Google Sidewiki: Danger

Google just introduced Sidewiki, which enables anyone to comment on a page using Google’s toolbar.

I see danger.

Google is trying to take interactivity away from the source and centralize it. This isn’t like Disqus, which enables me to add comment functionality on my blog. It takes comments away from my blog and puts them on Google. That sets up Google in channel conflict vs me. It robs my site of much of its value (if the real conversation about WWGD? had occurred on Google instead of at Buzzmachine, how does that help me?). On a practical level, only people who use the Google Toolbar will see the comments left using it and so it bifurcates the conversation and puts some of it behind a hedge. Ethically, this is like other services that tried to frame a source’s content or that tried to add advertising to a site via a browser (see the evil Gator, which lost its fight vs publishers).

So this goes contrary to Google’s other services – search, advertising, embeddable content and functionality – that help advantage the edge. This is Google trying to be the center.

Quite ungoogley, I’d say. And mind you, I’m a known Google fanboy. Hell, I wrote the book.

If Google wanted to enable the conversation or collect more information about pages to be smarter about them – thanks to our smarts – fine, but do that at the edge, guys. This is wrong for the internet and, I’ll predict, bad PR for Google.

MORE: I know I’ll be asked whether I think this is evil. As I just said in a tweet, somebody should have asked the “is it evil?” question. That’s why it’s there. I sense no one did. Evil means inconsistent with Google’s mission and morals. Google is about supporting the internet – adding value to it more than extracting value from it (and from those who create the value… at the edge). That would be evil.

: LATER: On Twitter, Google’s Matt Cutts says: “@jeffjarvis points taken, but if it gets larger group of people to write comments on web, that can be good. Plus API allows data to come out” And: “@jeffjarvis and I do see one very nice use case where people can add their comments about scammy sites, e.g. work-at-home scams.”

Points taken as well. It would enable sites without commenting functionality to get comments, including negative comments. In the case of a spam site, OK, that could be useful. But that could also include attacks that one now must monitor (watch out, Google: every story about Israel and race and Obama and health care will attract venom that affects my site but is not under my control).

I don’t think this was done maliciously at all. I think Google didn’t think through the implications.

I’m in favor of beta process; that’s what I wrote in my book. But it’s still incumbent on the developer of something new to try to think through these issues before the dangers are unleashed. At least ask.

: LATER: So now in the Sidewiki, there’s a parallel discussion going on, separate from this. There’s no opportunity to respond in threads. I have no control over the content associated with my site essentially on my site. What has been added? Each of those people could have and normally would have commented right here. They get their comments on their Google profiles, but with Friend Connect that could be done from the comments here. The side comments have their own URLs and a push to promote them on Twitter and Facebook, which means that Google gets Googlejuice instead of me.

  • If you use Sidewiki, you’ll see that I left a comment there that you won’t see here. Demonstrates my point: bifurcates the conversation and tries to centralize it away from the source (the edge: me). Most unGoogley.

    • Thad

      But Jeff,

      Couldn’t you make the argument that there are times you want to have a conversation *about* the site rather than *on* the site. For example, perhaps I want to comment on the fact rather than shop at amazon, people really should try (totally fictional example, btw). Clearly, Amazon doesn’t want this conversation on its site, but as a user of the Web, I’m interesed in that conversation. Why shouldn’t Google enable that conversation?

      • Hari

        I agree with you Thad, I have a strong feeling its going to catch on, I really like it. Cool thing is it works within the enterprise intranets as well, as long as the sites not secure.

      • I agree also, the only problem is the minute you open something up based around opinion (i.e. I like this site or I hate this site) the spammers flood through! If Google can defeat that then there is definitely room for something like this!

        I heard someone going on about how it is out of order for Google to allow someone to place comments they cannot control next to their site. That’s like me saying how dare Google rank me on page 178 for my major keyterm! Start offering a good service and people will start talking positively about you!

      • Moe

        actually this already happens of sorts. i’ve been using stumbleupon “review” feature for this kind of thing for years.

    • Simply install the upcoming Sidewiki WordPress plugin, that will automatically post all Sidewiki entries as comments on your blog post.

      • No need for a plugin the functionality exists through the rss feed from your own Google profile under the wiki tab, easily inserted and controlled from within the wwidgets. I already have it in place but as i am about to “uninstall” side wiki i pose the question: how can i have MY sites opt out of having side wiki comments?

    • This is just wrong, wrong, wrong!

      First, many people spend hundreds of dollars to promote their sites. What is going to stop a competitor from posting their link or information on my site or any other site. They will get the benefit from MY hard work and money. NOT cool! What if someone was an affiliate or selling a product? Someone could Sidewiki a “sale” on someone else’s site. Google or anyone should have NO RIGHT to modify the content, ( and while not actually modifying the content ) they are modifying the presentation or how it is displayed. This is just wrong, wrong, wrong! I for one will be looking for a way to have Sidewiki disabled. I will also join any lawsuit.

      • Jason

        But that’s exactly why I would use sidewiki…look at it from the user’s perspective, wouldn’t they rather have an objective ability to make a comment without being regulated per se?

        For instance, using the example posted above, what if someone was on Amazon looking for a textbook. When they go to the official page, I can link to my own content if I’m selling it for cheaper. From the view of the USER this sounds like an amazing idea. It’s just from the CONTENT PROVIDER who is paying money to post, this will hurt them.

      • Welcome to iFish Technologies, a leading provider of IT services, offering application development, web design and development services to its clients across the globe. Our extensive expertise and client-centric approach ensures maximum client satisfaction. Enjoying a knowledge-rich base, iFish Technologies is in a unique position to bring to life innovative solutions to a diverse range of clients throughout the world.

      • Dan

        Chris, you bring up a great point. Jason, I see your perspective about the consumer, but look at it from a real world perspective:

        Say I own a bookstore. I’m selling a book for $20. My competitor down the block is selling the book for $18. Should he have the right to stand in the middle of my store and tell customers to come down the street to buy it elsewhere? No, of course not. I would ask you to leave my store. A website is also a business, and it’s unfair to take the authority over one’s business away from an owner.

      • You are just wrong, wrong, wrong.

        No one cares about the “hundreds of dollars” (wow, you’re really Too Big To Fail, aren’t you?) that you, or anyone else, spends promoting their site(s). Google’s doing NOTHING wrong. You have no legal case. You are just one of many people who once spent some money to promote a web site, despite having absolutely no clue about how the web works, or how browsers work, or that users are going to necessarily be free to view your site’s content any way they like. I can open a sidebar, or open two browser windows side by side, or use custom stylesheets, or use Greasemonkey scripts, or any/all of the above. Why, I could even wear TINTED GLASSES while viewing you site, and be looking at it in a completely UNAPPROVED COLOR SCHEME!!! What if your competitors start handing out tinted glasses, for people to wear while they look at your site?!?! How will you stop them?? What will you do??? Better call your lawyer right away – I’m sure the two of you will be able to put a swift stop to this anarchy!!

        Wait! I have an idea. From now on, people should only be allowed to look at web sites in ways permitted by the site owner. Here’s the new web site EULA:

        By accessing the site’s content, you agree to the following: This site will only be viewed on a flat-screen LCD monitor of an approved make and model and size, calibrated just so, at a specified distance from the viewer’s eyes. Corrective lenses of any kind must be approved in writing by the web site owner. Blind and visually impaired users are forbidden. The viewer may not look at any other web site or web content, nor listen to any music, nor touch themselves anywhere at all, while viewing this site. Both hands must be kept on the keyboard at ALL TIMES. Users without two hands, and/or a keyboard, are forbidden. Users are not permitted to think about competing web sites while viewing our site – such thoughts are forbidden. Conversing with others about our web site is forbidden. Blinking is permitted, but no more often than once every 15 seconds, with each blink lasting less than 0.25 seconds. Both eyes must blink in unison – blinking only one eye (aka “winking”) is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.

        See, I just saved you a $500 bill from your lawyer! That’s probably twice what you’ve spent promoting your sites!! You should be all set now – just include that EULA in your site’s page footers from now on. Good Luck! :D

    • Wow. I share your concerns Jeff, but this really is a double-edged sword.

      One one side, it “bifurcates” (great word) the conversation and takes it away from the source – adding value to Google by essentially “stealing” it from individual blogs. It also opens the floodgates for fabricated “reviews,” companies posting or paying others to post positive comments about themselves and negative comments about competitors. You see this happening right now with product reviews on Amazon, etc. Companies will create fake reviews and if called out they will justify them by saying that a customer unfairly gave them a bad review so they need to counteract it. I see the same thing bleeding over to SideWiki quite easily. Big implications there.

      On the other side of the sword, it gives internet users the ability to make comments about a site without the approval of the site owner. I would love nothing more than to see these scammy “landing page only” sites including the fake “testimonial” comments at the bottom be put completely out of business. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone to a site like this, OBVIOUSLY a scam (“post links on Google” and “get ripped in 4 weeks” come to mind) and wished that I could comment someplace to point out to others how scammy the site is. People obviously need these comments, because these scams are ridiculously successful as evidenced by their prevalence and longevity.

      Lots of implications. This is probably going to be a topic of discussion for quite some time.

      • Graham Frederick Cutler

        Just who the hell does Google think they are?
        when asked if I wanted sidewiki, I pressed NO but it installed anyway! Google – I WANT IT OFF!!!!!!!!!
        You have no right to impose this on us. What next, add-ons that you can’t remove, telling us who we should vote in for our next Prime Minister / President?
        I didn’t ask for it and I don’t want it!

      • Carolina

        @Graham Frederick Cutler: EXACTLY the same thing happened to me. Horrible, and there’s no way to completely uninstall it!

  • BillRod

    If I read it correctly there is also an API for this.. I wonder if this will open this up so these can be embedded on the site..

  • A million years ago, when NYC still had Internet Expo, there was an Israeli firm touting this same capability. They went nowhere. People don’t want to have to install Yet Another Thing in order to access something else that might not even be worth the effort. There is too much friction here. This is Google’s next Knol.

    • Except that toolbar users will get it automagically, which will help it gain traction. It could become quite commonly used, once the API gets around.

    • Toolbar users will get it automagically, which will help it gain traction. It could become quite commonly used.

  • yarrrr

    I agree Jeff, and Sidewiki will fail for it…

  • This is what so many scrapers, er, aggregators have been trying to do, and nobody’s fallen for it there. However, it has succeeded in Facebook – we post many of our links there because we recognize that’s where they’re going to be seen first – and often the discussion there can go longer and stronger than the discussion on the original item on our site. In our platform-free future hopefully this will all flow together somehow, but for now, clunky to say the least.

  • BradFarris

    I just went to take a look and see what Sidewiki was all about. I couldn’t install it because my browser isn’t supported. I’ll never see sidewiki comment, even if I’m OK with the concept.

    Interestingly, my unsupported browser is Google Chrome.

    • HEH. I just said in a tweet that the real danger for Goog – as I also said in my book – is that it will grow too big not for us but for its own good. Right hand needs to meet left hand for things like this and decisions need to be made with a larger context in mind without stopping those decisions. Its Google’s biggest challenge, I think.

  • I agree that Sidewiki could detract from the comment strings within the content originators, but if this is opened to outside developers there is potential to integrate blog comments with sidewiki. I’d be a little redundant, but at least both services would see use.

