Google’s Knol – A new Wikipedia?


Google has announced “Knol”. In their words

a new, free tool that we are calling “knol”, which stands for a unit of knowledge. Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it.

The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors.

We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content. At the heart, a knol is just a web page; we use the word “knol” as the name of the project and as an instance of an article interchangeably. It is well-organized, nicely presented, and has a distinct look and feel, but it is still just a web page.

Google will not serve as an editor in any way, and will not bless any content. All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors.

At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads.

I am not impressed by what I hear. The model might encourage editors to start gearing their articles to get more Ad hits and the quality and correctness of information may take a downward turn.

However I do see some sense in one person controlling an article and accepting “patches” from others and incorporating them. This way maintenance of an article becomes less tedious than a comparable Wikipedia article. The model is somewhat like an open source project. You can contribute patches to the maintainers and they will be included after screening. If you don’t like the way the project is being handled, you can always fork it and maintain your own.

I am going to wait and watch to see what happens. Will Knol go the Orkut way or not?


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  1. Soon after this, they even came up with rolling out ‘Centralized Profile!’, chec TC > ! Whats happening with Google… 😛 !!! Its getting crazy every day? Shouldn’t it maintain its base (SE) and keep working towards it rather than covering up every little technology the internet has to offer

    & What did you mean by “Will Knol go the Orkut way or not?”…. You meant the negative way.. of how its getting spammed heavily (alright have come down now after some major revamp!). But nevertheless its been targetted as ‘Spammers Hub’ with little/no privacy (fixed now :P).


    Posted December 16, 2007 at 6:20 pm | Permalink
  2. I think Google is a pretty smart company. By linking their products and sharing data across the user wins and Google gets a great deal of info about the user too (think personlized search results and Ads). Knol can be an ideal way to gather user interests (read If someone takes time to write an article about a topic, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the topic is of interest to the user.

    I meant Orkut came a long time back but due to a lack of Vision got beaten by Facebook or even Myspace. Knol comes much after Wikipedia and only time will tell how things go.

    Posted December 16, 2007 at 6:30 pm | Permalink
  3. I don’t really see how the presence of a single author/administrator can actually encourage Knowledge, though.

    Posted December 22, 2007 at 1:49 am | Permalink
  4. I am slightly sceptical of the model too. Let us wait and watch.

    Posted December 22, 2007 at 4:02 am | Permalink