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Google SideWiki Brings Comments To Everyone 221

Posted by timothy
from the obvious-things-are-hard-to-get-right dept.
Rophuine writes "Google has launched a product called SideWiki. It takes the form of a plug-in to Firefox and Internet Explorer which allows users to mark up the web by adding comments which can be seen by anyone else running SideWiki." Google's version joins a long line of attempts to impose a layer of comments on the Web, including Microsoft's Smart Tags and Third Voice.
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Google SideWiki Brings Comments To Everyone

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  • "this sucks" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    itll be 99% 0f the comments especially on slashdot

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plover (150551) *

      itll be 99% 0f the comments especially on slashdot

      Actually it'll be "this sucks-beta".

      • Cue the musical vikings: spam spam spam spam. Followed by the dancing astroturfers, posturing political whiners, beggars of all descriptions, and every other audience-seeker that sane audiences are trying to avoid. Popular sites will see their popularity getting hijacked in service of idiot causes and losers that deserve to stay in their present obscurity.
        Of course, we'll need another Firefox add-in to block crap from known sleazebags and protect from the malignant content that will turn out to be embeddab
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      Other websites won't have it so bad! They'll just have 99% spam.
    • by jo42 (227475) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:53PM (#29532543) Homepage

      Dear Google,

      Bringing Digg to the whole Internet is NOT a Good Thing.

      - The Internet

  • Misnamed product (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Grey (463613) * on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:21PM (#29530721)
    To clarify, SideWiki requires the Google Toolbar, which itself requires IE6 (or later) or Firefox 2 (or later).

    The headline on Google's Get Google Sidewiki [google.com] page reads, "Contribute helpful information to any web page." Yet this is being released to the general public, which is the same group that is responsible for most of the crap already on the internet. SideWiki should probably be renamed to Creeping Crud (hello, Wizardry fans) to more accurately describe the end result. But hey, you have to run SideWiki in order to see other SideWiki users' crud, so I guess it's a closed universe and therefore okay.
    • by Selfbain (624722)
      I still have nightmares from Wizardry 7.
    • accurately describe the end result

      To augment your position, I believe the above describes an ability most end users lack in the first place. The quality of the output will probably be akin to the music produced by hooking an amplifier up to a microphone while recording a garbage disposal unit choking on a fork.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jaysyn (203771)
      I'd give it a shot but I really don't want Google Toolbar on my browser.
    • Maybe they have developed a "helpful information" filter?

      Really, if they have - I'll buy me some of that.

  • by Raindance (680694) * <johnsonmx.gmail@com> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:22PM (#29530729) Homepage Journal

    Despite the name, Sidewiki is not a wiki such that people can edit, prune, and synthesize information, nor is it moderated in any way. It's just a comment system, with no way to amplify the signal vs the noise. It's also unclear how people are supposed to use it- e.g., what to post (which is a significant failing imo). Interesting as an approach to layer user comments onto webpages, but not useful yet. Arstechnica pretty much nailed it with the following:

    This new offering from Google is intriguing in some ways and it shows that the company is thinking creatively about how to build dialog and additional value around existing content. The scope and utility of the service seems a bit narrow. The random nature of the existing annotations suggest that the quality and depth of the user-contributed content will be roughly equivalent with the comments that people post about pages at aggregation sites like Digg and Reddit.
    What makes Wikipedia content useful is the ability of editors to delete the crap and restructure the existing material to provide something of value. Without the ability to do that with Sidewiki, it's really little more than a glorified comment system and probably should have been built as such. As it stands, I think that most users will just be confused about what kind annotations they should post.

    • by vertinox (846076)

      It's just a comment system, with no way to amplify the signal vs the noise.

      If it is anything like Google Groups... It will be nothing but spam.

      Seriously... I must have reported over 500 spam posts with no response on the finance forums.

    • by Splab (574204)

      Two words:
      First post!

      Thats what they will add - hordes of idiots scouting the web for places to write first post.

      • by JPLemme (106723)
        It would be an interesting experiment (for very small values of interesting) to see how long it takes for every website to get Firsted. I wouldn't be surprised if it identified new sites faster than Google's own spiders.

        Maybe that's part of the plan?
    • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:54PM (#29531141) Homepage

      It's just a comment system, with no way to amplify the signal vs the noise.

      Yo dawg, we'll just put a comment system in the comment system so we can comment on the comments on the web page while we comment on the web page.

      • by IorDMUX (870522)

        Yo dawg, we'll just put a comment system in the comment system so we can comment on the comments on the web page while we comment on the web page.

        i.e. ... Slashdot.

    • by ajs (35943)

      Despite the name, Sidewiki is not a wiki such that people can edit, prune, and synthesize information, nor is it moderated in any way.

