System administrators

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This page covers the people who manage and maintain the Wikimedia Foundation servers. Historically, these people were known as "developers", but that is now inaccurate. For information on developers of the MediaWiki software, see the Developers page on For the administration access of wiki pages and users known as "administrators", "admins", or "sysops", see administrator.

System administrators perform systems administration work on the Wikimedia servers. Their primary task is to ensure that the Foundation's collection of over 900 wikis continue to function smoothly, so that users can continue to read pages and make changes. Aside from maintaining the hardware and software in the Wikimedia server clusters, they are responsible for updating and configuring the version of the MediaWiki software that runs on the Wikimedia servers, and can perform administrative tasks requiring direct server or database access, such as creating new wikis, closing wikis, changing configuration settings, etc.

The Wikimedia Foundation legally controls the servers; ultimately the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is responsible for determining who has sysadmin access, and how that responsibility is exercised. However, this power is delegated to various Wikimedia Foundation managers. On a day-to-day basis, various system administrators with root or shell access manage the server clusters.

System administrator actions

Although system administrators are often not active on Wikimedia wikis themselves, they may occasionally need to perform actions for technical reasons, such as blocking users or bots that are consuming unacceptable amounts of system resources, or undoing edits that put heavy strain on the servers. Such actions should not be undone without consulting the system administrator.

To facilitate these changes being made in a transparent fashion with no need of the steward flag, all system administrators who ask can be added to the 'sysadmin' global group (automatic members lists). This group allows them to set user rights for any user on any wiki, in the same fashion as stewards. So if a system administrator needs to perform an action restricted to administrators (like editing system messages) on a particular wiki, they can simply grant themselves admin status on that wiki to make the action. In addition, the 'sysadmin' group has access to Special:GlobalGroupPermissions, where system administrators can change the permissions assigned to their global group. So as an alternative, the system administrator could add editinterface to the global group permissions, and would then be able to edit system messages on all wikis.

System administrators are encouraged to use the latter method of granting permissions, to avoid the lists of administrators/bureaucrats on local wikis becoming cluttered with users who are not 'permanent' members of those groups. These self-promotions may be removed at any time by stewards, as they can be easily restored if needed. However, some system administrators have permissions on certain wikis as a result of due process on that wiki, for instance Tim Starling's adminship on English Wikipedia; such rights should not be removed in this fashion.


Do not contact people on this list directly if you need something to be done. Instead, go to the #wikimedia-techconnect irc channel or file a ticket on

The list below is provided for convenience and should not be treated as accurate or complete. Most of the technical Wikimedia Foundation staff have some form of shell access. There are various levels of shell access (through user groups) and many (whether or not overlapping) groups of servers that access is granted to. For simplification the list below considers all servers to be the same and there to be only (regular) "restricted", "deployment", and "ops". Some other users (not necessarily listed here) have the ability to perform highly restricted actions in some miscellaneous services, with varying degrees of visibility to users.


Initially, it was Jimmy Wales who installed software, ran update programs, etc., on the servers. In March 2002, he proposed to give login accounts to some developers ("Trusted user access to machine", Wikitech-l).

System administrators formerly had an important role in the Wikipedia power structure, since they were the only ones able to promote and demote sysops and lock user accounts (before the "block" feature of MediaWiki existed).

Some sysadmins had shell access to the old California servers, but due to inactivity, weren't given shell access on the "new" (since decommissioned) Florida servers. Magnus Manske, April King, Lee Daniel Crocker, Axel Boldt, Matthias Jordan, Neil Harris and Ed Poor were all in this category.

See also