about their impartiality. My question would be whether they know what is actually going on and whether I trust them, showing up out of nowhere, with closing it. This is a very strong example, but the point stands that if you’re not part of our community I don’t trust your judgment. I have often wondered whether this “Inactivity makes for better closings” was in the first place an explanation for the bureaucrats not being around, but later morphed into a reason for them to actively stay away. Either way, I think it’s a bad idea, and if at all possible it should stop.

I’ve always been adamantly opposed to a quota of any kind for sysops, as can be seen on that thread I linked. The word “quota” obviously has a bad connotation on our site based on previous discussions, but we need to look at the function of the bureaucrat user rights and decide whether too many cooks would spoil the broth.

The only things that bureaucrats do that (some) sysops can’t do are giving out rollback, custodian, bot and sysop flags. I would prefer we let all sysops give out at least rollback and custodian, because those requests really leave no room for error, and for the most part sysops will know the candidates much better. Bot is a bit more major (considering that on most wikis not even bureaucrats are allowed to give it out), but if I recall, some of the bot threads on the Yew Grove have been closed by sysops before, and only the changing of the rights was done by the bureaucrat. It wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to let sysops grant those as well. That really leaves sysop and bureaucrat right changes, which in my time here have always been closed fairly quickly.

The question I posed to Zamorak was if he thought the bureaucrats were doing an insufficient job doing what they are supposed to be doing. There was the time a few weeks ago when it took 6-7 days for someone to be given custodian rights after they requested them, although according to Caleb that was exacerbated by Wikia’s followed pages not sending out e-mails when they were edited. That’s not an entirely valid excuse, but it mitigates the problem. Besides that one lapse, the requests appear to have been fulfilled in a timely manner (under 24 hours). What would change functionally, for better or for worse, if we had some new bureaucrats? My guess is not all that much, although I’m still not sure whether that’s a decent reason to oppose someone.

On the other hand, I have noticed that with markedly few exceptions, the only time we’ve passed RfBs is when we’ve had a crisis with the number of active bureaucrats. Even after we passed the thread about unfair arguments, that argument continued to arise on the two RfBs since then. For now we are stuck in a place where the bureaucrats are not around enough to make any difference in the community, while they are perceived as being around enough to the point that no one can pass an RfB. It’s not a good place for us to be in.

When reading through old threads from a time when the bureaucrats were more active, I noticed that quite often people deferred to the position of bureaucrats, and that when people needed a leader to do something off-site they usually turned to a bureaucrat. This is clearly no longer the case, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s partially caused by the bureaucrats not editing as much, but as a whole we are remarkably more liberal and open-minded than we were before, and as a result we care less about the “authority” of people with user rights. The sorts of things that we used to prioritize by rights are now being spread around between the sysops and the non-sysops, whether the assortment of people on the Events Team, me talking with Jagex, or the five non-bureaucrats with access to RevisionDelete. It’s clear that not many people view them as authorities anymore, and I think that’s a good thing.

I wouldn’t say that bureaucrats necessarily have an “aura” as such, but it’s more of a feeling of surprise when any of them show up in the community, whether it’s editing content, posting on the Yew Grove, IRC, Clan Chat or Special:Chat. It’s just such a rare occurrence nowadays that when it happens things change subtly. I can’t really put my finger on it. The way to stop this is to get an active bureaucrat who does things around here and isn’t afraid to share his or her opinion, although I’m not sure passing an RfB mainly for this reason is a good idea.

As to abolishing the bureaucrat usergroup: I don’t see it working. If we attempted to do a quick consensus for making people bureaucrats, they would turn into RfBs even if we don’t call them that. They’d still have the “bureaucrat” user right, and Wikia would not be on board with it, especially considering they didn’t even let all the sysops have RevisionDelete after we got consensus on it. I can see that happening for custodian and rollback requests, but anything more than that wouldn’t be successful. Bureaucrats will always have to exist unless we get staff to close our requests, which would be bad for both parties. Besides, I don’t trust all of our sysops to close them. ʞooɔ 22:09, December 19, 2011 (UTC)

arbitrary section break

Comment - I like the idea of removing crat hilites. The argument brought forward in Forum:Hilite custodians was that the 2 or so extra rights that custodians get isn't notable enough for a hilite, and I think the same logic could be applied here. Besides, crats barely edit anyway, so that weakens the argument that the hilite would be useful to show who you can go to for help, because you barely ever see them. I'm sure if a user wanted help from a crat, they could just go to RS:BR for their needs. They don't need to identify a crat. I don't see the hilite serving any real purpose, even if they were more active, due to them only having a couple of extra rights, and if a user needed assistance of those rights. they could just use RS:BR. The only reason I could think of a user needing to contact a crat would be for general discussion about something (doesn't need a hilite), or for disputing the closure of an rfa. However, in that scenario the crat would easily be identifiable due to them, well, signing. Based on the reasons above, I think we should remove the hilite for bureaucrats. Matt (t) 00:01, December 20, 2011 (UTC)

