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Google Sidewiki Comment Capability For Toolbar Users

     
4:13 pm on Sep 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Google Sidewiki Comment Capability For Toolbar Users [news.cnet.com]
Sidewiki is a new addition to the Google Toolbar that will let users read comments on any Web site and add their own in a special interface on the left hand side of the screen enabled by the toolbar. This idea has been tried before by others, but Google is proposing to use an algorithm to rank comments by quality and to link comments to a user's Google Profile.

Google has developed an algorithm that it says can filter out obvious spam, naughty words, and the classic all-caps technique employed by some of the Internet's more unhinged pundits, said Caesar Sengupta, group product manager at Google. As comments build over time, a recursive algorithm can analyze the quality of past comments using reader votes on the comment's usefulness.You can share your comments with your Facebook or Twitter accounts, and can post a link to a blog item discussing that Web page with a snippet of the text, Sengupta said. Only Google Toolbar users will be able to see the comments on the Web page, obviously, but Google plans to work on an API (application programming interface) that will allow developers to use Sidewiki in other places.

9:15 pm on Sept 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

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For a variety of reasons I am not a fan of M$ but I'm beginning to hope bing catches on real fast! :(

If Sidewiki catches on (which is a pretty big 'if'), Bing may be cloning it real fast. :-)

9:34 pm on Sept 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I agree with Tedster:
"I wonder if there are long-term hopes of using this data to influence rankings. (shudder) "
9:44 pm on Sept 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

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screw their algorithms...

site owners not being able to moderate the comments is just silly... stupid clown with a pot belly silly...

i am in an industry that is hot with the government right now in the US...

if you dont know the topic, you arent up on the news..

any we are not on anyones christmas list i can tell you that.

whats to stop all of the public from just slamming us left and right , and i have to just sit there and watch it...

and alot of you are saying "it wont last long" not much of what Google has done over the past few years didnt last at least 2-3 years before it was scrapped...

thats a long time..

especially with an emphesis on user driven content and user interaction with websites over the past couple of years... this is going to go big time.

after a while you will see people bantering back and forth about what they did, what they bought, how are the kids...
does my butt look big in the jeans i was wearing last night...

i dont dig this...

its too.. in your face.

10:00 pm on Sept 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

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whats to stop all of the public from just slamming us left and right , and i have to just sit there and watch it...

No.
You go down to your local county courthouse, file a suit naming Google, Inc. and/or commenters for slander and libel and force Goog's attys to fly into your hometown and defend it.

Win or lose, you are sending a powerful "grassroots" effort that history has shown stops big information-gathering corporations from overstepping their bounds.

10:15 pm on Sept 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Ill have to get a nice suit.
10:28 pm on Sept 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

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The thought of them using everyones sites to generate even more data for themselves does not sit well with me. I spend hours researching and devloping my content and any comments / feedback that results from that I feel I have certain rights to. Content generates more content (that has certain value) and I feel like Google as asking us to bend over on this one.
10:56 pm on Sept 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I spend hours researching and devloping my content and any comments / feedback that results from that I feel I have certain rights to.

Sorry, but that's not how it works. You may wish that you owned and controlled third-party comments or reviews about the work you've published, just as a film studio, a book publisher, or a band might wish that it owned and controlled reviews of the work that it made public--especially if the work was a dud. But wishing is just that.

11:48 am on Sept 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If only GTB users see the garbage then I would consider blocking them from my personal sites (can't do it for my customers 'cause they'd lose revenue).

I think this is a good first step to block this nonsense.

How do I identify visitors with GTB installed on our sites, and are there easy ways (e.g. scripts) to block them from seeing (and hence commenting) on our content?

Enough is enough.

2:13 pm on Sept 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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seems like google are jumping on this reviews thing and running with it.
even if google doesn't use the reviews for ranking purposes, it's bound to affect your traffic.
if you look at their new place maps thing, that people are talking about today, you'll see that they are giving reviews a very prominent place right at the top of the layout. a five-star rating appears in the info box as well.

the page that google are using to advertise place maps - "tartine bakery" - has a prominent review which reads "service horrible" right above the fold.

every business that ends up on google maps will have to put up with potential customers seeing these reviews and ratings before they've even visited your site.

