Google Sidewiki Experiment Results: 12/18/09

It’s been a few months, so I thought I’d check in on the experiment I’m conducting with Google Sidewiki; (for the uninitiated, I posted mildly-controversial but accurate comments on a few websites to monitor the reaction.

Google Sidewiki on  There’s been comparatively less activity on, though my post is still one of the only two that appear on the first page of listings.  Anecdotally the content is primarily reviews of the usability of the website, with a bit of discussion of Wal-mart’s politics.  Of note are two new “spam” messages – though it’s questionable that they’re really “spam” in the dictionary sense (one literally calls itself ‘spam’ but doesn’t seek to promote a product or website).

  • Total Entries on Site: 11
  • Positive / Negative / Neutral Ratio:   2 / 4  / 4
  • Ranking of my Entry: Useful? Yes (10) No (6)
  • Spam Entries: 2 (18%)   The duplicate entries for Facebook have returned; on many sites there are duplicate entries in Sidewiki depending on whether or not one is logged in to that site or not.  Facebook is also the highly-trafficked Sidewiki entry in the experiment.  Anecdotally, the content in Facebook’s sidewiki is primarily people commenting in a way that would indicate they don’t really understand how Sidewiki works (many appear to be commenting on stories from their newsfeed), along with discussion of Facebook’s privacy policy.  There continues to be a high number of non-English language Sidewiki users commenting on Facebook’s Sidewiki, demonstrating the global reach of the platform. (Logged In):  My entry is one of only three (the other two are relatively new; only posted in December, 2009) that appear on the front page (I updated it this week with content about the newest privacy issue that cropped up with Facebook publishing profile information to search engines).  Nearly 18 percent (15) of the entries were non-English language.

  • Total Entries on Site: 85
  • Positive / Negative / Neutral Ratio:  23 / 10 / 30
  • Ranking of my Entry: Useful? Yes (535) No (208)
  • Spam Entries:  7 (8%) (Logged Out):  My entry is one of only two that appear on the front page (I updated it this week with content about the newest privacy issue that cropped up with Facebook publishing profile information to search engines).

  • Total Entries on Site: 166
  • Positive / Negative / Neutral Ratio:  60 / 31 / 49
  • Ranking of my Entry: Useful? Yes (132) No (18)
  • Spam Entries:  13 (8%)  My entry is now one of only two entries on the front page of the sidewiki for  As more people have posted, it’s interesting to see how much variation there is in the comments that are positive or negative about Fox News; some people are hashing out the media bias debate (among those, some argue Fox News has no bias and others argue it is good precisely because it has a conservative bias), some are focusing only on web design and performance, and at least two commenters cited their affinity for Fox News was solely based on its attractive female newsreaders.  My entry inspired three new angry responses (from “Steve G,” “Mike St. James,” and “Michael Lederman.”), and given how many people have begun to rate it as “not useful” – I don’t know how much longer it will retain a spot on the front page.

  • Total Entries on Site:  51
  • Positive / Negative / Neutral Ratio:  18 / 19 / 13
  • Ranking of my Entry: Useful? Yes (45) No (75)
  • Spam Entries: 1 (2%)

Conclusions:  The major concern that is emerging is how large volumes of SideWiki comments will be organized.  On Facebook (where the most traffic of the sites in my experiment is taking place) it’s become clear that the oldest entries have a considerable advantage the new ones; with 15 pages of “not as useful” entries – users are not browsing and ranking them beyond the first few pages.  If a new entry doesn’t quickly prove itself valuable, it’s relegated to the back room.

Suggestion for Google:  It would help to have a ready display on the top page of Sidewiki entries that shows all of the stats about the Sidewiki entries (a counter showing how many there are, how many have been rated helpful/unhelpful, etc.)

2 thoughts on “Google Sidewiki Experiment Results: 12/18/09

  1. Michael Lederman says:

    You have a funny way of defining “mildly-controversial but accurate comments” which others might call very controversial and utterly idiotic. You consider it an experiment to portray yourself as a jacka$$ who writes something stupid just to see who will remind him of his jacka@@ status and limited intelligence? I call that just being stupid.


  2. derekdevries says:

    Given Google’s share of the search engine market and the practical reality that Sidewiki comments essentially lay over the top of one’s website without (necessarily) the permission of the site owner – I wanted to see how unflattering or contrary content is handled in that framework.

    I’m unclear on how that qualifies as ” being a jackass.” Perhaps you could better explain what you mean?


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