Comment. I don't support removing the bureaucrat group altogether, but I think that people need to focus on the facts here: Admins can already close YG threads, RfXs and RfCMs. Bureaucrats can just close two more types of discussions, and at that, I'd argue that YG threads are far more important to the wiki than RfAs. Therefor, I don't see why anyone would say that some of our current sysops can't be trusted with 'crat - and if that is the case, perhaps those users who can't be trusted to close RfAs shouldn't be sysops either.

Beyond that, I would strongly support removing the bureaucrat hilite. It serves no useful purpose, especially since outside of an RfA, a bureaucrat has the same technical abilities as any other admin. Except for deleterevision, but some of our admins have that too, and it isn't important enough to make a distinction.

I would also strongly support allowing all admins to add/remove rollback and custodian. We can already determine consensus and assign chatmod rights, so why shouldn't admins also be able to assign rights which don't require consensus? ajr 19:18, December 20, 2011 (UTC)

Actually, upon further reflection and thought, I think that removing the bureaucrat group would be beneficial. As I've said, sysops can close requests anyways, this is just one more type of request. To Liquid's argument about RfAs being more emotional (to which I really disagree - have you seen some YG threads?), sysops can already close RfCMs which are just as emotional.
A solution to the problem of Wikia is just giving all of our admins the 'crat bit. This would not only "remove" the bureaucrat group and allow certain sysops who don't feel comfortable with closing RfAs to not need to, but also mean that we would then be able to give all of our admins the deleterevision right - an action which we still have consensus to do. ajr 19:25, December 20, 2011 (UTC)

I think it might indeed be good to open the bureaucrat right (almost) completely. I trust our admins enough to be able to know if they are neutral enough to close a RfA, and if they are not, leave it alone. I think it would be good not to set any strict rules like test periods or something for this, but just use common sense. If an admin is not a good candidate for closing RfAs, he doesn't close RfAs, but maybe can use the revdel right or the right to give AWB/custodian/rollback rights. I think that's up to the admin him/herself. If an admin does close a RfA incorrectly, the other admins will be able to correct him (of course, not starting a rights-war, but just talking about it with other users first before changing it). JOEYTJE50TALKpull my finger 21:56, December 20, 2011 (UTC)

You mean like a "you'z been a gud admin for 3 months, haz cookeh" sorta thing? The Excel Talk 22:32, December 20, 2011 (UTC)
Well, actually more likeif the user has need for the tools, not after a period of time. Time is not a good factor in this in my opinion. The user's qualities are a much bigger factor. If admins think they would have good use for the tools, they could just request it at RS:BR then. JOEYTJE50TALKpull my finger 09:38, December 21, 2011 (UTC)
I've been pondering this for a day or two and thought exactly the same thing: perhaps we could "skip" the admin role and immediately give a user bureaucrat tools after a successful RfA (or RfA, whatever you want to call it). Not only would this continue to ensure that trustworthy users receive the tools, but it would also eliminate the notion that 'crats are elevated above admins. Of course this would result in a plethora of users with 'crat tools, which, depending on your view of the situation, may be ideal... or overkill. Also, the grandfather clause may or may not be needed here.  Tien  01:51, December 21, 2011 (UTC)
It wouldn't be overkill if we made the active admins b'crats and removed adminship from the inactive admins. ;3= sssSp7p.pngIjLCqFF.png 03:43, December 21, 2011 (UTC)
I would agree the crat rights should be removed from inactive admins (except for the ones that passed a RfB in the past, grandfather clause). It is very unlikely inactive admins will need the tools, and it is a much bigger risk than adminship. JOEYTJE50TALKpull my finger 09:38, December 21, 2011 (UTC)
Not at all, bureaucrat rights have very little potential for abuse compared to the sysop flag... ajr 15:40, December 21, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - Regardless of the future of the bureaucrat usergroup, I thought I should talk about my knowledge of crats and how I have and currently do see them.

