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Google's Knol Finally Goes Public. A Wikipedia Killer?

Anyone remember this? Google first announced Knol, a user-generated, online encyclopedia, back in December 2007. It's been in hibernation since then, as it spooled up its design, added content, and otherwise coalesced. Well, today it finally went live, albeit with only several hundred articles. Can it really take on Wikipedia?
Anyone remember this? Google first announced Knol, a user-generated, online encyclopedia, back in December 2007. It's been in hibernation since then, as it spooled up its design, added content, and otherwise coalesced. Well, today it finally went live, albeit with only several hundred articles. Can it really take on Wikipedia?Wikipedia already has a pretty big lead on Knol. Knol, short for knowledge, is meant to draw upon subject experts for its content. It was started by Udi Manber, who was disappointed that certain "black holes" existed in the Internet where data or information on certain things simply wasn't available. According to Wired, Google is banking on the project to give experts the platform they need to share their knowledge with the world.

Think you are pretty smart and should be sending in articles for the rest of the world to read? Hold your horses. You need to be vetted, first. Wired reports that Google verifies authors' real names via credit cards, so there can be some level of accountability for the information being shared. "Here's how Knol works. Experts in a given subject log into a Google account and use the Knol software to post an item, also known as a knol. In some senses, the process is like producing a blog post -- but in this case it's not something written off the cuff but carefully crafted to coherently explain a single subject," notes Wired. In other words, if a contributor really screws something up, and readers raise a stink about it, Google will be able to go back to that contributor easily for any corrections or updates.

The goal is to create an online repository of verified information, not unlike Wikipedia. But Google's team doesn't want to compete with Wikipedia. According toThe New York Times, Google's Cedric Dupont, product manager said, "Google is very happy with Wikipedia being so successful. Anyone who tries to kill them would hurt us." In other words, Google doesn't see itself as competing with Wikipedia head on; rather, it wants to offer an alternate source of in-depth information.

The fledgling service has a long way to go before it can say it is on equal footing with Wikipedia. In the meantime, it will continue to do what it can to attract contributors to add to its bank of data about this and that.

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