An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

Send your tips to

December 14, 2007

Google Knol, an Encyclopedia Written by Experts

Udi Manber from Google writes about a new service for sharing knowledge called knol.

"Earlier this week, we started inviting a selected group of people to try a new, free tool that we are calling knol, which stands for a unit of knowledge. 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."

Unlike Wikipedia, Knol wants article written by people who are an authority on a subject. The articles written in Knol are more like scientific papers because they have clearly defined authors, references, even if they don't necessarily include original research. "We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content," explains Google.

Knol will be open to anyone and it will be interesting to see how Google verifies your identity. If you claim to be Nelson Mandela, how can Google know that this claim is real?

Google provides tools for editing the text, hosts the article and allows you to monetize it (but that's not required). Obviously, Google can't guarantee that an article is accurate or complete and that's the small role of a community: rate the articles, write reviews and suggest edits.

"Once testing is completed, participation in knols will be completely open, and we cannot expect that all of them will be of high quality. 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."

Google did a similar thing when it allowed people in the news to comment on news articles. The number of comments is very small (around 150 for the last 30 days), but they're interesting and add a lot to a story.

Wikipedia managed to become one of the most important sites on the web even if it allowed anyone to edit an article. According to the online encyclopedia, "The English Wikipedia edition passed the 2,000,000 article mark on September 9, 2007, and as of December 13 it had over 2,125,453 articles consisting of over 921,000,000 words. Wikipedia's articles have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world and the vast majority of them can be edited by anyone with access to the Internet. Having steadily risen in popularity since its inception, it currently ranks among the top ten most-visited websites worldwide." But one of the most important problem of Wikipedia is that articles lack credibility and it's difficult to tell if they contain accurate information. Assuming Google manages to verify people's identity, Knol could solve this problem.

Udi Manber, who heads the project, told Danny Sullivan that the main goal is "to help people put knowledge on the web that doesn't currently exist, which in turn should make search better, since there will be better information out there." Google certainly hopes to attract important authors and that's probably the reason why Udi Manber talked about the project on Google's blog. But how will the project scale when it becomes available to the public?


  1. > If you claim to be Nelson
    > Mandela, how can Google know
    > that this claim is real?

    Good point.

  2. Yes, Knol is Wikipedia by Google. But it has better features for author to monetize written page, related search box and Peer review widget.

    I think it is great to have a better version of wikipedia and I am sure Google will do greater job in this area.

    I would certainly not advocate the monopoly, but you got to be smarter and quicker to kill the beast, other they stories will repeat itself.
    [Saurabh K.]


  3. You know, I really like Google, having so many great services, Gmail, etc. But I definitively don't like this feature. Why is Google going to create "a better Wikipedia", instead of Helping the Wikipedia Project wich is Free and GNU???
    Wikipedia has done a lot of work to be among the best knowledge sites in the net, but there is a lot of work yet to be done. I think that Google creating their own Knowledge Search Engine ain't going to help Wikipedia develop much furter...

  4. Peregrino, Knol has a different model with wikipedia, google cannot and should not change the way wikipedia is, so here comes Knol.

    Though both targeting open knowledge base, Knol and wikipedia are not director competitors.

    Wikipedia is more for a larger number of casual editors with cooperative relations. There are massive number of entries, but only one single page for each entry. This single entry usually prefers general and confident information, but not deep discussions. This is the model of a tradition encyclopedia.

    Knol is (or may be, may become) more of a collection of creditable blogs on interested knowledge. The relation among different "blog owners" is competitive. Knowledge can be discussed or presented in a very personal way. Deep analysis of certain topic is possible, without the restriction of "keep it general" for all audience.

    Actually, I see they're quite complementary.

  5. Knol is more something like than

    cheers mads

  6. Pan Yu, I hope Knol becomes what you say, it's just that I'm not confident about this one from Google :)

  7. Mads, yep, Knol is like scholarpedia, but may become a better one.

    Given google's halo, Knol would attract a lot more authors/users at the very beginning.

    Moreover, Knol won't likely pose strong restrictions on the authors, unlike scholarpedia, articles are invited and written only by renowned experts. Apparently, Knol can grow faster.

    After all, the richness of content and activity matters. The accuracy and depths of the content can be assured thru the elective process, and secured by authors personal reputation.

    I do have confidence on Knol.

  8. I am wondering, when wikipedia will start a similar program to pay for good quality editors. My bet is 6 months - Szabolcs

  9. I think this is more to compete with, although I think it is getting way to close to Wikipedia... which is something that I am not especially happy about

  10. Google's plans for an informational world dominated by Google initiatives is frightful to say the least. For a fictionalized, but probably correct, vision of the future, see my blog post on MarketingBeyond at

  11. Surely this will draw great debates, and push Wikipedia to improve. Hopefully Wikipedia will get inspiration from Knol.

