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RealTime IT News

Google May Open Up Blog

UPDATED: The rise in interest in Google's own blog in 2006 paled next to the millions of new users of its eponymous search service, but there was definitely an up tick.

Google itself gave readers plenty more to read in the past year. For example, the company made its 294th blog posting of the year on December 30, almost a hundred more than in 2005.

This year, Google said it's likely to add a reader comment feature that, while popular on many blogs, has been missing from the search giant's blog.

"It's a resource issue. It has nothing to do with reluctance to post criticism," Karen Wickre, a member of the Google Blog team, told internetnews.com. "We have a very small team and it's hard to gauge what the volume of comments might be; we're a lot bigger target than other sites."

Wickre said it's unlikely a comments feature would be added soon, but her goal is to make it happen this year. Like most blogs, all of Google's already allow for feedback even if it's not made public. "There's a lot of [junk] that comes in; we want to be able to clean out. If it's going to be conversational, you want to be able to address the conversation."

Google  owns Blogger, one of the leading blog creation services. But the fact that Google hasn't allowed comments left some observers questioning whether it really was meeting the definition of what a blog is.

"Without having comments open, the Google blog to me is no more than a press release using half of blog technology, and only exposing part of the heart of the real humans behind it," said Jeremiah Owyang in a posting at his Web Strategy blog, headlined "Google Misses The Boat on Blog Marketing."

Owyang notes that other Google staff have personal blogs that include comments and specifically pointed to one by Matt Cutts, the head of Google's Webspam team, as one that's "embraced the community."

Google's Silicon Valley neighbor Sun Microsystems  is very pro-blog. Sun hosts numerous employee-run blogs with the option of allowing comments, which many do, including CEO Jonathan Schwartz.

Tim Bray, co-author of the eXtensible Markup Language (XML)  and Director of Web Technologies at Sun, has run his own blog for over three years. Up until recently he didn't allow comments but a few months ago decided to allow them.

"I kept receiving encouragement to add comments, but I was dubious about having to deal with problem posts," Bray told internetnews.com. "My feeling is that when you have a piece of the Internet, you're responsible for it."

So far, so good, he reports. "I'm super pleased with the way it's going," said Bray. He mentioned a post on PHP security and several other technology-related posts that generated a lot of "erudite, useful comments."

As for Google, it's blogging full speed ahead, with or without comments. The company said its blog had 7.6 million unique visitors and nearly 15 million page views in 2006. Google company blogs were also launched in China, Japan, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Poland and Russia, with more planned for 2007. In total, including those produced by its product teams, Google said it publishes almost 40 corporate blogs.