Jossi aka Jossi Fresco is not your usual, everyday Wikipedo admin: day and night, he's also the webmaster and publicist for Prem Rawat, cult leader and Lord of the Universe. Since Jossi became an administrator on the Wikipedia, controlling their pages about Prem Rawat became just part of his job. Jossi doesn't only try to control Prem Rawat pages on the english Wikipedia: he's also signed up for Wikisource, Wikiquote, and a few of the Wikipedias in other languages to make sure they only have nice things to say about his Master. He even signed up to Metawiki to make himself look really serious. As the Wikipedia's Captain Cult, he extends the blessings of his admin powers and experience in gaming the system to other cultists looking for total cult PoV.
Birth of a Monster: From Sign-up to Admin
In April of 2004, Jossi signed up and got straight to work with this page about his Perfect Master. A month later, Mike Finch (anti-Rawat guy who also appeared in The Register's article) created the original version of the Prem Rawat page. Rawat cultists saw it, banged their heads together, and started an edit war within 24 hours.
Tricksy and sneaksy Jossi created the "Criticism of Prem Rawat" article, with the snarky content "Opposing views can be added here", but turned it into a series of outrageous smears of critics and lame rebuttals of contributions from critics and neutral parties. Almost all of the very cheap shots and low attacks on this page are from Jossi, either logged in as Jossifresco or as the IP address 18.104.22.168. Zappaz, a fellow Prem Rawat devotee, was the only consistent cultist helper at the time.
Jossi makes one of his most entertaining plays when he forgets he's not logged in or using the "Jossi" computer in the office and replies to a critic through an IP address. He then logs in or uses his "Jossi" computer and continues the reply (ripping apart the paragraph he's replying to in his rage). The reply features this very twisted argument:
Let's try to unscramble Jossi's argument: calling him a cult member is a hate crime (although most people would say he is a cult member), especially because he is a "Jew" (but nobody other than Jossi said so and nobody would normally assume a connection, "peyoratively" or not), and even more so because he is dark-skinned (nobody said that), so if you call him a cultist you must be calling him a "jew" or a "paki", even if you didn't, and if you call him a cult member you are calling him a "jew" or a "paki" so you must hate him (even if you would not naturally have wanted to notice him in the street, let alone call him names, applicable or not) because, you see, he has dark skin, is Jewish, and is a cult member. Can you run that by me again?
These were very early days for Jossi, so "I am jewish" was probably a kind of mating call to future allies on the Wikipedia whom he hadn't yet contacted by e-mail.
The beautiful thing is that he solidly confirms his identity as 22.214.171.124 on the Wikipedia at that time, when 126.96.36.199 was the main or second cultist contributor to all of these articles.
Jossi for Administrator: What were They Thinking?
It's always been cult-like, but Wikipedia characteristics like the siege mentality were still embryonic at this stage. Maybe that's why Jossi easily became an administrator (scroll down for some good opposing comments) in October of 2005, especially with Essjay as his main supporter. Others must have seen his strong track record of making edit wars, personal attacks, wikilawyering, being disruptive, sock-puppetry, running a single-purpose account, PoV editing, using his account as a soapbox, and editing with a conflict of interest, so maybe it was just because he had identified himself on-wiki as a member by birth of the ruling cabal and probably done the same behind the scenes as well.
Jossi the Model
After Jossi became an administrator it was that much easier for him to keep the ten articles on Prem Rawat, Prem's aliases, different names for his cult, two books, and a movie completely one-eyed. In the process, he created the model for other cultists looking to pull the same trick.
- Sign up for the Wikipedia.
- Kiss cabal ass by popping up to play the parrot on policy and administrative pages (Jossi was fond of Martin Luther).
- Be passive-agressive like a real cabal member.
- Invite fellow-cultists along and make sock-puppet accounts: some will be aggressively biased so that you can play the voice of moderation and reason, others will play non-cultists who think the cult is cool (even though they claim to have never heard of it before) and that the non-believers are all biased.