    It is really easy for Wikipedia to highlight authors of an entry, as Wikipedia maintains history of changes. If Wikipedia does so, we will see who created, how much each author contributed to a page or to whole Wikipedia.

    Another so called advantage of Knol is that Google does not impose moderation. This is not new, as many people pointed out, this is just old school Without moderation, quality is hard to maintain. Though for the same entry there might be multiple posts, however, this will confuse readers.

    Though such "No Moderation" policy quite follow the tradition of Google, avoiding any labor intensive jobs, I doubt whether Google really want to finalize a "GoogleWikiPedia" directly competing with Wikipedia. I tend to think such move of Google is comparable to Google's Orkut. Orkut was an experimental project without clear position in the world markets, though it was very popular in Brazil. Only a few months ago, Google refreshed Orkut with other new services for online communities. Google did not want another FaceBook or MySpace, and Google just needed a market entry point to integrate FaceBook-like products into Google's core services.

    In summary, I think the creation of Knol serves 2 purposes:
    1. An experimental project to integrate with other services in the future. For example, it will integrate with Google's business wiki products like Jotspot in order to market Jotspot.
    2. Gain better position for strengthen cooperation with Wikipedia. Who know whether the right holder of Wikipedia won't agree to be acquired by Google, as long as Wikipedia can have a position similar to the one of IMDB and Amazon.

    As Knol is complementary to Wikipedia, I think there will be many cross links between them in the future.

  12. wher can i get to see it in action... I mean url and access..


  13. It is up to the users to finally judge a product. The one who does it better will get the fair rewards. Irrespective of Wiki or Knol, the users will be rewarded with the best information and that is what everybody wants.

  14. Hmmmm, there is good reason for verification; however, all true and proven ideas started as "original research" by unknown people. What distinguished the good and useful ones from the bad, useles and harmful ones was that the good ones stood on their own logical validity and truth, which can be determined from the idea and its factual foundations (premises) alone without it being supported by cites, references authorities and the like. Let us hope that Google will take just that much care to not obliterate such vital original research as many even in Wikipedia attempt to do.

  15. when is google going for a beta of this application? I will definitely like to see how it fares with wikipedia. Also regarding monetizing the content, would the incentive be enough to entice capable people(experts) to start contributing, given the effort involved in monetizing blogs and the number of people who actually make it.

  16. name is enough, Knol from GOOGLE is buzz, upto now whatever google have produced,it entered the market with storm,tag of google implies quality and faith,

    we expect once again it will add little magic to world of netizens

    bol (best of luck) to knol

  17. I think it's a good step from google and I expect it will be great success.

  18. As we now know that due to public feedback, the name KNOL was ditched by google and changed to UNIPEDIA.

    Where will it be found when it launches? ?

  19. UniPedia sounds more likely to me to. Everyone understands UNI as "Universal" and PEDIA pertains to "Encyclopedia"

    Furthermore. It is too close to profanity in Swedish.

    knullar [²kn’ul:ar] knullade knullat knulla(!)
    ha samlag (may be taken as offensive)

    English translation: f**k

    There is no way it will be KNOL, I would bet money it will be UNIPEDIA.

  20. Personally, I think the perfect online encyclopedia would ideally combine aspects of Knol with those of Wikipedia.

    Instead of having articles which are only written by specific authors, and instead of having purely 'public' articles written collaboratively by anyone, do both.

    So, for example, you'd go to article like you would on Wikipedia, and the default 'author' is the 'public', and you'd see the 'public' version anyone can edit. But you could alsoswitch to the entry as written by specific authors, individuals or groups.

    Rather then being necessarily a rival, something like Knol could be a good addition to Wikipedia.

    It would go a long way toward overcoming the problems that emerge on even remotely controversial topics on Wikipedia.

    Instead of just having a single article in which ultimately administrators determine what is 'objective', 'nonbiased', 'reliably sourced' and not 'original research' (in my experience somewhat arbitrarily), differing interpretations and portrayals of the same topic would be able to coexist, without any obliterating the other.

    Maybe the 'public' version would be sufficient or the best on some topics, in other cases maybe a specific author's version would, a version which if left to the 'anyone can edit' and 'administrators moderate' model might not be able to emerge.


  21. When is UNIPEDIA/knol going to launch?

    Is it true that google have shelved this project?

  22. I hope, Knol will incoporate Share This function.

  23. I am a bestselling author and researcher on the topic of crop circles. Now, on Wikipedia, this subject has been hijacked by skeptics, and whenever I try to amend and clarify their bias on this subject it is immediately deleted.

    So, my point is, how would Google Knol differ from this?

  24. How can Knol succeed if it doesn't even own

  25. Google the word Knol


    I've written more about the story on my blog ZaggedEdge dot com

  26. We can find multiple information on the single topic that's the best feature added by google in this encyclopedia.

  27. I see the rumours are starting about UNIPEDIA again. Mind you, KNOL is a terrible name.