Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2007-12-17/Google Knol

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The Wikipedia Signpost

Google announces foray into user-generated knowledge

By Enochlau and Ral315, December 17, 2007

In an announcement last week, Google Vice President of Engineering Udi Manber announced the invitation-only testing of Knol, a site hosting user-generated content on a wide range of subjects.

The term knol was coined by Google to mean a unit of knowledge, and refers to the entire project as well as individual articles. While the jury is still out on whether Knol will be successful, or whether it will even make it to a public launch, the obvious comparison that has sparked the Internet alight is with Wikipedia.

There are some immediately apparent differences between Knol and Wikipedia. The most important one is that Knol is not a wiki. Content pages will be owned by a single author and that sole author has the responsibility of maintaining its content; other users can participate by suggesting edits, or by rating or commenting on the article. This setup is comparable to that of, e.g., PlanetMath.

With immediate comparisons to Wikipedia, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was interviewed for articles relating to Knol; Wales classified the project as "cool", but noted that, with advertising, and potential commercial benefits to its authors based on ad revenue, "you may see an awful lot of articles about Viagra."

Foundation Chair Florence Devouard took a more cautious approach to Knol:

I do not share the same optimism than Jimbo with regards to Knol. I think Knol is probably our biggest threat since the creation of Wikipedia. I really mean the biggest. Maybe not so much the project itself, but the competition it will create, the PR consequences, the financial tsunami, the confusion in people minds (free as in free speech or as in free of charge). Many parties are trying to influence us, to buy us, and conflicts of interest are becoming the rule rather than the exception. There are power struggles on the path.

Meanwhile, Mathias Schindler noted that a screenshot of the site seemed to indicate that its content may be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license, which would allow its usage within other works, potentially including Wikipedia.

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Also this week:

From the editor — Former COO — Möller move — Google Knol — WikiWorld — News and notes — In the news — WikiProject report — Features and admins — Technology report — Arbitration report

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