Excluding Tyler's rfb, I have only ever seen two RFB's in all my time here. Caleb's, and Gaz's. Neither I took part in. I don't remember being there when Caleb's rfb was in process but I do remember being there for Gaz's. Gaz's was unsuccessful but Caleb's was successful with near unanimous support.

I cannot remember a time I have ever actually interacted with crats. I mean, why would I have? Their startling lack of activity, community contribution, and contributions to other editing areas makes it seem like checking RS:BR and closing RFAs is their sole purpose, regardless of other things they could do to improve the wiki. It's like as soon as you pass a RFB, it's suddenly all you can do. Check BR and close RFAs. The last crat I remember being a bigger part of the community was Azaz. But Azaz retired a long time ago, and since then I feel that crats are no longer parts of the community. They just do a few simple, somewhat systematic tasks. That's it.

I also feel they are bringing it upon themselves.

I don't really know any of the crats very well, but the fact that they don't edit does make them seem like, as Ty put it,

elusive beasts that comes out once every blue moon if summoned with a jar of 'crat treats

I mean, they don't edit, they don't take part in community discussions, they barely even communicate with other users unless one of their RFA closures are disputed, and because of this, yes, I do feel there is an aura with crats. Simply because of their lack of doing anything else than the extra things they can do impairs people's knowledge of them as people and editors.

Distancing one's self from the community, while it could potentially make someone more neutral by definition, would impair one's ability to make fair judgement, not improve it. It has been said many times in the recent discussion about crats, but if a crat has to isolate themselves from the community to be neutral, they shouldn't be a crat.

About them being authorities, they can't be authorities if they don't express authority, leading back on to their lack of activity, but even still it's only two extra rights. I don't think they should be regarded any higher than admins in that regard.

The thing with the unfair arguments is that sysop rights can do loads of things. Crat rights can not. However, just because they only get a few extra rights doesn't necessarily mean the amount that exist should be restricted. For example, custodians. They only get two or so extra rights. The ability to move files and move pages while suppressing redirects. However, custodians have 46,000+ things they can use their tools for. Bureaucrats have two.

Because of this, and the systematic nature of those things, I think we should limit the amount of active crats we have. 4 or 5 or so would be a good number in my opinion. Any more is just unnecessary, as 5 would easily be enough to manage RS:BR and RFA's. I mean, that's all bureaucrats can do anyway.

I generally don't like the "no use for the tools" argument but I very much so dislike it being applied to RFB's, and given the extra rights crats get I do not see how it could be applied logically. A RFB candidate should be judged, firstly, on the amount of active crats, because again, what they can do is extremely limited and having any more than a set amount is just unnecessary. Then, it should be about their maturity, their calmness. Their experience. Their neutrality. I don't see a bureaucrat being any more than someone who the community has seen to be outstanding in those regards. A need for the tools argument, when the tools in question are so simple systematic, just seems invalid.

Okay, that's all I wanted to say. I'm not sure the best way how to conclude this, so I'll just say Cheers. Matt (t) 00:31, December 21, 2011 (UTC)

"Cheers" is my line! Evil Cheers, Chicken7 >talk 09:59, December 25, 2011 (UTC)

Oh, please. There's no way we should be encouraging our bureaucrats to "distance" themselves from the community. What's so special about a bureaucrat, anyway? They get a few extra rights. Not that much bigger of a deal than being an administrator. But, since we seem to hate giving out these rights so much (whatever, I don't care about that too much), of course there is an "aura" around them. If only the most trusted users get the rights, then I'd look at a 'crat and think, wow, I have trust in you. That's the aura. No biggie. White partyhat old.png C Teng talk 02:43, December 21, 2011 (UTC)

We're not encouraging themselves to distance themselves: quite the opposite. ʞooɔ 03:02, December 21, 2011 (UTC)

Note: Discussion on removing bureacrat highlights has been moved here. Ronan Talk 22:31, December 21, 2011 (UTC)


