Sysop power structure
A sysop is someone capable of employing technological escalation against their enemies, who they typically label "trolls". Those who lack the technologically granted powers will often adopt the label "troll" as a mark of pride and create factions to oppose the trivial power structure that seeks to block IPs of their fellows. This is politics as usual - no different in wikis than elsewhere.
As with cops, any view of any sysop power structure is necessarily quite controversial: those within it see themselves as "doing their job" to make a wiki mission happen. Those outside it see them necessarily more critically:
- Trollism defines the evil trolls as the sysops themselves, while those who admit they are trolls are somehow good or at least "better" for the admission. More moderate positions are that a sysop is merely a form of troll, the least eloquent, most prone to using technology to bully someone else, and unworthy of inclusion in serious troll organizations.
- The Wikipedia Red Faction viewed the social network composed of the sysops "is an immature network that easily develops frightened, unlearned reactions then attempts to explain those reactions as having been caused by the object of its fear." - English Wikipedia User Bird on a Wikipedia talk page, who goes on to suppose that the sysops are "practicing aggressive behaviors learned from their primarily middle class backgrounds, including hazing, peer pressure and class-hatred." Accordingly once authority (such as a GodKing is identified, all forms of hate and abuse that are not specifically prevented by that authority will be accepted. The power network that results is an unthinking copy of the power structure of the project as a whole, which can be altered only by wiki regime change which is indeed the goal of the Wikipedia Red Faction.
If there is a good sysop power structure, and it is not clear that there is, it certainly it must compensate for the community point of view sysops tend to acquire. For the same reasons, police officers must follow formal rules about what cases to be involved in and not, and are not generally trusted to follow their own instincts about what measures to take against "offenders" of rules. This is no different on large public wikis such as the Content Wiki and any Opinion Wiki facilities will become.
In other words, sysops simply can't be treated as neutral brokers in any power structure, democratic or despotic. They always add their own views, and this must be compensated for:
1. at the very least, sysops should/must be required to spend one-third of their time with no sysop status at all - this ensures that they must ask others for help at least some of the time, and, have some experience of end user status
2. arrangements where sysops do what "off-duty" sysops ask without question, must be detected and discouraged - say by permanent loss of status for both - it must be clear that everything done by any sysop is done on their own best judgement - any "just following orders" or "just doing as asked" excuses are contrary to a rule of law - becoming a simple unaccountable and permanent command hierarchy - more akin to a military or priestly hierarchy than a civilian-controlled police structure.
3. EVERY revert or block IP action must cost something - there must be a finite pool of "credit" that a sysop uses up by taking these actions, and it must be depleted if the action is ultimately reversed and reversal stands. This is how judges are judged - by how likely their verdicts are to be reversed on appeal. This will discourage sysop vandalism extremely strongly and probably such a system could and should be extended to all users.
4. Faction declarations and agreement not to intervene in a political dispute involving an overtly opposed faction would be quite important - for example, if someone is anti-homosexual, they should not be counted on to serve as a neutral broker in a debate between an anti-homosexual and a homosexual. A conflict of values can only cause the final decision to be very disputable.
7. The Lowest Troll terminology is to be preferred to any that elevates or seems to worship the final-resort sysop (the term GodKing, like "politically correct", seems to provide a kind of authority to the stupid, even though it was originally intended to mock the level of power or pressure involved).
On some wikis, the term sysops is equivalent to power structure. This is because the sysops manage (control) the wiki. On Consumerium, the sysops will be limited to cleaning duties, such as defending against vandalism. Hence, on Consumerium, it is hoped that sysops will not be a power structure. This will require eternal vigiliance and permanent revolution on behalf of the user base, and if a power structure begins to emerge, the users will take their content and move elsewhere.