29 Sep Google Sidewiki: Website browsing with a side of chaotic insight
What happens when you decide to let anyone leave comments on any website they visit? Google Sidewiki.
Although Google Sidewiki isn’t the first attempt by a company to integrate its comment system into the browsing experience, with the weight of Google and its popular toolbar behind it, it’s the first one that’s likely to succeed.
Is Google Sidewiki a helpful? That depends. How much faith you have in content generated by others?
After installing the Google Toolbar, I visited the official Apple website to experience Google Sidewiki firsthand. When I did, a top-rated Sidewiki post from Sapere Aude, a student, welcomed me to the site:
“This is the official website of Apple Inc., formerly Apple Computer, Inc. It provides promotions for its products, advertisements (including the company’s television ads), and product support information. It was registered by the company on February 19, 1987. If you want to see how apple.com looked in the past, visit http://web.archive.org/web/*/apple.com.”
Thereafter, however, the quality of posts went downhill fast. They were chaotic, SPAM-filled, and virtually useless. As examples, here are the first five:
- “I Love Apple – I love the Apple web site!” from Noodles Guru. (SPAM from Noodles & Company)
- “Trendsetting Site – Apple has historically been know to innovate and their website is no different. There are innovative features all over. From sprites to great photography, Apple.com is an industry leader in web design.” Ryan Murphy. (Suspicious entry from a user with no profile. Perhaps an Apple employee?)
- “Love Apple: Wish my trackpad worked though – Love Apple and my new Macbook Pro 13 inch … too bad that the trackpad stopped registering physical clicks just after 2 months of use. Still waiting with lots of other customers for some sort of response from Apple.” Pako Lupo. (Complaint)
- “Comment to Cuprohastes Dvanatrinodantan – With reference to Cuprohastes Dvanatrinodantan’s entry above… Although, it may seem dramatic to end users, it is perfectly natural that a product which is produced at $200 is sold for $600 in retail. LG, Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, they would all use the same kind of mark up. The focus of Cuprohastes Dvanatrinodantan’s entry is a bit misguided.” Lars Rosengren. (SPAM)
- “SideWiki – Just testing this out.” Derek J. (Junk)
While these initial SideWiki entries I viewed for Apple are discouraging, Google Sidewiki includes capabilities for users to report abuse and rate whether or not individual entries are useful. Theoretically, this means that poorly-conceived entries (like those above) should sink to the bottom as higher-quality comments are added. The overall quality of entries for most websites should improve over time as traffic from Google Toolbar traffic increases.
In the meantime, Sidewiki requires Google Toolbar users to be well mannered and active. And, it requires website owners to be diligent and transparent.
A tall order.
Leave Your Mark
If you want to leave your mark on the world without using Google Sidewiki, consider the art of graffiti. This tutorial can get you started.
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