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.
Walmart.com: There’s been comparatively less activity on Walmart.com, 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%)
Facebook.com (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%)
Facebook.com (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%)
Foxnews.com: My entry is now one of only two entries on the front page of the sidewiki for Foxnews.com. 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.)