While the philosophy behind this seems admirable, we can't help but wonder: Do they know what they're getting into?
Steve Rubel calls the feature "fraught with risk" and asks whether a PR agency could comment on a source's behalf. The CBS's Public Eye blog predicts the feature is "going to add an unnecessary course to our media diet" and says that "correcting a misquote here or a clarification there will be a great improvement to the process, but when and if the media moves towards becoming a press release service its not a time to celebrate." Tish Grier notes "these days, even the big-time newspapers of record don't hire enough experienced moderators to manage their own flow of comments. So how can we expect a company that's famous for its stunning lack of customer service as well as its pride in automating everything to hire actual humans to perform some kind of editing or moderating?"
This certainly seems to push Google into the territory of publisher. After all, won't they be choosing what comments to publish and not publish? Could it be a prelude, perhaps, into a bigger content play? Google missed analyst expectations last quarter, due in large part, the company said, to overzealous additions to the headcount. Hard not to notice that comes at the same time as Google is getting into less automated, traditional media spaces such as print, radio, and now, perhaps publishing.