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Submissions/Studying the Admin Drought

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is a withdrawn submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission
Studying the admin drought on the English Wikipedia
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Adam Jenkins
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
University of South Australia
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)
It has been well established by a number of commentators that the English Wikipedia is suffering through an "admin drought" - fewer and fewer editors are putting themselves through the Request for Adminship process, leading to a falling number of active administrators. And yet there are a number of questions that remain unanswered, some which may shed light on both the severity and source of the problem. In particular, we need to ask:
  • Is the falling number of administrators having an effect on the functioning of the English Wikipedia?
  • Is the Request for Adminship process part of the problem? Have we been asking too much of potential administrators?
  • If there is a problem, what practical options are available to address the issue?
In this presentation I look at an initial attempt to answer one of these questions: are changing expectations of editors to blame? There is a perception that we expect more of administrators than we have in the past, and that this changing expectation is causing the approval process to become progressively more difficult for potential administrators to pass. If this is the case, it may be that we cannot fix the apparent problem, or it may be that we need to provide tools (such as an easy means of desysoping administrators) in order to encourage editors to lessen their expectations. Alternatively, perhaps this is just a perception. Maybe the Request for Adminship process has always had high standards, and thus the problem is not necessarily with the process but with the manner by which people perceive it.
To study this question, a longitudinal study of discussions over the past five years was undertaken, using a discourse analysis methodology. Each request for adminship was examined and the the arguments for and against categorised. This provided a sizeable dataset for examination - enough, it is hoped, to identify changing patterns in the arguments, and see if there has been a significant shift in the period studied. It may also be the case that the data will help identify potential administrators, which may help address part of the problem currently being faced.
It is hoped that the presentation will both explore this issue and propose some directions for future study. This is potentially a serious problem for Wikipedia, and, as evidenced by the many on-wiki discussions that have been exploring this issue, there may be room (and need) for academics to offer information that can be used to help direct the reform agenda.
  • WikiCulture and Community; Research, Analysis, and Education
Length of presentation/talk
25 Minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
If I can.
Slides or further information (optional)
Special request as to time of presentations

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  1. Steven (WMF) (talk)
  2. --Poupou l'quourouce (talk) 18:38, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  3. -- DQ (ʞlɐʇ) 17:51, 21 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. CT Cooper · talk 19:36, 22 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
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