Feeds

Wikipedia ruled by 'Lord of the Universe'

When is a cult not a cult?

Top three mobile application threats

Criticism of Prem Rawat

According to Wikipedia's "user contribution" tool, Fresco's first 2400 edits - spread over more than a year from April 2004 to August 2005 - were almost entirely devoted to Prem Rawat- or cult-related articles. The edit histories of Momento and Rumiton look much the same.

At one point, Wikipedia's Prem Rawat article - which was actually created by Mike Finch - was a rather lengthy biography. But then Fresco took hold of it. Working in tandem with others, he soon created a separate article called "Criticism of Prem Rawat," moved all Rawat criticisms to this new article, and eventually had it deleted.

"All critical material was moved to an article of its own: 'Criticism of Prem Rawat," says a senior admin. "Jossi created that, with the intent that it wouldn't over-burden the main article. But then that article was merged back into the main article and basically deleted. All that critical material was pretty much all deleted, so the current article bears very little resemblance to the article of two years ago. It's shorter, and it's all positive."

Fresco can shape content in such ways because he has plenty of editors working alongside him - and he has plenty of time for on-site politics. Judging from the last nine months, roughly 35 per cent of Fresco's edits are made during standard California business hours.

"Jossi ranks among the top three editors by contributions to three out of the four key content policies," says a senior admin, referencing stats available from a Wikipedia contribution analysis tool. "What makes this remarkable is that two of those policies have been in existence since Wikipedia was founded, long before he got involved, so he's made enough recent edits to catch up." Fresco's influence is particularly conspicuous when it comes to the policies concerning conflict of interest and biographies of living persons.

John Brauns, Ex-Premie

John Brauns, ex-premie

In helping to shape the biographies of living person policy, Fresco has worked to ensure that editors can immediately remove negative material about a living person if it's "unsourced" or "poorly sourced". With other articles, material often remains in place while sources are validated. This is certainly a good thing for Wikipedia as a whole. It prevents libel and defamation.

But Fresco has also worked to ensure that self-published material is fair game with biographies of living persons - as long as it's "not unduly self-serving". So, if an article discusses a living person, it can include positive information from a blog or web site published by that person. But critical information isn't allowed unless it comes from an independent "reputable" source.

Meanwhile, Fresco uses this policy to control the content on Prem Rawat-related Wikipedia articles - he says as much in his Wikipedia disclosure - and though other well-known mainstream sources refer to Rawat's religious movement as a cult, such information is largely absent from Wikipedia.

The word cult appears at the bottom of the Elan Vital article. But it is absent from the Divine Light Mission article as well as the Prem Rawat article.

Because Rawat has done his best to avoid the press since the mid-80s, published criticism of the guru is now scant. But as John Brauns and others and still others point out, it isn't hard to find mainstream publications that provide information about Rawat and his movement you won't find on Wikipedia. This includes several academic studies as well as articles from such publications as The New York Times and The Washington Post. And the list goes on.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.