Sunday, 13 December 2009

The Genealogists' Revenge

For those who use Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome, and, in the last couple of months, have downloaded the new Google toolbar you may have seen a little writing pad icon, usually at the bottom left of a page. This is the new Google Sidewiki, click it and one can enter a comment which will remain attached to that page.
If there is an entry in the Sidewiki on a page then the icon on the left, which turns yellow on hovering over it, will be seen at the top of the page. One can also use the Sidewiki icon on the Google Toolbar.

Visitors and webmasters may have different views as to the benefit, or otherwise, of this facility, and I am not going to enter into this discussion, but rather look at how by correct usage it can advantage both. However, it is initially necessary to look at some of the controversal aspects:
  1. Can a webmaster switch it off? No, although I understand it does not appear on secure sites
  2. Can a webmaster edit a visitor's entry? No
  3. Can a webmaster delete a visitor's entry: No
  4. Google says that it will check for inappropriate entries - if flagged
  5. Entries are entered in a priority list as determined by Google
The potential pitfalls for webmasters are  obvious, but there are some steps which can be taken to minimise these.

Take part-ownership of the Sidewiki 


It is necessary to first register your site with Google Webmasters, you will need to register yourself with Google for this. You will then be given the option of including a meta tag in your script (see my Web Creation Blogs) or uploading an html script to the root of your site. There is also an automatic link to Blogger. Once done your own entry can be permanently entered to the top of the list on every page - although I have not been able to get the "all pages" check box to appear on my sites using Firefox!

Check all entries


The entries which visitors make can also be read by the webmaster using either your Google Profile or from an RSS feed using the URL: DOMAIN.COM%2Ffergys%2F/default?includeLessUseful=true, replace "MY DOMAIN.COM with your own domain name and delete the "www." if not included in your URL. Using this is somewhat messy, so I suggest that you use a feed generator.

What use is it?


If used properly then the Sidewiki offers an opportunity for commenting on, and discussing, individual entries in a genealogy website, such as: whether Joe Blogs has the correct parents. This can be done in a most convenient way compared with having to go to a comments page or sending an email, and it is open for other interested parties to enter the debate.

And why do I title this piece the "Genealogists' Revenge"? Well, when we now see our research published on a website by someone else, and without attribution, we can now claim it back! If the cap fits I advise caution.

© Ron Ferguson 2009

1 comment:

  1. Dear Ron hope you don't mind, but I thought that post was very interesting and I've put a post on RootsChat with a link to the page, as I think it deserves a wide audience. I've already adapted my own webpages.
    Thanks for the heads up.