11/23/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Google Sidewiki: Comment On Any Site, With Google's Permission

Google's Sidewiki, released September 23, is a new feature in the Google Toolbar that allows people leave comments about pages as they surf the web. Think web page Wikipedia-type footnotes by the masses.

Love a site? Think it's missing something? Want to have your two cents on a restaurant review? Use the Sidewiki to add your thoughts, criticisms, or suggestions for future browsers visiting the site to see.

That is, so long as Google approves it.

With so many opinionated netizens, Google's put some rather murky limits on whose comments will show up.

SearchEngineLand has Google's stated policy on the matter:

What comments are shown, and in what order? Google secret sauce time. The official line is this:

Using multiple signals based on the quality of the entry, what we know about the author, and user-contributed signals such as voting and flagging, we work hard to ensure that only the highest quality, most relevant entries appear in the sidebar. Most of the engineering work for Sidewiki was dedicated to this ranking algorithm.

When I talking with Google about Sidewiki, they gave me a few other factors, such as:

* Use of sophisticated language: "This page sucks" isn't sophisticated; think complex sentences and ideas. Apparently, Google has a language sophistication detector now, and one that works in the 14 different languages that Sidewiki supports.
* User's reputation: Are your comments being voted up or flagged down?
* User's history: How long have you had a Google Profile? How long have you been commenting?

How does this fit into the "open internet" Genachowski had in mind?

SearchEngineLand has tips on how to install and use the new app, which you can find here.

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