This one really blows me away. Everyone has noticed recently (over the past few years and in particular lately) how dominant Wikipedia is in Google results.
Well, I guess Google’s noticed too, and decided it wants to own the second click, as well as the first. From the Times UK piece:
Google is launching a rival to Wikipedia, the world’s most popular online reference work.
The new user-generated Google website, dubbed “knol”, will be free to read and will invite “people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it”, Udi Manber, a Google engineer, said on an official company blog.
Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it. The tool is still in development and this is just the first phase of testing. For now, using it is by invitation only. But we wanted to share with everyone the basic premises and goals behind this project.
The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. Books have authors’ names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors — but somehow the web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted.
ER, HELLO!? This is a direct response to Wikipedia, where the articles are written by a committee process with no attribution, and the main complaint is lack of authority or opaque bias. Wow. I guess that’s how Google plans to compete.
What do you all think? Will it start to beat Wikipedia in organic listings? Or will it matter, as Google can simply one box it, like Yahoo does its owned and operated properties, and push folks to the pages where the margins are better for Google? The post addresses this:
At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads.
Question: Please define “substantial”?
And what about editing and community and such?
“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. We hope that knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line. Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing.
Knols will include strong community tools. People will be able to submit comments, questions, edits, additional content, and so on. Anyone will be able to rate a knol or write a review of it. Knols will also include references and links to additional information.”
Huh. And what about ranking, how will knols rank compared to say, well, Wikipedia articles?
Our job in Search Quality will be to rank the knols appropriately when they appear in Google search results. We are quite experienced with ranking web pages, and we feel confident that we will be up to the challenge. We are very excited by the potential to substantially increase the dissemination of knowledge.
We do not want to build a walled garden of content; we want to disseminate it as widely as possible. Google will not ask for any exclusivity on any of this content and will make that content available to any other search engine.
Wait a minute! You mean it won’t just be the magic Google black box that ranks them? You mean HUMANS are going to get involved here?
That’s all I can say. Wow. (Head is shaking….firing off email to Udi!)