User groups and permissions
The way permissions are set-up on different wikis can vary, but the default MediaWiki installation has several different permissions available; most notably the sysop and bureaucrat permissions, and we here at Gamepedia have an additional permissions group: Wiki Guardian.
- 1 Soft security - There are no permissions
- 2 Basic rights
- 3 Administrators and Wiki Guardians
- 4 Bureaucrats
- 5 Assigning permissions
- 6 See also
Soft security - There are no permissions
Wikis are typically set up to be freely and openly edited. This means anyone can edit the pages, often without even registering/logging in. This is only possible because wikis offer a unique kind of "soft security". By making it very simple to monitor edits or changes, and revert (or undo) those changes to retrieve an older version of a page, a wiki doesn't need to be very restrictive at all.
There are no permissions. Everyone is an administrator. You don't need permission to edit, and you are encouraged to "be bold", go forth and edit!
...at least that is the theory. In practice, there are malicious editors, and so MediaWiki software does offer many options related to permissions.
This is the list of rights anyone browsing or editing a Gamepedia wiki has, whether or not they are logged in:
- Create discussion pages (createtalk)
- Create new user accounts (createaccount)
- Create pages (which are not discussion pages) (createpage)
- Edit pages (edit)
- Edit your own preferences (editmyoptions)
- Edit your own private data (e.g. email address, real name) (editmyprivateinfo)
- Edit your own user CSS files (editmyusercss)
- Edit your own watchlist. Note some actions will still add pages even without this right. (editmywatchlist)
- Geocode (geocode)
- Read pages (read)
- Submit comments (comment)
- Use of the write API (writeapi)
- View "Edit" tab for pages editable by form (viewedittab)
- View your own private data (e.g. email address, real name) (viewmyprivateinfo)
- View your own watchlist (viewmywatchlist)
Administrators and Wiki Guardians
By default MediaWiki provides extra functionality to a group of trusted users called 'Administrators' (historically known as 'sysops', and still referred to by that name in the code base). Here at Gamepedia, we have a second group of wiki administrators known as Wiki Guardians. Most of their role should go largely unnoticed by the normal users of a wiki community. Everyone can get involved in editing pages, and even undertaking drastic reorganisation of the wiki. The extra powers of an Administrator or Wiki Guardian are intended for use in settling disputes, major maintenance issues and preventing repeated vandalism.
Who are the Administrators and Wiki Guardians?
You can find out who the Administrators are at, and choosing Administrators from the drop down list.
You can find out who the Wiki Guardians are at, and choosing Wiki Guardian from the drop down list.
What can an Administrator or Wiki Guardian do?
There are a number of extra features available to Administrators and Wiki Guardians. The key ones are as follows:
- Protecting and unprotecting pages, and editing protected pages
- 'Protecting' a page prevents normal users from editing the page at all. There are several reasons why a particular page might be protected. For more information see Protected pages. For sysop information see Protected pages
- Deleting pages, and undeleting.
- A page can be deleted semi-permanently, such that it is no longer available (even in the page histories) for normal users. Normal users do not have this power. See Deleting a page. For sysop information see Deleting and undeleting.
- Blocking a user or IP address, and unblocking them.
- Users can be blocked from the wiki. This is a useful way of keeping out persistent vandals. Users are identified by their registered user name, or by IP address, and can be blocked permanently, or just short length of time to give them a "cooling off" period. See Blocking users
- Patrolling, and seeing patrolled edits.
- This is a way of coordinating with other sysops, to ensure that every edit of the wiki has been checked over by a trusted user. See Patrolled edits
- Edit the MediaWiki namespace
- The ability to edit the MediaWiki namespace for skinning, editing language messages.
Another level of permissions within a default MediaWiki set-up, is the 'bureaucrat' group. Historically, the founder of any given wiki generally was accorded Bureaucrat rights, but here at Gamepedia, we have assumed this custodial role for the most part. There are still some users with bureaucrat rights, but generally those were individuals who held those rights before coming to Gamepedia. For newer wikis, the Wiki Guardian role is sufficient.
The main thing a bureaucrat can do, which Wiki Guardians cannot, is to promote users to be Adminstrators or Wiki Guardians (and demote users with extra rights to normal users). See Assigning permissions. This is now done by Gamepedia Staff.
"Assigning permissions" means granting users extra rights within the wiki software (or revoking these rights). This is done by going to the Special:UserRights page, and adding users into a "group" which has specific rights. The first thing to note however, is that this action requires special permissions itself! Typically only Gamepedia Staff has the requisite permissions to assign rights, however if the wiki has bureaucrats, they may also grant rights.
Promoting users to sysops and bureaucrats
The Special:UserRights page allows you (if you have access) to set which groups a user is in. A common task would be to put a user into the 'sysop' group. This will grant the user various extra rights, such as deleting pages, and blocking users. See the previous section for more details.
Obviously giving a user such rights implies that you trust the user, both in terms of being non-malicious, and also as somebody with sufficient competence in using the wiki software, and in dealing with the wiki community. People hoping to become sysops should read this page carefully. However it should be noted that actions of a sysop user are (almost) entirely reversible, by other sysop users, and so it can be a good idea to dish out these extra permissions to a number of users in order to
- Spread the workload of day-to-day sysop operations such as blocking vandals and deleting pages.
- Make things more democratic, and decrease any perception of a single dictator running the community
- Allow competent users the power they need to make progress with wiki refactoring.
- Reward valued contributors/community members
If you have many sysops, you may start to need documented processes governing their actions. e.g. when should a page be protected versus leaving it unprotected? You may even reach the point where you need a documented procedure for deciding who gets to be a sysop, and who should have their sysop rights revoked. To manage all of this, you may wish to promote several users into the 'Bureaucrat' group (a smaller number of your most trusted users) to spread the workload managing the promoting/demoting of sysops. On some large wikis, users are voted in by other users before they are granted extra permissions, and sysops have their rights revoked by a committee who investigate accusations of misconduct. Such processes are unlikely to be necessary in anything but the largest of wiki communities.
- Bots are users that are used for automated tasks, meaning their edits do not show up on recent changes by default. These may be shown by selecting the Show Bots link on the special page.
- The curse user group is for Curse staff (and Wiki Managers). It is not a usergroup that is obtainable.
- The Cursebot user group is for Curse staff (and Wiki Managers) bot accounts. It works much like the bot user right but with curse permissions included.
- Check user
- The check user right is rarely given out, but as it's name suggests, it allows the user with the right to check the IP logs of a given username, to check if they are avoiding blocks or are utilizing multiple accounts for other reasons.
- Widget editor
- The widget editor user right is added from the Widgets extension. It allows a user to edit the widgets within that namespace.