We run a MediaWiki, where we have a good, contributing user who agreed to be given temporary powers as an administrator, explicitly with the instructions to only manage the protection and erasure of a very specific set of pages. Nothing more.

Now, this user who was temporarily given mod powers solely for technical tasks is overreaching and acting like an administrator. They have deleted pages outside their explicit purview (correctly deleted, as per rules, just shoudl've been by an actual fully-fledged admin), and threatened disruptive users with blocks, and even blocked one today (again, rightfully so by the rules. I would've done so first, if I was there).

I've talked to them about this already, asking them to at the very least ask an admin before taking any admin actions, but they haven't changed their behaviour at all. I have two questions about this:

1) Am I being unreasonable in expecting this user to limit their moderation activity to these specific pages? It is 100% clear whether a page falls under their influence or not, so there should no misunderstanding here. I'm not trying to step on anyone, here, just do what makes sense.

2) How can we stop this without falling out with this user? I'd rather not go "You kept doing this so no admin powers bam", because this user contributes a lot of good things, and it's not like their adminning is bad, as such. I'd prefer not tot fall out with them, if possible.

  • 3
    I've talked to them about this already, What did the user reply?
    – user732
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 13:43
  • 1
    If they've overreached their remit then you've really no choice but to take the admin powers away from them. If they react by leaving then they're not really a community member you want around long term.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 14:27
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    @JanDoggen They convolutedly agreed, but I couldn't really pin them promise anything solid.
    – bertsly
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 15:09

2 Answers 2


Your expectation of compliance with limits is perfectly reasonable.

You said that the powers were granted on a temporary basis. Therefore, they can be withdrawn.
You can always give them back at a future time, especially if the user is suitably contrite.

Withdrawal of temporary powers is not the same as a punishing withdrawal of full powers. The user should understand this. It may well focus his mind on the responsibilities of moderation and become of even more value to your community.

If he ups and goes off in a huff then, as has been commented, do you really want him in the long term?

  • 1
    This is a good approach, I shall move forward and discuss with the user in this manner. Thank you.
    – bertsly
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 13:06

As you are using MediaWiki:

In future, you can create a "task name Moderator" group and only grant its members the permissions required for the specific task. In this case, you could have added the user to a group with deletion and protection privileges but nothing else. This would fix the issue with the user banning other users.

You could also limit this group to have special permissions only in a specific namespace. This might not apply very well in specific circumstances, but you could use this to e.g. prevent this user from editing or deleting User: pages.

This is a technical solution to a social problem, and it isn't a panacea, but it makes sense not to grant a user more privileges than they need if you don't want them using those privileges. The lack of the "Administrator" label and having the task name tied to the privileges might also help to convince the user to only use the privileges for that specific task.

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