Sysop Accountability Policy

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Advocated as part of the Wikipedia:Policy thinktank.

Should Sysops be held to the rule of law? Should Sysops be required to respect due process? Should they be required to understand the burden of proof, and agree with the concept of "innocent until proven guilty?" Should sysops face administrative discipline, when they break the rules governing their action?

For instance, should sysops face justice when they ban a user who hasn't been creating clear and obvious vandalism; in a situation where consensus cannot be found for the banning, where a quick poll has not been successful, where neither the arbitration committee nor Jimbo Wales has supported the ban...should such sysops be admonished, or should they feel free to continue with their vigilantism -- despite rules against such behavior?

Vote[edit]

Support: Sysops must be held accountable.[edit]

  1. Lirath Q. Pynnor
  2. Cesidio Tallini
  3. Comrade Nick @)--^---
    Wow, the usual suspects. Where's Sam Spade? RickK 21:54, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC)
    Have you ever heard of micronations on stilts, and Fifth World nations with their legs cut off? Rick knows something about that!--IndigoGenius 23:31, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  4. Here's a turn up for the books! I find myself agreeing with trolls. But of course admins should be accountable. A poll like this is not going to actually achieve anything mind you as the wording is stupid. But as a general principle yes admins should be accountable for their actions. theresa knott 23:29, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  5. Eric B. and Rakim 23:52, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC) Everyone has the right to hold a vote, to have their ideas respected and not be obstructed by some ****suckers. Shame on you.
  6. Guanaco 05:07, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  7. Martin 10:31, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  8. Cantus 10:40, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  9. Fred Bauder 13:01, Jul 9, 2004 (UTC)

Support: Sysops must be held accountable, but only on odd-numbered days and the Ides of March.[edit]

  1. BCorr|Брайен 21:52, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    Cannot agree. Since the Ides of March is always an odd-numbered day, this would put Wikipedia in jeopardy of attack by the Redundancy Police. -- Cecropia | Talk 17:31, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    I think you are mistaken. In Roman numerals XV is even since it has no "I" at the end. -- BCorr|Брайен 18:32, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    So you think that makes it even? How odd. -- Cecropia | Talk 18:35, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    Indeed. Oddly enough, it all evens out. Eventually. BCorr|Брайен 20:35, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Support: Sysops must not not be held accountable, but not on days where the Ides of March falls on an even day.[edit]

  1. cprompt 01:43, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
  2. Morlark 22:21, 31 May 2005 (UTC)

Oppose: Sysops are an elite cabal. They are above the law.[edit]

  1. Snowspinner 19:39, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC). I would also like to note that I eat babies.
  2. MarcusAurelius Filtering law through an "arbitration committee" or "Jimbo Wales" is only a facade of legality. Demi-Fascist states are necessary when the electorate isn't "up to snuff". Laws shall not protect the evil-doers. If I were in charge, I'd crucify the whole lot of you.
  3. Bryan 20:57, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC) - Finally, this poll has given us the opportunity to seize absolute power!
  4. Well, it was a tough decision between this and "haven't stopped beating my wife", but if there's a chance to grab some power, I'm here. The woman will just have to wait. →Raul654 21:11, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC)
  5. Of course sysops are above the law. That was the only reason I accepted my nomination, and now that I was chosen to be one of the elite I can continue my plan to take over the world!  – Jrdioko (Talk) 22:15, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  6. Martin 10:31, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC) They're a l33t cabal, above the luau.
  7. Bryan 15:23, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC) It just occurred to me, if I'm above the law then I can vote twice, right? Of course, this second vote would only count if this option wins the poll, otherwise it's void. Interesting.
  8. —No-One Jones 22:49, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC) "Sysop", in Wikipedish, means "Übermensch".
  9. Sean Curtin 04:31, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC) I want a boot to stomp on my face - forever.
  10. 172 17:28, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  11. Beureaucracy at wikipedia suX0rZ! Earl Andrew 21:11, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  12. Sounds good to me. Neutrality 05:11, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  13. Ambivalenthysteria 05:11, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  14. Power, definitely. I also feel that members of such an elite cabal should be invested with a more grandiose title. Everyking 20:19, 31 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • A title like "Kings of Everything", perhaps? Bryan 20:36, 31 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Depends:[edit]

It depends on what rules are being broken, how they are being broken, whether or not the sysop knows about the rule, etc.

