Users are being encouraged to contribute insights on important decisions, tips on various topics, background information, and added perspective on new products and technologies.
"Many people visit the same pages looking for the same information, and much of the Web browsing is a one-way experience," said Eitan Bencuya, a Google spokesperson. "Google SideWiki helps open up the Web experience by allowing everyone, from a local expert to a renowned doctor, to share helpful information with others about any page on the web."
SideWiki appears as a browser sidebar once a user downloads the updated Google Tool bar, and is combined with Google Profiles so users can find information about the entry's author.
"Under the hood, we have even more technology that will take your entry about the current page and show it next to Web pages that contain the same snippet of text," wrote Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Michal Cierniak, lead engineer for Google SideWiki, in a Google blog post. "We also bring in relevant posts from blogs and other sources that talk about the current page so that you can discover their insights more easily, right next to the page they refer to."
However, before users share their knowledge on a specific topic or Web page with the world, Google has developed a mechanism to put relevant topics higher in the sidebar. Those entries considered most useful will be listed at the top.
Engineers are not sifting through the entries to decide their SideWiki ranking.
Google has been tinkering with SideWiki for a long time, and observers say this technology has been tried in the past and failed. The free Windows-only Web browser plug-in, Third Voice, was introduced in 1999 and was not well accepted.
"Web-site owners hated it, as it they had no control over users placing content or comments over their content," said Michael Gartenberg, an Interpret analyst. "It will be interesting to see if Google is able to overcome the resistance that had plagued earlier efforts."
By Patricia Resende