  • Have to agree (also a huge Google fan / follower) that this isn’t like them and could end up being a huge distraction not to mention the fact that it requires installation of the toolbar …. which in most cases really isn’t needed that much anymore but more importantly, I seriously doubt people read the terms of use of turning toolbar features on and off. It’s gonna get messy.

    • Has anyone tried to get rid of the google toolbar before? it’s next to impossible- it came imbedded in a firefox update I did, and until firefox changed how they tied it together, it re-added itself EVERY TIME I restarted my browser… turned me off of google as anything BUT a search engine.

  • What if you could integrate Sidewiki into your existing comment field? And doesn’t this sort of compete with Google Friend Connect?

  • Totally agree with you Jeff – can’t see how centralisation and exclusion are adequately mitigated. API is no good answer for me unless supported by a second good embeddable tool from the start.

  • I wonder how this doesn’t compete with the (hopefully) forthcoming Wave? I mean, wouldn’t Wave serve to undermine precisely this type of service?

    The Googely Monster has too many arms.

    • Sidewiki will work in Wave obviously.

  • I think comments have been getting more and more bifurcated with FriendFeed and similar systems. Sidewiki puts the comments back on the original url, and it provides an API so that people can extract the Sidewiki comments for a particular page and could fold them into a conversation.

    I think one of the brilliant things about Twitter is that it lowered the barrier to creating content. Setting up a blog can be a hassle, but writing a tweet? Much easier. So I can imagine that Sidewiki could make it easier for people to comment as well.

    I do like the use case of letting people leave comments on sites that might be scammy. For example, there’s been a recent spate of “work from home for Google/Twitter and make thousands of dollars” scam sites, and if people can comment on a web page that normally doesn’t provide comments, that can be helpful.

    Parts of this remind me of Yelp; restaurants might not want people writing about them, but Yelp clearly provides a helpful service for millions of consumers by showing what other people think. And you can argue that many restaurants have benefited as well. I think a big part of the challenge is making the comments useful and trustworthy.

    • The difference between Yelp and Sidewiki is that Yelp is its own site. People don’t have an expectation that they can control content that isn’t on their own site. Sidewiki breaks the expectation of control of one’s own site by allowing people to leave uncontrolled comments/spam ostensibly *on my own site*.

      Google has disempowered the site owner, which I have to say, falls pretty squarely into the “don’t be evil” category, but it’s not the first time. It’s not like “don’t be evil” is some sort of law, it’s merely a catchphrase, so I don’t hold them to it.

    • Andy Freeman

      > Sidewiki breaks the expectation of control of one’s own site by allowing people to leave uncontrolled comments/spam ostensibly *on my own site*.

      No, it doesn’t. Sidewiki is it’s own site, just like yelp. Sidewiki just accessible via a toolbar that knows the current url and sidewiki’s url.

      • if it shows up every time my site is loaded, it’s part of my site that is out of my control.

      • Andy Freeman

        > if it shows up every time my site is loaded, it’s part of my site that is out of my control.

        No. It’s part of my screen that I want loaded when I visit your site.

        You don’t own my screen. You don’t get to determine what else I can see when I visit your site.

        If it was actually part of your site, you’d be paying to store and serve the bits. You’re not.

    • It reminds me of Yelp also – that’s why I don’t like it. Yelp has a culture that encourages the sarcastic, witty, snarky comment. You’re rewarded by a thumbs up if you can zing a business that isn’t cool or hip enough.

      I was inspired to start my website by Yelpers negativity. Things You Should Do is recommendations not reviews. I list businesses – hotels, restaurants, golf etc. that I personally recommend or one of my guest authors recommends. If I don’t like a business, I don’t write about it.

      I wouldn’t invite the snarks to my house; I don’t invite them to participate in my site either. But Google is providing them with tents and sleeping bags so they can camp in my front yard.

      I’m supposed to be reassured that the side won’t be anonymous sniping because a person has to use their Google profile – but what is to prevent them from having multiple google profiles?

    • Andy

      “For example, there’s been a recent spate of “work from home for Google/Twitter and make thousands of dollars” scam sites, and if people can comment on a web page that normally doesn’t provide comments, that can be helpful.”

      Yeah, the scam site owners (and their buddies) can make lots of positive/misleading comments about the validity of their website.

      Not very helpful, because you can’t trust the comments.

      • Matt

        As you know it costs money to promote a website. To get on the front page of a Google search you’re either doing PPC or you have excellent original content and plenty of quality incoming links. PPC and time promoting a website is money.

        Now let’s say my competitor doesn’t do PPC and they don’t spend the time educating their customers like I do. Their cost of doing business is less than mine. Because of this they can afford to sell the same products for less money. All they would need to do is go to my website and post a comment that they found a another site with the same great service and better prices.

        In other words my competition is using traffic that I paid for, to promote their websites that has little or no traffic.

        It would be the same with a brick and mortar business. Suppose my competitor that sells the same products that I do and spends nothing on advertising. Plus he doesn’t have a good location or signs so no one can find him.

        If I’m spending a million dollars a year promoting my business and have a prime location on Main St, would I allow my competitor to set up a table at my front door?

        I hope that Google will remove Sidewiki as a feature. Consumers might like it, but I think it opens Google up to lawsuits in the event the feature becomes popular.

  • But, Matt, this isn’t a restaurant or a scam. It’s my life online and Google just took some measure of control of it away from me. Not cool. Someone comes to SideWiki and tells a lie about me, I can’t do anything about it: heaven for spammers and trolls. Google is usually better of thinking of and architecting for the downsides as well as the upsides.

    • Jeff, if you are the site owner, then the first/top comment in Sidewiki is reserved for you. Danny Sullivan wrote more about that at . And you can vote a comment as useful or not, or report abuse. The ranking of comments also depends on what we think about the quality of that author. So there are mechanisms built in to help tackle the trolling case.

      • But who has the right to say who’s a troll? Someone can say something about me elsewhere, that’s one thing. But tied to my site? No thank you. Again, I’m using myself only as an illustration. Go to any site dealing with race and Israel and you’ll find that this just created a new outlet for hate. Be warned.

      • Thad

        Hey there, I’m actually responding to Jeff, but can’t do it straight from his comment.

        Come Jeff, are you going to say that one case against sidewiki is that antisemites will us it for hate? If that’s the criteria, hell, pull the plug on the Internet… oh, and all free speech while you’re at it.

        Also, I don’t think allowing people to comment about your site — but not on your site — is all that awful. If you want to comment about the NYTimes, should you be limited to their OpEd page? Should you be limited to the medium of newspapers?

        Trendwatching had a recent brief about the increase in user reviews of everything; this seems like a perfectly natural extension of that.

        Whether people will really use it is another question, and I’m not convinced they will, but I think your logic for bashing Sikewiki isn’t all that sound.

      • AEP528

        So you’re basically saying that Google has given the world a means of placing highly inappropriate comments next to children’s web sites, but that’s okay because somebody will report it?

      • I have to agree with Matt (and Google) on this one. This is putting power in the hands of *readers* – it doesn’t take away anything from you, the publisher. Especially with their API, you can import any (or none) of the SideWiki conversations onto your pages so you don’t bifurcate the conversation stream.

      • Andy

        “And you can vote a comment as useful or not, or report abuse.”

        Gee thanks. Most people have better things to do with their time than voting and reporting abuse. You’re creating more work for people.

  • You’re absolutely right Jeff. “Channel Robbing” is a serious concern. We need to realize the importance of centralization, not just for reliability and accessibility, but for simplification. SaaS models are great, but for an organization that needs to “own” their data – it’s not the solution.

    Ryan Gensel

  • I work for a big humanitarian organization and I think we have a certain responsibility towards our users. This includes that we don’t allow spammy comments or comments that are obscene or racist. With SideWiki that might happen, and be visible to the user who has Sidewiki enabled, without us being able to do anything about it.

    Also: If I have no control over the comments, how can I prevent a fraudster from claiming that he or she is part of our organization and asks the visitors for donations?

    A, I might not even know about it unless I have SideWiki installed.

    B, many users will consider the SideWiki content to be part of the website (yes, they should know better). This will actually give fraudsters who are adding fraudulent credibility. That is a major problem.


    • Danger, danger, Google.

      • Nah, it’s a piece of cake for Google to take care of these things.

        People have been using Google for years. If you try to scam, troll, fake or anything like that with your Google account in Sidewiki, you will quickly get uncovered (just get few Useful: No ratings) and that will basically ban you from ever having any of your Sidewiki entries from being ranked as relevant (thus highly visible if visible at all).

        Google knows who is who, you cannot fake an identity on Google and Google takes into account how long you have been using Google, how long you have been using Sidewiki, what you have rated, how people are rating you..

        This is genious.

        • Spam, perhaps (though it’s catchy and cat and mouse). But trolls? No algorithm can recognize assholes. Not yet. When Google gets that, it will be very rich.

        • Bob Stein

          Jeff, this is exactly why SideWiki may not be as big a deal to site owners as it seems. If SideWiki becomes merely a repository for (to use your term) the assholes you would normally chase out of your site’s “official” comment thread, then only assholes will use SideWiki.

          I also think that’s why SideWiki probably won’t work. I see every site ending up with moderated comments (like this site has) and its asshole comments (SideWiki). I’m guessing Google really doesn’t want to get into the comment moderation business and will be reluctant to have its name associated with a system that encourages poor quality, unmoderated comments by assholes.

          And, as an earlier poster pointed out, certainly no one with kids would want to activate a browser toolbar that allows any type of comment to appear unfiltered alongside a site for children. Does Google really want parents telling kids (i.e., the next generation of internet users), “You can use the internet, but first let me turn off the Google toolbar”? I doubt it.

        • Great added perspective, Bob!

          That might be the end of the sidewiki if this happens (parents uninstalling Google toolbar)! And if it becomes closely assoiciated with a****** comments.

          Can hardly wait to see how this plays out…

        • Bob…good points. As a parent of 5, in a family that uses Google ALL the time, it’s weird that Google would set up that kind of situation. In fact, the comments on this article prove that if they had a “focus group” of any kind, they surely missed it on this one!

  • P Cause

    Google wanst to track *all* your web activity. They need this to do better behavorial targetting and to build better user profiles. How can they see what you are doing when you aren’t on their site? Add SideWiki and they are tracking your every move. Great for them, but…

    And, BTW, who OWNS the comments posted? Are we all creating concent for Google for free?

    • Just keep your own record of your content if you want by subscribing to your own sidewiki feeds, or your page sidewiki feeds.

    • faux

      “Are we all creating [content] for Google for free?” Yes. That’s the idea. Always has been. It’s central to their business model. Other people create things, Google sticks ads on them.

  • Shivraj

    My website is what I want to present it to my visitors. Would you allow your shopfront to be cluttered by comments (or worse defaced with graffiti?) from a 3rd party, that, you as a shop owner (or for that matter a home owner), do not control?

    As CMH pointed out above if someone has a view, Yelps of this world provide the necessary service.

  • Shivraj

    Just another thought…can the Sidewiki engine help Goog figure out who wrote the comments on a website? Does not seem very difficult? Right?