  1. Bureaucrats should be able to set aside their personal opinions aside whenever required; if they can't do this, they shouldn't be a 'crat. When the situation does not require them to do that, they shouldn't have to. The argument was made in the past that if 'crats comment on something important, people (noobs) will take their opinions as gospel. If we really do use a system of consensus, it shouldn't matter how many people agree with a particular opinion, except perhaps when both are equally valid. There's absolutely no reason (that I've thought of yet) for them to totally distance themselves from everything community related.
  2. Admin tools should be given liberally to anyone who can be trusted with them, because it's in the wiki's best interest not to withhold from someone the ability to improve it. The same cannot be said for 'crat tools. I'm still having trouble putting my opinions to words, so I will move to #3...
  3. I have high regard for the statements of bureaucrats not because they are bureaucrats, but because of who they are. When I was more active on the wiki, I often thought "What would Karlis do?" when it came to wiki-related issues (because Jesus never edited Wikis Wink), and the same can probably be said for Caleb. Many users probably have similar opinions, and the two of them are 'crats for that reason.
    At the same time, nothing a 'crat says should be able to override consensus or policy unless it's within the realms of RS:UCS.
  4. Bureaucrats are typically old, experienced users. So experienced, in fact, that they often burn out and fade away because they are tired of being so experienced. Their memory turns into some sort of ancient legend, and so forth. Fortunately, ancient (and by ancient I mean several months) legends have no effect on reality. Therefore, we can easily dispel the illusion that 'crats are wiki gods by mutually agreeing that we will stop imagining that it is the case. Magic-icon.pngStelercusIlluminated Book of Balance.png 20:34, December 22, 2011 (UTC)
If that is honestly your opinion then I can see where our troubles are coming from. Why is crat such a massive step up from admin in your mind? Have you actually taken time to think about the tiny difference in both technical and community abilities (checking extra boxes and deciding consensus on one more type of request)? What you describe is the horrible view we currently have of 'crats, can we please change this? Also, if you are saying that worn out role models are crat material... I don't even know what to say to that. Popularity should never be the judge of whether or not a user can appropriately close a discussion. ajr 23:17, December 22, 2011 (UTC)
To quote President Obama, let me be clear: "Why is crat such a massive step up from admin in your mind?" You're probably assuming I feel that way off of this, "I have high regard for the statements of bureaucrats not because they are bureaucrats, but because of who they are." It has nothing to do with the fact that they are 'crats. It just so happens to be that I have high opinions of those who are 'crats. "Also, if you are saying that worn out role models are crat material... I don't even know what to say to that." I'm not saying that a "worn-out" user is the ideal (it certainly is not), though if you look at our past 'crats, they are almost always (in my experience) been semi-active at best. "Have you actually taken time to think about the tiny difference in both technical and community abilities (checking extra boxes and deciding consensus on one more type of request)?" Yes. I think you've misinterpreted my statements regarding the way things currently are as the way I think things should be. Magic-icon.pngStelercusIlluminated Book of Balance.png 23:43, December 22, 2011 (UTC)
To add to that, I agree with Liquid that the aura doesn't really exist. From my perspective, which may be totally off because I haven't been active for several months, people appear to think that other people see the position of bureaucrat as a mystical trophy, yet nobody appears to actually have that misconception. Magic-icon.pngStelercusIlluminated Book of Balance.png 19:45, December 27, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - Whilst I may not have been around long, or so much as interacted with any 'crats, it does seem a little strange that the most experienced and trusted members of the community are seen as seldom as they are. Naturally they have their own lives to live and they have every right to be inactive, but to have a group of nigh on inactive users who hold such standing amongst the community seems a little superfluous to me. It would make sense to me not to appoint a 'crat when needed but have active users as 'crats who are there when needed. How often they actually use the tools doesn't seem particularly relevant when they are still contributing to the wiki. The tools are there if and when they're needed and you have experienced, respected users. Win - win situation in my mind.

I guess what I mean is appoint new 'crats so they're there when the current ones inevitably go fully inactive (we all move on with our lives eventually) and work from there. Is that approach so wrong? --cqm talk 01:58, December 24, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - It seems there is a great deal of confusion regarding the role bureaucrats should take in the community. I'll try to share my opinions, and I would love to see other bureaucrats and/or a staff member weigh in as well.

- This first point reminds me of an encounter I recently had with a new editor ingame. He asked me whether my duties as an active bureaucrat include helping newbies. My response was essentially the same as the one I'll give here: active bureaucrats do not have any actual duties. Each bureaucrat is an individual, volunteer editor. This means he is free to contribute as often, as seldom, and however he wants to. This is, ironically, the same principle that allows certain administrators to remove themselves from the hilite list - although it reduces the functionality of an ease of access feature, it is important because it allows each editor to contribute in their own way. There is really no issue here as long as bureaucrat requests and RfA do not have significant backlogs, and as long as the bureaucrats are generally available to respond to messages. Since the start of 2011, there has been only one case where there was a non-trivial delay between the request and the necessary action. Despite the rather depressing attempts to portray it as such, this is not a significant backlog. This means that the current bureaucrats are indeed active enough to do their role.