2:23 pm on Sept 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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S_J ..in the real world people selling ads in flyers with bad reviews of your broadway play arent allowed to paste on the theatre doors , nor are book reviewers allowed to stick flyers selling adspace with their bad reviews in on the doors of bookstores , nor are album reviewers allowed to paste flyers with adspace and bad reviews on the doors opf the stadium you are playing in , nor are companies allowed to sell adspace in flyers that carry bad reviews of your movie and stick them to the doors of the cinema and over the film posters outside ..see what I'm getting at :)
3:33 pm on Sept 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I see what you're getting at, but that doesn't mean that Sidewiki is illegal. It's something that occurs in the user's browser (not on your pages), and only if the user has chosen to install and use it.

IMHO, site owners have two options for dealing with Sidewiki:

1) They can live with it, or...

2) If they can't live with it, they can find a way to block your pages from users who use Sidewiki or the Google Toolbar.

For what it's worth, I think it would be nice if Google would:

1) Make it easy for site owners to block Sidewiki, and...

2) Make it easy for Sidewiki users to exclude Sidewiki-blocking pages from Google search results.

That way, everybody would have choices.

Side note: I really don't think this is a nefarious attempt by Google to harness user feedback for use in ranking search results. After all, the Google Toolbar had smile and frown faces years ago, and counting user smile or frown votes is a much more "scaleable solution" than interpreting and tracking user comments is. More than likely, Sidewiki began as an in-house tool (possibly one that a Google engineer or programmer came up with in his or her allotted free time), it was shared with other Google personnel (and maybe with contract quality evaluators), and eventually someone said "Cool! Let's see if users will like this." It'll probably go away or be forgotten in six or 12 months, and Webmasters will move on to the next furor (whatever that may be).

3:41 pm on Sept 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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2) Make it easy for Sidewiki users to exclude Sidewiki-blocking pages from Google search results.

Whoa there ..that isnt choices..thats nearly optin your site or else ..

All they need is a symbol inserps that tells them sites that are Ok with it ..like google checkout was launched .

( how to block the sidewiki users from the site end is already being researched ;)..

4:24 pm on Sept 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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when google chrome catches on they won't even have to install this stuff, it will come as standard
5:42 pm on Sept 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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It's something that occurs in the user's browser (not on your pages), and only if the user has chosen to install and use it.

That's exactly the argument made by all sorts of predatory ad-serving software.

6:09 pm on Sept 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Update - If you want to block Google Toolbar users, you will want to look here [webmasterworld.com]. :-)
7:27 pm on Sept 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I can't believe how many of you are so riled up over this. It's not like it's the first comment plugin. Just because Google's name is on this one doesn't mean it will make people any more likely to use it. First, people want comments about products, not sites. Secondly, most products and articles come with comments sections these days so it's not like this tool is targeting an uncovered niche.
8:00 pm on Sept 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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when google chrome catches on they won't even have to install this stuff, it will come as standard

chrome isn't catching on so much but if it did that would mean we would all have to block google chrome.

talk about G shooting itself in the foot. ha

will google allow sidewiki to work on google owned pages? :-P

12:14 pm on Sept 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Installed the toolbar, went to my own site, clicked the SideWiki button. There's a message that says that as the owner of the site I can write an article that will always be shown on top. A SideWiki sticky!

The help page explains that site ownership is determined by the sites listed in Google's Webmaster Tools.

Well, as they have made that link, I guess Webmaster Tools may soon be showing SideWiki stats. That would be helpful in monitoring the comments.

1:11 pm on Sept 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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To quote dstiles from another thread here.

Most owners don't even use WMT.

and most dont even know that WMT exists ..

And some who do know about WMT ..dont want to tell Goog that they own a site(s). because Goog know too much already..

5:45 pm on Sept 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Until there's an opt out you can block or redirect Google Toolbar user with your htaccess. The UA is GTB. There is currently no way (that I know of) to only block the SideWiki function.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} GTB [NC]
RewriteRule .* notoolbar.php [L] // this redirects to explanation page

Update: This evidently loops on some servers. It doesn't on mine. A safer solution may be:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} GTB [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} GoogleToolbar [NC]
RewriteRule !^nogtb\.php$ /nogtb.php [L]

[edited by: carey2542 at 6:38 pm (utc) on Sep. 26, 2009]

6:04 pm on Sept 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Jim says this block works [webmasterworld.com]
whereas the one given in the post above and elsewhere on the web above loops the server..

Jim knows best :)

6:28 pm on Sept 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I predict that the biggest headache from this will not be negative comments from legitimate users, it will be marketers and wannabes using the sidewiki to promote their own sites.

