Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Google Defends Sidewiki Despite the Fact That It Is Worthless as a Social Media Tool, IMHO

Google submitted comments to Docket No. FDA‐2009‐N‐0441 regarding Promotion of FDA‐Regulated Medical Products Using the Internet and Social Media Tools (find it here).

The search giant devoted about 3 pages to defending Sidewiki, which presents users with a vertical window on the left side of the web browser window, next to the relevant website, in which they can write and read commentary. I was one of the first people to use Sidewiki to attach comments to a drug.com website (ie, Viagra.com; see image on left; click for enlarged view).

According to Google, "The service uses an algorithm to identify the best comments, based in part on user ratings, and seeks to display only comments that are judged to be of high quality." I am honored, therefore, that ALL of my sidewiki comments -- including the bogus one about my arm falling off after taking Viagra -- has been judged by Google's rating system to be of such "high quality" that they are the ONLY ones on the first Sidewiki page. If you click "Next," you'll find a bunch of less worthy Sidewiki comments.

Google says "And while website operators cannot directly control or edit Sidewiki content created by users, they can choose to enter 'site owner' Sidewiki comments about their own websites, which will then appear at the top of the Sidewiki window when users visit that specific website. In this way, the website owner is guaranteed a voice in the discussion of their site, but not in a way that allows them to control content other users may wish to contribute to the discussion."

To date, Pfizer has not opted to "contribute to the discussion" and has NOT posted a "site owner" Sidewiki comment on Viagra.com. And Pfizer does NOT mention Sidewiki at all in its public comments to the FDA.

If you were at the November, 2009, public hearings (find transcripts here), you know that I called on Google to "tear down this Sidewiki" (it was the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall).

But Google soldiers on and says "It is critical for regulation to avoid stifling the public participation and exchange of ideas that Sidewiki and similar innovations are intended to promote."

I, on the other hand, think SideWiki is a nusiance, not an innovation. At the FDA hearing I said "some people think that Sidewiki is a game changer. I really think it's a public health nuisance, if not worse. Pharma companies should demand that Google provide them and other healthcare companies with an option to block Sidewiki on their entire site with one simple registration of a URL."

Also see these posts:

My Opinion of Google's Decision to Foist Sidewiki Upon Us
Google's Wacky Wiki is Whack! Pharma Should Demand Ability to Block It!

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