Critical mass – New definition: When the comments to a post add as much value as the original post. See Jeff Jarvis’ post on Google SideWiki. Scroll through the comments. He clearly has critical mass. The discussion in the comments is as important as the original content.
That’s where the rub is. Google just introduced the SideWiki to the mix. Where you may have had a vibrant community commenting on your website where all visitors to your site could see the discussion, Google’s SideWiki may start to siphon off some of the comments. Commentors will have to choose where to leave their comments. Comments may live in two places. Two separate communities may begin to evolve around a website. You may have comments on your website and you may have comments that exist only in Google SideWiki. If you were close to critical mass before, you just hit a major set back.
Google’s SideWiki is new. The full effect has not been realized yet. It is, however, something website owners need to be aware of. Community and critical mass are the target.