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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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