      As you will note if you turn on Sidewiki for this page, you're incorrect. Users are (what seems to be like randomly) selected to moderate comments in a "useful/not useful" fashion.

      Slashdot: the strawman construction engine.

  • Terrific. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:23PM (#29530737) Homepage
    A whole new way to astroturf.
    • by owlnation (858981)

      A whole new way to astroturf.

      No kidding! Imagine surfing to a web page selling something, only to find a comment telling you can get something cheaper elsewhere. Or any other similar type of thing.

      Considering wikipedia is absolutely stuffed full of astroturf, why does anyone think this will end up any different?

      Looks like just another of these ideas that will start off nobly, but rapidly descend into commercial Hell and lawsuits.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by spitzak (4019)

        "astroturf" means fake testimonials, not ads, which are generally called "spam".

        So saying "you can get this cheaper elsewhere" is not "astroturfing". A fake post from a "customer" saying "I bought this and it is wonderful" or "it really sucks" would be astroturfing.

        Of course this will collect plenty of both spam and astroturf.

    • Re:Terrific. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ChienAndalu (1293930) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:51PM (#29531099)

      And spam. Lots and lots of spam

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      Which is great. Because it'll get the turf herders distracted by a whole new channel. One that I don't have to look at. Google will bring massive resources to bear destroying the spammers and turfers, the spammers and turfers will all put massive effort into spewing their seed into it, and all of that effort might make a few spammers too busy to try and hack my PHP-Nuke site for a week or so.

      WARNING: POSSIBLE SPAM --- Though, I'd like to take a moment and lay some down some astroturf for NukeSentinel, b

  • No Chrome? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by francisstp (1137345) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:23PM (#29530745) Homepage

    It takes the form of a plug-in to Firefox and Internet Explorer

    What, Google aren't even releasing plug-ins for their own browser first? What kind of endorsement is that?

  • by Bicx (1042846) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:25PM (#29530761)
    Before this can be truly successful, there needs to be a feature which blocks all comments which can be traced back to active members of 4chan or Youtube.
  • by dschl (57168) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:27PM (#29530791) Homepage

    Experience has provided me with some skepticism regarding the intelligence of crowds. This Sidewiki would be like having a running commentary on the web, written by the same type of people who write Youtube comments and -1 rated comments on Slashdot.

    Thanks, but no thanks. Hope that one dies in beta, unless they figure out how to filter out the crap, and bring the valuable contributions to the top. They could start by testing their filters on Youtube.

    • by d474 (695126)
      What about all the spam that comes through comments? Now why would Google create another way for advertisers to....oh, wait...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymusing (1450747)

      The only way this could work is if site owners could somehow manage the content, perhaps by authorizing some users to leave comments. Or perhaps they'll work it like Adwords, where the highest-paying contributor is listed first -- and maybe the site is paying for that. Or there would be some kind of vetting process for contributors.

      Never mind. You're right, it will never work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by yurtinus (1590157)
      Oh god.... what's going to happen in the Sidewiki comments on YouTube?
      • Oh god.... what's going to happen in the Sidewiki comments on YouTube?

        Or... imagine the SideWanki comments on FaceBook or MySpace.
        The mind boggles at the potential for sustained vacuity.

    • by Bicx (1042846)
      SideWiki could definitely benefit from a Rating/Karma system like Slashdot's. However, if the filters are too biased toward power users, then new SideWiki users may not even bother commenting
    • You forgot all the "Looking for dates! Got to www.spamforlife.com!!!!" or "Get v1gr@a!! Cheep! You long tool now!" ads that will clog every other comment. Very few sites ever maintain their comments.

    • Add a rating system, not unlike Amazon has for it's products. Basically, viewers can rate the comments up or down; significantly negative comments will eventually be eaten by the system. Significantly good comments will be presented in order of appearance. Additionally, it would be good to have a section presenting the 3 comments with the fewest votes, so the viewer would be likely to add his own vote to those.

  • No Thanks. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swanzilla (1458281) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:31PM (#29530845) Homepage
    Cluttered browser window + Wiki nonsense != desirable plug-in
  • by PeanutButterBreath (1224570) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:39PM (#29530957)

    Hard to see how this would be useful without moderation. Hard to see how moderation could be implemented in a practical way.

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:43PM (#29531007) Homepage Journal
    When I first read about this (after reading this summary) it seemed somewhat intriguing. Who knows, perhaps it could allow some useful knowledge to be slapped on some of the webpages and articles on the internet that are scant on details or technical info. However, after looking at the download page of this little plugin, it appears that you can sync this service with " Blogger, Facebook, Twitter and Google profiles" which means, to me at least, that if I am reading an article regarding a new possible HIV vaccine, rather than have helpful comments with related studies and scientific journal entries attached to it, the article will instead hemorrhage a barrage of comments that have to do with people fearing getting AIDS from public restroom toilet seats and the "ZOMG 70ta11y @w3some HAWT girl the b@ng3d at a 9427y last night"....who had AIDS....

