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If you really wanted to address "how sysops are allowed to address contributors, and about whether processes of group-self-critism are to be allowed room to funtion" then why did you insist on giving your letter such a nasty tone? "This place is Hell" sounds absurd to a large quantity of people who hangs around "this place".

If you would care to document these incidents to which you anecdotally refer, that might also be useful, and mark your letter as something worthy of respect.


The letter explains why particulars are not mentioned. I do not care to adjudicate these incidents. I intend to put the community on notice that casual use of the term "troll" could result in legal action. It is also intended to advise what steps others might already be taking to lay the foundation for a libel action. When a person has been repeatedly called troll, it is hardly nasty to refer to a place where it occured as "hell". If a person is unable to afford respect to the communication, it might be a matter of that persons budget for respect, not a factor related to the worthiness of the letter.

Here's a little contradiction that you can perhaps clear up. The letter says
"There is no definition for this term troll, except that it is a person who refuses to die and go away after somebody here with a few friends decides they don't like the person."
and yet, on the basis of having this supposedly-undefined label "troll" attached to him/her by some other Wikipedia contributor, this user plans a libel suit? It seems that the user fits the above definition of "troll" very well indeed. (Never mind that troll has a rather different definition, in the common parlance at least.) Please do explain. 08:21, 25 Jan 2004 (PST)
Like the term nigger (which means black in German and may be an abused geographic misnomer in American usage), troll is a disparaging term that infers malicious motivation. Disparaging a person's motivation is cause of action in libel cases.
If the reader will read carefully, the letter asserts that writers' anonymity protects the project when the anon user is called a "troll" because causes for libel action always involve a clearly identifiable party. You can't libel Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. However, if in good faith a writer posts prose here that the same writer has published under the writer's real name elsewhere, and a representative of Wikipedia labels the motivation for posting information as being to troll, that writer might have cause for action. You can libel John Doe if you say, falsely, that John Doe dressed as Santa Claus to exploit children.
Perhaps the inference drawn by the respondant that the writer of this letter plans a libel suit is an honest mistake, but that is not the inference that can be logically drawn from the letter. It could, on the other hand, be evidence that the respondant has no interest in understanding the concern of the writer, but rather attempts to draw false inferences for purposes only the respondant might understand. It is notable that a standard message board response to discussion of libel, especially among individuals protected by a "handle," is to repeat the libel as a means of asserting personal freedom. In such cases, the libelous allegation likely finds little purchase in the minds of critical analysts.
The letter does advise that someone might be recording administrative responses to activities here with an eye toward legal action, but that might be speculation based on an analysis of the circumstances and on the writer's experience with libel law. It might be genuine pro-bono advice that could potentially preserve ownership of the project for the original owners, or at least assist the community in avoiding the burden of unneccessary legal costs resulting from a few members use of a handy insult at the expense of meaningful communication.
It might also be worth remembering that if harm falls upon the subject of group or individual insults, those who pronounce the insults can become criminal suspects or may be liable, in criminal or civil venues, for the harm. In critical debate, it is usually safer to rely on matters of specific truth, which is always a defense in libel cases, rather than to rely on the thin ice of new-speak that can easily be identified as libelous or assaultive speech. When conflicts are described in general terms, again it is safer to rely on general summations of circumstances rather than to resort to offensive catch words that can have libelous implications.
I hope this makes it easier for you to cross bridges without the fear that a troll is lurking under the deck.

The user who wrote this open letter represents the viewpoint of quite a few people. He is correct in his all his statements regarding those with sysop privileges. Wikipedia is nothing but a joke. To say that no original research is allowed is a contradiction in itself. Everything is original research regardless of whether or not it has been published. I can understand not wanting to allow neologisms, new ideas, etc, but I cannot understand how publishing only the viewpoints of academics and in particular your sysop staff produces any lasting good. All knowledge is open to scrutiny, to correction, to reproof. Just imagine if they had Wikipedia in the time of Copernicus? If someone had said the earth rotates around the sun, he would have risked being killed. Today, he is first described as a troll and then dismissed. What's the difference today? Very little in terms of true knowledge and progress. Wiki states that they cannot verify original research, but are somehow able to delete any article they don't like. So you can tell certain knowledge is false but you can't tell if it is true. What utter hypocrisy, not to mention rank stupidity, arrogance and stubborness. Your organization is run by a bunch of hooligans and trolls. You accuse others of what you are in fact guilty of. Do you think any intelligent person believes the garbage that it published on this site? Whatever I read here, I add a pinch of salt. The United States has become an 'institution' offering degrees based on how well you can cite sources and how well you can write your APA formatted report. Yor organization is a good example of this. The result is: a proliferation of fools and idiots. Wiki is the viewpoint of such.