From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Type of site
DissolvedMay 1, 2012
Created byGoogle (offline)
LaunchedJuly 23, 2008
Current statusClosed

Knol was a Google project which aims to include user-written articles on a range of topics.[1] The project was announced on December 13, 2007 and opened in beta to the public on July 23, 2008.[2] When it was opened, there were a few hundred articles mostly about health and medicine.[3][4]

Knol pages were "meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read", according to Manber.[1] The term knol, which Google defined as a "unit of knowledge",[5] refers to both the project and an article in the project.[1] Some experts saw Knol as Google's attempt to compete with Wikipedia,[6] while others point out the differences between the projects.[7]

The project was closed on April 30, 2012, and all content was deleted after October 1, 2012.[8]

Content[change | change source]

Anyone could create and own new knols. There can also be several articles on the same topic, each written by a different author.[9][10] Because multiple articles can have the same title, readers find a topic by searching, rather than just by title. The authors can say who can edit their articles: the public, other authors, or only themselves. They could choose to include ads from Google's AdSense to their knols. Knol has a policy that specifies topics that are unacceptable for the project. Relevant nudity is allowed (in most countries),[11] but pornography, commercial or otherwise, is forbidden.[12] Also forbidden is discriminatory or violent content. Content designed to promote businesses, products or services is allowed, but articles without real content, created solely to generate ad revenue are not.[12]

In its early stages of development Knol was criticised.[13] Commentators called it a "wasteland" of articles copied from other sources, entries that were outdated or abandoned, as well as spam or self-promotion.[14] It was criticized for having incomplete and inaccurate articles.[15] Google said that "Since knol authors receive attribution, knols are a great forum for expressing your opinions."[16] In October 2008, Google unveiled using Knols as a forum for debate,[17] and enabled French, Italian and German versions, in the face of stagnating traffic.[15]

Process[change | change source]

Anyone who wanted to contribute to Knol must first sign in, with a Google account, with their real name.[3] If permission is given, Google will check if the name is true. Google did this by credit card or phone. Google "[believes] that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content". The company hoped that "knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line".[1]

Readers logged in with a google account could comment on entries, rate them or suggest changes. When the project was announced, Manber said that "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."[1]

Knol has "nofollow" outgoing links, using an HTML directive. This prevents links in its articles from influencing search engine rankings.[18]

What people say about Knol[change | change source]

People described Knol as a rival to other encyclopedia sites such as Wikipedia and Scholarpedia.[19][20] Sometimes people pointed out that the format was very different, and therefore it might be an addition to these sites. It might allow to get around some of the problems of Wikipedia.[21][22][23] The non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which owns the name Wikipedia and the servers hosting the Wikipedia projects, welcomed the Google Knol initiative saying that "The more good free content, the better for the world."[24]

There was debate whether Google search results can remain neutral because of possible conflict of interest.[25][26] According to Danny Sullivan, the editor of Search Engine Land, "Google’s goal of making Knol pages easy to find on search engines could conflict with its need to remain unbiased."[26] Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, raised similar concerns: "At the end of the day, there's a fundamental conflict between the business Google is in and its social goals. What you're seeing here, slowly, is Google embracing an advertising-driven model, in which money will have a greater impact on what people have ready access to."[27]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Manber, Udi (2007-12-13). "Encouraging People to Contribute Knowledge". Official Google blog (06:01:00 PM). Google. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  2. Mills, Ellis (2008-07-23). "Google's Wikipedia rival, Knol, goes public". CNET News. Archived from the original on 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Levy, Steven (2008-07-23). "Google Throws Open Rival for Wikipedia — Anon Authors Discouraged". Wired News. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  4. Helft, Miguel (2008-07-23). "Wikipedia, Meet Knol". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  5. Monaghan, Angela (2007-12-14). ""Google's 'knol' may challenge Wikipedia". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2007-12-16. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
  6. "Google debuts knowledge project". BBC. 2007-12-15. Retrieved 2007-12-15. Many experts see the initiative as an attack on the widely used Wikipedia communal encyclopaedia.
  7. "Google Knol Released. It's Not Wikipedia".
  8. "15 amazing Google projects that failed". Rediff. 21 October 2013. Archived from the original on 29 February 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  9. Schofield, Jack (2008-07-23). "Google opens up Knol, its Wikipedia-for-cash project". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  10. Blakely, Rhys (2007-12-15). "Google to tackle Wikipedia with new knowledge service". The Times. Retrieved 2007-12-15. [K]nol looks set to foster rivalry. Contributors to Knol will not be able to contribute anonymously and will not be able to edit each other's work, [...]. Whereas on Wikipedia, readers find only one entry on, say, the First World War, on Knol authors will submit separate pieces that will compete for advertising dollars.
  11. "Breast Augmentation". Knol. Archived from the original on 2008-09-03. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Content Policy". Archived from the original on 2008-08-19. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  13. Harvey, Mike (September 6, 2008). "Google: In search of technology's new frontiers". The Times. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  14. Manjoo, Farhad (September 22, 2008). "Chuck Knol". Slate. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Google Knol Opens In French, German and Italian". TechCrunch. October 30, 2008.
  16. "Best Practices: Writing Good Knols", Google, 2008, webpage: Google-Knol Archived 2008-12-17 at the Wayback Machine: notes "Since knol authors receive attribution, "knols are a great forum for expressing your opinions."
  17. "Knol debates: See both sides, get involved".
  18. Lenssen, Philipp (2008-07-24). "Knol's Nofollowing Of Links". Google Blogoscoped. Retrieved 2008-07-30.
  19. Riley, Duncan (2007-12-14). "Google Knol: A Step Too Far?". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  20. Frederick, Lane (2007-12-14). "Death Knell Sounds for Wikipedia,". NewsFactor Network. Archived from the original on 2008-02-24. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  21. Masnick, Mike (2007-12-14). "Google Decides Organizing The World's Information Is Easier If That Info Is Online". Techdirt. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  22. Manjoo, Farhad (2007-12-14). "Truthiness showdown: Google's "Knol" vs. Wikipedia". Archived from the original on 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  23. Hof, Rob (2007-12-14). "Google's Knol: No Wikipedia Killer". Businessweek. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  24. Levy, Ari (2007-12-14). "Google Starts Web Site Knol to Challenge Wikipedia". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
  25. Greenberg, Andy (2007-12-14). "Google's Know-It-All Project". Forbes. Archived from the original on 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Helft, Miguel (2007-12-15). "Wikipedia Competitor Being Tested by Google". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-15. Some critics said that shift could compromise Google's objectivity in presenting search results.
  27. Schiffman, Betsy (2007-12-14). "Knol Launch: Google's 'Units of Knowledge' May Raise Conflict of Interest". Wired. Retrieved 2007-12-15.

Other websites[change | change source]