As I’ve said before, it seems like Google announces something new almost every day or so. With all the excitement of Google Wave’s initial invitations going out, it could be easy to miss a few of their less prominent launches.
One interesting new innovation that could impact website owners is the Google Sidewiki. This new Google toolbar component allows anyone to add comments which can be viewed at the side of the webpage.
The idea is hardly a new one: we’ve seen many similar services launch – and sometimes fade – before. The difference may just be that Google’s ubiquity will show a much more substantial take-up, and hence the idea will finally find its time.
As a website owner, your main concern will be what kind of comments users may write for others to see. It seems that the Sidewiki is largely conceived as a public service utility; in the visual example given by Google, visitors to a tourism website add tips about the weather and things to see. Google’s algorithms will ensure that spammy, offensive or less useful comments will be driven down by more popular or relevant content.
Naturally, there will be an abuse of such a service. Presumably, Google has measures in place to deal with this if needs are. You may also find that, if your website does get commented on at all, Sidewiki provides useful insight into what your users are thinking; what do they perceive not to be on your website that your other users might need, for example. As with most Google products, Sidewiki could work hard for you.. so long as you know how to use it.