Earlier last month Google introduced Google Sidewiki. Initially, I had a problem with it. Largely, because of two reasons. One, it was available only for FireFox and Internet Explorer via Google Toolbar. And two, users couldn’t syndicate their contributed content on a blog. A few weeks later, Google updated Sidewiki and offered users the option to send comments to Blogger. Somewhat satisfied, but still largely frustrated, I then figured out a way to send Sidewiki Comments to WordPress. At that point, I felt like using Google Sidewiki was worth the effort. But, only one of the two problems I saw were corrected. As it stood, Sidewiki was still not available for other web browsers. Specifically, Safari, Chrome (how ironic), and Opera. That was case up until the last week of October when Google introduced the official bookmarket for Sidewiki.
The official bookmarklet for Sidewiki lets you read and write Sidewiki comments in all web browsers. The bookmarklet is nothing more than a simple shortcut that is dragged into the browser bookmarks bar. When a users click on the shortcut, it opens a new window showing Sidewiki comments for the active page being viewed.
Certain Sidewiki features are not available such as the notification bar. But despite that, I am still very satisfied with the accommodations Google is making for users. And it’s to their benefit too. In other words, offering users the ability to use Sidewiki is all browsers is a feature that should have been available from the get go. Same with sending comments to blogs, and not just limiting the sharing to Blogger either.
Finally, after almost two months, Google Sidewiki has become something that has changed how I contribute and publish content on the web. Every Sidewiki entry I create automatically gets published into my Google Sidewiki Comments category on my blog.
I am real excited about sharing this tip with you, because figuring this out, for me, was a huge. Recently Google updated Google SideWiki to include the option of sending comments to your Blogger blog. However, at this time, there is no option of sending comments to any other blog platform, more commonly, self-hosted WordPress.
While I was excited to discover that Google included an option of porting comments to Blogger, for me, it simply wasn’t enough. The comment I create in Google SideWiki are ones that I’d like to share with readers on my dot Com blog, rather than my personal Blogger blog. At any rate, here’s the steps on how you can send your GoogleWiki comments to your WordPress blog.
Visit Blogger.com and create a new blog. Name the blog whatever you want, but I would name: Your Name SideWiki Comments. And give it a permalink structure the same: yournamesidewiki.
On the “Choose Your Template” page, scroll down to the very bottom and choose “Simple II” Created by: Jason Sutter. The reason why you you’re choosing this template is not for looks, it’s because there is no sidebar. I’ll explain in more detail in the next few steps.
Create and publish a test post. Don’t worry about what to say, just say anything and speed through this process. The reason why you need to quickly create and publish a post is so that you can have an active entry in your RSS feed, which you will be using in the next steps.
Next, click on Settings and then Formatting. You’ll want to change the Show post on main page count from 7 to ZERO! The reason why you want to set this to ZERO is because you don’t want the content to appear on this blog. In fact, you don’t want ANYTHING to appear on this blog, thus the reason for choosing the theme without the sidebar. I’ll explain more in the next few steps. Don’t forget to scroll down and save your modified settings.
Next, click on Layout and proceed to REMOVE all of the Gadgets in your template. As mentioned in the previous step, you do NOT want anything to appear on your blog, and for sure, you do NOT want your Google SideWiki comments to appear live on the blog.
The only gadget remaining is the Blog Posts gadget because this can’t be removed. However, it doesn’t matter, because previously, showing ZERO posts was set. View your blog live to verify that your published test post is not displaying. Click the RSS icon and copy your RSS Feed URL to clipboard and save it for the next upcoming steps.
Next, login to your self-hosted WordPress blog. Navigate to the Plugins / Add New section and search for wp-o-matic. Install and activate it.
Copy the cron instructions and from cPanel, open your Cron manager, click advanced, and paste the cron string in. Add a campaign and in the Basic tab, title it: Your Name SideWiki Comments. In the Feeds tab, PASTE your Blogger ATOM RSS feed. In the Categories tab, I suggest creating a category called, SideWiki Comments. This will identify to your readers that articles published in this category are your Sidewiki comments.
