Here is how Google explains it:
We'll be trying out a mechanism for publishing comments from a special subset of readers: those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question. Our long-term vision is that any participant will be able to send in their comments, and we'll show them next to the articles about the story. Comments will be published in full, without any edits, but marked as "comments" so readers know it's the individual's perspective, rather than part of a journalist's report.
As Danny explains, it is not quite clear how this will impact Google. Danny feels that Google has no idea "what they're getting into," because the amount of work they are going to cause, may be great. Why? Well, the only way to comment is to email Google at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In that email, as explained here, you need to provide:
- Your comment
- A link to the story you are commenting on
- Your contact details: your name, title, and organization
- How we can verify your email address
Danny then had a huge follow up named Q&A On The New Google News Comments, which answers some questions out there.
Many simply don't like that Google is allowing this, including Lisa Barone and others. They feel that Google should not be going this far.
There is currently a thread at WebmasterWorld with mixed feelings on this. Note, many people in the thread do not fully understand what this means.
Google is not allowing anyone to comment. Google is only allowing those who have a relation to the story to comment. Want to see?
Here is an example and here are the screen caps, notice the "Comment" bubble.
Clicking on the comment link takes you here:
Overall, like I said, it is a mixed reaction to this. Honestly, I think it is pretty cool. Give those cited in articles a chance to explain themselves. It gives a bigger picture. But I do understand the negative feelings about this feature. It will be interesting to see if Google keeps this feature after their initial test.
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.