October 08, 2009

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While I'm Thinking About It

And Gmail's spam filtering is great because they don't want the competition in your inbox

So. Sidewiki. A new sidebar for your browser that lets you see other people's comments related to the site you're currently using.

Sidebars can be handy things. Firefox has one that lets you check your browsing history--useful if you're looking for something you came across at three in the morning two days ago and forgot to bookmark. And speaking of, there's a bookmarks sidebar, too; just in case you can't stand using the drop-down menu and don't want to have to worry about trusting your tastes and preferences to some website that may not be around once the funding runs out.

Those sidebars deserve to exist because they add legitimate features to the user's experience. Sidewiki makes AdSense slots available on every page that currently exists, without having to share any of the revenue with those pesky webmasters.

Oh, yes. I have no doubt that as soon as they hit some critical mass of users there's going to be some allegedly unobtrusive text ads placed at the top and bottom of the page. They'll be presented as "sponsored comments" or something, and there won't be a way to opt out.

Part of the reason I run Project Wonderful ads is they let me control what ads appear here. I like that, and it's not the sort of feature that Google seems to allow, aside from broad categories.

And, remember, the sidewiki is Google's page under Google's control. One thing Google has proven unable or unwilling to do is maintain a certain level of decorum on those pages that allow open comments by the general public. You guys have been great in the shoutbox--aside from the random incompetent spammer, nobody's ever caused a problem or raised a ruckus. But go to YouTube, and read the comments on pretty much any video. Better yet, don't. It's not pleasant.

In addition of the quality of the discourse, there also exists the potential for real shenanigans. Should Scientology's site have to exist on the same apparent page as the semi-coherent rantings of Anonymous? Actually, they deserve each other. Should webcartoonist A be allowed to regularly denounce print cartoonist B (and vice versa), in such a way that it looks like it's part of the other's site.

You can probably guess my answer.



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