- Accuse all non-believers of having a conflict of interest on account of being in anti-cult groups (hate groups according to Jossi).
- Fill discussion pages with repetitive verbal spaghetti to try and make everyone else give up.
- Control the page.
This subject area has to have some kind of record for near-irrelevance and spam; the Prem Rawat discussion page on the Wikipedia has over 35 archives (roughly one every six weeks) and twenty other sub-pages. The nine or ten related articles have their own sub-pages and multiple archives. Sub-pages pop in and out of existence at Jossi's whim. Jossi and his helpers use this mess to obstruct others and get their own way.
Conflict of Interest
"If Jossi is editing as a cult propagandist, he has a huge conflict of interest. Why don't they do something about it?" Well, the "encyclopedia anyone can edit" has a place for that. You should be able to report Jossi's style of foul play on the Conflict of Interest Noticeboard. "So why does he still pwn all those stupid articles?"
The policy about vanity pages was supposed to cover conflicts of interest until Wikipedos started sprouting the conflict of interest policy in September 2006. Jossi had been wetting his pants for fear of losing his administrator status every time he saw someone get banned for having a conflict of interest much lighter than his own. Since he was fond of playing the big man on policy pages by this stage, he jumped into the new page with this series of about twenty edits and then continued in tag-team mode for twenty or so more with his ally SlimVirgin. Slim used her technique of shifting things about a lot to make matching the changes with earlier versions and simple reversion impossible.
The main thing Jossi wanted to get rid of was a specific reference to gurus and disciples.
The discussions are here and (less tl;dr) here. Jossi promised Arbcom member Charles Matthews that he would stop editing the Conflict of Interest policy, which meant shit by then, since he had what he wanted and Slim's manipulation had pretty much locked it in.
—Arbitrator Charles Matthews to Jossi, Archived Jossi talk page
—Arbitrator Charles Matthews to Jossi, Archived Jossi talk page
Flush with ego at putting one over on an Arbcom member by acting as if he and SlimVirgin were "the community", Jossi finally had the gall and hypocrisy to scuttle in and brazenly create the Conflict of Interest Noticeboard. "OIC."
Criticism of Prem Rawat
Cade Metz was misinformed about the "Criticism of Prem Rawat" article. Technically, Jossi did not have it deleted; he might (or might not) have requested it by mail. He argued against the article but voted to keep it since it suited him as long as he was using it as "Criticism of Critics and Other Non-believers". This couldn't last forever, so he tricked a neutral editor into redirecting it after its content was in the main article, then deleted the content from the main article. Jossi has deleted "Criticism" sub-pages of the discussion page and "Criticism" sections in the "Prem Rawat" article after using them to gather material he doesn't like.
Jossi's "Fightin' round the Wikiworld": Wikisource
Jossi happily uploaded megabytes of spam from his Lord and Perfect Master to Wikisource. When another user posted a few stubs about court cases involving the cult and its cultists, Jossi hit the roof and started wikilawyering like crazy. To make it look like he wasn't acting as an agent for the cult, Jossi offered even more spam from the Perfect Master through user Tprf. He was a little worried about checkuser, since Tprf was a meat puppet if not a sock (probably in the same office if it wasn't Jossi himself, ROFL), so he used the "unsigned" template to reply on the talk page for non-existent user TPRF (see the gallery).
In January of 2008, Jossi was approached by Internet superhero Mr. Cade Metz of The Register. Metz had been talking to some disillusioned former cultists and was planning to expose Jossi. Jossi wet his pants with panic at the new threat to his beloved banhammer, posted this hasty notice about what a great guy he is so everyone should support him, and went on his longest wikibreak ever. After giving his side of the situation and getting support on back channels (nobody posted an open response to his plea until after the article came out), he came back from the wikibreak to brazen the thing out.