    Really stir the pot if they allows this info to pass through the API… :)

  • Pingback: Google Sidewiki « Wir sprechen Online.()

  • I have zero concerns about Google Sidewiki further distributing the conversations. If we are worried about controlling the comments and keeping them all in one place, then we should be in a panic about Facebook, FriendFeed, Socialmedian, Twitter, Google Reader, news groups and the thousands of other places people can have discussions around our content. The idea that blogs and news orgs can monopolize the conversation and keep it in a silo is an old and dead one. We should embrace these new technologies and learn how to use them to our own benefits, not rail at the sky.

    • @heymatty

      The reason for concern is not that the conversation can be conducted on more than one web property. The problem is with Google who are taking your users away from your site and give them the tools to contribute content on Google’s property – not your site.

      • Just like you can today with notes and comments in Google Reader. I don’t see this as being any different.

      • Andy

        “I don’t see this as being any different.”

        It’s in a frame next to your site. Big difference.

    • I think there is a difference between whether someone is talking about me on another site or whether that is happening (from a user point of view) on my own site. Anything that part of the user experience of my site should be within my control – at least where the content is concerned, I’m not talking about design. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with criticism etc. But I want to be able to eliminate obscene comments, fraudulent posts or similar things. If these things are on friendfeed then they are clearly separated from my site. But if they are in a frame adjacent to my site than that separation vanishes. And that, for me, is a problem.

      • Well said.

      • And this would be in a frame adjacent to your site for people who have opted in to the toolbar and the SideWiki. Add-ons are add-ons, not native to the site. Someone savvy enough to install it is savvy enough to know the difference.

        • it’ll come as a default in chrome, no?

        • They have stated that SideWiki will be available as a feature of Chrome when Chrome supports extensions. I don’t have a link, just paraphrasing info i read earlier today.

      • Obscene comments get eliminated automatically and obscene commenters get banned from Sidewiki forever based on their actions. These are not some anonymous troll comments.

        • You don’t need to be anonymous to be a troll. I can name some who hang around here, by name.

        • Justin Bean

          Jeff, you’re absolutely right that a lack of anonymity won’t stop trolls. The university I attended had a listserv-type discussion board, and some epic non-anonymous flamewars resulted, occasionally with “real life” consequences. I certainly won’t claim to have been above it all.

          But we’ll all evolve and adapt to this, as always when something changes the web. I certainly look forward to using it.

      • Ditto. Excellent point. I’m all for interactivity, but The Mighty Google will now also become The Great Moderator. It’s all too Orwellian…

      • JonFHancock

        @Louis Gray

        Do you really think that everyone who has installed the Google Toolbar intended to install it? It has been my experience that the less savvy a user is, the more likely they are to have Google and a dozen other toolbars installed.

        For myself, I don’t yet know how Sidewiki will really be. I won’t be using it at least until it is available as its own Firefox/Chrome extension. Toolbars are clutter.

  • I’m just curious if this is the one annotation plugin that could actually get legs. The concept of commenting about a site vs. on it is interesting. We at Disqus focus on the latter, but it may make sense to provide a bridge between the two at some point. Related but slightly OT, Jeff, have you ever given Disqus a try on BM? Let me know if you’re at all interested: ro at disqus dotcom

    • There have been many attempts to get the “annotation” capability going. Let’s hope this one succeeds — not only on its own but in encouraging a lot of other innovations in this space.

      You folk at Disqus should have good fun with this. Of course, a Sidewiki comment is no different from any other blog post. The only thing that makes it “special” is that the Atom entry has an “about” link that binds it to an URL. Thus, it is really very much like a TrackBack than anything else. Blog commenting systems have used TrackBack to incorporate off-site comments for years now…

      I’d like to be able to link my Google Profile to my Disqus account so that Disqus can aggregate all the comments into a single view whether I make them using Disqus or via Sidewiki. Of course, I’d like BackType and others to do the same. I would also expect that folk like Disqus would provide extensions to their existing APIs to provide “TrackBack” like support for Sidewiki comments on sites that use Disqus. (i.e. just as you list Trackbacks, you should list Sidewiki comments or others that might use a standard “about” link.)
      Of course, something else that would be great would be for us to get a formally defined link rel attribute included in Atom so that we have a standard way to link Atom entries to the URIs that they discuss. My hope is that the work being done for stuff like RDF/A would lead us in that direction and remove the need to use stuff like the non-standard link rel attribute that Sidewiki uses. If we had a standard rel tag for associating Atom entries, web pages, or parts of pages to URIs then *any* blogging, commenting or content creation system could attach comments or annotations to URIs. It seems like that is something Disqus would want to experiment with and something that would fit nicely into the many visions for the “semantic” web.

      bob wyman

  • @heymatty

    Google can barely deal with all of the splogs in its search indexes, now who will police the spam, impersonation and fraud conducted on Sidewiki?

    @mattcutts You’ve got a point about people warning others of scam sites. But what if scammers actually use this as a tool and leave comments such as “This is a scam, the real way to get rich is actually at

    Sidewiki hijacks the conversation and community driven moderation (“report abuse”) will not work as scammers and spammers will get around this easily by re-posting their messages and using god knows how many accounts to spam their message.

    Are Sidewiki’s comments indexed to give SEO benefit to the page? I don’t think so… It hijacks the conversation and prevents the page to receive any indexation benefit from that content.

    Discuss my product on Friedfeed, Facebook or any other place is fine. But adding a layer on top of my site to discuss it on Google’s property is hijacking. Google is hijacking my community – my users who are coming to my site.

  • Woah! He GATORS it. Death before life. This probably was a bad move for Google in the pre-wave period. We want Google Wave to make things easier not piss off the gurus.

  • What if SideWiki had plugin-style intelligence? What if SideWiki:

    a) Could detect and integrate with a site’s native comment system, feeding its comments via API to the site’s native commenting system?

    b) Could also import a site’s native comment stream’s?

    Both features of course also subject to support, moderation, access controls etc.

    Such features would allow SideWiki to be closer to the edge. It retains the core value of allowing generalised discourse on both the web-as-a-whole and a site-as-a-whole (something that is currently mostly lacking) and, while side-stepping the brand-control discussion, would allow larger sites to federate and leverage their comment streams to a potentially larger audience (at the sacrifice of some control), and smaller sites to implement a capable commenting system without the general competency that requires.

    — JCL

    • I, too, have been trying to figure out how to do this. I think it was Technorati: the conversation about a site occurs around the web and that can be aggregated and then ranked. Could Google do it better? If it is going to steal a model, I’m not sure why they picked Third Voice.

  • DaveC

    From thirty minutes of poking around Sidewiki, I don’t see it getting traction because of the friction to make it work. If it were popular, it would be a big success for Goog because it encourages users to authenticate to their Google profile whenever they browse. That lets Goog aggregate that much more information from users who browse on multiple computers.

  • Matthew Terenzio

    What is Google Toolbar? ; )

  • Lark WilliamsS

    Hmmmm….Google aggregating author’s content is someway the author does not like, and can make money from it that the author can’t. That used to be a good thing…until it happened to jarvis

    • It’s not aggregating. Aggregating and presenting comments from all over the cloud is how I suggest Google SHOULD do this. Google is, instead, trying to move the conversation from the cloud/edge/sources to its domain, which is the exact opposite of aggregation.

      • faux

        What about Google Groups then? Or Blogger, Google Pages, Google Knol, etc.

      • faux

        Nearly forgot the biggest one of all – Gmail.

  • This is about Google needing an experiment for getting deeper into indexing of the real time web.

    A lot of comment systems leave a lot to be desired, so if there could be a few (not 1) massively adopted systems out there, maybe some of the disparate conversations could start happening together for greater understanding.

    Fewer disparate systems using a common framework could allow many conversations to tie into each other in the name of greater collaboration and communication.

    This will be interesting… it will evolve.

  • People can write about your blog, and price and product comparison sites have been doing something similar: having the conversation somewhere else.
    In this case, the conversation is outside but closer to your contents.
    This is a right move for Google.
    The only counterpower Google and other big players may have must come from society, from our organized society and the way we (worse or better) are organized is through the state.

  • Pingback: links for 2009-09-23 | Joanna Geary()

  • Mark

    I like the idea but also feel there are few critical components that are either missing or insufficient, both are related to the API.

    1. ability to post to the comment stream through API
    2. ability to turn off the feature (unless the API is being actively used)

    #2 is the probably the more critical one, not just for the sake of being controlling one’s own site but there are *many* occasions where a proprietary web app will not want to broadcast its hidden path behind the authentication to the world.

  • Jeff, I too am a big Google fan. But I agree, in this case, they may have been overly excited about releasing some (admittedly very cool) new technology and overlooked some of its implications.

    I raised some of the same concerns you raised, and a few other, here:

    Google Sidewiki: Do [No?] Evil

  • Meta-services do not work. Cocomment tried to. Others tried to. And now this huge player that effectively try to establish a link between publishers and their conversation technology. BUT do you really think that the publishers will make the effort to check and understand the sidewiki ? No way.

    I believe in a clear embed like disqus or echo, chosen by the publisher and not forced by a browser or toolbar. Sure, for chat systems, it will work. Sure with wave systems, it will work. Sure for group private conversations, it will work. For a public open conversation ? No way.

    We need comments in the source code, for search tools (remember Google, the transparency) !

  • Jeff,

    I’m giving it a try, because I like toying around with new stuff, but frankly it doesn’t seem like it provides a very good place for discussion. There are no replies, one huge thread, minimal visible space… without any real discussion features I don’t think there’s much concern.

    I do see the value though in providing a form of annotation for the web. Letting people create links directly on top of obscure web pages is a good way to help out any other researcher that stumbles that way.

    So unless things change significantly, I’m betting it’ll play out as a crowd-sourced annotation tool more than a discussion tool.

    • For good discussion, perhaps – especially when a site has its own discussion.
      But it’s the bad discussion that concerns me and it’s plenty good enough for that.

  • B.Nelson

    Just to add to the confusion,

    This page:
    has Google Sidewiki “entries”

    This page:
    has another set of Google Sidewiki “entries”

    But, this page:

    has NO Google Sidewiki “entries”
    (so far)

    …what can I say.

  • Matthew Terenzio

    This is all transitional stuff that will work itself out with end-arounds that distributed real time systems will afford us in the near future.

  • Pingback: Learning Aloud - Sidewiki from Google – Cool, but beyond my control()

  • tombo4000

    Very true, all the points made here against Google’s new toolbar and sidebar feature and the possibility of spammers and trolls wanting to lurk on this sidebar itself are all valid.

    That’s why I’m not going to use it or support it, much less read from it. I’ll keep using Google as my search engine, however.

  • teacup

    This latest ploy by google to own the Internet definitely leaves plenty of room for abuse. Jeff is correct that it is evil. Jealous website owners will use this against anyone they think they need to get rid of so they can rise to the top. There will be plenty of spamming and undeserved badmouthing by those who will use Google’s evil tool to try to hurt websites in order to improve their own ranking..
    The only good point is that when the lawsuits start, we can hope for more money from a class action lawsuit against Google because G will be the enabler. They are now like someone who gives the keys & guns to bank thieves while holding open the vault doors, while the thugs walk in to commit mayhem. Google is evil and their new abuse tool now makes Google worse than Microsoft. LONG LIVE BING (sic)

  • Andrew Henderson

    Even if, for all the good reasons mentioned, the front-end service is hardly ever used by people, this might be a nice place for semantic services to post their own mark-up against a site. For use by machines. Some advantages :
    – write permission to third-parties
    – simplification of the write surface to just one API
    – Google search goodness now, possible integration later

  • If nobody whips up a integrated comment system for WordPress and Blogger that uses SideWiki as the engine, I’ll be surprised.

