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Google Sidewiki

October 23rd, 2009

Have you heard about Google Sidewiki? This is a controversial service offered by Google that allows anyone who visits your site to leave a comment for others to read. Google believes this is a good thing because it helps people spread around information that may be helpful to others. So for instance you could have some nice comments about your worship or testimonies from people who have really appreciated all you have done.

However there is a big flaw in the system. That flaw is that the web site owner has no control over the comments that are made. For businesses this means that whilst they might get some nice comments about their service it allows competitors to leave comments that might rubbish the service. For churches it could mean some nice comments or perhaps some militant atheists bad mouthing your faith.

My immediate reaction was to think that we are Christians and good at turning the other cheek. We just have to learn to live with it.

After giving it a lot of thought I think it is a bad idea. In an ideal world where everyone was nice and bad people always got their comeuppance this system would work. However the world is not like that. I’ve always maintained that most people are good (and I still believe this) but there are a few (and it only takes a few) who will see this as an opportunity for mischief. Take a look here for some of the arguments about the system (WARNING! some of the stuff on this page is quite strong – not from the author but the examples of sidewikis).

I very much hope that I’m wrong about this but I believe this system is bad.

I’ve visited a couple of Christian sites that are blocking anyone who uses a Google toolbar. I don’t think this is the solution myself because it will just annoy people and make them go elsewhere.

There are plenty of sites that offer suggestions to ways of protesting. I guess we may just have to weather the storm in the hopes that Google get the message and stop the service – or at least offer an opt out.

There is an option to report abuse of the system and I suggest we make good use of that system – perhaps the amount of reported abuse will make Google think again.

Other options are to stop using google and uninstall the google bar.

I’ll keep you posted on anything I find out.

If you get any bad comments on sidewiki then let us know by leaving a comment.

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