Thursday, December 27, 2007

Google's knol to compete with Wikipedia?

The Christian Science Monitor notes differences between Google's knol progject and Wikipedia:

#1. Author-centric in knol

"The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors," writes Google's Udi Manber on the company's official blog:

"Books have authors' names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors – but somehow the web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted. We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content."

#2. No reader editing of knol entries

Another difference with Wikipedia is that readers will not be able to edit knol entries. But they will be able to rank them, and these rankings will be interpreted by Google's search engine when displaying results. Udi Manber says he expects to see competing entries on the same topic. "Competition of ideas is a good thing," he writes.

#3. Revenue for knol authors

Manber writes that author can choose to have advertising on their entries. He writes that Google will offer "a substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads." Wikipedia, by contrast, is run by a nonprofit foundation and edited entirely by unpaid volunteers.

The CSM also notes a conflict of interest issue for Google:

McGuire describes what he sees as a "conflict of interest" in Google's dual role as a search engine and content producer, and he suspects that Google will favor its own content over other sites in its search results.

CSM also notes:

Google says only that it will rank the knols "appropriately" when they appear in search results. Manber says that Google does not want a "walled garden of content"; it will make knols available to other search engines.

If the copyright information on Google's screenshot is any indication, knols will be copyrighted under a Creative Commons license that allows others to copy, distribute, and alter the entry, so long as the original authorship is attributed. The license is similar to Wikipedia's license.

IPBiz recalls that law review article with the words "walled garden" in its title.

Note also previous IPBiz posts:

***UPDATE. 26 Jan 09, from alleyinsider

it's full steam ahead for Knol, Google's would-be Wikipedia of research and how-to articles. This weekend, Google announced a Knol contest with $1,000 for the best entry and some cross-promotion with

We're not sure what the thinking here is. We're still not even sure what Knol is for. For a how-to, like performing car maintenance, we'll go to a site that's run by car-fanatics. For general knowledge, Knol can't come close to touching Wikipedia. If anything, Knol seems to have a reputation for nothing so much as plagiarism, ignorance, and self-promotion.

We admire Google's willingness to experiment with new ways to build cool (and potentially profitable) features onto their existing service. And we admire Google's willingness to realize when their experiments have failed and shut them down. So why still back Knol?


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