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Wikipedia Idiots Respond en Masse in SF Weekly Letters 


Outing Wiki Wackos

The enlightened troll: Mary Spicuzza's article ["Wikipidiots," Feb. 13] on etiquette at Wikipedia — and, unfortunately, the occasional lack thereof — was pretty accurate in capturing what does occasionally occur in discussions about various articles. As a Wikipedia administrator, I have dealt with (i.e., warned, blocked, and/or banned) a number of users like Griot. It's not always easy, but we do try to hold people to the same standards of civility and mutual respect they'd be held to volunteering at any nonprofit, in real life or online.

Reading through Griot's contributions, it's evident that his is a more complex case than most trolls and vandals. Griot gets away with being snide by attacking those whose edits are not in accordance with Wikipedia's guidelines. Thus, he can defend himself by claiming that his content is better, while getting whatever pleasure it is he derives from berating and speaking down to other editors.

Nonetheless, I will defend Griot's right to anonymity. There are some sites established by critics of Wikipedia for the sole purpose of "outing" Wikipedians by posting personal information and sometimes even photos of users in an attempt to coerce them into content changes, or into leaving the project altogether. (I will not name them, as they do not deserve the free publicity.)

Benjamin Lowe

San Francisco

Speak to the sock puppet: Excellent article! [Mary] Spicuzza captured the spirit of Wikipedia. It's not an encyclopedia. No, it's a multilife role-playing message board, where players like Griot are pissed off at you only because identifying them may cripple their ulterior motives, and they may need — gasp! — to create another anonymous sock puppet one day.

Gregory Kohs

West Chester, PA

Yes, some people can!: Your cover story was astonishingly pointless. Let me get this straight: Some people on the Internet can be very impolite! And sometimes they are not who they say they are! To the editor who decided that these "revelations" were worthy of a cover feature, I can only say: Slow news week, huh?

Shannon Phillips

San Francisco

New College Failing

No hippie left behind: As a member of the [New College] community who has worked without pay for the past three months for the sake of our students, I find it tiresome to hear the former leadership slammed in the press. The use of the word "cultlike" to refer to the historic leadership of the college has no basis in fact. Why do you imagine that people who have worked for 25 or more years without personal gain are "cultlike"? Considering what I have learned in my 28 years here, about the craziness as well as the incredible ability of New College to encourage students to blossom, or go out into the world and create social change, the historical leaders were heroes who miraculously kept the college's mission alive in the midst of constant financial struggles, for 36 years, while others simply folded.

The issues regarding the purchase of real estate by the college are not so simple as is implied by Smith's article. The Roxie theatre was not a "purchase," for example. With the transfer of ownership, a donation was made to the college in order to pay off the Roxie's debts; so we did not literally "buy" it, but did save it from closure. The vision for the purchase of other properties was to enhance the college, not for some real estate scheme. For example, the Roxie enhanced our media studies program. The Creamery purchase, with KPFA broadcasts from there, gave publicity to the college that, in turn, enhanced our enrollments. As for the Fillmore property, we intended to create a green student dormitory. (Two of the sellers provided donations back to the college that helped us with our debt-asset ratio that the Department of Education requires for financial stability.)

Most of our recordkeeping has now been straightened out. If only the Department of Education would release our funds so that we have a chance to pay people. The students who are suffering for lack of funds are taking the brunt of the delay.

Although I am critical, I do appreciate Smith's efforts to help us. It would be great if some community leaders would volunteer to join the board to help us stabilize our finances and help restructure the college. New College is a unique educational institution. I hope someone can step forward to help us save it.

Kathy Voutyras

Director of Alumni Relations

New College of California

San Francisco

Smith gets an A: Thank you for the first balanced, well-researched article on the dire situation at New College ["School's Out ... of Money," Matt Smith, Feb. 13].

I have been trying to help as best I can. Imagine my dismay when, after securing and distributing the WASC Special Visit Team Report, the Bay Guardian churned out a negative, misleading article consisting mainly of excerpts from the report. What are they trying to do —run New College into the ground? Does Bruce Brugmann have a beef with Peter Gabel, or what?

Matt Smith actually researched the causes of the situation as well as the steps being taken to remedy it. For there most certainly are such steps being taken; throughout the students, staff and faculty, the motivation and desire to preserve New College is rampant. But we need help, and perhaps this excellent article will generate some.

Alex Brant-Zawadzki

New College of California School of Law

San Francisco


Due to an editing error, Matt Smith's Feb. 6 column "Sitting on the Dock" misidentified the number of workers in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. There are 63,000 members, 25,000 of whom are dockworkers. We also misspelled Jack Heyman's name. SF Weekly regrets the errors.


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