Several experts see Knol as Google’s attempt to compete with Wikipedia.
Knol is a Google project which includes articles on topics ranging from “scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions,” according to Google. Largely the brain child of Google vice president of engineering Udi Manber, it was announced on December 13, 2007 and was opened in beta to the public on July 23, 2008 with a few hundred articles.
-  Reception
-  Competition
-  Conflict of interest
-  References
-  External links
At the time of its launch, Knol was seeded with several hundred articles, mostly in the health and medical field. All knols are licensed by default under a Creative Commons copyleft license, but authors may choose traditional copyright protections. It is unclear if this default license is compatible with the GFDL used in Wikipedia. All contributors must sign in first with a Google account. Knol has a content policy describing topics unacceptable for the project. Relevant nudity is allowed, but pornography, commercial or otherwise, is forbidden. Also forbidden is discriminatory or violent content. Content designed to promote businesses, products or services is allowed, but articles devoid of substantive content and created solely to generate ad revenue are not.
Readers may rate, comment on, or suggest edits to the articles. There can also be multiple articles for the same topic, each written by a different author. Google “[believes] that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content.” Manber said that Google hopes “knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line” and that the authors will be able to decide whether advertisements will appear on their knols, and that if there are ads, a “substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads” will be given to authors. Manber also writes that “Google 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.”
Since its announcement in December of 2007, there has been speculation on Google’s motives and its position as a producer of content rather than as an organizer. The Guardian‘s Jack Schofield argued that “Knol represents an attack on the media industry in general.”
Knol has been described both as a rival to encyclopedia sites such as Wikipedia and Scholarpedia and as a complement to Wikipedia, offering a different format that addresses many of Wikipedia’s shortcomings. The non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which owns the name Wikipedia and the servers hosting the Wikipedia projects, welcomed the Google Knol initiative saying that “The more good free content, the better for the world.” While Wikipedia articles are written collectively under a “neutral point of view” policy, Knol will highlight personal expertise by emphasizing authorship and, like articles provided on Squidoo and Helium.com, knols will contain the personal opinions of the author. Despite the official Wikimedia response and the differences in format, Wikimedia Foundation chair Florence Devouard has expressed concern over Knol’s potential threat to Wikipedia in terms of the competition it will create. After Knol’s beta launch, Google product manager Cedric Dupont responded to the idea that Google intended Knol to be a “Wikipedia killer” by saying, “Google is very happy with Wikipedia being so successful. Anyone who tries to kill them would hurt us.” The New York Times noted similarities in design between Knol and Wikipedia, such as use of the same font. Dupont responded that the use was simply a coincidence as it is a commonly used font.
Because of Knol’s format, some have said Knol will be more like About.com than Wikipedia. According to Wolfgang Hansson, a writer at DailyTech, Knol may have been planned for About.com originally when it was up for acquisition. Hansson reported that several sources close to the sale said Google was planning to acquire About.com, but the executives at About.com learned Google was planning to move from About.com’s model to a wiki-style model. That would have meant layoffs for all 500 or so “Guides” at About.com.
 Conflict of interest
There has been debate whether Google search results can remain neutral because of possible conflict of interest. According to Sullivan, “Google’s goal of making Knol pages easy to find on search engines could conflict with its need to remain unbiased.” Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, raised similar concerns: “At the end of the day, there’s a fundamental conflict between the business Google is in and its social goals. What you’re seeing here, slowly, is Google embracing an advertising-driven model, in which money will have a greater impact on what people have ready access to.” As a response to such concerns it has been pointed out that Google already hosts large amounts of content in sites like YouTube, Blogger and Google Groups and that there is no significant difference in this case. Nicholas Carr, a frequent technology commentator, dismissed predictions of Google manipulating results saying that Google is hoping that the most popular Knol pages will rise naturally through the search results, challenging Wikipedia and providing another area of content that can carry Google ads.
- ^ a b Sullivan, Danny (2007-12-13). “Google Knol – Google’s Play To Aggregate Knowledge Pages“. Search Engine Land. Retrieved on 2007-12-17. “Google Knol is designed to allow anyone to create a page on any topic, which others can comment on, rate, and contribute to if the primary author allows. [...] Google also stressed to me [...] that the service might not launch at all.”
- ^ A longer version of the screenshot: http://www.google.com/help/knol_screenshot.html
- ^ a b c d e f Manber, Udi (12/13/2007 06:01:00 PM). “Encouraging People to Contribute Knowledge“. Official Google blog. Google. Retrieved on 2008-07-23.