    A quick search through the API looks like there’s no way to use it to insert comments yet, which could be a roadblock. And the fact that comments are voted up instead of threaded pretty much kills it as a discussion space.

    However, I’m cautiously excited about what this may evolve into.

  • Pingback: Jeff Jarvis Calls Google Sidewiki Dangerous, Points to Adware « ecpm blog()

  • Pingback: Los usuarios podrán añadir comentarios en las búsquedas de Google | Yorokobu()

  • An answer I see is to make this ‘opt in’ by the site owner, perhaps a specific meta tag in the index page head.

    • Well, then, all the spam sites Google wants to protect us from won’t opt in.

      • Jeff,

        I believe we can agree that this has nothing to do with spam site protection. In fact, little to do with commenting, really. It’s the expanded use of the google toolbar that is the goal, to facilitate the collection of all Internet activity specific to each user. Enormously valuable data.

      • Dimitri

        I am kind of interested in SideWiki, but don’t care much for Google toolbar. Can I use SideWiki without a toolbar? I think there ought to be an option for that, otherwise it feels like Google bundles things together to just spread them.

  • I think it is a great idea, none of those pesky website owners preventing freedom of expression. And when it is libel, have fun getting Google to judge it.

  • Michael Olsen

    With Disqus, Facebook, and to some extent Google Account, people are getting used to commenting with a simple click of a button and to a lesser extent, aggregate their comments. So if a site makes it easy for me to comment by simply hitting the Facebook Connect button, that’s what I will do.

    But if I continually have to enter my name and email address, or register, I may choose to leave a comment on Sidewiki. If the owner of a site wants to keep the conversation on his/her pages, then the onus is on them to make it easy and compelling.

    Like others said, with FriendFeed etc. there are already so many ways to take the conversation off site.

  • Pingback: Peter Imbres » Blog Archive » Fresh From Twitter()

  • I disagree, the vast majority of pages do not have built in comment functionality, thi is where Sidewiki become extremely useful. For pages that do already have comments enabled, I don’t see anyone using Sidewiki at all (current page excepted)

  • Michael Olsen

    By the way Jeff, I live in Ann Arbor, and when I logged on to this evening, in Sidewiki was a link and excerpt on your article about the site…which of course brought me back to your site to read the full article. This was extremely useful and a great feature of Sidewiki.

  • “Evil means inconsistent with Google’s mission and morals. Google is about supporting the internet – adding value to it more than extracting value from it (and from those who create the value… at the edge). That would be evil.”

    Google is about making money from ads. They have no mission besides that – unless they continue to get ad money as their reward. You give them far too much credit for having morals when doing something for money is never about morals but about money – if you have to *display* morals to achieve the end result (getting money) then maybe you will, but in such cases morals are never displayed as a means to their own end.

    Now that we’ve sorted that out, I cannot agree more with the rest of what you wrote. I guess the idea now is everyone is supposed to download and install the Google Toolbar to monitor what is going on in the Sidewikis that discuss their own content.

    What sucks is the abuse that can be given on a Sidewiki – your site or you can falsely be accused of just about anything now and how do you respond? By leaving a comment in your own comment section on the site? It’s really taking your content away from you and handing *control* of it over to everyone else. Why? So Google can aggregate more personal user data? Check. So Google can make more money from ads? Sure. Check.

    Also, some writers (Seth Godin springs to mind, naturally) don’t want comments left on their sites at all, but Sidewiki circumvents their wishes entirely. It’s like Google is pulling out the rug from every content creator out there by saying, “Ha ha, look who’s in charge now – not you – Google!”

    Evil? Yeah. I’d call it evil. They are biggest personal monitoring company on Earth, between Google Earth, Google 411, GMail, GTalk, Google Search, Google Toolbar, Google Desktop, Google Maps, Google Street View – what do you think all this monitoring, watching, and recording is about? Their original mission was “collect the world’s data” not “collect the world’s personal information”. They seem to be slipping further from their original mission each day, all to make more money than anyone else does from ads.

    • faux

      How is personal information not data?

      Now a broader range of people can feel like the sources that make up Google News.

  • Pingback: Google Sidewiki - Why I am Already Hating it? - disqus, google, Google searchwiki, install searchwiki, search wiki, searchwiki, searchwiki api, searchwiki chrome, searchwiki firefox - Technically Personal!()

  • Google should somehow provide greater authority (if not absolute authority) to the publishers. Something like, the publisher marking a comment as ABUSE should hold greater value than others doing the same. Else, I see this heading the wrong way.

  • I think it’s silly to think that Google didn’t consider the implications. They’ve had lots of time to weigh this and they’ve got some of the brightest minds in the world to talk it through.

    This has the power for good and for evil. It is a game-changer.

  • I’m talking about all of you right now in the SideWiki! Did you notice?

  • Pingback: Google – elearnspace()

  • Ewald

    I’d appreciate it very much if Google allowed me to turn off Sidewiki for my websites.

    I have content that is well thought through and researched, but not main stream or supporting somebody else’s status quo. I don’t want this extension to my webpages, where people are allowed to be rude, crude, and thoughtless, attacking my content. If people want to discuss it, they can do that on other sites, among peers.

  • I am more worried about who is gonna moderate the comments and what effect it will have on company websites/blogs as a whole.

    I personally think that the “where people can add their comments about scammy sites, e.g. work-at-home scams.” comment of Matt Cutts is sort of a “blank bullet” and is just a excuse to gain more power.

    As someone else stated in a blog (forgot where I read it) Google is centralizing everything and as a publisher in the future you may get happy with a couple of pennies… as a publisher you deliver the materials, google scrapes/aggregates it and is earning big bucks with it.

    Do not get me wrong: just like many people here I respect Google… but they simply get too powerfull and are now going one bridge too far.
    And yeah: maybe they indeed will give an API but it also means that you are forced to use it in order to gain entrance to remarks that should have been made on your website itself. API’s can be usefull but in some way can be compared to the machines in the matrix… Google plugs in more and more cables untill you are actually controlled by the machines.

  • Thanks for all the feedback from both sides very interesting
    will add this to my post as a point -counterpoint thanks:)

  • We offer an almost equal tool for Twitter, but without the need to install a plugin (just a bookmarklet).

    Why don’t you see the advantage of this services:

    – you get more traffic on your websites, when comments are spreaded into other networks
    – you can create real dialog on your site

    I understand the problem of bad or spam comments, but you cannot control what people think and talk about (wether it’s online or offline), never ever.

    Why not just take the chance and go in direct dialog with your website visitors onsite? If somebody writes bad stuff about your site, this might be because it is just his opinion. Take the chance to talk to him, to maybe change his opinion.

    This is the internet: IMHO you cannot control anything.

    • leanne

      No you can’t control anything, but pre-sidewiki people had to go looking for negative comments. And I’ve got nothing against dialogue, but how do you engage with a spurned lover who decides to leave a trail of abuse on your business website, with links back to a page of incriminating photos?

  • lilygirl

    I’m no tech expert but this seems a bad idea. People have an infinite capacity to believe rubbish if it agrees with their mislead belief system (government death panels, the Montauck Monster, etc). This feature enables the further spread of misinformation, lies, and manipulation via any web site. I’m all for net neutrality and free speech but this has the potential of ballooning into a disaster of Wikipedia proportion. Unchecked, unmanaged comments invite anyone who manipulates with words to do their worst–regardless of it leading back to their profile.

  • You mean you and I and they cannot be creative and only Google can be creative with what we want to do? The status quo is what Microsoft wants, a non-creative way to work where only Microsoft is creative – it dictates the way you work. Google is trying to tell us that we ought to be creative in many ways – and it’s showing us how.

  • Greg

    Great post Jeff. As a Site owner I am also concerned about the implications. Losing control and turning it over to the masses. And something else to be concerned about.

    And this is a social tool as well. You can subscribe to someone’s comments. Plus, a bunch of folks can gather around a Web page and leave lots of social commentary. Might Google be stung by this as well? We can now leave comments all over their properties without using their standard and perhaps preferred comment forms.

    It does look like Site owners will be able to write code using the Sidewiki API to aggregate comments on all their pages.

    And yes, Google might have rolled this out in a more controlled way and with initial limitations. Why not let me and my friends annotate Sites for our own benefit? In fact I would love to add annotations to my bookmarked or reading list Sites, and have those viewable by myself only. My annotated Web.

    • Greg

      Thats also a little scary, others or groups of others annotating your Site without your knowledge at all. Best to leave this personal annotations only.

  • Yea to an extent people might spam with their comments… but i am already a fan of it… feel it might really help people on Ecomm sites

    For fans on twitter:

  • S Lloyd

    So what if I bookmark this website with Delicious or Friendfeed and ppl discuss it there? Same thing except Google already has your site bookmarked. This was inevitable.

    • The discussion around the web is great and is where it should happen. No one should try to centralize it, including me. So Google’s response should have been to aggregate and curate and add value to it, not hijack it.

  • Jeff–Your points are well taken, but when it comes to losing control of the content associated with a site, this seems to be a case of New Media (if I may generalize) getting a taste of the medicine it’s been dishing out for years. A wide panoply of social media services–from blogs to social networks to aggregators and all the shades of gray in between–have been shifting the conversation away from Old Media for more than a decade. When print lamented the move to the Web, it was forced to adjust. Then online publications saw the conversation move away from their own sites onto blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, the list goes on. Again, it needed to adjust. It’s starting to look like none of us ever fully can own the conversation, even when it’s about us.

  • Pingback: Sidewiki: some journalistic questions for Google | Editors' Blog()

  • Pingback: Google knows what clothes i am wearing via SideWiki | Begin SEO with SEO Begin()

  • Pingback: Darklg Web (darklgweb) 's status on Thursday, 24-Sep-09 14:01:10 UTC -

  • Pingback: Google SearchWiki Launches - ORM Concern or Opportunity?()

  • Jeff – Brilliant. I also just posted on the potential dangers vs awesomeness of sidewiki – namely the complete and utter invasion of brands, spam, and marketeering into every corner of the social web vs facilitating the evolution of the internet to a new level of information exchange.

    I Can’t Tell You How Excited I Am To See Google Sidewiki’s Potential Actualized. Unfortunately, As Marketers Have Done With Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, (MySpace – Remember Her?) And Every Other Facet of “The Social Web,” Sidewiki provides yet another means for those who just don’t ‘get it’ to exploit the system and barrage us with broadcast, branded, messaging.

    Until now, this usurpation of online communities and the manipulation of our fundamental human desire to generate content and share information has been limited to custom-tailored (if we’re lucky) invasions of specific platforms or desperate attempts at creating their own.

    Sidewiki, has, without a doubt, an enormous potential – one to utterly destroy any limitations or barriers on the “information sharing” currently allowed by the internet. We’re looking at the possible information exchange of exponential proportions. Unfortunately, I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be the tool that unlocks the whole of the internet to the pervasive, abusive tactics of irresponsible marketers.You know the type – the ones who build facebook pages that collect dust and twitter accounts that auto-follow and auto-DM promotional messaging.

