Wikipedia Idiots: The Edit Wars of San Francisco

It can take just one sentence — if not one word — to start a war on Wikipedia. One recent war of words on the "free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" — known as an "edit war" in Wiki parlance — started over a few phrases about former San Francisco supervisor and mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez.

A Wikipedian named Boodlesthecat objected to this sentence by another user: "Gonzalez's critics considered him a stubborn and willful ideologue." The entry went on to state that Gonzalez had "walked out of Mayor Willie Brown's State of the City address in 2002." (For the record, Gonzalez told SF Weekly he did not walk out — he simply didn't attend because of his concerns over Brown's previous State of the City address.)

Boodlesthecat was not pleased with the Gonzalez entry, and started editing, voicing concerns about unsourced and inaccurate criticism and biased language. It's important to note that a neutral point of view is seen as a fundamental principle of Wikipedia — a principle that is absolute and non-negotiable. But the devil is often in the details, and some Wikipedians spend days (if not weeks or months) arguing what a neutral point of view in a given article even means.

Boodlesthecat's comments about Gonzalez quickly unleashed the wrath of a user known as Griot. Alas, that was a name Boodlesthecat recognized from Wiki-pedia's Ralph Nader entry — the two had just been sparring over the environmental and consumer-rights activist and former presidential candidate, particularly Nader's role in the 2000 election.

"Now you've followed me to the Matt Gonzalez article," Griot wrote Jan. 31 on Boodlesthecat's personal user page. "C'mon man, gimme a break. You don't know the City or its politics. Your editing there was strictly personal."

Boodlesthecat wasn't having it, and promptly responded: "See the talk page for discussion. Please refrain from using my talk page for your speculations and insults, and rude advice on what I can and cannot edit."

Griot seemed apologetic at first, writing "Sorry Cat." But the edit war over the Gonzalez entry heated up again. "I'm sorry, but I have to take this back to your Talk page, since your edits at this article obviously don't pertain to Matt Gonzales [sic], but to me," he wrote, adding, "Cut it out, wouldya?" Soon both Griot and Boodlesthecat were blocked from Wikipedia for 24 hours for violating the three-revert rule, meaning they made three edit reversions in a 24-hour period.

It's funny that Griot complained about getting personal, because I first learned of this particular user, who is reportedly San Francisco–based, during a conversation with my sister, Jeanne, about the plethora of anonymous online vitriol. We were discussing how many in cyberspace write things to each other — often using pseudonyms — that we couldn't imagine saying to people's faces. I mentioned that San Francisco seemed to have a lot of what some call "Internet rage."

That's when Jeanne, who is also a writer, told me of a debate over the entry about her in Wikipedia — and of one particular user, Griot, who seemed to be on a no-holds-barred campaign to delete her page after he blamed her for making dubious edits to Ralph Nader's page (which she denies). One Griot note on the talk page of a user called Calton, dated Aug. 27, 2007, reads, "Is there anything we can do about Jean [sic]? It's tiresome. Maybe we should give her back her personal page on Wikpedia so she isn't so lonely." He also accused her of creating several online identities to make a flurry of changes to the Nader entries. "Spicuzza is on the warpath again," Griot wrote to Calton, and made a snarky offer to Calton about my sister: "If you ever need help fending off this multiple personality disorder, don't hesitate to ask."

Over the months, I noticed that my sister wasn't the only person who had been taunted by Griot (for instance, Griot lectured another user, "Take your meds and shaddup"). It turned out he had made plenty of enemies on Wikipedia. One compared edit warring with this particular user to "arguing with a donut." Another even adopted a screen name riffing on his rival: "GridiotinSanFranciski."

By his own count, Griot had made more than 5,000 edits to 275 Wikipedia stories in three years. Griot seemed to take great delight in fighting with his fellow Wikipedians, as indicated by long lists of back-and-forth comments on his user talk page, which numbered 66 as of last week. (Each of Wikipedia's registered users can build a user page, which may be used to display information relating to its author as well as to hold discussions with others.)

After getting at least one user blocked from Wikipedia, Griot crowed: "The moral: Don't mess with the Griot."

I decided to ignore the warning. I decided I was going to find the Griot.

