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Sidewiki: The Web is my social network

Google tool opens up new side of browsing

Google has recently released a new feature for those who have the Google Toolbar installed. It’s called Sidewiki. Using this new feature, visitors can leave comments about your site in a sidebar (the Sidewiki).

For example, someone looking for real estate information in your area is able to leave a comment in Sidewiki detailing what they think of your site and how it works. This sort of thing has been done in the past, but none of the past versions were done by a company with the clout of Google.

Overall, this brings up a few interesting thoughts. Sure, Google bills its ability to allow users to add "helpful information" to Web sites "right in your browser."

Call me paranoid, but I bet there’s going to be some less-than-helpful use of this feature — spam being the most obvious one. The system uses a thumbs-up/thumbs-down comment rating system to bring better-rated comments to the top of Sidewiki.

Similar systems (Digg being an obvious example) have been prone to marketing/spam abuse so it will be interesting to see how Google handles the spam.

Regardless of how you feel about other people leaving comments on your Web site, Google has released this tool — so it’s better to determine how we can use it than trying to fight it (there is no opt-out). There are two places where you’re going to want to use this tool: on your site and on everyone else’s sites.

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Google Sidewiki on your site

Sidewiki lets the site owner always have the top slot, before all of the other commenters. So the first thing you’ll want to do is claim your site. Here’s how:

Install Google Webmaster Tools. You’ve already done this I hope, but just in case.

Install the Google Toolbar.

Sign in to the Google Toolbar (the little button on the far right of the Toolbar) using the same account you use for your Google Webmaster Tools.

Go to your Web site.

Click on the wrench icon and enable Sidewiki.

Turn on Sidewiki for your page (the button is in the middle of the toolbar). …CONTINUED