Knol and Wikipedia would be different in other ways. While Wikipedia is a not-for-profit and ad-free endeavor, Knol has a more commercial bent: Authors could choose to have Google place ads on their pages and would get part of the revenue.
“At some point, Google crosses the line, where they are not only a search engine, but also a content provider,” Mr. Sullivan said. Technically speaking, he said, authors, not Google, would create Knol pages. “But it matters how it appears,” he said. “I do a search on Google, I go to some place that Google hosts and I also find Google ads.”
I think this will come down, in part, to:
1. Information value and information value-add: if Knol has more useful and accurate entries than Wikipedia, people should go with the better source
2. Google's search heuristics: if there's any data suggesting Google is biasing search results to favor resources it controls, it should prove devastating to Google's "don't be evil" etc. good will, and people should search elsewhere
Wikipedia Competitor Being Tested by Google - New York Times
Knol's model of having a writer submit content in exchange for a split of ad revenue is identical to About's model with its guides, and no one views About as anything but a Web publisher. Of course, Google gave up its content "purity" a long time ago by buying the largest video site on the Web and a photo-sharing service, but at least now everyone will see Google for the content-publishing deathstar that it is.
the main 'advantage' in google's model is its insistence on individualizing content, so as to enable content producers to profit. but this is no advance in a field where information should be as universal and free of individual bias as possible.
wikipedia's greatness lies in its collaborative non-commercial model whose main purpose is to arrive at a 'truth' as widely accountable as possible, whereas knol and others would have profit-making subsume the knowledge itself.
i suppose the world can stand another moneymaking tool, but knol certainly will not replace wikipedia's elegance and hard-won universality.
Thanks for the comments -- I agree, and suspect the advent of Knol may ultimately lead to a wider appreciation of Wikipedia
There's a good page explaining how about.com generates revenue:
It seems to involve a corner of the online advertising world that Google doesn't dominate yet, and may well explain the attraction (at least, part of it) of experimenting with Knol.
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