Wikipedia administrators are senior, trusted volunteers who have been selected by the community. They are also known as admins, sysops, and janitors. Administrators are appointed following a successful request for adminship. Administrators have special rights that other editors do not have.
On Wikipedia, becoming an admin is often referred to as being "given [or taking up] the mop", a term which has also been used elsewhere.
Requests for adminship (RfA)
Any registered editor may nominate themselves or may request another editor to do so. Editors can become candidates only after "extensive work on the wiki". Any editor can vote in a RfA. The result of the vote is not by the number of votes for or against, but by the consensus that has been reached. The decision if a consensus has been reached can only be made by a bureaucrat. A bureaucrat is a Wikipedia editor who is also appointed by the community through a "request" process which is much stricter for them than for administrators.
When an editor becomes an admin, they are given abilities to perform certain duties. Admins can do messy cleanup work more easily than other editors. They can delete articles. They can also protect pages, which means they can restrict editing rights to that page. Admins can block the accounts of disruptive users. When an admin blocks a user they must do so according to the policies. One of the policies is that a reason must be given for the block. The reason for the block is permanently logged by the software. Admins are not supposed to block other editors just to have an advantage against the blocked editor when the admin is doing editing work.
A scientific paper by researchers from Virginia Tech and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that after editors are promoted to administrator status, they often focus more on articles about controversial topics than they did before. The researchers also proposed an alternative method for choosing administrators, in which more weight is given to the votes of experienced editors. Another paper, presented at the 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, analyzed data from all 1,551 requests for adminship from January 2006 to October 2007 to find out which (if any) of the criteria recommended in Wikipedia's Guide to requests for adminship page were the best predictors of whether the user in question would actually become an admin. In December 2013, a similar study was published by researchers from the Polish-Japanese Institute of Information Technology in Warsaw which aimed to model the results of requests for adminship on the Polish Wikipedia using a model derived from Wikipedia's edit history. They found that they could "classify the votes in the RfA procedures using this model with an accuracy level that should be sufficient to recommend candidates."
- Das, Sanmay (2013). "Manipulation Among the Arbiters of Collective Intelligence: How Wikipedia Administrators Mold Public Opinion" (PDF). Proceedings of the 22nd ACM international Conference on information & knowledge management: 1097–1106. doi:10.1145/2505515.2505566.
- Jankowski-Lorek, Michal; Ostrowski, Lukasz; Turek, Piotr; Wierzbicki, Adam (2013). "Modeling Wikipedia admin elections using multidimensional behavioral social networks". Social Network Analysis and Mining. 3 (4): 787. doi:10.1007/s13278-012-0092-6.