“Think of it as Wikipedia’s police department hotline. The “encyclopedia anyone can edit” includes a page where you can instantly alert the site’s brain trust to foul play. It’s called the “Conflict of Interest Noticeboard.” If you suspect someone has rigged the system, using the encyclopedia to push their own agenda, this is where you turn. But there’s a catch. One of the site’s leading administrators bears an extreme conflict of interest, but you can’t expose him from the Conflict of Interest Noticeboard. He created the Conflict of Interest Noticeboard.
This administrator, Jossi Fresco, is a longtime student of Prem Rawat – formerly Guru Maharaj Ji – the India-born spiritual leader who styled himself as the “Perfect Master” and fostered a worldwide religious movement encouraging followers to call him “Lord of the Universe.” Jossi Fresco openly acknowledges he’s employed by an organization “related” to Prem Rawat, and according to an ex-Rawat-follower and former friend, he served on the guru’s personal staff and built the guru’s first web site. Nonetheless, Fresco maintains strict control over Wikipedia’s Prem Rawat article and countless related articles, keeping criticism of his guru to a bare minimum.
Fresco denies any conflict of interest. He argues that his contributions to Wikipedia’s Rawat-related articles do not violate the site’s conflict of interest policy, which allows such conflicts if editors disclose them and continue to edit “neutrally.” “I have acted in a transparent and straightforward manner with regard to Wikipedia”, he told us over email. In a way, he has acted in a transparent and straightforward manner. He edits Wikipedia under his real name. And he acknowledges a connection to Rawat on his Wikipedia user page. But he won’t say how deep this connection goes, and as part of Wikipedia’s inner circle, or “ruling clique”, he has the power to shape site policies – including the conflict of interest policy.”
(via The Register)
(Related: Video of Prem Rawat in 1971 via WFMU’s Beware of the Blog)
February 8, 2008 at 3:42 pm
I always love abuses of power. It sometimes leaves you wonder: “what can you do?”. It’s a constant battle, fighting with someone who has all the cards.. but what can you do? Hell, we can’t even get Ron Paul time in debates.