Introduction and background[edit]

The last comprehensive examination of our Requests for Adminship (RfA) system occurred in 2015. Nearly 6 years later there has been lots of discussion about what has worked, and what has not, from that reform process. There has also been further discussion on a regular basis at Requests for adminship and elsewhere about other issues with RfA and of changes that may ameliorate those issues. In 2021, we are on pace for a record low year of RfAs. Our current pace puts us on track for having roughly 2/3 as many RfAs as 2018, the year which previously had the fewest RfAs. The time therefore seems right to once again examine RfA.

This process will largely follow the model of the 2015 examination, which also presents useful background information on the history of RfA reform. A more comprehensive listing of RFA reform efforts, including Signpost writing on the topic, is also available.


We followed a multi-step approach for this review of RfA. We discussed what issues, if any, there are with RfA today. We then proceeded to discuss possible ways of addressing any issues found. Finally, we implemented any changes which achieved community consensus.

Issues identified[edit]

Following Phase 1 the following issues had a clear consensus of support from editors:

  1. Corrosive RfA atmosphere The atmosphere at RfA is deeply unpleasant. This makes it so fewer candidates wish to run and also means that some members of our community don't comment/vote.
  2. Level of scrutiny Many editors believe it would be unpleasant to have so much attention focused on them. This includes being indirectly a part of watchlists and editors going through your edit history with the chance that some event, possibly a relatively trivial event, becomes the focus of editor discussion for up to a week.
  3. Standards needed to pass keep rising It used to be far easier to pass RfA however the standards necessary to pass have continued to rise such that only "perfect" candidates will pass now.
  4. Too few candidates There are too few candidates. This not only limits the number of new admin we get but also makes it harder to identify other RfA issues because we have such a small sample size.
  5. "No need for the tools" is a poor reason as we can find work for new admins

The following issues had a rough consensus of support from editors:

  1. Lifetime tenure (high stakes atmosphere) Because RfA carries with it lifetime tenure, granting any given editor sysop feels incredibly important. This creates a risk-averse and high-stakes atmosphere.
  2. Admin permissions and unbundling There is a large gap between the permissions an editor can obtain and the admin toolset. This brings increased scrutiny for RFA candidates, as editors evaluate their feasibility in lots of areas.
  3. RfA should not be the only road to adminship Right now, RfA is the only way we can get new admins, but it doesn't have to be.


The following proposals gained consensus and have all been implemented:

  1. Revision of standard question 1 to Why are you interested in becoming an administrator? Special thanks to xaosflux for help with implementation.
  2. A new process, Administrative Action Review (XRV) designed to review if an editor's specific use of an advanced permission, including the admin tools, is consistent with policy in a process similar to that of deletion review and move review. Thanks to all the editors who contributed (and are continuing to contribute) to the discussion of how to implement this proposal.
  3. Removal of autopatrol from the administrator's toolkit. Special thanks to Wugapodes and Seddon for their help with implementation.

The following proposals were identified by the closers as having the potential to gain consensus with some further discussion and iteration:

  1. An option for people to run for temporary adminship (proposal, discussion, & close)
  2. An optional election process (proposal & discussion and close review & re-close)

See also[edit]