Speak Up! Google Sidewiki Offers Web Page Comment Tool


Google launched the new Web comment and annotation system Wednesday. Google Sidewiki allows Web surfers to post and read comments about Web page content and ranks posted comments according to their usefulness.

The idea is that readers can add their own knowledge and expertise to Web sites or provide helpful criticism when appropriate.

"What if everyone, from a local expert to a renowned doctor, had an easy way of sharing their insights with you about any page on the Web? What if you could add your own insights for others who are passing through?" said Sundar Pichai, Google vice president of product management, and Michael Cierniak, engineering lead for Google Sidewiki, in a blog posted Wednesday.

Examples mentioned in the blog include a doctor providing advice on heart disease prevention or visitors to a museum in New York City offering a critique on their experience.

Sponsored post

Google Sidewiki will be offered as a feature of the Google Toolbar, supporting the Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers (with support for Google's own Chrome browser in the works). Users can post comments about a Web page or a specific section of text that appear in a browser sidebar that appears next to Web pages. Users can then share the URL through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.

Unlike other Web comment and annotation systems that required Web site operators to install them on their Web pages, Sidewiki associates itself with Web sites whether their owners want it or not.

Rather than presenting the most recent posted entries first, Google has developed an algorithm that ranks comments based on such criteria as feedback from readers and previous entries made by the same author. That way "the most useful, high-quality entries" appear at the top of the comments, Pichai and Cierniak said in their blog.

While all this may sound like an invitation for online vandals and troublemakers, not to mention Web site operators posting self-serving comments, postings will be linked to Google profiles to discourage people from making offensive entries.

Google has also developed an API that developers can use to access and use the information created in Sidewiki.