    Sad and lame.
  • SearchWiki (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FornaxChemica (968594) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:43PM (#29531009) Homepage Journal
    Google Search already has the SearchWiki [slashdot.org] that doesn't seem overly popular because no one remembers it exists when writing about the "new" feature. Wasn't it already supposed to "bring comments to everyone"? I think people are just not interested in commenting websites, or rather, the ones posting comments won't be doctors and academics as shown in their example. Google lives in an ideal world where comments are relevant.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:44PM (#29531023)

    I don't think any business wants comments from morons presented alongside official content. If google want to provide a service allowing people to comment on one of my personal sites, they can damn well provide a web reachable URL. There's no way I'm installing a plugin to keep track of what's going on outside my moderated commenting system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by selven (1556643)
      You can't. It's like having an iphone app that gives you my opinions of every restaurant you go to - you have no moral, physical or legal right to prevent it from happening.
  • by WeirdKid (260577) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:46PM (#29531043)

    I am a little disturbed that I cannot find reference to any way that the site owner can "opt out" of having a sidewiki hooked to their pages. At least with Microsoft SmartTags, there was a way to disable them with a meta tag in the html header, and unlike Microsoft, Google has enough geek fanboys who think Google shits gold out there to make this feature take off.

    I used to have comments enabled on my Flickr photos, but jokers kept on leaving suggestive remarks about my wife (she's pretty hot, IMHO). So, I turned it off. When talking about this with a colleague yesterday, we came up with the "ugly kid" scenario:

    Imagine you have a family site with pictures of your kids on it and some jerk writes, "man, you have ugly kids" on the sidewiki. What do you do? You can't remove it. Will it be filtered out automatically by Google with their so-called "quality algorithm"? Just because there will be no anonymous posts, don't think that people won't do things like this.

    Seriously, has anyone seen anything about a way to turn this off for your site? I'm not against free speech and all that, just don't add it to *my* content without my permission. Whether sidewiki is considered part of the page content is academic: the visitor will see it attached to your page.

  • by Eric Freyhart (752088) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:46PM (#29531045) Journal
    There was a system out about 6 or so years ago that would allow anyone to post a virtual "sticky" note on a web page and anyone else who had the program could read it. Same concept as what Google is trying.

    All I can remember is the amount of spam and junk that was written up, mostly on webpages that people didn't like or who were rivals. A lot of companies got VERY upset about the system, and the company what created the software pulled it.

    Bad idea. Put this one back in the box and try something else Google. Bad idea.
  • by kriston (7886) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:47PM (#29531049) Homepage Journal

    Yahoo already has Searchpad. Honestly, Yahoo's search results interface is chock full of features that people aren't noticing until someone like Google copies it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by owlnation (858981)

      Honestly, Yahoo's search results interface is chock full of features that people aren't noticing until someone like Google copies it.

      ah... that because no-one is using Yahoo. They rolled out a new portal the other day, did anyone notice? No.

      • They rolled out a new portal the other day, did anyone notice? No.

        I'll have to go take a look. I heard nothing about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does this give Google a real-time ping with the URL for each and every page I visit?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MushMouth (5650)

      How else do you think google knows what comments are left for any particular page?

  • the enemies of trolls are legion, and trolls are under siege. however, recent technological research has uncovered an entirely new parallel dimension of troll content overlaying the entire web, without any of the typical anti-troll technology in place

    a fertile, virgin land, a new world, ready for colonization and plenty of glorious trolling like "no, u stfu!" and "This web page sounds like typical Obama style fascist socialism"

  • by BoppreH (1520463)
    a) On a 404 page - "This page has been moved to ____" b) On paid content websites - "You can download it at [thepiratebay link]" c) Talk to the author (oh god, I'd rage at this) - "Hey, it didn't work in my IE6!" or "You used 'their' incorrectly" I can't think of any other case that has not been covered by conventional moderating system.
  • Subversive idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Palestrina (715471) * on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:14PM (#29531391) Homepage

    Extrinsic annotations. It is something that has certainly been talked about for years, though has never really gained much traction. It is also implicit (in part) in some standards like RDF. It comes down to this: How to you say something about content where you do not control the content, and still have your comments seen? Today, if the White House puts out a press release, you can certainly comment it on your blog, on Twitter, in comments to a news article, etc., but you have zero power to make your comments appear in the context of the original press release. The content author is king, and those with high Google PageRank have disproportionate (though not undue) exposure and influence. Sure, we have blogs, which encourage reader commentary, but this is exclusively at the sufferance of the page owner.