  1. anthony (see warning)
  2. Morwen - Talk 20:26, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC) (3rd preference vote)
  3. Martin 10:31, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC) Wiki:ItDepends
  4. 15:43, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  5. ...on what brand of adult diapers are being used... —ScouterSig 19:56, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

I haven't stopped beating my wife yet:[edit]

  1. Morwen - Talk 20:04, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC) (1st prefernce vote)
  2. I support this as an alternative to oppose as well. Snowspinner 20:06, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC) [presumably 2nd preference vote]
  3. Martin 10:31, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC) Mu!
  4. Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 15:43, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  5. —No-One Jones 22:49, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC) Neither my dead horse.
  6. Hephaestos|§ 05:13, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC) (Nor am I likely to in the future.)

I have stopped beating my wife because Wikipedia uses up all my wife beating time[edit]

  1. Cecropia | Talk 19:37, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Bwhahahahahahahahahaha! :D Neutrality 19:24, 31 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I have stopped beating my wife because I need to go on a diet to fit in my wife-beater[edit]

  1. Pakaran. 23:22, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC) - not a preferential vote, just an undecisive one.

This poll is nonsense on stilts:[edit]

  1. anthony (see warning)  :)
  2. Morwen - Talk 20:26, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC) (2nd preference vote)
  3. Nonsense on all forms of locomotion. RickK 21:31, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC)
  4. I believe this page is a waste of everyone's time. Mike H 22:02, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC)
  5. Martin 10:31, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC) Wikipedia loves Christine Hamilton! :)

This poll is nonsense and is not on stilts because stilts would make it no longer a speedy deletion candidate #1:[edit]

  1. Guanaco 20:31, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  2. David Gerard 20:35, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC) - you're right, it's on flat heels
  3. RickK 21:31, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC)
  4. Martin 10:31, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC) (for completeness)
  5. Tεxτurε 22:42, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC) - This nonsense doesn't have enough balance to stand on stilts
  6. Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 15:43, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC) - Copy to WP:BJAODN, and delete (from WP:BJAODN *and* from here).
  7. UninvitedCompany 15:55, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC). See comments.
  8. Erich 00:41, 7 Jul 2004 (UTC) let us talk about something constructive, shall we!
  9. Goobergunch 00:02, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  10. Cecropia | Talk 16:08, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC) You can't vote seriously on a poll where opposition is framed as "Oppose: Sysops are an elite cabal. They are above the law."

Okay, here's a question that's been bugging me for days. Why would stilts make this poll no longer a speedy deletion candidate? Is there a maximum height limit for articles in that category? Bryan 17:25, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)

that is probably the most intesting question on this page! Erich 01:46, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  1. ~user:orngjce223how am I typing? 21:36, 14 December 2006 (UTC) It's nonsense... on WHEELS!!! (See balance)

Do not meddle in the ways of sysops, for thou art crunchy and taste good with ketchup.[edit]

  1. Yath 05:04, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Mmmm. Wikipedians! DJ Clayworth 17:30, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Sysops are already accountable[edit]

  1. DJ Clayworth 17:07, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Keep: This is a valid surrealistic technique. Also, anyone who supports the German spelling of sysop is a Nazi.[edit]

  1. Pakaran. 23:20, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC) I do object on procedural grounds, however, as I do not believe Morwen has a wife. Also, Wikipedia is hosted in the US, so I'm not sure we can legally use preferential voting :(.

Sysops fnord fnord must fnord never fnord fnord be accountable fnord or Wikipedia fnord fnord will go down in flames[edit]

  1. Pakaran. 23:23, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  2. Must... do... as... the... sysops... say....... Isomorphic 01:14, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Let's hold CowboyNeal accountable instead![edit]

  1. Extremely unaccountable and scapegoating Support. --Maru (talk) Contribs 07:19, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

Tech support[edit]

  1. Ralph Nader - Kookykman|(t)e 21:57, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Comments[edit]

No user has the right to create polls out of loaded questions to waste the time of other users. Sysops are already accountable. --Hemanshu 20:14, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)

They are? So why aren't they desysoped when they break the rules? Lirath Q. Pynnor

...rumour has it: that in the days of yore, Ril was among the First Sysopes: and steamed above all others in the Eye of Sarong. Then came the Gray Teddy it Wore, and in a flurry of preverts, Ril was inverted and cast from the cast of _Heavy En:_ into an archaeo-social list of helpful flames. Waled the Eye, "verily wast thou mine chown favourite, yet will this lidless gaze favour thee nevermore!" Then was the Rule of Ja: rent asunder, whence did all de:sysopeings cease til Godkingdom Come. And from the flames of help, growling thunder rolled, and trolls prowled under the land. --revilations 17:23 (+sj+)
Probably for the same miraculous reason you still haven't been perma-banned as a troll. →Raul654 21:50, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC)
For the same reason you weren't banned for sockpuppet voting or for vandalizing User:Little Tin God Sysop. Snowspinner 21:50, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC)