    I sincerely hope that Google has developed, within it’s algorithm, protection from this parasitism but I fear that these individuals, for all their irresponsibility, have one talent, namely, circumventing those protocols. Take a look at this video – What stops me from using sidewiki to just hop from site to page to blog, highlighting portions of text and promising readers further explanation, only to lead them elsewhere – a deceptive practice that seems to be aligned today’s spammy zeitgeist.

    What do you think? Are you more excited for the evolution of the social web potentially facilitated by Sidewiki? Are you confident that Google has taken the necessary precautions to keep spammers from hijacking this tool and isn’t about to provide unlimited access to anyone who wants to litter your website digital post-it notes, maliciously intended, or otherwise?

    If this is web 3.0 – I’m scared.

  • Pingback: The Dangers Of Google Sidewiki: Complete Brand Invasion « Legends of Aerocles()

  • Rick

    And if Google toolbar and Chrome are prohibited, as they are where I am, it’s as if that side of the conversation doesn’t exist.

  • Robert Levine

    This almost makes me think the whole “Don’t Be Evil” thing is just a PR strategy.

  • Pingback: Stuntbox – Paving the Road()

  • Doesn’t anyone else see the irony here?

    Google comes along and revolutionizes the way information is disseminated to the public. Newspapers, newswires, etc. complain that Google is taking their customers away from them, sending them to aggregator sites, moving the focus away from their own properties, etc. Jeff tells them to adapt! Forget your old models, this is the link economy! Reinvent yourselves or perish!

    Now, Google has done the same to the blogs, and we’ve got a hundred comments here about how this is “evil” and how people who read the blog must read it, discuss it, and link to it in the way the author intended.

    I tend to agree that API’s will solve this problem in short order (as it has basically done for Facebook and Twitter), but even if it doesn’t – Jeff, shouldn’t you be looking at this as an opportunity to adapt to an ever-changing world, where aggergators can link to (or in this case, frame-encase) your content and do as they wish with it? What’s the new business model?


    • Robert Levine

      Great point!
      Given when Jeff has said about the evils of legal intervention, he’d best learn to live with this!

    • Google would serve the internet and the edge and not try to compete with it. Google isn’t competing with but serving news organizations (they just don’t see it). There are ways Google could have done that here, many ways. I’m arguing against centralization – it’s so old media – and for the edge – which used to be Googley.

    • Wrong. Any content producer can stop the Google indexing by a simple entry in a robots.txt file. I cannot stop the use of Sidewiki in any way, currently. Give me that option, Google, please.

  • Pingback: Linkpost | 9.24.2009 | L&C Tech Talk()

  • Ann

    Google IS BIG BROTHER. Can’t you see this?!!

  • First, it makes no sense to me that “opting out” should be an option.

    When I visit YOUR site, it renders in MY browser. I’ve augmented my browser with toolbars and other useful addons (like and Sidewiki) that display content of my choosing in parallel with the content of your site. I also usually have additional browser windows open displaying other sites or blogs or discussion forums that may, at any time, take you or your site and its contents as a topic. You can’t stop it and neither can I (Sidewiki entries may be voted up/down or flagged as abusive). The beauty and the horror of the Web.

    Ad hoc appendices and unexpected/unwanted associations are already part of life. They spring up and are persistent, if a bit disjointed (blogs, forums, etc.), and contribute to – for better or worse – a larger, more complex “whole” than was probably intended.

    Accessing/presenting the various bits of one of these emergent monstrosities is currently pretty cumbersome.

    Still, people feverishly connect the dots.

    Google is just improving the interface.

    Second, your point about a detrimental effect on blogs is interesting. However, it’s nice to hope that a blog with loyal readership and regular contributors will do no worse in the presence of Sidewiki. It will probably depend on people learning to use each appropriately. For example, I’m posting this comment to your blog in order to be part of this discussion. My initial (spiteful) thought was to create a Sidewiki entry, but I agree that would undermine your efforts and possibly limit the exposure of my contribution by sidestepping your readers. I’ll use Sidewiki when I wish to talk “about” a discussion rather than participate.

    Finally, differences aside, I suspect the very nature of blogging and social sites is about to change dramatically with the launch of Google Wave. We may be wasting our breath.

  • Andy Freeman

    Almost all of the above comments about how SideWiki is “taking” something from site owners is based on one or more false assumptions, such as the notion that a site owner is “owed” some sort of control over what folks say about said site.

    To see this, let’s walk through a somewhat different service.

    Imagine a discussion site organized around URLs. That is, when you visit said site, you visit it wrt a given URL, such as . If there’s already a discussion about said URL on the site, your visit is to that discussion. If there isn’t a discussion, the site creates one. Either way, the discussion for a given URL consists of what folks have said about said URL on said discussion site. Visiting a discussion lets you read what has been written and add to it.

    Note that said “discussion site” is in the conceptual middle of what Jarvis calls the link economy. It’s also not a new thing. There are lots of existing discussion sites that work roughly that way today.

    Many/most people, and (I suspect) Jarvis in particular, would say that the owner of said discussion site has no obligation to give the owner of the subject of a discussion, the content associated with a a given URL in this case, site special privs wrt the discussion about said subject. (On a related note, many/most people would say that the owner of said discussion site has no obligation to share revenue from the discussion about a given subject with the subject’s owner.)

    There are many ways to visit such a site. One is to enter its name into a browser’s address bar. Another is via search. Another is a tool bar button. None of these methods give the owner of a given url any control over discussion of said URL.

    Suppose that we type the URL and the discussion site name into the address bar or search box so the browser (or search result) takes us right to the relevant discussion. Does that change give the owner of a given URL control over its discussion? Clearly not.

    Suppose that my tool bar does the typing for me (it knows the name of the discussion site and it knows the URL that I’m currently visiting). How does that change give the URL’s owner the control that Jarvis and others have demanded?

    Note that the discussion site that I’ve described is actually sidewiki.

    The only thing that has changed is that sidewiki is integrated into the toolbar.

    If you want to host a discussion about your stuff, you need to do a better job hosting that discussion than other people do.

    FWIW, I think that sidewiki is very googley.

  • Hello Jeff:

    Useful post, thanks. Shameless plug, but apropos:

  • Google Sidewiki is just a nicer layout of Google Notes….instead of writing notes or comment on the link you actually go to the site and write it in “Side Wiki”

    Nobody complained about notes. …

  • Pingback: What’s the Difference Between Google SideWiki and Notes?()

  • Dude I left you nice suprise and answer that there is NO DANGER with Google Sidewiki cuz then Google Notes would ruin Bloggers reputation already 2y ago and nobody seems to be using it!

  • Planktno

    Installed Google Toolbar with Sidewiki. Went on some sites. Wondered why there wasn’t any Sidewiki entry to Realised it sucked. Deinstalled Google Toolbar.

    I do like Google a lot. I love gmail, docs and calendar. I use Chrome and look forward to both Chrome OS and Google Wave. But Sidewiki?

  • I’m in the “google being evil” camp on this one. Framing someone’s site is just wrong. It dilutes the site’s message. While I think it’s perfectly valid to be able to discuss sites on “other” sites, ppl should not go to a URL and have it framed with content now in control of the site owner.

    And if the site owner can even control the first comment, that’s not good enough. It’s just a bogus ploy by Google to give the illusion of fairness regarding content.

    3rd party dilution of site, brand, content, message is highly inappropriate and I hope google gets slapped.

  • Sidewiki sucks

    There is a cartoon about it:

  • Pingback: The Ramifications of Google’s Sidewiki « Imprudent Loquatiousness: The Blog of Derek DeVries()

  • This may be a slight overreaction. I think people want to post on the site itself, so I don’t see the sidewiki becoming particularly popular. Still, this seems like the first time in a while that Google seems to have not really thought something through.

  • Pingback: Google Sidewiki, Google y su obsesión con Facebook Connect | Tecnologia al dia()

  • lj

    So, I was reading this thread and became so enveloped in the angst of it all I decided to CALL Goolgle’s customer support number. Here’s what happened:

    1. Hello, I’d like to talk with someone at Google about Sidewiki. Response: What’s sidewiki? I laughed. She put me on hold and came back and said there was no phone support for sidewiki.
    2. I said I wanted to talk with customer support to complain about sidewiki, not get support for it; She refused to give me access to anyone to talk to. I then asked for access to her manager. She refused.
    3. I said, you mean to tell me you cannot connect me with a person at Google to talk about a recent Google release that impacts websites around the world?
    4. She said, no.
    5. I told her I was going to blog my conversation and could I have her name. She refused to give me her name either.
    I’ve been a longtime fan of Goog but what the hell is happening over there??

    • I didn’t know Google had phone numbers.

  • Rouel

    I’ve always liked the idea.
    I think this direct interactive internet is inevitable. It gives us, the users, so much more participation- fidelity.

    If Sidewiki doesn’t gain momentum, someone (dotspots?) else will.

  • Pingback: Remains of the Day: Microsoft Says Chrome Makes IE Less Secure Edition [For What It's Worth] « Coolbeans()

  • Josh Centers

    What are you so upset about Jeff? Google’s made this just so you have plenty to talk about on TWiG. But seriously, I wouldn’t be too concerned. Like many, if not most, Google projects, it’ll die before anyone really notices it. Too much hassle to access it.

  • Amun

    I think sidewiki is a great addition to the web in general. Like anything, it may have downsides… It’s pretty unfortunate that one cannot add to the sidewiki without having google toolbar installed.

    However you can view comments left for a site by putting the URL into the above tool.

  • Pingback: DR. WHAW? – September 24, 2009 « One true sentence.()

  • Pingback: Remains of the Day: Microsoft Says Chrome Makes IE Less Secure Edition [For What It's Worth] | Superstars Of Gaming()

  • cs1380

    Until Google dumps this or provides an opt out, web site owners who’d like to retain control of what appears on their own site can block all Google Toolbar users by adding the following to their htaccess file. The “notoolbar.php” points to a file explaining Google’s bad behavior and instructing the visitor to uninstall Google Toolbar in order to proceed. You can create your own file and name it whatever you like, just be sure to change the code below to make it match the file name you’ve chosen.

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} GTB [NC]
    RewriteRule .* notoolbar.php [L]

    • But if you don’t have (or don’t have access to) the htaccess file, what is the answer? How do you block the toolbar and/or the Sidewiki frame? This question comes up for LiveJournal,, and other blogging/journaling/diary users every time one of these things is introduced (the Digg Bar comes to mind as the last recent attempt at overriding a site’s functions) and as always there is no answer. People who don’t own and run their own websites should have the same options to block this junk that website owners do. Yet the owners of blogging/journaling/diary sites are notoriously passive, leaving us no choice but to “put up” with such things.

    • Carolina

      The problem with this is that it will ‘ban’ anybody with ANY toolbar from visiting your site. There are, of course, many OTHER toolbars than Google. I use the Yahoo toolbar. Insisting that your visitor must uninstall his/her toolbar(s) in order to view your site will insure many people will simply NOT access your site, which cannot be good, especially if you have a commercial site. If, for instance, I am searching for a place to buy spices online, if I must uninstall my toolbar(s) before even checking your prices, I will simply go to one of the other (hundreds of) sites that sell spices online. (FWIW)

  • Pingback: Beta Alfa » Blog Archive » Noterat 2009-09-25()

  • is currently tracking more than 25 blog entries that link to this story. This is “parallel” discussion in exactly the same way SideWiki is — i.e. these are blog entries that link to this story. Unfortunately, Buzzmachine doesn’t display trackbacks thus, most off-site commentary on Buzzmachine has been hard to find…


    bob wyman

    • Sorry, I meant “hard to access” since the trackback comments are truncated.

    • Bob, it’s not *exactly* like sidewiki because those comments appear in the cloud. Technorati did not try to consolidate creation of the content on its service. Instead, it added value to the conversation by aggregating, analyzing, clustering and despamming it. THAT is what Google should have done. Sidewiki leaves out *most* of the conversation – that in the cloud. That’s what I’m arguing about its architecture. Bring together the conversation and make sense of it: absolutely; please. But try to hijack it and take it over and centralize it? No.

      • W ouldn’t this issue be solvable simply by giving sidewiki an open API or feed, so you could import annotations to your site onto your page if you chose to? I would guess that will come if it’s not available now without a scraping-type of hack.

        A separate issue: folks wanting to annotate a site is different than commenting on it — not that using Sidewiki will necessarily get the distinction, but there is a conceptual difference.

  • erik

    I didn’t real all the comments (there are lots!), so maybe someone already made this comparison.

    Pretend Google took over network television and they decided every tv needed a “sidewiki.” So just as you see the little news-crawl at the bottom of MSNBC or CNN, you now see it on Oprah, or Sesame Street, or the State of the Union address… and instead of being news it’s literally anything any viewer wants to say, with no immediate filter or control.

    I can’t imagine anyone anywhere would think that was a good idea. Just because the web is so ingrained with interaction and thus a form of self-policing awareness doesn’t change the fact that it absolutely takes control away from the publisher. Maybe good for the user, maybe bad, but certainly less control for the publisher.

    • Andy Freeman

      That comparison doesn’t make any sense.

      Google isn’t “taking over” anything. They’re offering browser users a service.

      You remember browser users. They’re the folks who own the screen. As such, they get to determine what is displayed.

      If browser users don’t like sidewiki, it will die. If they like it, it will survive.

      > it absolutely takes control away from the publisher. Maybe good for the user, maybe bad, but certainly less control for the publisher.

      So what? The publisher doesn’t own the screen and thus has no right to any “control”.

      In other news, publishers also don’t have any right to control discussion about their content.

  • Lets say you have a contents that are redundant in many blogs or posts or for that matter anywhere on the web. Comments that people make on your website is specific to your own but sidewiki will bring up all the related valuable comments on the same.
    Now think in user’s point of view. If i being a user start reading your blog and i am able to read all the entries about the topic not just the ones in your blog i would be benefited.

  • korona

    I hate GOOGLE. I do not use anything Google, but to be honest for the first time I feel like this is a good move by Google. It is so funny to see that most of the reactions are coming from the “site owners”. Why are you guys are so freaking out so much? Maybe because the good old days of making money off the Google Adsense will be gone because some jerk will leave a negative comment about your site? Would you please get a life?

    You all have asked for this in a sense , you know that.

    I am applaud Google for this brave desicion. This will be probably the only Google service I ever use.

    • Rob

      Here is the problem…

      Say you own an offline business – it makes good money. You are honest. You give good “content” (read – products), you treat your customers well and all is good.

      Then, Mr. Government comes along and decides not enough conversation is happening at your establishment that you own.

      So, they put up a billboard right on your property.

      They also give everyone the ability to write comments.

      Then, your top competitor who is jealous of you decides to smear the heck out of you.

      They hire a team of people to write, good content filled posts about how you are “ok” but really, there is a better site.

      Suddenly, you have massive advertisements on your place of business that look and feel just like real life comments.

      A lot of people drive by your place and see those comments. They decide to go give the other guy a check out.

      Suddenly, you lost business because of this big campaign.

      So what do you do? Well, you have two options:

      1. Just take it, because you want to be honest.

      2. Repeat the same thing on that guys “billboard”.

      So, wanting to still put food on your table so you and your family can eat, you do the same thing to his billboard.

      Suddenly, both billboards are filled with comments recommending each others site…no real good content at all…so all this time and money was spent, wasted, trying to keep reputation up.

      What is even worse, site owners OWN the site, they PAID money for it, it’s THEIR right to control the content on it.

      No one elses.

      This is the internet, sure. Everyone should have free speech. Sure, but NOT on property owned by someone…unless that someone approves of it.

      If you want to have conversations about a site, go to forums, blogs, and discuss it there.

      I’m sorry, but if anyone thinks this is great is simply naive to the nature of the human mind and it’s greed and lust to destroy someone else to get on top.

      Look at myspace? It’s basically a cesspool of spam and fake users. Hardly anyone takes it seriously any more.

      Look at the comments on youtube video’s. Cesspool of adolescent stupidity and of course, spam.

      Bad call, google, bad call.

      • I look at it in the same way, except the Sidewiki content is invisibly “layered” over the website’s content – you can only see it when you’re logged in to Google. Once logged in it’s distracting, interruptive (is that even a word?), and takes the ability to control what is said on one’s de facto “property” (the content) away from the content owner, who cannot even see the conversation going on unless he logs in to the “service” that controls it.

        So take your billboard analogy one step further: the property owner is blindfolded and cannot see the billboard at all, much less see it filling up with negative comments and adverse recommendations unless he agrees to use the service of the guy who put the billboard up – once he agrees to that, the blindfold will come off. But every time he stops using the service (which is analogous to logging out of Google) the blindfold goes back on. Hilarious? Yes. Unbelievable? Totally. Yet as usual, most people don’t see the implications and results of these things until it’s too late, and don’t care to.

      • I agree with the billboard analogies… If you want to bash my company or my website or me personally, fine. Just don’t do it in a frame/billboard around my site! I don’t have the time or patience to police it. I want it disabled on my sites.

  • Francesco

    Jeff, I just left few messages on a couple of Italian sites using Sidewiki. Which raises the question of comments written in other languages. A global brand, like Coca-Cola will have to be mindful of those as well. So potentially there will be parallel conversations in multiple languages.

    BTW, all the major sites I visited there were no comments. I find it hard to believe that none in Italy is aware of Sidewiki. It is either that, or Google prevents users from oversees to see “local” Sidewiki postings.

  • Pingback: Linkwertig: Google Sidewiki, Twitter, studiVZ, WebsiteSpark »

  • Pingback: Sidewiki: some journalistic questions for Google | DAILYMAIL()

  • Pingback: links for 2009-09-25 « burningCat()

  • Pingback: Future of Web Strategy » Blog Archive » Sidewiki und das Schreckgespenst der Distributed Conversations()

  • I see this as competition for Facebook. Up until now, your Google profile was useless. Now you have all your sidewiki content to build up those profiles and make them relevant. I know I suddenly have the urge to build out an otherwise useless Google profile.

  • Pingback: Andreas (aro) 's status on Friday, 25-Sep-09 10:03:20 UTC -

  • Pingback: Andreas (aro) 's status on Friday, 25-Sep-09 10:05:20 UTC -

  • Quinn

    I think the point of side-wiki is not going to be in the discussions. The lack of a reply feature on the sidewiki makes me feel that it’s not going to be a place for actual discussions to take place. If one wanted to discuss idea and have people really respond the best place is still the comments section. I think sidewiki is going to become more like an annotated guide, a place to add in extra info or provide more links on the story at the place where the add on would actually be relevant. As such, it’s a good addition doing things that no one else really does. Most people aren’t looking at the comments section for extra info, they’re looking there to discuss ideas. I think the two concepts will eventually be sorted out so they’re complementary and not conflicting.

  • Eric Gauvin

    I think sidewiki will take off and everybody will love it. The U.S. is becoming one giant Jerry Springer show and google is the Wallmart the internet.

    Perhaps this is the price of free speach:

  • Pingback: Sidewiki: What Google should do « BuzzMachine()

  • Jan

    Who owns the content of Google’s sidewiki – if not Google?

    Let’s just assume Google is tired of defending their News service, but instead monitors the sidewiki content – in which case Google not only monitors the news itself, but it’s asssumed reach in social reaction as well.

    For instance:
    Headline: “Someone did something somewhere”
    136 SideWiki comments – View / Stats / Subscribe

    That would be an awesome monitoring service that google could offer for free.

  • Matt

    I hate sites where you can’t comment or are forced to register in order to make comments. thus, this is a good thing.

    Sorry, I’m not going to sign up for silly UK sites just to debate some asinine comment by someone on a site – aka I’m not going to sign up for pcpro just to comment on their forum, etc.

    The problem is not google’s, but their solution is a fix.

  • Pingback: Article thieves BEWARE SideWiki.()

  • Pingback: Critical Web, Forgiving Web | MINIMUM FAILURE()

  • Stephen Foley

    The problem is that google have coupled the web site with the comment. I spend a zillion dollars on my web site, I have millions of users per day and now some joe bloggs can access my user base for nothing and add meta data that I can’t control.

    Imagine what the democrats and republicans will do to each others web sites. The anti abortionists. The fundamentalist religions. Oh and the jilted lover on the senior partners web profile.

    Spare me Google you are in the process of self destruct on this one.

  • Pingback: links for 2009-09-25 : The ChipCast || by Chip Mahaney()

  • Pingback: Google Maps jetzt mit Place Pages |

  • Pingback: ruff linkage 200939 « piece 0 plastic – the revolution will be blogged()

  • Pingback: Google Sidewiki’s collateral damage? |

  • Pingback: A small collection of links « Steve Rides a Bike()

  • Pingback: Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens – Sep 26 09 « Argument()

  • Pingback: » Google Sidewiki, pros and cons()

  • Pingback: Google Wiki Sidebar - vBulletin SEO Forums()

  • Pingback: 20:20 Social: From Social Media Marketing to Social Business Strategy — Blog — What Does Google SideWiki Mean for Businesses, Publishers and the Social Web?()

  • Pingback: LPT » Sidewiki Just a Less Fun Weblins()

  • Pingback:

  • Pingback: Google Sidewiki Brings Discussion To Every Website | Black Web 2.0()

  • Justin

    I strongly oppose this, it is IMHO the worst thing Google has done and a sad turning point for the web. I regard it as an infringement of my rights (written or otherwise) as a web designer to have such a thing imposed upon me rather than it being a service that is opted into by each site owner. When I mention “rights” I am of course talking of net etiquette or the lack of it in respect of seeking permission from the content provider rather than riding roughshod over people like most big organisations do / try to. If I wanted to host comments on my site I would include them, I don’t as spam is / potentially a major headache / time wasting activity to police.

    If some site wants to have a discussion regarding my site that is fine but it is wrong to overlay that on top of my site when someone is visiting, unless my permission has been obtained. It places an unrequested burden upon the web master to monitor this additional stream of content which after all is only rumour and comment, not or unlikely to be fact. With the former most likely being the case that this is just going to be inaccurate conversation I fail to see its value, otherthan to spammers trying to highjack traffic. Creating potentially an unmoderated rumour mill attached to peoples sites is a very dangerous ground that Google is getting into, how long before the first libel case? I also think that if one starts to add any comment as the site owner that it appears worse as any comment after that may appear as though it has passed approval of the site owner without a visitor knowing whether the site owner is actively engaged in the ongoing conversation. At the very least a web site owner should be able to remove comments, even then it should be that the webmaster has opted for this layer style hosting to occur on his or her domain. The only source of fact on my web site is from me so I fail to see the value in adding such verbose.

    My advice to Google is stuff these worms back in the tin before this gets out of hand!

    BTW great to have you back on TWiG Jeff hope your making a great recovery.

  • Pingback: This week in media musings: Shirky speaks, and three new projects to watch | Mark Coddington()

  • Pingback: Introducing Google SideWiki -

  • I think the critical thing is the penetration rate. I could be wrong, but only the “super users” are going to install this toolbar. Unless it comes standard with Firefox, IE and other browsers, I would imagine that this is going to have a pretty low rate of adoption.

    • Carolina

      @Peter Boyd: Aha! And therein lies the rub. I now am the ‘proud owner’ of a sidewiki sidebar. I did NOT download it. In fact, somehow, while I was browsing the web the other day, I suddenly got a pop-up notice that sidewiki was ready to be installed on my computer. I clicked the ‘no thank you’ button, and, just like a virus, it installed itself anyway. Which is why I am HERE. I don’t know how to complain to Google about this action. I have done a complete anti-virus and malware check, using several proggies and services. My computer appears to be clean. So, HOW did this happen? Until that moment I had not even HEARD of sidewiki. After it installed itself, I did a Google search to see exactly what it was. One link led to another, and here I am. It suck. I want to know if it has happened to anyone else in this manner. I have been using computers for many years, and know I did NOTHING to download it. It had the Google sig on it, or otherwise I would have closed the pop-up using ctr alt del. I know I should have anyway, but apparently wasn’t thinking straight at that moment (I was doing research for a paper I’m writing) So…does anyone have any suggestions? There is no way to uninstall it, only disable it. Have you heard of this happening to anyone else? I am REALLY P-O’d.

  • Pingback: Linkpost | 9.24.2009 - Tech News()

  • Ev Land

    The whole point of Google search is to get content you can trust by the websites having to compete for ranking. Sidewiki allows any deviant or idiot to have influence over your website, possibly a website that you spent years building, heck, it is your business! And who is this influencer? A random searcher? A 12 year old prankster? A spammer that cannot be traced? A competitor that can’t help themselves? Your years of hard work have been handed over to any random variant thrill seeker to play around with for fun.

    This is offensive to webmasters, especially to Bloggers. It’s like Google sees us as just fodder for them to toy with to amuse their users. They owe ALL of their money to quality websites!

    And why would I care what some random searcher thinks about the website I’m on anyway? I want publishers with opinions I can trust, not random no-ones.

    It’s geekoid flatland pluralism gone stupid. I hope Google can take an objective perspective on this and think again.

    This is a Microsoft move if ever I saw one! Who’s EVIL now?

  • Pingback: Architectural Technologist – This week in Google()

  • Pingback: » Heute keine Show… | seoFM - der erste deutsche PodCast für SEOs und Online-Marketer()

  • Pingback: Google Sidewiki: A top tip for site owners | Frog's Digital Design Blog()

  • Pingback: Sidewiki as Sunstein’s electronic sidewalks — Technology Liberation Front()

  • Pingback: Sidewiki as Sunstein’s electronic sidewalks — Surprisingly Free()

  • Pingback: Virtual Worlds News » Archive du blog » Toujours plus de sur-couche sociale pour vos sites web()

  • Jason

    Jeff – I’m not affiliated with this site, but have you heard of Dotspots?

    Not that I agree with Google doing this, but if Google *doesn’t* do this, someone else will, no?

  • Pingback: DreamGrow Digital » Blog Archive » Google Sidewiki you can comment all web()

  • Pingback: Google bomb? Why not try a "sidewiki bomb" instead...()

  • Pingback: Retour sur le débat Twitter vs. Friendfeed #web-tv | ReadWriteWeb France()

  • Sarah Hubbard

    I hate to admit it, since I use google as my search engine and I love google docs, but I do not like Sidewiki. In fact, I already uninstalled it. Maybe this is because I’ve been using – and enjoying – the Reframe It ( commenting tool for a while now, but Sidewiki is not for me. I like Reframe It. Easy to use, and I can make private comments too – not just public, so only certain people can see my comments if I want them to. Very nice.

  • Pingback: Brands in Public: The End of the Conversation? | Blog | design mind()

  • Pingback: Suchmaschinen & SEO – September 2009 - Inhouse SEO()

  • Pingback: Beth Harte: He Said, She Said: Google Sidewiki | Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog Feed | Online Marketing Connect()

  • Please, take a look at this sidewiki blocker you can install on your sites:

    All those comments which should be appearing here on your blog have been stolen into the sidewiki.

    The blocker above will sandbox them off the site so the comments may happen but they will disappear the next time the visitor comes, making any conversation or interaction impossible.

  • Eye-opening article and comments. Prompted an article on my own blog. I just don’t get how Big G can get it right with GFC and potentially GWave, but get it SO wrong with SideWiki.

    To me, one of the major red flags is that by doing this, they are going in a completely opposite direction from most of us in the Social Media Party, in fact, sabotaging the whole process. What is Google THINKING!!!??

  • Pingback: Why SideWiki doesn’t change any branding fundamentals – Are you thinking inside out?()

  • Pingback: Google Sidewicki: Brandjacking? or the Future?()

  • Daniel K.

    I’m not a big fan of the Google Toolbar. Generally I don’t like plug-ins. I rather prefer an independent solution just like Fytch. It works without installing anything on your machine (Fytch uses a Bookmarklet – so I can use it at foreign machines, University etc).

  • Hmmm, this stuff requires you to install the Google toolbar, which I never did and never will do.
    So I will comment right here! It does worry me that there can now be conversation about my site that I don’t know of. Comments I cannot moderate. Yes, this is dangerous. :(

  • Pingback: Doug Haslam » Blog Archive » Google Sidewiki: Brandjacking? or the Future? (w/ Bonus Content)()

  • Pingback: Is Google Sidewiki Evil | Ryan C. - Social Media, Design, Tech, Commentary - broadcasting from Utica, NY()

  • Pingback: Sidewiki is Internet Graffiti « Seo by Swaby()

  • Pingback: eTc :: El blog de Marketing en Español » Blog Archive » Comunidad en red: ¿Estás preparado para Google Sidewiki?()

  • Pingback: What does Google Sidewiki mean for brands? « Jeff Esposito’s Blog()

  • Pingback: Resources and Links 08/10/09 « Framing the Dot()

  • Pingback: Critical Mass and Google SideWiki | Robin's Roost()

  • Pingback: ¿Estás preparado para Google Sidewiki? | Comunidad en la Red()

  • Google enables graffiti on the web!

    I doubt that this was the intent, but it will be the result and I hope it quietly goes away.

    Google, just because you can do something does not mean that you should do it.

    This fails Googles “Don’t be Evil” rule.

  • Pingback: Claiming My Right to a Purpose-Centric Web: SideWiki | Hosted Email Servers()

  • Pingback: Toujours plus de surcouches sociales pour vos sites web | MKT planet - News Web Marketing - Nouvelles Technologies()

  • I’ve just read most of this conversation and skimmed the rest of it. Did I miss something? — has anyone addressed the fact that I have already paid for the “real estate” that I want potential clients to see when they come to my website, my place of business? Tell me, please — what’s legal about any person or company invading my property and using my space for their own purposes? I believe that’s called trespassing in the real-property world, which is exactly what Google is doing with Sidewiki in the virtual world. The visual space that my site takes in the browser may be virtual, but I — not Google — have paid for every pixel. They are trespassing. Their actions are so wrong I’m actually praying for a legal battle that forces Sidewiki off our virtual properties. A quote from Jurassic Park applies here: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

  • Pingback: Página2 » Google Sidewiki: web 2.0 lo quieras o no()

  • Pingback: Global commenting systems: making the web more social or robbing websites of value? « Media Update – The Blog()

  • Pingback: Rex Grossman Is Our Quarterback » Monday Morning Jerk()

  • Pingback: “What would Google do?” de Jeff Jarvis » El Documentalista Enredado()

  • Pingback: What Is Google’s ‘Sidewiki’? and the Controversy()

  • clara

    and what about the publishers…ohhh I think that you feel in danger now, you must thought it many years ago……

  • Jeff,

    I’m not a programmer by any means, but isn’t having an https (instead of http) a very easy way for brands to secure their site?

    Here’s a screenshot

  • Pingback: Google Voice 0.2.5 doesn’t play nice with CyanogenROM – Android and Me()

  • Pingback: Google Voice 0.2.5 doesn’t play nice with CyanogenROM « Android Junkies()

  • Pingback: Mobile Tweaks | Google Voice 0.2.5 doesn’t play nice with CyanogenROM()

  • Pingback: Sidewiki, Pharma and Forced Transparency « Little Conversations()

  • I think that the political implications are going to be interesting.

    Comment on Fox News right at the site! Democratic Websites, Republican Websites, Libertarian, etc… they won’t be able to keep up a one-sided discussion, and it’s going to make their lives hell! LOL!

    The question, of course, if I comment accurately and respectfully at an “opponent’s” site by way of sidewiki, and they report me en masse just because I’m on the other team, is Google going to shut me out forever? Heck, I could be posting a comment on a site that completely supports my POV, but can’t a band of opponents target me and report me for abuse?

    In other words, the main thrust of the discussion above this has to do with site owners controlling their content. But to me, what if I do post something on sidewiki, and so open myself up to attack by some hostile group for WHATEVER reason. Am I putting my Google identity at great risk just by posting, even in I’m not being a troll at all?

    Hmm, we need to know more about the moderation scheme, I think.

  • Pingback: Paul Myatt – Web Development for Small Business | PAULMYATT.COM()

  • I strongly believe that google should provide a way to enable/disable sidewiki for my site.

    Sydney Web Designer

  • Peter Kehoe

    Uh-oh. I’m late to the party on this, but my two cents:

    1) Disclosure – I’m founding a startup that operates in this space currently.

    2) Jeff probably won’t like this, but WWGD was something that I actually saw as validation of many of the concepts and functionalities enabled by this kind of approach. Perhaps I picked up the wrong end of the stick, but I found a lot of what was discussed slotted neatly into a vision of a more literal interpretation of a ‘web edited by your peers’.

    I think Jeff’s POV that ‘this is my site, and you can’t wiki it up!’ actually harks back to the kind of possessiveness you used to see on sites prior to comment systems and user participation becoming en-vogue.

    Let me draw you an analogy – with a newspaper, you had pretty much a one-way broadcast of information, with a very limited scope for user feedback via a letters page.

    The internet today is a lot like a newspaper that allows limited user interaction albeit on a larger scale – you can say this here or here or here, and that’s it. If you want full control, go to your own space (e.g. ‘write your own newspaper’). A lot of people do the latter…but a lot end up drawing a blank when they’re put in their own context (blank-piece-of-paper creative paralysis).

    The internet going forward, IMO, will be about empowering THE USER and giving control to THE USER to say what they want, where they want. To enhance the web, to personalise it, and to share with their friends directly. And to ‘tune in’ to friends they select (and only them, to keep out spam). To do this privately if they wish – to not necessarily share with the owner of the ‘host context’ (the site). To do this in any context around the web – any site. All in one neat universal system.

