Heretofore, comment organization has leaned toward chaos. ...
Ordered by time and perhaps by thread, the best and the worst of comments are commingled. The Pareto distribution is probably higher than 90:10, which means that each good comment is surrounded by 9 or more time wasters. Even the 1 of 10 worthwhile comments are made relatively worthless by their obscurity.
Sidewiki commentators, like Ebay sellers, build their reputation one transaction at a time. An expert commentator provides valuable information to the readers, but an even more valuable service to the content provider. Content providers learn from their mistakes only when they are educated by their readers. Individual feedback alone is a valuable commodity; it becomes precious when it is sharpened by the wisdom of the crowd.
The perception that Google is at war with content publishers is incorrect. Google's goal of providing organization to information is consistent with its interest in sharing lots of advertising dollars with content publishers. The use of RSS feeds allow great articles to obtain great distribution. Old formats are being torn apart; subscribers are increasingly choosing specific feeds rather than "whole publications". Indeed, subscribers are increasingly using "friends and experts" to "filter" what they read.
Sidewiki is only one of a growing list of available filtering tools. The "share button" in social networks and readers is a powerful device. It is natural for us to consume much of what has been recommended to us.
Good articles generate many good comments, good comments increase traffic and increased traffic makes advertising revenues grow. Google is playing a win-win game. In essence, Google says, "agree to share your information with the world and we will help you increase your advertising revenue".
As a publisher, which would you prefer: 140 unorganized comments or 140 comments ranked by a sophisticated Google algorithm? What if the second set of comments were linked to thousands of followers of the commentators? Secondly, which would you prefer: 140 unorganized comments or 540 ranked by a sophisticated Google algorithm?
in reference to: Hands On with Google Sidewiki: Comments for All - Reviews by PC Magazine (view on Google Sidewiki)