Google ‘knol’ to go after Wikipedia

Search giant Google has picked a rather unlikely candidate with which to compete. According to a post on the official Google Blog, the company is developing what looks an awful lot like a Wikipedia competitor. Google says it kicked off testing for the service, which is dubbed “knol,” earlier this week by encouraging “people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it.” However, knol is still in development and is an invitation-only affair for the time being.

Unlike Wikipedia, knol is intended to highlight the author of the article and—if he or she so chooses—allow the author to reap the benefits by placing ads on the page. Google says it will provide authors with a “substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads.” Knol will also focus on quality and accuracy by allowing users to submit edits, peer reviews, star ratings, and comments for individual knols. There will even be a system in place to rank knols by quality when they appear in Google search results.

Google has a rather aggressive stance on its plans for the tool. “A knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read,” the company says. No time frame is quoted for the service going public, but judging by a picture of a sample knol posted by the company, it seems to be pretty far along already.

Comments closed
    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    Long overdue. This can only improve knowledge and the competition to gather it, rightg{

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    One problem with this is the collaborative nature of wikipedia, which is what has made it so successful. The best articles are often the result of many hands. There are authorities on any given topic, sure, but even they may not know the /[

      • gratuitous
      • 12 years ago
        • muyuubyou
        • 12 years ago

        /[

        • eitje
        • 12 years ago

        this post was blank from 3:29am on December 16th, 2007 to at least the timestamp on my post.

    • Snake
    • 12 years ago

    WOAH – here’s something that should be mentioned and covered:

    §[<http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/12/13/wikimedia_coo_convicted_felon/<]§ If independently verified...all of Wikipedia's dirty laundry is going to hit the fan. HARD.

    • gratuitous
    • 12 years ago
      • UberGerbil
      • 12 years ago

      Uh, there may be a backlash against Google for being too pervasive and monopolistic. There may even be some one thing they do that acts as a flashpoint. But their adoption / usurpation of “knol” is /[

    • recurr
    • 12 years ago

    A group of Wikipedia editors could take control of an article by reverting opposing edits using NPOV as an excuse and bait others to violate the three-revert-rule. Some even move your discussion from the discussion page of an article. Hopefully, “knol” would have a solution for this.

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    Once money gets involved, intellectual property issues soon follow.

    Suppose I take a popular Wikipedia article, rewrite it, and supply it on google — and profit from the ads. Or articles from obscure journals. Or somebody else’s PhD thesis. Do a really good job, and it’s legit; just do a paraphrase, and maybe not.

    Now, there’s a lot of established case law as to what constitutes an “original work” but it still comes down to a judge’s interpretation, which tends to come after a lot of expensive legal activity. Google has the deep pockets, of course, but they might be tempted to just pay such people to go away. And Google has to vet the articles (or pay other authorities in the field to do so), looking for that kind of thing in the first place, or they’ll really be liable.

    I’m quite sure google has better, and better-informed, minds than mine looking at this, but it does raise a host of issues that Wikipedia doesn’t have to contend with (in addition to all the other ones it does, such as perceived bias).

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 12 years ago

      Wow, that’s a really good point, and actually adds to my appreciation of Wiki.

        • blastdoor
        • 12 years ago

        agreed — that is definitely a good point

      • indeego
      • 12 years ago

      Google didn’t listen when people advised against acquiring youtube and its growing legal issues. Perhaps they knew something we don’t (Like how they could simply buy out majority share of Viacomg{

    • blastdoor
    • 12 years ago

    I think this sounds like a great idea. It creates a financial incentive for authors to create *useful* articles. Or at least popular articles. It will be very interesting to see what comes from this.

      • Perezoso
      • 12 years ago

      popular content != “useful” content

        • blastdoor
        • 12 years ago

        I wouldn’t presume to predict either way.

        I think it will be very interesting to see what develops.

        The interesting thing about Google is that they can provide advertisers with very targeted access to consumers. Pages that are popular among sub-prime types might be of less interest to advertisers than pages that are popular among a smaller group of much wealthier individuals. If I were an advertiser, I might prefer to have access to 10 engineering types than have access to 100 burger-flipping types.

        I will be watching this with great interest.

    • eitje
    • 12 years ago
    • DrCR
    • 12 years ago

    Could be useful in areas where expertise is required e.g. anything medical.

    Overall though I’m generally happy with Wikipedia, though admittedly they are also exclusively for something computer related, specificity linux related, and seems to be higher quality over all than some of the other Wikipedia articles I’ve come across.

      • UberGerbil
      • 12 years ago

      Yes, where definitive facts are available and can be cited, Wikipedia is very useful — which limits it essentially to science and technology. As soon as opinion is involved, or even interpretation of facts (eg global climate change), you’re better off looking elsewhere.

      • Perezoso
      • 12 years ago

      Do you really want to choose your medical information sources based on web traffic?

        • DrCR
        • 12 years ago

        No, mainly that of my own study and that of my friends. I guess that’s the pure science in me coming out. Most of my friends either have degrees and experience in pure science fields, or are in phd programs. I switched to CS as I didn’t have what it took. 😉

    • amphibem
    • 12 years ago

    I think there is a ‘market’ for this, for people looking for a more authoritative source with an attributable author this looks more suitable than Wikipedia.Of course I love Wiki, and like many use it during assignments or at work but this could be a great complement.

    Of course many Wikipedia articles are found through Google search and are usually high up the results list. Wonder if that might change.

      • Shinare
      • 12 years ago

      I don’t see why they would manipulate the results in that manor. I think “go after” or “compete” are too strong of words used in this article, probably to stir up emotion and therefore readership or comments. I look at it as two different things, I don’t solely quote or reference Wikipedia in any article or paper I write. In fact, because of it’s nature its hardly a solid source for much of anything except “Hmm.. I didn’t know that, I wonder if thats true” type of things. I feel this is closer to a true reference than Wiki is and therefore if a result is found in it, it should be above wiki in the query results. But burrying the wiki intentionally would be asinine.

        • UberGerbil
        • 12 years ago

        Yes, because this readership doesn’t ever get stirred up on its own, and a few words in a news post always gets more page views 🙄 I don’t know why everybody gets so picky about headlines — there’s a long tradition of headlines being short and “punchy” (brevity at the expense of absolute correctness) and anyone who reacts to the headline, rather than the content of the article, must have a lot of trouble with reading news in general.

        But of course you’re right: nobody should be relying on Wikipedia as a sole source, just as nobody should be using the (generally much more authoritative) encyclopedias as a sole source, much less quoting from it. But that’s why Wikipedia articles include citations (and if an article doesn’t, just ignore it and move on). As a quick way of finding (some of) those more primary sources, Wikipedia can be useful.

        And if google’s entries are better-written, better vetted, and more authoritative then yes, they certainly deserve to be higher in the search results (and since they likely will be linked to more often, they probably will get there automatically). But even in that case, they shouldn’t be anyone’s sole source.

        • Captain Kitt
        • 12 years ago

        I agree with Shinare here. These seem to be two very different things. Sure there are some conceptual similarities, but they are a far cry from the screaming “Google ‘knol’ to go after Wikipedia.” I wish TR would’ve reserved better judgment in writing the headline. The last thing people need is some misguided idea that Google does everything for the sole purpose of becoming the Internet’s Supreme Power. I would never trust the general public to decipher the truth from headlines such as these. Words are powerful: use with caution.

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