"Ze ball ref? Non, I haven't zeen se ball."

…or rather, sidewikiing him.

Clearly Thierry Henry’s “main de Dieu” incident on Wednesday night has caused something of a furore. Irish football fans are naturally up in arms and feel that the match should be replayed (ummm, not going to happen). Football fans around the world are massively disappointed in Henry. Well, except for Gooners, obviously (entertaining piece, that).

I noticed yesterday that Henry’s Wikipedia page has been “protected from editing due to vandalism”. And if you’ve seen the defaced page, you’ll know that it was a particularly sweary vandal.

Thing is, if you build a big wall around your house to stop vandals, they’ll still turn up with a can of spray paint and cover it in graffiti. And so it is online.

As we’ve pointed out before, the virtual can of spray paint is Google’s Sidewiki. And Sidewiki still works on Wikipedia, however many pages it might lock down. I know this, because I stuck a Sidewiki on Henry’s page. Nothing too strong, certainly not defamatory or particularly insulting, just saying how disappointing it was to see a respected professional like Henry cheat. It’s the only Sidewiki on the page at the moment, so I can only assume the tool hasn’t yet reached Ireland…

It’s a good example of the potential power of Sidewiki though. However much an organisation might control the content on its website, any old punter with a view can turn up and post their thoughts and opinions for any other Sidewiki-enabled surfer to see. It strikes me that for something like Wikipedia, it could be a nightmare.

On a related note, earlier this week AstraZeneca was highlighted as the first big pharma company to start tackling the Sidewiki issue. You can imagine that pharma companies are slightly concerned about the potential for people to turn up and comment about their drugs…

AZ has taken the right of any webmaster to create the primary Sidewiki entry on its website and have it anchored so it stays as the first entry all the time (‘normal’ Sidewiki entries move up and down depending on the votes from other users, so the most credible bubble to the top). AZ has then done what lots of consultants are recommending, which is make that first entry so long that it fills the first page and therefore buries comments from Joe Public on subsequent pages.

Rather like covering your own wall in graffiti first, so the vandals don’t have a chance to.