Griot (pronounced Gree-oh) is one of the 4.6 million registered users on Wikipedia's English-language site who have signed up to edit and write entries and ultimately determine what the Wiki-masses read. Wikipedia users rarely register with their real names, and Griot was (and is) no exception.

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172 comments
PDT978
PDT978

She has this movie she's been failing to make for years... and YEARS... And it will never be made... ever! Why? Because she doesn't know the difference between vanity and art, that's why. [chuckle]

LBlatzKleiner
LBlatzKleiner

Dear Mr. Feldspar: Ms. Spicuzza "lent" her permission to the collective and non-members, not Wikipedia, as you've assumed, who share an ISP hub. I am not famous, nor did I claim to be. Ms. Spicuzza is. Your tone is quite rude, thus I make this my final posting. *Shelly Robbins, member (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde...

Vunderbar
Vunderbar

My favorite quotes: "SF Weekly's IT systems manager, Max Pavlovich, had agreed to work some of his computer nerd magic. I tracked down what I suspected to be Griot's Internet Protocol (IP) address, a unique number assigned to every computer connected to the Internet. I naively thought that if I hung out in Griot's neighborhood, which seemed to be somewhere between the Castro and the Mission, maybe I'd spot this person, but I felt pretty ridiculous — and a bit creepy — stalking Griot." Naturally, because a creep often feels creepy. I also liked: "Griot could be anybody: a neighbor, a co-worker, an ex-boyfriend." About the latter, wishful thinking on the author's part, I wager.

Yakamo789
Yakamo789

What's the phoniest line in this article? I vote for "I decided I had to get a little more pushy: I let Griot know he or she had become the main focus of the article. Maybe that would bring him or her out into the open." As if the Griot wasn't the "main focus" of this article from the start!

Bestia
Bestia

Her name's not Yon YonsonShe lives in WisconsinShe don't live here no moreShe made a big boo-booBy writing some doo-dooAnd she got shown the door

Mary Jane Prattlefore
Mary Jane Prattlefore

And if you believe that I would spend my precious time on this merely because of an edit war, then, sir, you insult my intelligence, nay my life and my humanity. Good day, sir.

IlBigamo
IlBigamo

Mary, Mary, au contrairyWhere is your little pen now?Badger stater, masturbaterScribbling for frauleins and fraus

Rocko
Rocko

She ate jellybean communion wafers; thirty years later, she pretended to be a novitiate.

Bill
Bill

Her name's not Yon YonsonShe lives in WisconsinShe don't live here no moreShe made a big boo-booBy writing some doo-dooAnd she got shown the door

Info
Info

Visitor DetailVisit Start Time3/9/2011 8:27:06 AMLocationAnonymous ProxyOrganizationGBU Internet, LLCVisitor ID080A7F0B34From Domain198.65.160.20I.P. Address198.65.160.20 Referred ByBookmark or directBrowserFirefox 3.6PlatformWindows 7LanguageEnglish (United States)Screen Resolution1024 x 768 Java SupportNoCookie SupportYes

Start Page Default Page 3/9/2011 8:25:57 AM Next Page newsletter.html 3/9/2011 8:26:02 AM Next Page Default Page 3/9/2011 8:26:07 AM Next Page schedule.html 3/9/2011 8:26:08 AM Next Page Default Page 3/9/2011 8:26:19 AM Next Page links.html 3/9/2011 8:26:24 AM Next Page Default Page 3/9/2011 8:27:06 AM Report generated Wednesday, March 09, 2011 1:01:30 PM

Dirk Hofbrau
Dirk Hofbrau

Hello! Sorry, I'm not a very warm and fuzzy type, but there's my attempt. If you look at my edit history, you'll notice that I quite like a variety of topics. I'm interested in U.S. presidential election and political-related articles in general. I'd also like to look at some of the twentieth century world history articles. I've not had must chance to really dig in. It might be exciting to expound on the United States presidential election debates. I think it could use some work. Also electoral college and Third party (United States). My present focus has been on Barack Obama-related articles, in part because of the scenario described above, in part because of the block. Nevertheless, I would never "stick narrowly" to any single topic. As for article creation, I've mentioned one about Barack Obama and Pakistan and Afghanistan. Perhaps an international relations article in the future. As for how I would work with others, I'm displaying that to the best of my ability-- here. And if you look at dialogues on Ralph Nader-related pages, all you need is there. Writegeist so far took head and hit nail most squarely. I'm generally a civil-minded person, and then there are some who like to try and push buttons. I excel in recognizing the difference between opposition of ideas and personal opposition. I can be humorous yet remain calm in social crisis. I don't support bullying, or authoritarian head games. I don't like it when people try to use shame or humiliation to pound people into submission. Dignity, respect, humor, and, when all else fails, a little fire with fire. Tempered with fairness. Proof in da puddin'... Thank you for asking!

Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
Jeanne Marie Spicuzza

Dear Alan Ferguson:

I am advised to write this letter to you regarding your persistent harassment and cyberstalking. I am writing to you openly, to notify you that you are to cease any and all contact with me, any and all contact with web sites and web pages pertaining to me, and to cease contributing to web sites and web pages pertaining to me immediately. This will be the only notification that you will receive.

Jeanne Marie Spicuzza

Mary Jane Prattlefore
Mary Jane Prattlefore

Excellent critique of the dehumanization of war and exploitation of power. The writing is phenomenal! I look forward to more articles. I loved the crisp and colorful quality of the piece, resulting in an almost Impressionistic treatment of light. The interviewing is superb! The story bears a classic "Twilight Zone" quality, perhaps even David Lynch influence. Great writing! The dialogue is poignant, and makes its point without excess. The story follows the author, skillfully outlining the dealings of her sister, portrayed by Jeanne Marie Spicuzza. Her name means "heavenly messenger," and she is an "existentialist." Given these descriptions, we're told that she will, in essence, live... and tell. Very intelligent writing! I've discovered some interesting symbols, too. Even the gizard appearing in the story is indigenous to Vietnam! Brilliant and honest! I predict that this story will be studied and remembered as an important statement of our times.

Sir Edmond Putzfighter
Sir Edmond Putzfighter

"Plethora of anonymous online vitriol.." Now there's a girl with a prose style...NOT!

inflatable butt plug
inflatable butt plug

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Mary Spritzkindle
Mary Spritzkindle

Thank you for your time and trust. I can agree, and understand the WP:DUCK and all that, especially because of the controversy and the Donald brigade and all. But I'd like to make a request, if I may. You're right in saying I want to edit Nader. I'm thinking of staying away from pretty much everything, for now, because, well, it's not going over so great so far, as you can see! If you would, please have an admin assist with the Nader article, and any others I've contributed to that might "suddenly" take a turn for the worse. A certain user is clearly out for personal revenge (even contributed to an article on "Revenge"! See Griot's other User IP history). For some, it's more about ego, and power. But I really feel on principle, and what I think WP strives for, is quality and objectivity. The reason I fought was because I really do care about how people become educated. I wanted to share that. TNM says she's done. Don't know about Telogen. Thanks for the encouragement to return. I do feel the need to step back, for a little while, because this is stressful and, well, I'm not retired! I need to place some much-needed attention back to my life :) This Wiki can be addictive! I meant what I said when I told you I appreciate your help. You've done good work, Otheus. You're a good fairy. Be well, stay cool. I'm sure we'll meet again ;)

