A letter to new sysops
The following is directly out of an email I sent to the first volunteer sysop for this web site. It's applicability will change over time and therefore it (and this very sentence) will need to be edited in the future:
Thank you for volunteering. Your help is much appreciated. Considering this is all new to me as much as it is to anyone else, we will be learning together what our respective jobs are. Here are my thoughts so far on the sysop position.
Sysops are the English teachers of the web. People write stuff in the wiki. Sysops correct it. Corrections can come in many forms: cleaning stuff up (grammar, capitalization, punctuation), changing the context (no first person, few opinions), and outright removal (if needed). The sysops also provide materials of their own and encourage others to do the same.
You should note that I thought of and wrote the above in response to a question from the forums sysops on MeritBadge.net. One of them noted the following:
Adding content (being an active, enthusiastic supporter) is not the same as editing content (for style, clairty, etc.), administrating content (reverts, deletes, etc.), or administrating users (mediator, discipline, etc).
And they are absolutely right. I'm not expecting every sysop to do it all are even to be capable of doing it all. Every sysop will contribute in ways best suited to them. I was just trying to provide a full picture of the task at hand.
So how do you accomplish the above? I have found the key to this is using a special page on the system called "Recent changes." You'll have to play with it to see what all it is capable of but it certainly makes seeing what others have done a lot easier. One thing I learned about this page is that it's best to start with the newest edits first. If you start with older edits, you will actually end up destroying the work of any edits on that specific page that came after the one you are working on. And that's exactly what I did. The funny thing is the other person's edit stayed on the "Recent changes" page even though my edit destroyed their work. When I got to their edit, I found out they had essentially done exactly what I did so we both did the same work twice.
Now a few words about Patrolling. You will note when you use the "Recent changes" page that some page edits will have a red exclamation point ( ! ) in front of them. This indicates that the page has not been patrolled by a sysop. (Note that anything written by a sysop is considered automatically patrolled.) Any page that has not been patrolled will have a link at the top that says [Mark as Patrolled]. Once you've reviewed the page and you are certain it is fine and needs no further review, just click the link and that page will no longer have the red exclamation point in front of it on the "Recent changes" page.
Another important special page is the "Gallery of new files." If people upload files and images that do not belong on our web site, they will show up on this page, the newest uploads being right at the top where they can quickly be reviewed and deleted if not wanted.