Google Sidewiki: Why?

Ian Lurie

Since no one at any major search engine gives a flying crap about me, I didn’t get an advance look at Google Sidewiki. This is an imaginary interview between me and the Google PR guy who, if he had given a flying crap about me, might have called to demo the tool:
PR Guy: You can easily contribute to any web page and help others…
Me: But, why?
PRG: You can get expert insight into important topics…
Me: You mean, like I already do, on their web sites?
PRG: You can comment on pages…
Me: You mean, like I do with comment forms?
PRG: You can learn from others who visited a web page before you…
Me: But what if they’ve got ulterior motives? Like slandering someone?
PRG: We have a complex algorithm to handle that…
Me: The same way you handle paid links? God help us all.

The point

But, why?
I don’t see the point to Sidewiki. We can already bookmark, annotate, save, Evernote, copy, summarize, scrape, subscribe and who-knows-what-else with web content. Do we really need another tool?

A reputation management nightmare

Even worse, this tool looks to be pretty easy to manipulate. Write a nasty Sidewiki note, write it well and with sophisticated language, and get enough votes. You’ll be able to put your own negative imprint on any site you want.
By the way, you can insert links into Sidewiki comments. See Michael Graywolf’s Tweet on the subject.

In the reputation manangement nightmare category, today is a real winner. I was originally going to rip Seth Godin a new one for his Squidoo Brandnapping project, but Lisa Barone at Outspoken Media did it far better.

What you need to do

Go install Sidewiki. Go to each of your web sites. Write a page description as the page owner, so you at least occupy some of the Sidewiki bar:
Watch the Sidewiki for each of your sites, carefully, and vote down bad stuff.
Hope Sidewiki goes the way of Orkut, Knol and their kind.

Further Reading

Danny Sullivan has a fantastic post about Google Sidewiki’s whats and hows.
I’ll also write more about Sidewiki, monitoring, and how it’s going, over the next few weeks.
I also just wrote down a couple of useful/interesting Sidewiki Hacks, over here.

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

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