Google May Add Comment Feature On Shared Reader Feeds

Google Blogscoped got their hands on an internal video created by the Google Reader team where they discuss future plans for their popular service.

There’s a pile of interesting information; highlights include Google developing a new way for publishers to notify Google of updates, plans to integrate more social features into Reader including recommendations based on existing subscriptions, a new service called “Activity Streams” that will be a Facebook style feed of activity including integration with Gmail, and new ways to monetize feeds by tapping into Reader.

On the stats side, the video provided some interesting insights: two thirds of all feeds only have one subscriber, and are only polled for updates every 3 hours. Feeds with multiple subscriptions are polled every hour (so Reader is intentionally slow at picking things up). The Google Reader backend stores 10 terebytes of data from 8 million feeds, and according to Feedburner stats Google Reader is the most popular feed reader, followed by My Yahoo.

Its great stuff from the Reader team, and kudos for their ongoing innovation of a great service; but there was one negative: Google is interested in allowing users to comment on items they share, but this currently isn’t a priority.

Please Google, drop the idea altogether.

We all know about the constant battles Google has had with newspapers over Google News, and what seems by some reports so far to be a failed strategy of allowing comments on News Feeds. With the exception of the licensed wire stories which are now reproduced in full, those news stories are always presented only with a small fraction of the story itself, the equivalent to a part RSS feed; ultimately readers must visit those news sites to get the full story and the use of data in this way is usually argued to be fair use.

Google Reader’s share tools on the other hand republish full blogs post for all to read without obtaining permission from blog publishers. So-called link blogs in Reader already break copyright and in a small way undermine blogs and content creators. If Google offers a comment service on “shared” items they are in effect creating copyright infringing blogs; after all they’ll have chronological entries and comments so they’ll look like blogs, even if they don’t provide a fully customizable CMS.

There will always be those who argue that any syndicated content is fair game for republication; it’s the favorite defense of spam bloggers. RSS feeds are in the most provided for personal use/ viewing and are not provided (unless otherwise specified) for someone to use that information to republish on their own site in full, be that powered by Google Reader, Blogger or WordPress.