Google’s Answer to Wikipedia

Knol, Google’s answer to Wikipedia, has arrived.  It tries to avoid the most obvious pitfalls of Wikipedia by allowing more than one article on a subject by different authors.  So instead of one page that gets endlessly written and rewritten by people with opposing viewpoints, only one person is allowed to grant authorship rights on their page, and anyone can create their own page on any topic.  The content that is available now (there’s not much) looks like it is very good quality, such as this one about how to deal with a clogged toilet (a very common problem in my family!).

The visual interface is a lot cleaner and more attractive than Wikipedia’s, which I’ve always found to be a bit confusing and overwhelming, and yet it still allows some of the advanced wiki features such as revision tracking and page-level discussion.

So why not update your bookmarks to point to Knol?  Mainly because it only has a fraction of the content.  Chances are, the subject you’re researching is probably not there yet.  If you’re a content author, just because the site is from Google doesn’t mean it’s bound for success, so there’s no guarantee your articles will ever have the readership found on Wikipedia.  Of course, most people get to Wikipedia through Google searches, and if Google starts tweaking their search engine to show Knol entries higher than Wikipedia…  Maybe in ten years, who knows?


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