RexxS and RfA's discretionary discretionary range

Arbitration Committee activities and elections, Requests for Comment, and Requests for Administration.
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The Devil's Advocate
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RexxS and RfA's discretionary discretionary range

Post by The Devil's Advocate » Fri Apr 12, 2019 4:43 am

An otherwise unremarkable request for adminship on April Fool's Day has opened up a rather interesting discussion about how the rules work on Wikipedia with regards to adminship requests. Pudeo started up a whole ArbCom request on the subject. The focus is on the fact the request was taken to crat chat and approved, despite RexxS falling nearly a full percentage point below the discretionary range at which point a crat chat is initiated. Under normal rules, decided by a community-wide RfC, RexxS would have been rejected. Here a special exception was made for a long-time contributor to Wikipedia.

What makes this so fascinating is that everyone is jumping on the "ignore all rules" train to defend this and lecturing Pudeo for trying to force them to adhere to the letter of the rules. Maybe had this been a very close call like 64.9% or 64.8% this would make sense, but nearly a whole percentage point would mean the bottom of the discretionary range is really 64% rather than 65%. One wonders why there is a discretionary range at all if it is itself going to be discretionary. How does one determine when discretion allows this discretionary range to be broadened and by how much? Pudeo notes a discretionary range with a bottom of 60% had been rejected, so how close to that can a crat fudge things? It doesn't help that the person who decided at his own discretion to increase the discretionary range is Maxim, the same person who started a kerfuffle just a few months back by exercising his discretion of taking away an admin's privileges despite having no authority under policy to make that discretionary decision.

Part of the problem here is the presumption of "ignore all rules" applying misses the reason why that rule exists and misses why adminship has such a high and hardened threshold. Every society allows a certain amount of leeway and discretion on enforcing the rules. Certain hard rules, however, are more important than others. Admins on Wikipedia are empowered to make difficult decisions on polarizing issues, so this requires them to have a high level of support. When an admin's very status is polarizing that is not a good sign. Hence, the idea is someone who will judge community consensus should get high consensus in favor of having that authority. A discretionary range exists specifically to allow for cases where consensus could be skewed or easy to misjudge. Having a discretionary range that is itself open to discretion undermines that high standard, which was literally the express intent of the individual seeking adminship on April Fool's.

No one bothers to consider the flipside of this whole matter. What if someone following Maxim's example decides someone being nearly a whole percentage over the discretionary range should be subjected to a crat chat and that candidate ends up rejected?

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Re: RexxS and RfA's discretionary discretionary range

Post by Pudeo » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:01 pm

There are three RfCs on-going at WT:RFA, so there's still some controversy.

There was this interesting comment by Bibliowarm, who drafted the 2015 reforms and made up the "in generally" rule for the discretionary range:
Yes, the core problem is the voters themselves. The only way to fix that is to directly restrict who can vote and how they can do so. You have made clerking proposals, and I did also, but none of them passed. I don't think it will ever happen through an RfC. People simply will not reach a consensus to rein in their own irrationality.
I'm assuming the problem is that some establishment candidates are being voted against, and in non-votes the opinions of cabal members would outweigh 10 regular editors.

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