Google Challenges Wikipedia with Knol

Google Challenges Wikipedia with Knol

Google engineers have tackled e-mail, mapping, blogging, and just about every other Web project under the sun. Next up: a Wikipedia-style community-based encyclopedia.

On Thursday, Google’s vice president of engineering, Udi Manber, broke news of the  project on the official Google blog. The tool, dubbed Knol (a “unit of knowledge” according to Google), will mimic Wikipedia by allowing community members to contribute to and revise its content.

One major difference between Knol and Wikipedia will be Google’s emphasis on the author. “The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors,” Manber wrote. “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. We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content.”

Since authors will have their names prominently tied to their articles, they will maintain full editorial control over them, and adding in community contributions or revisions will be at their discretion. However, anyone will still be able to contribute, and multiple entries may appear from different authors on each subject. A system of quality ratings will attempt to weed out the worst content and promote the best.

Knol is currently being put through its paces by a select group of beta testers. Manber did not indicate when the project would finally open to everyone.