February 22, 2007

Golfer Fuzzy Zoeller sues to find Wikipedia biography libel source

Another example to demonstrate how a Wikipedia biography can be an "attractive nuisance":

Golfer Fuzzy Zoeller sues law firm for Wikipedia posting: "Pro golfer Fuzzy Zoeller is teed off over what he calls defamatory statements about him on Wikipedia." (note he's not suing Wikipedia, but the company which owns the Internet address of the attacker).

Apparently his Wikipedia biography was used as a platform to libel him. And contrary to Wikipedia's mythology, the libel persisted for quite some time. Long enough to be picked up by echoes and scraper sites (it's currently verifiable this is true).

The statements Zoeller finds defamatory no longer appear in his current Wikipedia biography, ... The statements apparently were first posted Aug. 28 ... but were later removed. They were reposted twice, most recently on Dec. 20. ... The statements were removed on Jan. 2.

Wikipedia-boosters often claim a very small average time until vandalism is removed. But that's a misleading number. With partisan edit-wars going on all over it, one can rack up huge numbers of trash-talk and reversions. But it's a bit like saying a murderer has been peaceful 99.99999% of the time. The comparison is meaninglessly inflated.

Wikipedia is far more of an innovation in marketing than an innovation in knowledge

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on February 22, 2007 10:04 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Wikipedia removed the edits in question from the history of that page without making note of this fact.

Posted by: Rogers Cadenhead at February 22, 2007 12:46 PM

By hiding evidence so quickly, and without justification, Wikipedia is not helping identify the vandal. The company does not deserve to take the rap for one employee using the computer inappropriately at work. Wikipedia should be helping the company and interested journalists who want to identify the vandal. Instead, they do the wrong thing. I managed to capture some evidence that should help identify the vandal. It is linked at the top of http://www.wikipedia-watch.org/

Posted by: Daniel Brandt at February 23, 2007 09:01 AM