Nothing needs to be done in the Rewrite tab, you can skip that. From the Options section, adjust the frequency to a time which fits your post frequency. If you know that you’re going to be creating a new SideWiki comment every four hours, then you might want to set the frequency to match that. You don’t need to Cache Images because there won’t be any.
I would suggest CHECKING the Use feed date option. You can leave Perform pingbacks UNCHECKED. You’ll want to leave the Type of post to create set to Published, unless you want to manually go back to your post editor and publish them. The Max items to create on each fetch, I have changed to 0 for unlimited. I would leave the Post title links to source? UNCHECKED and keep the Discussion options setting OPEN and CHECK Allow pings. At this point, you’re done. Click submit.
At this point, you’re going to want to FETCH the RSS data. When this happens, your data will automatically be published into your self-hosted WordPress blog.
Final product is a beautiful article that you retain complete credit, copyrights, as well as what I call, “indexable ownership.” Using Google SideWiki is a great way to express your views and opinions about web pages you visit. However, I believe that writers should retain ownership of their content contributions.
I can’t say that Google quickly recognized that, but I can say that it’s great that they opened up the feature to port SideWiki comments to Blogger. However, I also feel that it’s important to allow users the option to port the comments to other platforms as well. I also feel that my contributions on places such as in Google SideWiki can earn revenue.
I am a professional blogger and it’s important that I have methods for earning revenue on the content I publish on the web. By porting Google SideWiki comments to a self-hosted WordPress blog, the author has full control over displaying contextual based ads. On average, I earn $20 to $25 on each article I publish per year and annual revenue double each year.
The last week in September, I wrote an article expressing some opinions about Google Sidewiki. One of the concerns I had with Google Sidewiki was the fact that users couldn’t claim “indexable ownership” of their content. Instead, content contributed in Google Sidewiki would be left for hackers, and other splog owners to tap into.
Being a blogger myself, at that time, I had no interest in using Google Sidewiki. The reason is simple. If I am going to invest time into contributing my thoughts into words, then I am only going to do that in a way that allows me to maintain control of my content and possibly even make money off it. In other words, instead of investing an hour of time into making a Google Sidewiki comment about another web page, I’d much rather publish the write-up on my blog, add a little SEO flavor to the content, slap some AdSense on the page, and make about $25 / year off my writing.
I am not sure what happened or why, but Google Sidewiki now offers the option to pipe your comments directly into your Blogger.com blog. In my opinion, this corrects everything, and instantly changes my mind about contributing and using Google Sidewiki. This new feature actually excites me simply because I am not able to spin off content on my blog easier than before. New article content can be published on my blog directly from Google Sidewiki. When the comment is published on the blog, a reference to the web page and the Sidewiki page are automatically included in the footnotes of the article.
Another feature I enjoy about Google Sidewiki is the fact that you can leave a welcome comment on pages that you own. The opening comment will remain on the top of the Sidewiki page, and the owner has the option of editing and or deleting the comment if desired. This feature gives site owners, such as bloggers, an excellent opportunity to welcome readers to their site.
The sharing features in Google Sidewiki are very helpful and useful. I’ll admit, when I wrote my first article about Google Sidewiki, I was so bothered by many things that I didn’t have a clear vision on a lot of the good things. The sharing capabilities are great. After publishing a comment, users can share what they wrote on FaceBook, Twitter, and by Email.
I hope to see additional sharing features in the near future; however, I am very pleased with the ones being offered. Frankly, FaceBook and Twitter are my two favorites, plus if I am batching my comments to my Blogger.com blog, I have additional sharing features available there.
That said, I’ll admit, I jumped the gun when I published my last article; however, I do feel my opinions regarding web spam and content theft are valid. Bloggers typically don’t like to contribute content in areas where they lose control of it or the ability to monetize it. With Google making the decision to allow people to pipe their comments directly into their blogs, this makes thing so much more appealing. At least it does for me. And don’t be surprised when you run across a few of my comments in Sidewiki. Also, and don’t be surprised if the post you’re reading on my blog was actually a post written within Sidewiki. And lastly, don’t be surprised if that post was written about you.
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?