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Google launches Knol

Google launches Knol

The Knol database is pretty sparse at the moment, but it shows promise as a varied knowledge repository.

If you thought that Wikipedia needed less Jimbo and more Google, your dreams may well have come true: the ubiquitous data hoarder has announced its own wiki-alike dubbed Knol.

Unlike Wikipedia, in which anonymous authors gather to make a page containing references to other sites around the 'net – and which can change from minute to minute, depending on the bias of the last person to edit said page – the 'knols', as the articles will be known, are aimed at having an actual named author behind each page. By introducing this accountability, and by removing the restrictions on original research present in Wikipedia and similar on-line encyclopaedias, Google hopes to create a more reliable resource.

Announced on the official Google blog yesterday, the service has now gone live. When you sign up, you can create any page you like under your name – so far, so Wikipedia-with-attribution. Where it rapidly differs is when a third party tries to edit your page: rather than the changes being made anonymously, the edits are submitted for your approval. If you disagree with the edits, you can modify them before posting or even reject them outright.

Cedric Dupont and Michael McNally at Google, both of whom demonstrated the idea of collaborative authorship by contributing to the same Google blog post, say that this system of “moderated collaboration” allows authors to “accept suggestions from everyone in the world while remaining in control of their content. After all, their name is associated with it!

It's clear to see that the Knol will appeal to many webheads the world over – all the fun of editing a Wikipedia page, but people actually get to know your name. A further method for tempting the Wikians away from the promised land is offered with optional AdSense content being added to your knol – if you tick the 'ad' box, you get a share of the proceeds.

The thrust behind Knol is pushing it in a different direction to Wikipedia – whereas the latter aims to create single pages that are authoratitive resources for a particular topic, the team see multiple knols springing up for each item of discussion. While there are arguments for both systems, the Knol way of doing things will at least make it easier to get multiple viewpoints without having to go into the editing history of a hotly-contested page.

The final, and rather bizzare, unique feature of Knol is in Google's agreement with the New Yorker magazine – anyone creating a knol has the option to add a cartoon from the magazine's archives to illustrate their point.

Do you see Knol carving a niche for itself – possibly even becoming the default homepage for lazy students the world over – or does Wikipedia have too much of a head start, even with the might of Google bearing down upon it? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

16 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
r4tch3t 24th July 2008, 10:37 Quote
What happens if a biased person creates a page and does not let others edits to go through?
Gareth Halfacree 24th July 2008, 10:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r4tch3t
What happens if a biased person creates a page and does not let others edits to go through?
Then you create your own page offering a counter-opinion. At least, that's the idea.
Xir 24th July 2008, 12:26 Quote
So instead of reading one page, you read.....2000 like a forum
I can see the topic tree now:

-The War in Iraq is just
-No it isnt
-yes it is
-Its spelled Irak
-Back to topic: no it isn't
-New spelling according to link
-why talk about spelling and not about just wars
-unjust wars

and so on and so on
Jordan Wise 24th July 2008, 13:29 Quote
tbh, i've never found any bad info on wikipedia so far, after using it for 4 years or so. Its great if ytou use it for very factual stuff like say the French revolution or the works of Ptolemy, and i think it only gets silly on recent event stuff, for which i use news web sites for instead.
Zut 24th July 2008, 13:34 Quote
^ Agreed (with Xir). Which article would get precedence?? The one that is updated most often, the one with the most images, the one that most conforms to style guidelines (i.e. most featurable)???

I really can't see how this is going to work. Look at the front page right now... Who the hell is "Ryan Moulton" and why would I want HIS opinion on backpacking?? Just because he writes neat articles and (presumably) shouts the loudest, doesn't mean he know sanything at all.

