Search Engine Unmasks Fuzzy Zoeller's "John Doe" Lawsuit For Wikipedia Defamation

Feb 22, 2007 (11:02 AM EST)

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Pro golfer Fuzzy Zoeller filed an anonymous lawsuit against a Miami law firm for allegedly defamatory edits to his Wikipedia page, hoping to prevent further injury to his reputation and to protect his family's privacy.

But Zoeller was quickly unmasked as the "John Doe" plaintiff by online news site The Smoking Gun, which used a search engine to find the source of the allegedly defamatory material cited in Zoeller's legal filing.

The lawsuit claims edits to Zoeller's Wikipedia profile last December came from a computer with an IP address registered by Miami-based law firm Josef Silny & Associates.

The altered profile, which Zoeller claims is false and libelous, remains online at The Zoeller entry at Wikipedia appears to have been purged of the objectionable passages.

In late November 2005, former journalist John Seigenthaler wrote an editorial in USA Today complaining about "Internet character assassination" on Wikipedia, based on a Wikipedia entry that erroneously linked him to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.