Mary Jane Prattlefore
Mary Jane Prattlefore

Griot, the user who instigated these past and present SPP accusations and Jeanne Marie Spicuzza article deletion, is an SPP. We challenged 'his' Ralph Nader article, so he began stalking my contributions, saw me contributing to an article that's been around for years before I ever came to Wikipedia, and he's determined to get rid of it. He felt powerless, so he's reacting out of fear and spite. He announced his departure from Wikipedia, but went around 'secretly' vandalizing user talk pages and links to the JMS article (see Telogen's note on the article's deletion page). It wasn't enough, so he prompted Calton to put boxes all over the article. I was away. Telogen reported it to the AN/I board. A few admins told Calton not to do that, and Calton got very miffed, violating WP:CIVIL, 3RR, etc. Calton placed the article on his AfD list. He and Griot, SPP, gathered some editor and admin friends together (why else would so many people vote "DELETE" on such an "obscure" article, as he called it, in 24 hours?). I try to fix it, I'm COI, SSP, etc. I must be blocked. It might become too good to delete or something. Telogen tells it like it is, now he and I are being trashed. My GF edits have been reverted by the same people who are now promptly voting to delete articles that Telogen and me and contributed to. As for the IP ID, per instruction of WP, I choose not to adopt a name, and Telogen adopted his with TNM hers (see above). I understand taking a name is an option, not mandatory. Please correct me if I'm wrong, because I don't want to disregard WP policy. Per WP:AGF, you might chalk it up to the fact that I've contributing off and on for all of two months. I have a history of good faith edits, and Telogen guided the Ralph Nader article resolve that Griot was aggravating. TNM left for good. I pulled back. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W...] Otheus asked me to. I did. That's why we're being accused of what exactly what Griot is doing. He's had some practice. He's got a Dick Cheney approach to personal politics. I'm pretty fed up with the whole business, I don't like all the conflict and backbiting. I'm noticing a lot of quality problems with articles, a lot of people not qualified to edit, poor writing, bullying, COI not addressed because these users know more people to back them than first-timers. Users aren't who they say they are. That's ironic, by keeping my IP visible, I'm MORE outright about who I am. I'm concerned about teachers telling their students not to come to WP, because it's so inaccurate. I wanted to help. Now, I'm just tired of it all. Griots of the world think they've won, because they get their way. They bully you into their way. Or do they? As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for, man is powerless to the results, etc. The way some people are acting, you'd scarcely recognize their humanity at all. Maybe it's the computer, they think no one can see. Fear. But it's that much more visible, really. The best people do great things when they don't know or think someone else is watching. The heroes. Others hide behind an eponym, and by trying to hide, revealing their true natures. How lonely it must be, and so hunched over a keyboard most of your life. Telogen and I stated before that we are different people. We know the truth. Others continue to accuse, to cause confusion and divert from their own transgressions. Monkey politics. The hope of it-- I can leave here, have my life, know I'm honest, do good work. That's all I've got to say on that.

posturewriter
posturewriter

Another example of a covert edit "flame" war by "Edit WarLords"????, or juvenile eraser gangs????There are a group of arrogant editors in Wikipedia who consider themselves to be elitist, and able to control the information that the public gets to read by selectively deleting it and blocking the contributors who add it.�

The readers and �newbies� of Wikipedia are called cattle (who can be easily herded - i.e. easily controlled, and easily led to believe something). When a �newbie� arrives and the �elite� editor doesn�t like the information being provided he tries to block him with the normal policies, processes, and forums etc. but if that fails the editor goes behind the scene of open discussion and posts a message on the flame war noticeboard to start a flame war. The �newbie� is called the �flame-bait�, and the other members of the edit elite are called flamers - or flamethrowers??? - They get the message, secret email, (or inuendo) and go to burn the flame-bait or �newbies� and their information?�They seem to come from nowhere into discussions that are in the normal process of being dealt with, and the �elite� editor can be paraphrased as saying �by the way I just happened to see this page by sheer coincidence and have known of the disruptive nature of this newbie before, so I am banning him immediately. The rest of you �normal� arbitrators can do something else now�.I found this information after contributing to Wikipedia for 12 months and recently being banned. It starts on this webpage . . . http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde...

You can see the photo of the bull at the top of the page with the label of PCCTL - which translates as �personal computer cattle�.�

They then proceed to misrepresent everything that has happened in the past 12 months, with what appears to be genuine complaints, but which looks to me like very skillful spin - on every word - an exercise in the pot calling the kettle black.They then start discussing the fact that their usual methods of discouraging people from contributing information to Wikipedia have failed in my case.Their backroom methods include the�attitude readjustment tools� which they mentioned in the 6th paragraph, and are highlighted in blue as a link to a Lart page, where they refer to the �newbies� as �Lusers� here http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/ht...which in turn has a link to the �flames� page, and just follow the endless links thereafter.

My Wikipedia ID code is/was Posturewriter.�

Reputation Online
Reputation Online

The poster's name is Alan Ferguson. He works for New Media Strategies, ironically an online reputation site. His Wikipedia identity is Scibaby, a user banned for sockpuppetry. His (current) dynamic Anonymous Proxy IP is 198.172.204.85, which has been used three times today for stalking purposes. I suggest contacting his employers.

