Google to Face Off Against Wikipedia
In a not too surprising announcement, Google looks to square off against Wikipedia, the web’s largest communal reference web site. The new Google service, knol, will allow people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it”, Udi Manber, a Google engineer, said.
Knol will be free to read, however Google will allow authors to attach advertisements to their articles and will give them a share of any revenues. This is in sharp contrast to Wikipedia, who uses a nonprofit business model with no advertising found on their site. Instead Wikipedia relies on donations to keep it in the black.
The service knol is derived from the word “knowledge” and its articles will be called knols. “The goal is for knols to cover all topics, from scientific concepts to entertainment,” Mr. Manber said. Knols will be rated by readers and by the Google search engine. Google intends for the various knol posts to be at or near the top of a keyword search in Google, making it the next horizon for SEO enthusiasts. Mr. Manber said: “A knol is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read.”
Google will have to go a long way to make knol work. Wikipedia is visited by more than 107 million people, roughly one third of the active Internet population, according to Nielson Online. According to Alexa, Wikipedia is the 8th most popular site on the Web. Google’s previous reference site, Google Scholar, only has 4.5 million users.
Unlike Wikipedia, knols will not be editable, nor will Google serve as an editor in anyway. Nor will Google stand by any knols. The company explained that it “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.”
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, questioned the ability of Google’s new project to deliver quality content. “They are not going to allow collaboration and aren’t going to go for Wikipedia’s neutral style,” he said. Also, the knol format will have multiple articles competing against each other.
Currently, knol is in an invitation-only test phase, but should open to the public within months.