People on Citizendium started asking awkward questions about Jossi and his Prem Rawat article there in late 2007. Larry Sanger chimed in after The Register's article appeared, and then barred Jossi from editing certain articles in late February 2008. Jossi promptly quit in a cloud of butthurt. Wikipediots are too cultish to draw the obvious conclusions from his leaving just because he was forbidden to edit his favorite articles.
Jimbo weighs in
Jimbo attacks the messenger.
The Prem Rawat article became an epic case at the Arbcom, Internet court of the Wikipedia. Jossi brazenly took it there as a way to avoid becoming a case himself. After it had been open for a month, the Arbcom received some secret evidence by mail. This evidence must have been damning to Jossi because the Arbcom spent another month agonizing over whether to lie about it or not. Jimbo or the Wikimedia Foundation finally ordered them to close the case and make their conclusions a whitewash for Jossi.
Why the whitewash?
Drama in Arbcom time
This hero fell into Jossi's control drama and played a very cool role. Mukadderat was straight enough to correct one of the articles Jossi owns during the Prem Rawat article's Arbcom case, so Jossi hit the roof (again).
IsabellaW appeared out of nowhere to make the most deranged contribution. She says she is a researcher and like Jossi smears ex-premies (ex-cultists) by saying they form a hate group. Unlike the present Jossi she doesn't have to keep up any false pretences, so she says most of the same things Jossi said in the old "Criticism of Prem Rawat" article, claiming that the ex-cultists make cultist cows give sour milk, cultist chickens stop laying, cultist women have deformed babies, the full moon go dark on cloudless nights, and the cock of the Lord of the Universe go limp.
Arbcom cabal praise OMGWTFBBQ WHITEWASH!
"Technologist" and "high-impact executive"???
Despite being a hyperactive 24/7 Wikipedian, the marketing partnership Cyberland describes Jossi as a technologist and high-impact executive with "extensive experience" in resume padding, claiming that Jossi gathered this experience "during extensive periods in Israel, Europe, the UK, South America and the US": must have been before he joined the Wikipedia, because he certainly wouldn't have had time since then. Jossi’s partners at Cyberland include LeRoy West. Cyberland says that LeRoy "is a recognized expert ... new technology ... corporate message ... increase sales ... unique insight ... creative, technical, and business issues ... effective ... business success". LeRoy is very happy to associate himself with the DECA Project stating that he was once Operations Manager for DECA, an aviation company in Miami,FL. DECA was a sweat shop for Guru Maharaji’s dupes. Their biggest project was customizing (including a gold toilet) a Boeing 707 for the Master.
Cyberland lists lots of big-name customers but not Prem Rawat. The company probably only exists to own the domain name these days, since this 1997 article about an unsuccessful dot-com venture is the only evidence on the Internet that it ever existed, other than the hard-to-believe claims on the site. Jossi gets a credit on this 1999 Maharaj Ji site and is said to have been webmaster for The Prem Rawat Foundation from its 2002 launch. Boring people who read tax returns say the Foundation spent $500,000 on its website alone.
This $500,000 of charity was surely well spent because Jossi knows business trainer Tim Gallwey who has the idea that managers get good by playing pocket pool and Inner Tennis. Jossi expanded Tim’s Wikipedia entry, which was only right as Gallwey is another Rawat dupe, and so is his partner Alvaro Pascotto who just happens to be the brother of the husband of the Chairperson of The Prem Rawat Foundation.
Jossi Fails Remedial English
Jossi claims "an advanced level of english" on his user page. ROFL, his natural english is atrocious. He uses a lot of wikipedese, which helps to hide it, but some argue that he usually has a junior cultist around to fix his stuff up before he hits the save button.
Jossi-isms are easy to find. Here are a random few for teh lulz:
Jossi rules teh world & haz teh baddest case of Internet disease!
Teh real Jossi without Internet disease
- Cold busted by The Reg
- Jossi responds.