- ^ a b c Levy, Steven (July 23, 2008). “Google Throws Open Rival for Wikipedia — Anon Authors Discouraged“, Wired News. Retrieved on 2008-07-23.
- ^ Mills, Ellis (2008-07-23). “Google’s Wikipedia rival, Knol, goes public“, CNET News. Retrieved on 2008-07-23.
- ^ a b c d Helft, Miguel (July 23, 2008, 3:04 pm). “Wikipedia, Meet Knol“, The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-07-23.
- ^ Monaghan, Angela (2007-12-14). ““Google’s ‘knol’ may challenge Wikipedia“. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 2007-12-15.
- ^ “Google debuts knowledge project“. BBC (2007-12-15). Retrieved on 2007-12-15. “Many experts see the initiative as an attack on the widely used Wikipedia communal encyclopaedia.”
- ^ Needleman, Rafe (2007-12-14). “Google’s Knol experiment to rival Wikipedia?“, CNET Networks. Retrieved on 2007-12-18. ”Since Knol pages will be authored, users won’t, presumably, be able to dive in and edit another page. They’ll be able to submit edits to the author for approval, though.”
- ^ a b c Blakely, Rhys (2007-12-15). “Google to tackle Wikipedia with new knowledge service“. The Times. Retrieved on 2007-12-15. “[K]nol looks set to foster rivalry. Contributors to Knol will not be able to contribute anonymously and will not be able to edit each other’s work, [...]. Whereas on Wikipedia, readers find only one entry on, say, the First World War, on Knol authors will submit separate pieces that will compete for advertising dollars.”
- ^ “Breast Augmentation“. Knol.
- ^ a b “Content Policy“. knol.google.com. Google. Retrieved on 2008-07-23.
- ^ Schofield, Jack (2007-12-15). “Google tries Knol, an encyclopedia to replace Wikipedia“, The Guardian. Retrieved on 2007-12-15.
- ^ Riley, Duncan (2007-12-14). “Google Knol: A Step Too Far?“. TechCrunch. Retrieved on 2007-12-14.
- ^ a b Frederick, Lane (2007-12-14). “Death Knell Sounds for Wikipedia, About.com“, NewsFactor Network. Retrieved on 2007-12-14.
- ^ Masnick, Mike (2007-12-14). “Google Decides Organizing The World’s Information Is Easier If That Info Is Online“. Techdirt. Retrieved on 2007-12-14.
- ^ Manjoo, Farhad (2007-12-14). “Truthiness showdown: Google’s “Knol” vs. Wikipedia“. Salon.com. Retrieved on 2007-12-14.
- ^ a b Hof, Rob (2007-12-14). “Google’s Knol: No Wikipedia Killer“. Businessweek. Retrieved on 2007-12-14.
- ^ Levy, Ari (2007-12-14). “Google Starts Web Site Knol to Challenge Wikipedia“, Bloomberg. Retrieved on 2007-12-15.
- ^ “Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view“.
- ^ Murrell, John (2007-12-14). “Google’s philosophy: Knol thyself“. SiliconValley.com. Retrieved on 2007-12-14.
- ^ [Foundation-l] [Announcement] update in board of trustees membership
- ^ Hansson, Wolfgang (2007-12-14). “Google Announces Knol Wikipedia-like Service“, DailyTech. Retrieved on 2007-12-14.
- ^ a b Greenberg, Andy (2007-12-14). “Google’s Know-It-All Project“, Forbes. Retrieved on 2007-12-16.
- ^ a b Helft, Miguel (2007-12-15). “Wikipedia Competitor Being Tested by Google“, New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-12-15. ”Some critics said that shift could compromise Google’s objectivity in presenting search results.”
- ^ Schiffman, Betsy (December 14, 2007). “Knol Launch: Google’s ‘Units of Knowledge’ May Raise Conflict of Interest“. Wired. Retrieved on 2007-12-15.
- ^ Carr, Nicholas (December 13, 2007). “Google Knol takes aim at Wikipedia“. Retrieved on 2007-12-14.
- ^ Scott Morrison, “Google Targets Wikipedia With New ‘Knol’ Pages”, Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2007
 External links
Knol pages are “meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read”, according to Manber. The term knol, named after a “unit of knowledge”, refers to both the project and an article in the project. Several experts see Knol as Google’s attempt to compete with Wikipedia.