Google unveils anti-Wikipedia project 'Knol'
Dec 14, 2007, 17:26 GMT
Berlin - Search engine giant Google has unveiled plans for an internet reference work that would solve one of the notable problems of Wikipedia, the do-it-yourself encyclopaedia written by the masses.
Google has invented the word 'knol,' an abbreviation of 'knowledge,' to describe each of the articles which it intends to be written for free by 'millions' of experts and published on the site.
The project was announced late Thursday by a Google executive, Udi Manber, on Google's official blog or internet newsletter. He said a 'knol' meant a unit of knowledge. The project has set off a storm of speculation on other blogs about what Google is up to.
Manber said experts in every field were invited to write authoritative articles and put them on the site, where readers could comment on them and rate them.
The author of a knol could opt to receive money as a share of revenue from advertisments next to the articles.
The knol plan appears to be a direct challenge to Wikipedia, the US-based multi-language internet encyclopedia which can be edited at will - or spoiled - by any of its readers.
Writing for Wikipedia can be compulsive, but many of its contributors become frustrated by its egalitarianism.
When two contributors, usually anonymous and using a pen name, disagree, the most obstinate usually wins. Disputes can be put up for discussion, but the most opinionated often win this too.
When political differences obtrude, for example about Taiwan, a mass fight may break out.
Wikipedia also forbids 'original research,' meaning an expert cannot quote his or her own knowledge. It deletes some subjects, such as fix-it advice or product information, because these are 'not encyclopaedic.'
'Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it,' the Google announcement said. 'The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors.'
Google, which did not say whether the Knol tool would be available in languages other than English, stated it would not edit the contributors' work and expected that for many topics there would be competing knols with a vote for the best.
Knols about entertainment, product information and how-to-fix-it instructions would be welcome.
The knol tool would work like a blog and other social networking sites, with readers able to add comments and gradings. The announcement did not say if readers would be able to correct spelling mistakes, one of the most common reader actions on Wikipedia.
'A knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read,' Manber said.
Wikipedia, which was founded in 2001, has more than 2 million articles in English alone and appears in 253 languages. It rates as one of the world's 10 most popular websites and is a standard aid for schoolchildren's homework in many nations.
The site has been praised for legitimizing 'open-source' writing, which can be freely copied and belongs to no one person.
It has been imitated by a host of little 'wikis' for highly specialized groups, for example a collaborative website at the English National Archives where readers explain to one another how to find ancient documents.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur