Google (Houston), I Think We Have a Sidewiki (Problem)?
Google Sidewiki is a brand new feature in Google Toolbar – available only in Internet Explorer and Firefox – that allows you to publish and read comments left for any web page on the Internet. However, with everything on the Internet comes differences of opinions. And yes… you guessed it, there is a huge difference of opinion about Google Sidewiki. The debate about Google Sidewiki is whether people should be able to freely speak their mind and share their opinions about web pages they visit with others. The element in question is quality. People beleive that having an open comment system will enable spam, lower quality, and offend people.
So you may ask, “how’s that different from a blog?” And the answer is simple. With a blog, message board, or even a true form wiki have a system for moderation and editing. On a blog, if a reader leaves a nasty comment that is considered harmful, the author of the blog has the ability to remove it. The same is true with message board software and wiki platforms. With Google Sidewiki, comment moderation and editing is not possible. And that is where people have some concerns.
Of course, Google – king warrior of web spam – claimed to be proactive with dealing with the possibility of comment spam in Sidewiki. Their solution, however, wasn’t quite what people had expected. But, then again, after seeing their solution, the surprise of it really wasn’t too shocking. Google’s solution to user submitted spam in Sidewiki is what their solution is to most all problems: an algorithm. Yes, Google plans of dealing with comment spam in Google Sidewiki automatically by incorportating a system of rules that determines the level of quality of user contributed comments. This may or may not work for larger sites, but for sure this will not work when a spam comment is the only one left on a web page or a lesser popular site.
The next element that I think may become a problem is the fact that there’s a brand new and huge resource for un-indxed content. This might come to a suprise to you, but there’s people who are too lazy - or smart, some would say – to create and publish their own content. Instead, they look for automatic or semi-automatic ways of doing so. The problem most people have is finding content that isn’t indexed in Google, or in most cases, easy to claim. In other words, using “already claimed content” doesn’t work very well. That is, unless you have the ability to make Google think that your site houses the main copy.
There’s ways around this though. Some people pay money to have content re-written while others use programs to do it automatically. Some people even go so far as to translate content from English to another, and then back into English again, thus making the content different from the original. The truth of the matter is that people go nuts with fabricating content. I find it strange that Google would create virtual environment that in return could cause potential web spam with their index. Google’s algorithm makes things easier too. If the best comments are ranked at the top, then finding the high quality content using a program shouldn’t be too difficult. Plugging that content into a blog shouldn’t require too much more skill either.
The problem I see with Google Sidewiki is the same as others, but also with a slight twist. I think Google has a big problem keeping their search results high in quality. I think people value Google with their ability to return relevant information. However, many times I have often seen Google return terrible results. And because I have experience, I can see exactly how site owners gamed the system to pull rank. In many ways, I feel Google’s pain, and want to contribute all I can towards keeping their index high in quality. But, in my opinion, I can’t seem to understand why Google would waste their time with something like Google Sidewiki, and secondly why wouldn’t they consider the creation of an environment like this a threat to their index?