From the Yahoo! Health web sit
From the Yahoo! Health web sit

Disorganized schizophrenia causes unusual speech and behavior, such as making up words or constantly rhyming words.

e.e. cummings
e.e. cummings

I see England, I see France

I hear someone's panty rants I see Ashb'ry, I see Haight

I hear someone bloviate

I see Moscow and Madrid

Poor old Jeanne has flipped her lid!

Edmund Wilson
Edmund Wilson

My favorite Mary Spicuzza article is "Panty Ranting" (Google it -- I dare ya). That article is so totally hot! If Mary writes her memoirs or autobiography, she ought to name it after that article. Like I said, it's so totally hot! It's about these babelicious high school dibs who wear thongs to school as a protest against the narrow-minded "draconian" dress code. Who owns the movie rights to this? The photos that accompany Mary's killer prose ("Jody Lasda may look like a fashion model, but the fast-talking powerhouse quickly proves that girls are not just meant to be seen, but heard as well") are awesome! And I really like this one subheading in the article -- "Crack Down" (probably the editors came up with that one, since the author has no sense of humor). This article is So. Fucking. Hot. And it empowers women too! More panty ranting Mary, please!

The Griot
The Griot

Yeah, I hear she's working for ABC News or something. Sounds like a promotion from the Weakly to me...

Mighty Sparrow
Mighty Sparrow

The princess has gone far away

To write about the spliff and jay.

Princess will you please come back?

We lack your knack for writing hack.

Alas but she cannot return

Much less distinguish or discern.

She has been run out of town

For running her profession down.

Tokuro Togudk
Tokuro Togudk

Anonymity is perfectly justified. A troublemaker is a trouble maker whether his name is John Smith or whether his name is PrincessGurlll12u892. Focus on actions, not on the name.

Any system that attempts to verify the name will either cause the Wikipedia system to collapse, or it will be easy to dodge. Instead focus on eliminating unwelcome behaviors. Of course every online system has a jerk or two. Focus on prohibiting their behaviors.

This article takes a very nasty tone, so I cannot take it seriously.

BTW my name is not Tokuro Togudk.

Horace Greeley
Horace Greeley

Society of Professional Journalists: Code of Ethics (preamble)

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.

So, um, like what the hell happened?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Poet's Corner: Excuzza me children, for you must hear

The midnight rants of daughter dear.

She, like mom, has gone quite nuts

And -- it's the genes -- is also a putz.

Jennifer Meyer
Jennifer Meyer

This article is great! You should submit it for awards. I like the way people's personalities emerged in the face of, so-called, anonymity. I've read articles about Wikipedia before, but this one gave me the feeling of being there. Thank you!

Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking

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Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking

LocationAnonymous Proxy

OrganizationGBU Internet, LLC

Visitor ID6BC47F3120

From Domainverio.net

I.P. Address198.172.207.113

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PlatformWindows XP

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Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking

Visit Start Time7/27/2008 4:38:30 PM

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OrganizationGBU Internet, LLC

Visitor ID6BC47F3120

From Domainverio.net

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Sebastian III
Sebastian III

Another thing that struck me as really funny about this article: the author explains how to pronounce "griot." She writes, "Griot (pronounced Gree-oh)" and goes on to explain what a griot is. Sheeesh. How far into the sticks does a person have to grow up to NOT know what a griot is or how to pronounce the word? I betcha the author originally thought the word was pronounced it "gr-eye-ought." What a hick!

Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking

Start Time7/17/2008 8:16:47 PM

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Frank Frankly
Frank Frankly

Poet�s Corner: Phony-baloney macaronis / Should stay at home and drive Zambonis. / Sis sucks rocks, the brood�re mutts / Guy succeeds where Gal�s a putz.

Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking

Visit Start Time 7/6/2008 4:59:38 PM Location San Francisco, California, United States Organization SBC Internet Services Visitor ID 6D34EA3720 From Domain pacbell.net I.P. Address 71.139.42.128 Referred By http://www.google.com/search?h... %22jeanne mari... Search Term "jeanne marie spicuzza" Visit No. 2 Last Visit 7/6/2008 4:59:38 PM Browser Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 Platform Windows XP Language English (United States) Script Version JScript 3.1 Screen Resolution 1280 x 768 Color Palette 16.7 million colors (32-bit) Java Support Yes Cookie Support Yes

 
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