The other side of the question is whether bureaucrats should be expected to distance themselves from the project in order to remain impartial. I have never understood this to be the case. Since becoming a bureaucrat, I have edited articles, uploaded images, blocked vandals, deleted pages, done basic housekeeping tasks (moving, merging, etc), participated in Yew grove discussions, voted on RfAs, and commented on RfD. As I mentioned before, each bureaucrat is an individual, volunteer editor. I haven't edited as much lately as I did years ago, but this has much more to do with personal interests and real life commitments than the fact that I'm a bureaucrat. Although I don't have the highest edit count or know how to make a bot, I still log in daily and keep up with the current requests. I really do wonder how many times I would need to edit in a given week in order to be considered "active" by some of the people that have commented above.

One important issue that has come up, however, is bureaucrats' participation in discussions they close. It is generally assumed here that if you vote on an RfA, you effectively forfeit your ability to close it (to prevent a conflict of interest). The same goes for Yew grove discussions. This wasn't always the case. There was a time when it was common for bureaucrats to support or oppose an RfA, then later go on to close it. Joke blocks, or even deleting the main page for a second, were common as well. Based on how the community evolved, all these practices are considered unacceptable today. The low number of active bureaucrats may be a deterrent to a bureaucrat's participation in RfA. Since there are only two other active people on the site that can close RfAs, bureaucrats may be more concerned with the system's efficiency than whether or not a given user becomes a sysop. For this reason, they choose to abstain. I can't say this is always the case. As I mentioned above, I have and still would comment on an RfA if I had a particularly strong opinion. But given the size of this wiki and the resulting low number of bureaucrats, this will always be a reality. Another possibility is the vitriol that a bureaucrat may receive if they express an opinion. Calebchiam's talk page cited above is an example. I don't fully concur with his position, but I do believe that some of the responses he got were ridiculous and bordered on violating the user treatment policy.

- I do not believe we have or need a hard quota with respect to the number of bureaucrats. Each RfB should be decided on a case-by-case basis. However, this is not analogous to my position on the number of sysops. The two userflags serve very different purposes. Adminship is, for the most part, additional editing tools. They have a higher potential for abuse and are meant for experienced editors, but they are ultimately just editing tools. Due to the massive diversity of these tools, the wiki does not in practice have an upper limit on number of administrators. I believe that having a large number of sysops does benefit our wiki, as it demystifies the perception of administrators and stops the sysops from becoming an "exclusive group" of sorts. As with standard editing abilities, any sysop action can be easily reverted and the tools can be easily revoked.

The bureaucrat flag, on the other hand, does not give a user additional editing tools. Any given editor is able to fully contribute to the site using only sysop and standard editing tools. If RfAs had been closed on time and rollback requests were being filled prior to my RfB, I would never have nominated myself. Similarly, I would not have cared if I had been rejected and a different capable editor chosen for the role. The distinction that should be made is that the primary purpose of a bureaucrat is to determine consensus on RfA. RfA is far more personal, subjective and contentious than other discussions like RfD and RfCM (which sysops are allowed to close). This is why a much level of scrutiny is applied when a user is a candidate for bureaucrat. It is also possible, in practice, for the wiki to have too many bureaucrats. There should be more than one so they can check each others' actions, but too many will result in deadweight. This can cause unnecessary drama and disputes with controversial RfAs. In this case, the harm would outweigh the potential benefits.

- Bureaucrats are not actual "leaders" or "authorities" in the community. However, they should always be senior editors, experienced sysops, experts on wiki policies, civil to other users, reasonable enough to determine consensus, and able to be held accountable for their actions. All bureaucrats should meet all of these criteria, but not everyone who meets this criteria should be a bureaucrat. If two editors are equally capable in this regard and one of them happens to be a bureaucrat, they should both be equally respected.

- I think Azaz129 said this well: Bureaucrats are just like you, and bureaucrats only have as much "power" as you imagine them to. If the community understands both of these things, any "aura" surrounding bureaucrats is effectively dispelled.

