Is Google Knol Really a Wikipedia Rival?

Google   Wikipedia
There’s a new kid on the online block named Knol and even this early in the development stage, some people are already predicting that it could bring about yet another significant change to the way we share information on the Internet.

Google Knol screenshot

Knol is a new Web service being developed by Google that is meant to serve as a virtual storehouse of knowledge on the Internet. With content being contributed by various experts on different topics, it will behave much in the same way that Wikipedia does currently. In fact many industry experts have made the suggestion that Knol is set to become a direct competitor to Wikipedia and other similar types of web sites.

Google is of course the go to web site as far as search engines go, being the most popular search engine web site today by far. If Knol is as successful in drawing a widespread following as the developers hope, it could bring about the Google’s transition from a search engine into a company that creates and publishes Web content.

Some industry observers warn that one problem that could potentially arise is that Google’s objectivity in presenting search results could be compromised.

Knol-the name of which is derived from the word “knowledge”-is being developed to allow people to create Web pages on virtually any topic. When completed, it will include several features that will allow its users the ability to perform a number of tasks, such as submitting comments, rating individual web pages and suggesting changes.

We mentioned earlier in this article that Knol has been compared to Wikipedia by many industry analysts. While there are in fact many similarities between the two web services, the main difference is that Wikipedia allows virtually anyone to edit an entry while Knol only allows the author of each particular “knol,”-which is what the individual pages in the service will be called-to do so. This means that the same topics could have many different authors with sometimes contrasting-or even competing-points of view.

Google has stated that the main thrust of the Knol project was to focus attention on authors who have sufficient expertise on particular topics. As vice president for engineering at Google Udi Manber wrote in the Google corporate blog recently, the Internet has evolved largely without the benefit of a standardized means to highlight the author’s name on each web article. He goes on to say that the company believes that knowing who wrote a particular web article what will considerably aid users make better use of the Internet and its various content.

Manber also stated that another important goal of Knol was to cover a wide range of topics, from the various sciences to health concerns to history. Eventually they hope to have Knol become the first stop for research on any topic. Today it is Wikipedia that provides that function and its web pages show up at the top of the results page of Google and many other search engines more often than not.

Some in the industry have suggested that this latest move of Google is driven by the unprecedented growth of web sites that combine knowledge resources such as Wikepedia, and that Google feels the need to have a strong presence in that particular area.

Wikipedia is by no means the only web site that offers that type of service. Many other companies have taken slightly different approaches in functioning as knowledge repositories on various topics on the Internet. These services include Squidoo, Yahoo Answers, and Mahalo.

In spite of the widespread popularity of these services-as well as the existence of many free tools that allow experts and regular people the means by which they can share their knowledge online-Manber said that Google feels that it is still not easy enough for the average user to do those things.

Interestingly, considering all the hype and excitement that is currently surrounding the news of Knol’s existence, Google has refrained from discussing the project any further than these initial details, and have even said that it is still an experimental project at this time. This means that just like many other Google tests that never saw the light of day, Knol could end up never even being released publicly at all.

As for Wikipedia, site founder Jimmy Wales has downplayed his site’s comparison with Knol, saying that while Wikipedia’s goal is utmost objectivity in its content, with each individual article being the sum total of the collective knowledge of its various authors, Knol’s model will likely result in highly opinionated and possible even contradictory articles on even the simplest of topics.

Another important distinction is that Wikipedia is a strictly non profit web site that does not carry any type of advertising, while Knol is a decidedly more commercial venture, with its content authors earning revenue from any Google ads on their site.

Mikhail Tuknov offers ppc search engine marketing services

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  1. Lost Forum says

    great article! i didn’t know about the new web service “knol” developed by Google! Thank you for letting me know about this! your blog is very informative, i like it very much. thank you for sharing the information with us. Wishing you all the BEST for 2008 and ALWAYS!

  2. best cd rates says

    It seems like the knoll idea is going to run into issues. I dont know why Google would see this as a great way to give better content. I just think that it will hurt a lot of the fundamentals of other websites along the way and take out a 1st 2nd or 3rd spot listing.

  3. Pedestal Sink says

    I didn’t even know Knol was coming out, I need to start paying more attention…haha. It will be interesting to see how Knol fairs compared to Wikipedia. With one being non profit and the other all about profit, I bet some people will be more inclined to not use Google’s Knol just because they know its more about the money then just sharing knowledge. Good post.

  4. claire says

    How long will it be before the internet becomes googlenet!! Is there anything that google aren’t trying to muscle in on!? I honestly see that within 10 years 90% of anything we do on the internet will be via a google platform such as this new google knol. It’s about time Yahoo and MSN got their act together before its too late!

  5. – The Don’ts of How To Make Money says

    To be honest, this is the last thing we need. Wikipedia pages already dominate the search engines for highly competitive search terms. By the time knol swings around, it is likely that the Wikipedia pages will plumet to position 2 on the search engines for the same terms. As a result, many people who rank on the first and second pages for competitive terms will experience a signifcant drop in revenue. I definitely don’t want to be the victim of such foul play.

  6. Wedding Dresses says

    Yeah, this could cause even more ranking drops if they are high in the SERPS like Wikipedia for nearly every term… Google is taking over the world one web property at a time… scary.

  7. Online Money says

    As it is in development stage we have to watch out how it carries out . As far as domination concern i cannot think of Knol to dominate Wikipedia. Any way thanks for the information, nice blog and a very Happy NewYear.

  8. JW Bobbink SEO says

    I agree with previous comments, we really do not need more pages from Wikipedia. They do have good informational pages but are dominating far too much in the SERPs. Please have Google adjust their algoritme to give other websites a chance too.

  9. Wellness says

    I don’t think Knol will replace Wikipedia. Wikipedia is already established with millions of articles. We will see what Knol will bring to us…

  10. Dax Brady Sheehan says

    Competitor… am I too brash to call it a wiki killer?

    @ wellness because wikipedia has millions of articles certainly does not mean that it can never be run on. Google has scale, can scale anything (think gmail) has trust in the brand GLOBALLY and what else am I missing? Oh controls the doorway for users to enter into wikipedia. Do you really think wikipedia will out rank knol (a Google property)?

  11. Monetization Hub says

    It will take them quite a while to out-do Wikipedia’s massive amount of backlinks, and probably equally as long to top the SERPs.