Google has just launched a new browser product called Sidewiki that lets users read and leave comments on websites.
Google Sidewiki has been released as feature on the Google Toolbar (for Firefox and Internet Explorer), though it doesn’t work on Google Chrome or other browsers just yet. With it, users can contribute and read useful information related to the current webpage, which will be displayed only on the browser’s sidebar.
Google has also taken care to ensure only the most relevant entries are displayed using a ranking algorithm.
“We worked hard from the beginning to figure out which ones (entries) should appear on top and how to best order them. So instead of displaying the most recent entries first, we rank Sidewiki entries using an algorithm that promotes the most useful, high-quality entries. It takes into account feedback from you and other users, previous entries made by the same author and many other signals we developed,” explains Sundar Pichai, VP product management and Michal Cierniak, engineering lead for Google Sidewiki in an official blog post.
While comparisons to Wikipedia are expected because of the product’s name, it’s being viewed by tech experts such as those at GigaOm as a ‘universal commenting system’.
Before Google made Sidewiki public, it was trialled by several experts and news organisations, including author of Wisdom 2.0 and Huffington Post blogger Soren Gordhamer who endorses the product.
“Now, any time you want to add information to a web page, you can easily do so, as well as read what other people have to say about it. It’s as if we now have a central and unified web conversation tool,” commented Gordhamer.