I'll also try to respond to some of the suggestions that have been put forth:

  • Many have said that a more "active" bureaucrat would demystify the userright. As I said above, RfB should be done on a case-by-case basis. If you believe you meet the criteria and that the community would benefit if you became one, go ahead and nominate yourself. Understand that you will not necessarily be successful.
  • A more extreme version of the above is to essentially remove bureaucrat status from all of the current bureaucrats, and redistribute it to five or so active sysops determined by the community. I think this would do nothing to serve the purpose of this proposal (getting rid of the “aura” surrounding bureaucrats), as it would just be different editors that would have it. The community would still likely have the same problem with authority as it does now. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with the users that are currently bureaucrats (all of which were given the flag by consensus). I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but RfB should be done on a case-by-case basis. If you believe one of the bureaucrats is unsuitable, specify which one and start a discussion. If you believe the wiki would benefit from a certain user becoming a bureaucrat, specify which one and start a discussion.
  • A second radical proposal, and a variation of the first bullet, is to make every sysop a bureaucrat. This is also probably a very bad idea. According to RuneScape:Administrators, we currently have 17 active sysops. To put this into perspective, Wikipedia has 200 times as many articles as we do. However, they have only 34 active bureaucrats. This would cause serious issues with having too many bureaucrats, as mentioned above. Furthermore, I appreciate the work that some of our sysops do for the wiki. However, I don’t believe that they have (or will ever have) what it takes to close RfAs. I will not specify who, or how many people, I am referring to. But this would cause the wiki to gradually deteriorate. One more thing that we should be aware of is that adding the bureaucrat flag to the current sysop package would cause RfA candidates to be held to an unnecessarily high standard, with no real benefits to the project.
  • Some have mentioned giving sysops the ability to give users rollback and custodian permissions. I would have no issue with this, but there is no problem with the efficiency of the current system for distributing these tools. I’m not sure what this would accomplish though. The bot flag has higher potential for abuse, and Wikia is more cautious here. For those who are not aware, the default setting on Wikia wikis is to allow only staff to grant and revoke bot flags. Revisiondelete has already been given to some non-bureaucrats, so this doesn’t seem to be a problem.

My proposal would be to start a “defining bureaucrats project”, similar to Azaz129’s Defining Administrators Initiative. This would allow a series of specific, moderated discussion to take place on each aspect of bureaucrats. This was largely successful in 2010, so I think this would hopefully resolve this important issue. Dtm142 06:34, December 25, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - "Well then, as I was saying, perhaps the insatiable desire for this good to the neglect of everything else may transform a democracy and lead to a demand for despotism. [...] If its rulers are not complaisant enough to give it unstinted freedom, they will be arraigned as accursed oligarchs and punished. Law-abiding citizens will be insulted as nonentities who hug their chains; [...] To descend to smaller matters, the schoolmaster timidly flatters his pupils, and the pupils make light of their masters as well as of their attendants. Generally speaking, the young copy their elders, argue with them, and will not do as they are told; while the old, anxious not to be thought disagreeable tyrants, imitate the young and condescend to enter into their jokes and amusements. Putting all these items together, you can see the result: the citizens become so sensitive that they resent the slightest application of control as intolerable tyranny, and in their resolve to have no master by disregarding even the law, written or unwritten." Plato, The Republic. Abridged.

I wonder whether it's truly possible for this wiki to devolve into despotism due to the convenient presence of Wikia, ever-ready for a well-worded complaint of administrator abuse. While I personally fought for the removal of highlights, the reformation of policies, and in any way the destruction of supposed "unjust power" being lorded over us, I wonder whether the elitism even existed. I regret arguing about those things at this point because we don't seem to have benefited from the outcomes, our community has become obsessed with a forever distant vision of perfection, and I can't say that I did anything to prevent it. Perhaps this is what happens when the amount of work needed to create and maintain the eighth wonder that is our wiki decreases with our increased efficiency; are we trying to find other reasons to be here? Perhaps it will in some minute way benefit the processes of our wiki, but I also wonder whether this minute and also unproven benefit is necessary. We don't even have greed to motivate us, and what are we arguing about? The removal of colored names and the expedition of the RfA process by how many minutes? We're judging ourselves now on things which our audience doesn't even care about? I wonder whether the bits of perfection that we supposedly gain are worth the increasing amounts of spite with which we purchase them. Leftiness 23:40, December 26, 2011 (UTC)

{{Closure|This has been open long enough. Everything that's going to be said has been said.}} Matt (t) 06:52, January 14, 2012 (UTC)

Closed - People have given their general view of bureaucrats. All the substantive proposals have been taken elsewhere (see Forum:Removing bureacrat hilite and Forum:Bureaucrat discussion/Giving rights to admins). --LiquidTalk 07:38, January 14, 2012 (UTC)