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I am very concerned about Sidewiki. I think it is good intentioned, but not thought out. The biggest problem isn’t from what we traditionally view as spam, but from outright attempts to flame competitors. For example, let’s say Joe’s Tire Shop is new in town, and doing a good job. The huge tire shop down the street has tons of employees, many of whom create Google accounts, and then post Sidewiki comments from home about how Joe’s Tire Shop ripped them off, etc. The same good be done against any business, even something like Bluetoque Marketing. I imagine that would be hard for any filter to catch if done intelligently.

The latest episode of This Week in Google really summarized well my concerns with Sidewiki:

– it bifurcates comments between a site’s built-in system, and Sidewiki. Given the power of Google, this could really kill off site commenting if Sidewiki catches on. We might need to invent a new word – “comment-jacking.”

– hate speech / flames by competitors, as indicated above. Website owners lose the ability to be responsible for the content that appears on their sites (or at least that ability is greatly reduced – I understand that owners may have some trivial abilities on their own sites).

– let’s hope Google doesn’t ever try to monetize this by serving ads, in essence stealing our content. I think there is already legal precedent against this, so I’m not too worried about this.

The big difference between this and other efforts is that this is Google, which has WAY more clout than other companies that tried this. With it being built into Chrome, this could be VERY dangerous if Chrome every gains market share.

Frankly, I’m hoping this is like other Google efforts, where they eventually let it die off.