Isn't accusing me of being a troll a personal attack, isn't that against the rules? Will you ever have any proof of your allegations Snowspinner, or are you just a propaganda minister? Lirath Q. Pynnor

No it's not a personal attack. Your behaviour is trollish. [1] is a perfect example of a troll edit. You made the edit knowing full well it would be reverted. You were simply trying to be argumentative, you could have cut and pasted, instead you reverted and wiped out a chunk of material deliberately to cause argument. theresa knott 23:29, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)

This poll is silly. Of course sysops are bound by the rules governing sysop behavior. They wouldn't be rules otherwise. And Lir, bear in mind the rule Wikipedia:No personal attacks when editing my user talk page - or do you perhaps think that rule doesn't apply to you? Bryan 21:56, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)


If it doesn't apply to sysops -- it sure as hell doesn't apply to me; I'm just a lowly user, you can't expect me to act like a sysop -- I'll quit the personal attacks when you guys do. Lol, what evidence is there that sysops are bound by the rules? This page sure doesn't give one much confidence in that, you people can't even sign a statement affirming your belief that you should be held accountable. Lirath Q. Pynnor

As someone looking in from the outside (for the most part), I find this whole air and behavior to be quite childish. Oh, if they can do it, why can't I? PLEASE be adult. Mike H 22:05, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC)

Being adult is what this page is all about, signing a statement affirming that sysops should be governed by rules. Lirath Q. Pynnor

The page was written with an eye for propaganda that would make any good journalism student blush. It's essentially asking: Sysops should be held accountable, or they're mean poopyheads with no soul. Mike H 22:12, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC)


Well yah, and if you dont feel they should be accountable -- go ahead and sign in opposition. Lirath Q. Pynnor

It's not an issue of feeling whether or not sysops need to be accountable. It's an issue of propaganda. For some reason, you've painted this big "you're with me or you're against me" issue, and I really don't think it has to be like that. I feel this whole page is a waste of everyone's time and I voted accordingly. Mike H 22:29, Jul 4, 2004 (UTC)


Well, yah -- if you think sysops are above the law, that sysops don't have to follow the rules -- guess what, yer against me! Lirath Q. Pynnor

This is a false dichotomy. One can think sysops are not above the law, and that sysops have to follow the rules, and that this poll is a silly waste of time. I happen to believe all three myself. Bryan 07:22, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I can tell you've never taken a journalism class or IB Theory of Knowledge. Sysops have to follow the rules. However, by your definition, not doing one means a multitude of negative and horrible things. It's a loaded question and it serves only to get the answer you desire. That's why people are choosing to vote other options, or in multiple answers at once. They're seeing through your motives. They are quite flimsy, I must say. Mike H 15:13, Jul 5, 2004 (UTC)

My motives are not "flimsy", they are "transparent" -- I can tell you've never taken a class, at all. If sysops have to follow the rules, why aren't more people agreeing? It is a loaded question, if you don't think sysops should have to follow the rules -- then you ARE a bad person. Lirath Q. Pynnor

The reason I'm not taking it seriously myself is because it is so obviously loaded. It's like asking the question "Do you think we should remove lies from Wikipedia articles?" Well, duh, of course we should remove lies from articles. The answer is obvious but useless, since it ignores the part of the question which is actually complicated - ie, which pieces of information are lies and which aren't. In this case, the real issue is not whether sysops should follow rules but what those rules should be and how they should be enforced. Bryan 23:31, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Plus, you cyber-slapped me. Twice. Kind of reduces your moral authority on the "you're a bad person" accusation, IMO. Bryan 23:38, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)

This poll is nonsense for many reasons, not the least of which is that policy at Wikipedia is synthesized out of many individual decisions, each of which is reversible. As such, there is no "rule of law" or "due process" in the sense in which these terms are usually defined. Moreover, the extensive respect for "rule of law" and "due process" held by the AC has hamstring that institution to the point where it is losing effectiveness.

And not the least of which is that the first action anyone should take upon encountering a clear case of a sysop who has made a mistake, is to revert it. That is our first answer to mistakes here. The spectacle of reversion wars between sysops is and should remain rare, since there is the expectation that discussion and involvement of others will ensue instead of continued reverts.

And not the least of which that there is a daerth of policy discussion at Wikipedia. Without significantly better turnout in policy discussions and votes, it is not realistic to create policies a priori and then follow them.