    But now, with extrinsic annotations, anyone can comment on anyone's web page and have it appear in the context of that web page. I can comment on the White House press release, and so can everyone nut in the world. This is totally subversive and can easily be used for good or evil, but since this is the web it will likely be used for spam and porn more than anything else.

    The challenge is how do you prevent this approach from collapsing under the oppressive weight of the vast banality of mass humanity? The web had the same problem, which PageRank solved (in part). We may need something analogous to tame the new "meta web".

    • The web had the same problem, which PageRank solved (in part). We may need something analogous to tame the new "meta web".

      Pagerank created a new problem, though. Before it, doing a search on a random search engine generally produced useful results. After it, doing a search on a random search engine largely produced link aggregate sites with no content dedicated to boosting the relevance of each other and affiliated sites.

      If Google joins the already crowded field of metacommenting services but puts their Pageranky twist on it, I imagine that commenters will follow the example of the link aggregators and spam the service with

  • by CRiMSON (3495) <crimson.unspeakable@org> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:24PM (#29531483) Homepage

    1. Your gay!
    2. This is gay
    3. NOOB ASS
    4. your a noob ass
    5. your a fag
    6. this is for fags!!
    7. BuY v1agr4 n0w
    8. 0b4ma will kill us all!!

  • This would make the World of Warcraft forums even more illegible.
  • I suppose that no googlites in their ivory tower has heard about the firefox trademark issue, and certainly has no idea how trivial it is to determine if a browser is firefox based despite it's silly name.

    No, they insist I go from Iceweasel 3.5 to Official firefox 2.0 in order to try out their toys.

    Let me think about this tradeoff for a second. Hrm. no.

  • comments all over /. are worried about the signal-noise ratio. It is sure that it will be used for spamming/defacing purpose. But using private comment server or user based white listing or even friend approved comments, you will improve the experience. Of course, it will reduce the amount of comments you will access. But probably for the best.
  • If you own a Web site, then you are forced to install this.

    Otherwise how could you know what insightful comments have been posted against your web pages.

    And then, of course, you will be tempted to comment on other pages.

    Exponential growth!

  • Whatever happened to hoodwink'd? That was an excellent service. It required enough of a learning curve to participate that it was never subject to the same lack of intelligence that plagues YouTube comments and the like.

    I like exclusivity (when I'm among the included, anyway). :)

  • .... oh by the way, this seems to only be offered as part of google toolbar.
  • I don't think I'd ever use this if it just gave every page on the web youtube comments. However, if I could restrict the comments to just a certain group of people, it might be cool. If my favorite blogs, slashdot, etc (the places where I already look at the comments), had a way to make a SideWiki "community" where I was only exposed to their comments, that'd be great. Of course, the comments would become much more sparse, but I think I'd tend to look at the same pages as them anyway.
  • So close yet so far (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Logic and Reason (952833) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:39PM (#29533085) Homepage
    I've wanted to implement something like this for a long time, except my version would:
    • be just comments; it wouldn't style itself a "wiki"
    • store the comments on Usenet or some other distributed, open system
    • use optional PGP signatures in place of logins
    • have an optional, distributed, poster-based moderation system

    What I mean by that last point is that you'd have the ability to 'mod up' posters rather than comments, and moreover your moderations would only apply to you. No one else would see your mods, nor would you see anyone else's, except that you would have the option to make your mods recursive: if you moderate Bob at +1, then maybe you would see Bob's +1-modded posters at +0.5, and those posters' +1-modded posters at +0.25, and so on.

    Of course, the moderation and PGP signatures would be completely optional, and would be applied in addition to regular spam filtering like that of existing Usenet and email clients.

  • by Com2Kid (142006) <com2kidSPAMLESS@gmail.com> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @05:02PM (#29533369) Homepage Journal

    Back in 1996 or so I had a Netscape 4 plugin that did this.

    Someone tries to do it again every few years.

    *sigh*

    People need to study their history.

    Google may succeed in this because of the wide distribution of their toolbar, but that is the only difference in this effort.

  • More advertising? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ljw1004 (764174) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @05:39PM (#29533831)

    I wonder if Google will put advertising banners at the top of the sidewiki bar, as another way to make themselves money off other people's content?

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:01PM (#29534079) Homepage Journal
    Snide wiki?
  • wiki ? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tom (822) on Friday September 25, 2009 @08:11AM (#29538121) Homepage Journal

    It's called a wiki, but from what I've seen I don't see any wiki functionality at all. It looks a lot more like a blog, or rather the comment section of a blog to me.

    Why do the call it wiki when I can leave a comment, but not participate in a kind of "review of this page" site? Basically, when it is not a wiki?

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