Pro golfer sues over Wikipedia entry

Written by Brett Thomas

February 26, 2007 | 12:43

Tags: #wikipedia

Wikipedia is a fascinating creation. It contains millions of articles, and allows them to be edited live like open-source software to share information across the globe. Of course, that power can sometimes be abused - and that's exactly what pro golfer Fuzzy Zoeller is saying about his entry.

Apparently, one article writer took a little liberty with Fuzzy's past, talking about how the golfer was deeply involved in drugs and alcohol. The paragraph, which has since been removed, also discussed him abusing his family - a claim which both he and his family deny. Of course, it would be one thing if he were just claiming his own innocence - but Mr. Zoeller has no criminal records even hinting at these types of activities. For all intents and purposes, the claims are baseless.

Wikipedia, by its very nature, has a pretty bulletproof legal standing just in case things like this occur. In fact, it's impossible to sue the site for what its users post. However, Mr. Zoeller's golf money has been spent on some pretty slick attorneys - they first chased the ISP for an IP address of who edited the paragraph into the entry. With that in hand, they're suing the company that it came from (Josef Silny & Associates, a Miami education consulting firm) to find out just who added the information to Zoeller's Wikipedia profile. That person could then be liable for a pretty serious slander and defamation of character suit.

It has been assumed many times that because Wikipedia itself is bulletproof, that those editing the articles are by nature safe themselves. However, legal standing has always given Wiki that security by saying "it is the responsibility of the poster." It looks like now might be the time where that is really put to the test.

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