Watch for a tsunami of sidewiki spam.

6:48 pm on Sept 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Exactly,

Let's see.
How much will it cost to have outsourcers leave "legitimate" comments, build up rep, and then push my sites?

Goog, 2-3 years behind what's "cool" on the internet.

10:09 pm on Sept 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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And how will people control this behemoth.

To quote, “The company has set up a Sidewiki program policy that prohibits from posting spam, malware, hate speech, copyrighted material, or links to sexually explicit material. If you believe that someone is violating these policies, use the "Report Abuse" button within Sidewiki. We’ll review your report and take action if appropriate. Just because you disagree with certain material or find it to be inappropriate doesn't mean we'll remove it. We understand that our users have many different points of view, and we take this into consideration when reviewing reports of abuse. Although not all reports will result in removal, we do rely on our users to tell us about materials that may be violating our policies.

As if anyone could control those things to begin with. Is this a drive-by libel program? Will Google willingly hand over the evidence for all the abuse it creates?

Seems to me Google is enacting another program that webmasters will have to police full time while Google draws most of the financial rewards. Reminds me of all the DMCA’s people have had to file when their copyrighted material end up on Google Adsense sites. It seems Google has no limits when it comes to exploiting the rest of the world. From spying on people in their backyards to attempting to garner the copyrights on every book they can lay their hands on is there no way to stop these Google predators. As I read more and more this is one program that should scare everyone.

6:44 am on Sept 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

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another program that webmasters will have to police full time

Not if you send gtb users to a page explaining nicely why they can't see anymore pages.

It's what I did for I'm fed up with G grabbing anything it can lay their hands on and I do have a life that I won't be wasting while forever checking on "comments" I have no control over nor the possibility to keep clean.

I haven't posted for a long time, I am a person of few words, but I have been reading all the time

2:45 pm on Sept 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I predict that the biggest headache from this will not be negative comments from legitimate users, it will be marketers and wannabes using the sidewiki to promote their own sites.

Could be. That's why Sidewiki has checks and balances built in. The question for me is how many users are interested in providing feedback on feedback (the equivalent of those "Was this review helpful?" questions on CNET). Still, if Sidewiki ends up being a spam playground, won't it fall from favor among the small percentage of Web surfers who bother to use it at all?

3:00 pm on Sept 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Still can't believe people are defending Google on this one. The idea is terrible from every aspect.

Just think of the "grey area" that can apply.. how is google going to stop groups from devaluing resources? Papers about Darwin having updates pointing to ID so on and so forth?

1:11 pm on Sept 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

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There is now a free script that blocks SideWiki comments without blocking or redirecting all GTB users. The site below is the only one I know of that currently has it available. There are others working on additional scripts that may be even more transparent to visitors.

-------------

moderator note - Because the code for SideWiki Defeat is hosted at Google Code: [code.google.com...] I switched the original link to that page.

[edited by: tedster at 3:55 pm (utc) on Sep. 29, 2009]

3:54 pm on Sept 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I have been sifting through the log files of one of our sites, and voila - Google Toolbar is mentioned quite heavily in the user agent strings. For that particular site, I looked at 7851 unique user agent strings and found roughly 2271 mentioning "GTB" which could be "GTB5" or "GTB6". That's a whopping 28.9% of all user agents.

I was surprised to see GTB installed that often. The problems arising from Sidewiki could be massive.

Thanks, Tedster, for leaving that link.

10:21 pm on Sept 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Last I year I dealt with a competitor posting defamatory comments about my products on various websites and then directing people to their product instead.

This competitor was based out of Asia so of course they were fearless of any legal repercussions of their activity.

What happens when they come to my site's Sidewiki and post something along the lines of:

"This product really isn't that great. I much prefer another, just google "competitor name" and look at that one instead."

Or what if they simply post, "this company has terrible customer service I would never deal with them".

That's not exactly spam or hate-speech but you'd better believe it would affect my business.

Is Google's new business model designed to monetize virtual real estate after giving it over for every thug and punk to have their way with first?

Google, give us an opt-out or even better an opt-IN if you want webmasters to support sidewiki.

This tool will become a nightmare for all ecommerce and will become nothing more than a bathroom stall wall for the majority of commenters...should anyone doubt that I direct you to 90% of Youtube comments.

This 67 message thread spans 3 pages: 67