UninvitedCompany 15:52, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC)

This is hardly "nonsense". As you note: there is a "daerth" of policy discussion; and no wonder, the atmosphere of this page has hardly been conducive to progress. The Wikipedia will not improve when its users can't even agree that the few existing rules should be enforced. Lirath Q. Pynnor

Strange isn't it that almost all the comments in favour of this proposal come from one person. Almost as if this whole poll was being driven by one person. Hmmmm..... DJ Clayworth 17:30, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Keep, notable. - Kookykman|(t)e 21:58, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Alternative proposal[edit]

Gedday all, you may be interested in this proposal: Wikipedia:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors. Erich

Well intentioned, but the definitions of antisocial behavior are too subjective and diffuse and the procedures too cumbersome. The only way for this to have a practical effect is if groups of sysops pre-formed themselves into vigilance committees which we might dub Rolling Torquemada brigades. -- Cecropia | Talk 17:14, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Agreed. See Wikipedia talk:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors DJ Clayworth 17:39, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Note this proposal deals with borderline behavious, not vandalism.
Unfortunately justice aint simple. sounds simple... but isn't. Although quite frankly, cutting and pasting a template onto a couple of pages, and adding a list of URLs to the offending behaviour is hardly a big ask. It really is simple. Notice a problem user, warn them, tell others you're watching them, gather URLs of offending difs, warn them again if the problem persists, gather more URLs, everyone agrees, slap a block on. quick, fair, transparent. If one tree-hugging, whale kissing, bleeding heart sysops bleets "no they're not bad, they are just misunderstood", well the three of you gun toting no-nonsense types just need to pop down to the sherrifs office and pick up a couple of supporters, "five to 1" and stick on the block. If the user comes back, they are on a shorter and shorter leash.
and Yes the definitions are vague and subjective. Characterisations of human behaviour are, but feel free to clarify them further. Ultimately the subjectivity is resolved by putting the behaviour forward for consideration by a small group of sysops. If it's simple then... well its simple. If it is complicated, (and the people we are talking about will try to make it complicated) then more discussion and more votes are needed. The proposal provides a framework for the sysops to work through these issues in a logical and transparent way. By forcing the collection of the URLs to back up the decision it ultimately builds up a more robust and fairer set of boundaries.Erich (sorry forgot)
Please remember to sign your posts, so I know how I'm talk to! Thanks -- Cecropia | Talk 19:22, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)
The whole policy is unworkable. I think the last thing we want is for sysops to have to band together to get things done (one side of it) or encourage them to band together (that's how you actually get cabals--the other side of it). If vandalism is fast moving, you don't have time to raise a posse, podnuh! If it's not, then we're thrown back into the perrenial problem of dealing with persistent bad behavior. The solution is NOT a kangaroo court (even for Australians. -- Cecropia | Talk 19:22, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Ummm... at the danger of repeating myself... this policy is not for dealing with vandalism. go on, do me a favour will you? try reading it properly and then comment ? best wishes Erich 21:13, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I have read the proposal, which is why I oppose it, however well intentioned it is. My point of vandals is that this is the greatest immediate threat at any given time, and there is no time to raise tribunals of sysops, even if this proposal called for it. In general I oppose blocks except for vandalism, and then they serve as a cooling-off period. The immediate nature of the block, reinstated if needed, tends to either cool vandals or encourage them to go away. This quasi-judicial process will accomplish what for a long-term user? We might get a Wik who is both driven out and allegedly returns to vandalize, or a situation as with 172 where he was nearly driven out (and he is one of the best contributors) but instead reached an accomodation after talk of banning or blocking was talked down.
I'm copying other these paragraphs to the Talk page of your proposal. -- Cecropia | Talk 22:18, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)
cool, I'll reply there then.


Hey, where's the CowboyNeal option!? :o)

This appeared to be vandalism by an anon IP. Is "CowboyNeal/Slashdot" relevent to this discussion? - Tεxτurε 17:43, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)
On Slashdot it is traditional that the sidebar polls presented on that page always have a ridiculous option available that involves CowboyNeal in some way in addition to whatever serious options there may be. While this anonymous comment doesn't really add all that much to the discussion, it does seem to be relevant to it; there are plenty of ridiculous options available to vote for in this poll but none of them currently involve CowboyNeal. It's a pretty trivial suggestion but purely on principle I didn't think it should be reverted as "vandalism." Besides, the more vote-splitting that goes on, the more likely my preferred option of "Sysops are an elite cabal" is to win. :) Bryan 18:07, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)