- Jossi plea for hailp!!1!! 2 stop Metz
- On devianTart
- digg it
- His day job
- About Jossi
- Secret identity revealed on TOW
- User:Jossi and the Rawat cult articles, The Wikipedia Review
- Jossi is named in this court case. A Rawat cult member left after the Jonestown suicide because that cult reminded her of the cult she was in. She eventually became a public defender in California. Her occasional postings on ex-member bulletin boards led the Prem Rawat cultists to mount a big Internets defamation campaign against her, like Project Chanology in reverse, only a lot less ethical and meaner. She took them to court. Jossi was named as a respondent because of his Internets role for Prem Rawat. His public role as webmaster (which he disavows on the Wikipedia) doesn't mean he mightn't also have been one of the John Does.
Worshipping Guru Maharaj Ji all over teh Wikiworld
Don't vandalize Jossi's user pages!
- English Wikipedia: User page, contributions, first thousand, contributions as 188.8.131.52
- Spanish Wikipedia: Usuario page, contributions
- Simple English Wikipedia: Contributions (Jossi's level of english, but no user page)
- French Wikipedia: Utilisateur page, contributions
- German Wikipedia Benutzer page, contributions
- Hebrew Wikipedia:
- Italian Wikipedia: Utente page,contributions
- Wikimedia Commons
- Citizendium, email mumblings, moar email mumblings, (got the smackdown, by Larry Sanger)
Public Relations and Wikipedia Administrator at same time = wtf?
- PR for PR
These PR sites all list Jossi. Some are free but some cost money to join and most carry articles that really were written by Jossi for his Perfect Master. Jossi claims they are all a gigantic conspiracy against him and made one with an e-mail address that sounds like the name of an site he doesn't like to support this. Joining these sites fits the same pattern that finds him pumping cult tl;dr into the public domain on Wikisource.
- Contact Information - Jossi Fresco - The Prem Rawat Foundation = nuff said??
- Tprf.org - The Prem Rawat Foundation Company News Section = Jossi Fresco listed as "Contact" = nuff said??
- Press Release - PR Leap = Contact Information - Jossi Fresco - The Prem Rawat Foundation = nuff said??
- Article Emporium - Author bio of Jossi Fresco = Author's Website: www.tprf.org = nuff said??
- Content Edge - Jossi Fresco 's Profile = Author's Website: www.tprf.org = nuff said??
- FreeWD.Org - Prem Rawat - Details = Link Owner: Jossi Fresco = nuff said??
- Globe of Blogs = Jossi Fresco ::: Maharaji = nuff said??
- Jossi Fresco's Articles - pagequest
- Jossi Fresco's Articles in Religion and Spirituality
- Free Article Directory - Author Information for Jossi Fresco
teh blogs pick up interest
- Wikipedia Contaminated By Rawat's Kool-Aid, Guruphiliac, February 6, 2008
- Apathetic Lemming of the North: Wikipedia Neutrality Challenged: Another Wiki Reality Check?, February 6, 2008
- For your daily dose of irony..., Nonbovine Ruminations, February 8, 2008
- More Wikipedia Silliness, Archaeoporn, February 8, 2008
- Conflicto de interés en Wikipedia, Powerpymes, February 8, 2008
- Conflict of Interest at Wikipedia “Conflict of Interest Noticeboard”, Cult News, February 9, 2008
- Is Wikipedia Editor Fronting for Cult Leader?, Brian.Carnell.Com, February 12, 2008
- Conflict of interest on wikipedia, or Why you cannot criticize Prem Rawat, IndiaSphere, February 17, 2008
- Prem's Propagandist Pilloried, Guruphiliac, February 27, 2008
- BS PR on Wikipedia, Ekakarna's Circle Pit, February 28, 2008
- The King is Half Undressed, The Journal That Speaks Truth to Wikiality, March 1, 2008
- The Problem With Wikipedia, Part 2, moriyosi, March 2, 2008
- Wikipedia, acuzata ca face propaganda unei secte, Pescurt.ro, March 9, 2008
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