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Williams Students Online

Revision as of 22:15, May 15, 2005 by Root (talk | contribs) (History)

Williams Students Online, or WSO, is a student computer group that offers several computer- and internet-related services to members of the College community. In the past, WSO has maintained email terminals, email accounts, and a media lab; current projects include a multi-featured web site, this Wiki, listservers, and web hosting for students, student organizations, and alumni.



The beginning

WSO was founded in January of 1995 by Jon Zeppieri, DeWitt Clinton, and others.

(Big blank in institutional memory.)

Abuse and renewal

In the fall of 2002, abuse of the WSO Forums continued. A thread entitled "Gays Suck" prompted the Queer Student Union to print out the thread and post it in Baxter Hall, inviting responses with paper and pen. Abuse escalated at the end of October, at which time there were several pornographic images, violent threats, and racist, sexist, and homophobic posts to be found in the forums. On October 30, the forums were removed.

But they were to return. Shimon led a site re-write in the spring and summer of 2003. One goal of the re-write was to authenticate users, so that their postings and doings could be identified. The site was written with Apache PageKit. Shimon wrote the important stuff and the WSO Ride Board, Josh wrote a new menu feed, Tom re-wrote the WSO Forums, Evan re-wrote some screen scrapers, and Toph re-wrote the WSO Facebook and wrote WSO Blogs from a hole in Scotland. The site went live in July of 2003.

Toph, Tom, Brent, Jacob, and Steve graduated in the spring of 2004, and around that time Ben Cohen and Dan Weintraub were given root. During the summer, Evan and Dan converted WSO Plans from its standalone PHP/MySQL incarnation over to PageKit, so that students could access it from off-campus without setting up a proxy server. Also, they converted the Postgres database and the website over to UTF-8/Unicode. With the help of Masha Lifshin and Sam Dreeben, the duo made much-envied but never-imitated Quicktime VRs for their Facebook pictures.

In the fall of 2004, Kai Steverson rewrote Factrak for College Council to allow people to "agree" with comments left about professors. Kai also wrote My Survey that semester. Evan re-wrote the WSO Facebook (again) to include faculty and more information fields.

In February 2005, WSO was hacked by a group of Brazilians calling themselves Simiens Crew 2005.


WSO uses Mailman 2.1.5 to power its listservers. A complete list of WSO listservers is available from [1].