    This gives ultimate control to the user – something Jeff encourages companies to do. Those who give control, win (?)

    You also have to remember, this isn’t ‘your’ site…so to speak. Where I’m typing right now…this is a rendering local to my browser. This is a copy I view. To draw another analogy, it’s like a copy of a newspaper or book or magazine. I am free to take a pen and scribble all over it if I choose. I am free to pass that paper on to someone else, pass my ‘personalised’ copy of that material on. I would defend the right of the user to personalise their view, their rendering of the web. To invite their friends and peers in to enhance/personalise their web.

    Am I sensing some greybeard discomfort with the next level of user control? ;)

    Now, sidewiki isn’t necessarily the best manifestation of this concept. It’s a very ‘safe’ modern-day copy of things that were done previously (e.g. third voice etc.). But the core concept of prioritising the user and user-to-user connections over user-to-site-to-user connections is a powerful one, and can solve so many problems with how people engage (or don’t engage) with the web. Engagement with the web today has so many areas ripe for improvement from a user POV – non consistent interfaces/systems/identities, unideal accomodation of spontaneous contribution, ‘sea of strangers’ problems etc. We can make this much better.

    – Pete

  • Gloria Pan

    I am worried for the advocacy organizations, the ones on the side of angels, the ones that regularly get hate mail, like the ACLU or the Southern Poverty Law Center or Planned Parenthood. Can you imagine the hateful comments that are going to appear, if they’re not there already? And what if the SideWiki takes off, becomes mainstream? Then no website of substance will be able to just ignore what’s being said there, will it? Will advocacy organizations have to pour resources they don’t have into defending themselves on the SideWiki? It’ll almost be like Google providing the bus to shuttle the hate-filled protesters to the clinic door.

  • Pingback: SmartBlog On Social Media » Never too early: Making the most of Google Sidewiki()

  • Pingback: Online Small Business » Wednesday Web Resources: The Social Media Edition()

  • Pingback: Wednesday Web Resources: The Social Media Edition | Free Business Pages on

  • Pingback: Wednesday Web Resources: The Social Media Edition | Richmond Blogs()

  • Sheri

    I was watching a video on Youtube, not even touching the mouse, when my computer froze. I eventually had to turn off and reboot, but when I did, up came a notice that Sidewiki had been successfully installed. What??? How??? had never even heard of it. Have ended up here, searching a way to uninstall. Can anyone help. I see someone named Sarah says she uninstalled it. How?

  • Sheri

    PS, I am using a Mac

  • Rob wick

    People will always talk behind your back being it here or the coffee shop.

    Many sights with important political information have cut comments to keep the masses from correcting the true state of the nation and letting others know that the story is erroneous.

    It has become my belief that many people no longer know what the 1st amendment is of the US constitution that we feel everyone, right or wrong is entitled to.

    If you as me, sidewiki is near patriotic for free speech.

    Not here, but who wants to sign up to post just to receive spam or be moderated by a scum bag who doesn’t believe your valid point matter. If you have a negative agenda, I see your point.
    If you are for the 1st ammendment, please keep your comments open and support sidewiki. Just ask for them to not start censoring it.

    PS, this is a double post (sidewiki)

  • Pingback: Google’s Sidewiki, friend or foe of brands? Part I()

  • Pingback: The Dastardly Debuts of “Sidewiki” & “Brands in Public” | Fresh Tilled Soil()

  • At the moment I see only a few sitewiki results that looks like spam.
    I think that the google sitewiki algorithm works fine…

  • Jeff, I completely agree with you and publishers, that means websites, bloggers, etc are not going to allow this type of systems to get away with it. This is huge bad PR for Google. I researched SideWiki and 9 of 10 bloggers hate it.

    There are severals ways this will and can be killed. Kill SideWiki, a major boycott from Internet users will probably start very soon, currently not even major sites have comments, so nobody cares yet.

    For example, I see allot of companies are now using SSL as their main site, even when you go the main website it redirects you to a secure connection. This is to what the web will lead if companies, Google included try to pulls this thing off. Every website will be encrypted as some soft of private sites that will render this system useless.

    Another way is to add a .htaccess file to disable Google bar users. How about the new Chrome plugin SideWiki? Well you can even redirect Chrome users to another page that says its not supported if you detect Chrome as user agent. Dont worry because Google will have to retract for this and I know how they will do it. They will proceed with what webmasters are asking, they will add an option for site owners that dont want it to have enable it on their sites to disable it.

    If they dont, you can block Chrome users, you can block Google bar users, it will redirect them to a page that tells them to uninstall it. All this can be done with basic knowledge. You can SSL your website, there are several ways this can be done. And this can have a major impact on Google services.

    Its not enough for Google to own all the data on the websites, now they want to take away the conversation to their servers. Remember the Google slogan “Dont be evil?” Google is by far the most evil company that ever existed. They are even buying network carriers so they own the cables where the bits and bytes travel.

    They claim this will allow to comment on websites that dont allow it currently, this is truth and its excellent for the user type reputation systems, but if that was an honest and true statement, why dont they just allow it on websites without comments systems or better, to disable it for websites that already have a system in place. This mostly lies from the Mountain View company as they researched and even tried to hire staff from a company called Reframe It which is the real SiteWiki.

  • Bob Stein has a good point which I also discussed somewhere else. If SideWiki gets to popular, antivirus or security products like Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky, etc will actually scan the PC and detect the SideWiki plugin, toolbar, etc as a thread, if you have kids using the PC and have some safe mode on.

    The comments systems and blogs work because every webmaster, blogger or sys admin is moderating on a regular basis the comments. I cannot imagine how Google will moderate the work that millons of people do each and every day on their blogs and systems.

    Unless they have some sort to automated system it will impossible. Even those can be broken and this is why spam still exists and why people can sign up with fake gmail accounts as well.

    The solution would rest in the site owner and if Google decides on this approach then it will gain the power back to the site owner which is not the idea they have with SideWiki. I think they are hoping in some type of reputation system like Wikipedia but this completely different, people normally work with each other to help them selfs and thats why also Wikipedia doesn’t have ads.

    Nobody has the time to moderate other websites if you are already on the top with your own, so unless people do this it will lead to a major chaos. Even so Wikipedia is not such a democracy as people think, there is a back end control. Not a single free for all system works in the world because it leads to anarchy. So unless Google controls this SideWiki comments it will be a major spam database, and millions of craps of bits and bytes of 0 useful information.

    It was released some months ago and even websites which are huge and very popular dont have a single comment on it. Why does Google want to take content away from users servers to their own servers is just a mystery they know.

  • It is funny… I just ran across this post, but it still rings true today. The next thing you know they release Google Buzz in February… I find it hard to believe that a company like Google doesn’t learn their lesson. I worked for MySpace back in ’05 and we used to pull crap like this all the time and wait for the users to complain. I agree with Stevie. Where are the focus groups?

  • I am worried about this development as it is wide open to abuse…but so far I haven’t had a single comment on any sites in my portfolio. When it was introduced I was expecting a flood of Viagra comments, but so far nothing has materialized.

  • A most beautiful, suspenseful duet of opposites thrown together in the persons of Greta and Dayne, were-cat and sorcerer. I’m not that familiar with this paranormal genre, but Ms Winters provides all the necessary exposition without bringingattention to it. I enjoyed the focus being primarily on just two people who aren’t quite sure of each other’s feelings and motives. Ms Winters didn’t go for the epic sprawl of megaproportions, just a simple, yet compelling stage-play format I found extremelyrefreshing. Beginning with a brutal discovery, the implied danger provides plenty of fuel to sustain the character-driven, cat and dog dance that guides the reader masterfully through emotions, suspicions, and deductions that just don’t let up. Erotic and funny, KEPT kept me reading in one sitting. If you’re looking for a quick, satisfying read, I recommend KEPT.

    Romance Lover

  • Jon


    As a business owner I hate this.
    Malicious comments from competitors could appear adjacent to my webpages. Fair enough to comment on forums but this visually is tantamount to an invasion of my webspace real estate. No difference between this and if Google enabled users to hack into my website and alter content directly. Hell of a difference between forum comments posted on sites elsewhere and uninvited comment that appears right next to the website. Hope someone sues the ass off Google they deserve it for this one – at the least website owners should be able to opt out

    • Jon

      I have read more comments since my first posting on this. I am disturbed by arguments that seem to fail to recognise the difference between comments that appear visually adjancent to a web-page and comments that appear in forums elsewhere – there is a hell of a difference here and its wide open to commercial abuse – if you only run a personal blog then you may not care but if you run a business then this is scary stuff – its rubbish to day that if you provide a good service then people will only write good things about you, the naivety is hopefully explained by age or lack of commercial experience.

      I cant stop people writing malicious comments about my business in forums and I dont even try – but this would not be a very effective way for a competitor to attack me – however the side-wiki represents “in your face, default commentary” as long as the user has it turned on and the decision to turn wiki on or off is unlikely to be taken on a site by site basis. This is making it TOO EASY to attack.

      Sometimes there should be a little effort involved – the person who wants to write negative comments should have to do a little work to find a suitable forum – ther person who wants to investigate a company and sample negative oopinions should have to dig a little – you can make information TOO accessible, TOO easy to get at – no discipline, no thought – just in your face mindless accessibility – thats a direct invitation to abuse.

      Free speech is not the issue here – we dont allow Graffiti in public places but that does not mean that free speech is suspended. There are appropriate places to write comment and there are inappropriate ones – there are better methods for dealing with scams and any benefits are not justified by the sheer scope for abuse.

  • Pingback: Shared Links and Resources for July 20thAdam Stahr | Adam Stahr()

  • Pingback: Google Sidewiki, Brands in Public: Reputation Management Nightmares? | WordStream()

  • i joined so many seo forum on the internet and they are really quite helpful and i have learned a lot *.’

  • Useful post. I agree with the article posted.

  • It’s really an astonishing post.

  • Pingback: Google tötet Sidewiki, das Kommentare einst revolutionieren sollte | Basic Thinking()

  • Pingback: Google’s Web annotation experiment Sidewiki to close on 5 December |

  • Pingback: Sidewiki chiude | - idee, parole, pensieri.()

  • Pingback: Qué fue de… Google Sidewiki - Internet Advantage()

  • Simply a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw outstanding layout. cpanel vps | virtual private server |

  • Pingback: Google Sidewiki: A top tip for site owners | The Floating Frog()

  • Pingback: Google’s SideWiki – keeping us on our toes to respondWeb Solutions – Web Design – Client Advocacy – Training | Web Solutions - Web Design - Client Advocacy - Training()

  • Pingback: Sidewiki (II) »

  • Pingback: Introducing Google SideWiki - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education()

  • Pingback: mo social security disability lawyer()

  • Pingback: st louis wrongful death()

  • Pingback: | Google SideWiki: pravidla hry se zásadně mění()

  • thanks a lot to share such a informative article with us. and thanks all of you have a comments

  • Pingback: Google’s Sidewiki is a bad idea – very bad()

  • Pingback: Google’s SideWiki – keeping us on our toes to respond | Web Solutions – Strategic Content – Web Design – Client Advocacy – Training()

  • Pingback: Annotators Anonymous « Reinventing Fire()

  • Pingback: Google Sidewiki: The new graffiti or the new billboard? | The David James Agency()

  • Looking back, I’m grateful they scrapped the google toolbar altogether.