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Wikipedia: For Whom the Knol Tolls

Posted on 7.23.2008

Google Knol has been publicly released today, perhaps signaling the end for competitor Wikipedia.

The difference between the two services is that unlike Wikipedia, KNOLs (a unit of knowledge) are not written collaboratively. Instead, one user creates and moderates (and of course profits) from the KNOL. A little background might be helpful here. A knol is "an authoritative article about a specific topic" according to the site. What makes individual KNOLs a real game changer however is not their ease of use, or that they offer the creator of the KNOL greater control or an area to connect with other experts. Oh, no - that's just the icing on the cake.

What really makes Knol a powerful tool is visibility.

According the site, Google values and promotes authorship. "Great content will be visible on any search engine." If you are Wikipedia, that presents a major problem. Here's why. Wikipedia has secured top spots on some of the most competitive search terms on the Web (and don't think for one minute that Google is not completely aware of that fact). Conduct a query on a general topic and you can be sure that one of the top listings will be a Wikipedia entry. Introduce Knol and Wikipedia entries (regardless if Google intends to do no evil or not) are sure to move down the list.

Count on the fact that many will cry foul and that it's not fair to other content producers. Google has a responsibility to continually develop more traction (and revenue) and that is exactly what KNOL provides. My advice? Go create a KNOL. Now.

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