After living in private beta for the last few months, Google officially took the wraps off of Knol – a project being dubbed a “wikipedia rival” or “monetizable wikipedia” by some. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
What’s a Knol, you ask?
Official definition: a unit of knowledge (or just short for Knowledge)
Google’s definition: Knols are authoritative articles about specific topics, written by people who know about those subjects.
Here are a few highlights (focusing on the differences between Knol and Wikipedia):
- Authors are public, and the gatekeepers of a topic. If you create a Knol, you’re tied to it. The URL structures are even based on the author names first, then the topic. Google will even attempt to verify “you are really you” by cell phone number, credit card, or gentle cavity searches (j/k).
- Changes are moderated by the original author. One of Wikipedia’s weaknesses is the ability of any Joe Schmoe to edit posts. Not so with Knol. You can submit changes and updates to a Knol, but they have to be approved.
- It’s monetizable. Authors can choose to display Google Ads in their Knol, with the author getting a piece of the revenue.
- Interaction and diversity are encouraged. Users can comment and rate Knols, and Google expects multiple Knols on the same subject.
What about some of the detractors (haters)? There are a variety of complaints, among them:
- Wikipedia has an altruistic focus - furthering the world’s knowledge (barf). Knol, with it’s revenue sharing options, could create a focus on greed rather than “the general welfare of all.”
- It’s getting too much into content – and potentially dominating search results instead of sending it to others. Back in ’06, their CEO said “We don’t do our own content. We get you to someone else’s content faster.“
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