Wikipedia administrators

Icon that usually represents administrators on Wikipedia

Wikipedia administrators are senior, trusted volunteers who have been selected by the Wikipedia community.[1] They are also known as admins, sysops, and janitors[2]:327. Administrators are chosen after a successful request for adminship. As of March 2024, there are 2 administrators on the Simple English Wikipedia.[3] 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",[3] a term which has also been used elsewhere.[4]

In his book Wikipedia – The Missing Manual, John Broughton states that while many people think of administrators on Wikipedia as judges, that is not the purpose of the role. Instead, he says, admins usually "delete pages" and "protect pages involved in edit wars".[5]

History on the English Wikipedia

In 2006, there were about 1,000 administrators on the English Wikipedia, and in 2020 about 1,100. These administrators live in different parts of the world.[6]

In July 2012, it was reported that Wikipedia was "running out of administrators". This was because in 2006-2007 an average of 40-50 new administrators were selected. In the first six months of 2012 only 9 new administrators were selected.[7][8] But the co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, did not believe that this was a serious problem. He also did not believe Wikipedia was running out of admins. In fact, he thought the number of admins did not change much.[9] Wales said earlier that being an admin is "not a big deal”. He also said that "It's merely a technical matter that the powers given to sysops are not given out to everyone.” He said this in a message he sent to the English Wikipedia mailing list on February 11, 2003. [10]

Requests for adminship (RfA)

The first Wikipedia administrators were selected by Jimmy Wales himself in October 2001.[11] Any registered editor may nominate themselves, or may request another editor to do so. The process has been said to be "akin to putting someone through the Supreme Court" by Andrew Lih, a scientist and professor who is himself an administrator on the English Wikipedia. Lih also said, "It's pretty much a hazing ritual at this point", in contrast to how the process worked early in Wikipedia's history, when all one had to do to become an admin was "prove you weren't a bozo".[7] Editors can become candidates only after "extensive work on the wiki".[2] Any editor can vote in an RfA. The result of the vote is not by the number of votes for or against, but by the agreement that has been reached. The decision if an agreement has been reached can be made only by a bureaucrat. A bureaucrat is a Wikipedia editor who is also selected by the community through a "request" process which is much stricter for them than for administrators.[12] This RfA process was started after RfAs attracted a lot of attention. Before the middle of 2005, RfAs did not attract a lot of attention. But then RfAs started attracting groups of editors who all supported one another.[13]


When an editor becomes an admin, they are given abilities to perform certain duties.[7] Admins can do messy cleanup work more easily than other editors.[2] They can delete articles. They can also protect pages, which means they can restrict editing rights to that page.[14]:66 Admins can block the accounts of disruptive users.[2][7] When an admin blocks a user they must do so according to Wikipedia's 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. [2]:401[14]:120 Admins are not supposed to block other editors just to have an advantage against the blocked editor when the admin is doing editing work.[2]

Scientific studies

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 different method for choosing administrators, in which more weight is given to the votes of experienced editors.[15] 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[16] page were the best predictors of whether the user in question would actually become an admin.[4] 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 taken 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 good enough to recommend candidates."[17]

Wikipedia AdministratorsRequests For Adminship (RfA) Media

Related pages


  1. "Capitol Hill is making a mess on Wikipedia". CNN. 19 October 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Ayers, Phoebe; Matthews, Charles; Yates, Ben (2008). How Wikipedia Works. No Starch Press. ISBN 9781593271763.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Wikipedia:Administrators". Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Burke, Moira; Kraut, Robert (April 2008). "Taking up the mop: Identifying future wikipedia administrators". CHI '08 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. pp. 3441–3446. doi:10.1145/1358628.1358871. ISBN 9781605580128. S2CID 5868576.
  5. Broughton, John (2008). Wikipedia – The Missing Manual. O'Reilly Media. p. 199. ISBN 9780596515164.
  6. Hafner, Katie (17 June 2006). "Growing Wikipedia Refines Its 'Anyone Can Edit' Policy". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Meyer, Robinson (16 July 2012). "3 Charts That Show How Wikipedia Is Running Out of Admins". The Atlantic. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  8. Further coverage:
  9. Lee, Dave (18 July 2012). "Jimmy Wales denies Wikipedia admin recruitment crisis". BBC News. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  10. Wales, Jimmy (11 February 2003). "Sysop Status". EN-I Wikimedia Mailing List. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  11. Schiff, Stacy (31 July 2006). "Know It All". The New Yorker. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  12. "Wikipedia:Bureaucrats". Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  13. Stvilia, Besiki; Twidale, Michael B.; Smith, Linda C.; Gasser, Les (2008). "Information quality work organization in wikipedia". Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. 59 (6): 983. doi:10.1002/asi.20813. S2CID 10156153.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Ebersbach, Anja; Adelung, Andrea; Dueck, Gunter; Glaser, Markus; Heigl, Richard; Warta, Alexander (2008). Wiki: Web Collaboration. Springer. ISBN 9783540681731.
  15. 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 Conference on information & knowledge management - CIKM '13. pp. 1097–1106. doi:10.1145/2505515.2505566. ISBN 978-1-4503-2263-8. S2CID 52865675. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-02-19. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  16. See Wikipedia:Guide to requests for adminship.
  17. 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. S2CID 10440786.