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Google Launches Knol for All (Just Don't Call It a Wikipedia Killer)

When I wrote about Google?? announcement of Knol last December, I said it wasn?? the Wikipedia killer many people were rushing to call it. One reason was that Knol, which Google intends as a tool to write ??uthoritative?articles about a particular subject, was invite-only.

No longer. This morning, Google opened up Knol to everyone. It’s still different from Wikipedia, though that volunteer-written online encyclopedia is trying out new ways to make contributions more authoritative. Here’s what Google’s saying on the Google blog this morning:

With Knol, we are introducing a new method for authors to work together that we call “moderated collaboration.” With this feature, any reader can make suggested edits to a knol which the author may then choose to accept, reject, or modify before these contributions become visible to the public. This allows authors to accept suggestions from everyone in the world while remaining in control of their content. After all, their name is associated with it!

Knols include strong community tools which allow for many modes of interaction between readers and authors. People can submit comments, rate, or write a review of a knol. At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads from our AdSense program. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with a revenue share from the proceeds of those ad placements.

And I still think it’s not a Wikipedia killer, as I wrote months ago:

This is mainly a complement to Wikipedia rather than a competitor. You go to Wikipedia precisely for the “neutral point of view” that is its stated goal (even if it doesn’t always achieve that goal). Knols are precisely the opposite: one person’s view. The system looks like it will allow other people to contribute, and even to rate the knol, but if I understand correctly, the control of the writing rests solely with the original author.

That’s still the case, though there are some community features that could make entries in their entirety more consensus-driven. The unanswered question is whether the monetary incentives Google is providing will help it take off even as Wikipedia keeps growing in popularity without any such incentives.

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