Just some thoughts by a contributor about becoming, and being, an admin. This is not directed towards anybody in particular, but was mostly sparked by observations from watching Requests for adminship at Wikipedia.
An RFA Should NOT Be a Popularity Contest
RFA's should be decided solely on the merit of the candidate. That being said, if adminship is something that you are considering in the future it's a good idea not to go make a bunch of enemies. I'm not advocating kissing up to everybody just for the sake of trying to garner votes. I'm just observing that enemies can have long memories and tend to appear when RFA's come up. During an RFA your entire edit history, including your edit summaries, become objects of scrutiny. They're always out there for everybody to see, but an RFA is an occasion where ANYTHING you aren't proud of has a chance of being dragged out in front of everybody. The upside of this is that candidates are thoroughly vetted, and there aren't really "skeletons" to be discovered after the completion of the RFA. The downside is that this process can be pretty ugly, so if you're worried about something coming up... either bring it up yourself (with an explanation) or don't accept the nomination.
Self-nominated RFA's Are the Ugliest
I've seen a lot of self-nominations succeed at Wikipedia. However, self-nominations have a far greater incidence of getting ugly rather quickly. Usually this is when an enthusiastic, but inexperienced, user self-nominates. Not only do people often vote these down (just on the basis of inexperience), but there is often criticism of what few edits they have made. Some people speculate that most nominations are just self-nominations by proxy, with the nominee asking somebody else to nominate them. Even if that is the case, having somebody else nominate you might at least act as a reality check if they advise you that you might not be ready. I think many of the inexperienced self-noms don't have any idea what the RFA process is like, and they end up learning the hard way. Even worthy candidates end up getting oppose votes just for self-nominating. I don't agree with opposing just because a candidate nominates themself, but I do highly reccomend getting somebody to nominate you. It's a failsafe, and it seems to work out better for everyone.
What is Adminship?
It pretty much boils down to a couple of extra tabs along the top of the screen. After the "history" tab there's a new "protect" tab, and a "delete" tab. "Protect" locks a page down, so that it cannot be edited (except by other admins). Protecting or unprotecting a page, like all admin actions, is logged, and should be done cautiously. Very few pages around here are locked, as we trust our users with just about everything. It's more relevant on high-traffic sites to protect against likely vandalism targets. "Delete" is the other tab, and I think it's the more coveted of the two. The truth is, it doesn't amount to much. It does just what it sounds like, deleting the selected article/picture/etc. However, this too should be done very carefully. Good faith content was put up for a reason, so generally before a page is deleted any content will be merged into other articles. Deletion is far more about cleaning up test pages, redundant or unused images, and the like than anything else. Deletion of actual articles is only done after consensus agrees that it should be done, at which point the power to delete lies with the collective and not with the guy with the mop. Admins also have the "block" button that shows up next to users (including ourselves). Blocks are mostly used for vandals, or otherwise bad faith editors. There are admins that still haven't used the function yet, and hopefully it won't have to be used often. Note: it IS possible to block yourself. Fortunately, that brings me to another point. Anything an admin does, can be undone. What is protected can be unprotected, deleted objects can be restored, and blocked users can be unblocked. (The last is important if you accidently indefinitely block yourself... don't ask.) I mention that just to demonstrate that admins aren't all-powerful or infalliable. If you screw up, another admin (or yourself) can rectify the situation. We're all human.
Wikipedia has a code of conduct for admins. I won't reproduce it here, but I do want to highlight where it says admins ought to "behave in a civil manner, to not engage in revert wars and to not claim ownership of articles." This is true for everybody, but it's especially important for admins, who are going to be scrutinized more carefully.
No, not the punishment. Anybody seeking an admin role would be advised to execute. It's great to have good ideas, and creative people are always welcome. However, people are far more likely to take notice if you are able to help put those ideas into action. This doesn't mean you have to go it alone. Far from it, as collaboration is a vital component of interacting on a wiki. Just that it helps if you have contributed towards a project or projects, and performed some of the maintenance tasks around here. Most of the maintenance tasks don't require admin priveleges. Anybody can post unused files to the Island or fix double redirects or categorize the uncategorized. If you can get in there and help do the grunt work, people will appreciate it and hopefully that would show during an RFA.