I think the point of Wikipedia was that by virtue of having multiple authors, articles would tend towards a neutral POV over time.
steveo_mcg 24th July 2008, 14:45 Quote
Presumably the article which plays nicest with googles search engine will get priority since it'll pop up higher in the page rankings. Just a guess.
MrMonroe 24th July 2008, 16:13 Quote
People have tried this before. When your featured article is "How to Backpack," and it comes up right next to two articles on Gastrointestinal Bleeding, you know no one is going to be coming to that page regularly. They might end up with a few hundred very specific and unrelated articles, but no one will ever just browse the site. You might hit it on a google search, but otherwise no one will be reading this stuff.
Jordan Wise 24th July 2008, 16:27 Quote
LOL type knol into google. What do you get? First news results then Knol- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Diosjenin 24th July 2008, 16:44 Quote
I have to echo Xir and Zut. Wiki's bias problem was much more pervasive before the Wikipedia Scanner. Take a look at this debacle:

http://www.mister-info.com/?cmd=displaystory&story_id=10545&format=html

It's not like the bias problem on Wiki isn't there anymore. But if Wiki were set up like Knol, a mess like the CAMERA+DOJ mess would result in (at least) one pro-Israel page, (at least) one pro-Palestine page, and (maybe) one accurate page. And take a wild guess which page would get the least popular preference. As it stands, it will inevitably end up (as Xir noted) like a forum board - a different article for every viewpoint, including the ones that are in no way based on fact.

If Google had some way of making sure that authoritative, reasonably neutral sources were in charge of creating and maintaining their articles, then maybe it would result in a credible source of information. But they don't. And they can't.

- Diosjenin -
identikit 24th July 2008, 18:23 Quote
"Who needs a search engine? Ctrl+F"

...
ParaHelix.org 24th July 2008, 22:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by identikit
"Who needs a search engine? Ctrl+F"

...

Eh, what the hell, who honestly compared a search engine to a page search feature lol, I'll tell you who, somone who dosnt deserve to be a Bit-Tech member.
ParaHelix.org 24th July 2008, 22:27 Quote
Be careful and you can make it look like you never opened the thing at all. I have done it with many things, and sometimes even got refunds for them.
Zurechial 24th July 2008, 23:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ParaHelix.org
Quote:
Originally Posted by identikit
"Who needs a search engine? Ctrl+F"

...

Eh, what the hell, who honestly compared a search engine to a page search feature lol, I'll tell you who, somone who dosnt deserve to be a Bit-Tech member.

Anyone 'deserves' to be a Bit-Tech member. Elitism isn't welcome..
LordPyrinc 25th July 2008, 00:06 Quote
Besides, I'm sure the Ctrl-F comment was meant to be a joke. At least I interpreted it that way.
Xtrafresh 4th September 2008, 13:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
So instead of reading one page, you read.....2000 like a forum
I can see the topic tree now:

-The War in Iraq is just
-No it isnt
-yes it is
-Its spelled Irak
-Back to topic: no it isn't
-New spelling according to link
-why talk about spelling and not about just wars
-unjust wars

and so on and so on
I ed

Annyway, i have to agree. What i find strange is that Google doesn't seem to adress these issues. Normally they are very careful and complete in these things, and surely they must have thought of this.
Stuey 4th September 2008, 14:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ParaHelix.org
Eh, what the hell, who honestly compared a search engine to a page search feature lol, I'll tell you who, somone who dosnt deserve to be a Bit-Tech member.
Says someone who only recently joined...

PLUS, he was quoting the Knol page itself.

You know, most Bit-Tech members comment about the topic the thread is about. All you did was criticize someone else's comment. Tsk tsk.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ParaHelix.org
Be careful and you can make it look like you never opened the thing at all. I have done it with many things, and sometimes even got refunds for them.
Oh, okay, so you open things, use them, and then return them under false pretenses? Thanks for volunteering that random bit of info. ;)

ANYWAYS, the "knols" that have already been written are about such random topics. A lot of Knols also seem to be advertisements in disguise - talking about topics or services that the authors just happen to provide.
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