Google yesterday released its new product Knol to the public, allowing anyone to contribute knols to the website. Knol is called ‘a unit of knowledge’ by Google and is defined as ‘an authoritative article about a specific topic’. Google announced Knol on December 13, 2007, it is a brain child of Google vice president of engineering Udi Manber.
Knol focuses on articles’ authors and their credentials. There is no anonymous editing of knols, as you will need to sign in with your Google account. Knol has been portrayed as a Wikipedia killer, however knols are not collaboratively written in the same way as Wikipedia articles, knols are moderated by their authors. The tone for Knol is more formal, judging from the several knols currently on the website.
“The key principle behind Knol is authorship. Every knol will have an author (or group of authors) who put their name behind their content. It’s their knol, their voice, their opinion. We expect that there will be multiple knols on the same subject, and we think that is good.” – Cedric Dupont, Knol Product Manager and Michael McNally, Software Engineer
With Knol, authors can have control over their contents with the “moderated collaboration” community feature of Knol website. Any reader can suggest edits to a knol which the author may then choose to accept, reject, or modify before these contributions become visible to the public.
Other community features include allowing readers to submit comments, rate, or write a review of a knol. Authors can also choose to include ads from Google AdSense, to earn income from Google’s online ads platform.
Many are asking the question if Google Knol is a Wikipedia killer. Wikipedia is often being quoted as reference and is regarded by many as content ‘authority’. Google is trying to position Knol as ‘the’ authoritative content source based on its author, the credential and community voting features, this might sway away traffics from Wikipedia. Beside, being a Google product, we have no doubt that Google Knol articles will rank very high in search results, something Wikipedia is enjoying at the moment for major search terms and subjects. Nevertheless it is still early to see the impact of Google Knol. Please share your opinions with us.