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Will Google Knol kill off Wikipedia (and many webmasters)?
Wikipedia competitor from Google?
GeorgeK




msg:3527430
 5:52 am on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google's official blog announced "Knol"

[googleblog.blogspot.com...]

which appears to be a Wikipedia-style system, allowing contributors to write articles.

Will this mean the death of Wikipedia?

A knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read.

 

europeforvisitors




msg:3528538
 4:05 pm on Dec 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Zett, you fell right into that one--it's pretty obvious to me that Menial was just trying to be sarcastic. :-)

As for whether Knol will be a failure, I'd guess that it will be like Google Groups: not a failure, but not a world-changing product, either. And sure, it may make money for Google via AdWords/AdSense ads, but what's wrong with that? Google was running ads on its own properties long before AdSense publishers were invited to join the party.

menial




msg:3528552
 4:33 pm on Dec 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Zett, you fell right into that one--it's pretty obvious to me that Menial was just trying to be sarcastic. :-)

Thanks, but I cannot even think to compare with you - being sarcastic in 10K+ messages must be a tremendous achievement :).

Anyway, I feel there's nothing else I could add after Zett's post who very nicely summarized Knol's potential and possible influence on its users.

walkman




msg:3528594
 6:21 pm on Dec 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

google groups is a good enough success: I doubt google spends that many resources so it's still free content.

Jonathan




msg:3528643
 9:03 pm on Dec 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Adsensepedia. Plus, the conflict of interest is staggering.

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.

Does anyone share their confidence?

Also, taking on Wikipedia (win, lose, or whatever) is going to chip away at the credible remnants of the "Don't Be Evil" mantra.

Kumbaya-generated content may or may not work, in the long term. Regardless, pissing on the campfire is not the best move.

This seems very much like Citizendium. But, you know, for profit.

The challenge posed to us by Larry, Sergey and Eric was to find a way to help people share their knowledge. This is our main goal.

It comes across as laughably disingenuous.

chinara




msg:3528683
 11:19 pm on Dec 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think Google is going down a bad path here. The results are already filled up with google properties. So now I have to beat this and wikipedia. Wikipedia is at the top or 2nd on a lot of terms now. This means that some searches will have the first 6 results filled with 2 results from the main company that makes something and 2 results from each of these dictionaries.

Very true so prepare for position -1 on many of your terms.
And of course more stuff is comming up and your position will go another -3,-4,-5.

europeforvisitors




msg:3528708
 11:58 pm on Dec 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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.

Does anyone share their confidence?

Search Google for "search engine," and you won't find a single Google result on the first page of results. Search Google for "maps," and you'll find one result for Google, along with two Mapquest results and seven map sites. Search for "news," and Google News ranks #5, behind Yahoo News. How many Webmasters in this forum can claim that kind of impartiality?

Also, taking on Wikipedia (win, lose, or whatever) is going to chip away at the credible remnants of the "Don't Be Evil" mantra.

There may be some past or current Wikipedia contributors who prefer writing for Knol because they can have a byline, a photo, and a smidgen of ad revenue, or because they've had their fill of being rewritten by other people and want their prose and ideas left alone. Knol will also attract contributors who have never participated in Wikipedia because they aren't team players and don't like being anonymous. However, the suggestion that Google is "taking on Wikipedia" shows a failure to understand the vast differences between Knol and Wikipedia. If Knol is competing with anything, it's with blog sites, including Google's own Blogger/blogspot.com.

dakuma




msg:3528709
 12:00 am on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I could care less really, one can only hope that either Wiki or Knol, or both will be taken out of the main search index.

menial




msg:3528741
 1:16 am on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Search Google for "maps," and you'll find one result for Google, along with two Mapquest results and seven map sites. Search for "news," and Google News ranks #5, behind Yahoo News.

Get your facts straight:

Maps - 2 result (one in "natural" results; one in Adwords)

News - 3 results (one next to: Web tab right on top; one in "natural" results; one in Adwords going to Mobile News).

Search Google for "search engine," and you won't find a single Google result on the first page of results.

That only proves Google is not a search engine anymore.

---

Another good summary (and some insight info) about Knol: [searchengineland.com ]

europeforvisitors




msg:3528759
 2:20 am on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Menial, if you want to include menu items and ads in your definition of "results," that's your privilege, but you'll be ignoring the context of this discussion.

Fact is, Google does have a history of being fair and open-minded in its organic search results. (I wonder how many members of this forum link to their competitors as generously as Google does?*) When you can demonstrate that Google is shutting out non-Blogger pages to promote Blogger pages, Mapquest to promote Google Maps, Shopping.com to promote its own product search, or Webmaster World and #*$!.com's AdSense forums to promote its own AdSense forum, then maybe you'll be able to make a case for the idea that Google's search team will skew the results so that Knol can put other information sites out of business.

* ADDENDUM: The fact that I can't even mention a Webmaster World rival without having the name turned into gibberish supports my parenthetical point above. (You won't find Yahoo listed as "Y#*$! in Google's search results.)

swa66




msg:3528760
 2:31 am on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

High schools and colleges don't allow wikipedia as a cited reference on submitted papers...

As it should be!

A scholar using wikipedia as a referenced source is a fool.

- Wikipedia disallows original research
- Wikipedia requires attribution to the original sources

Both of those make it easy if not trivial to get better references than wikipedia itself.

Moreover with the uncontrolled nature of the content you cannot use it as a reliable source, similarly even if the content at the time you read it is 100% correct, it can change at any time rendering the reference useless for those looking at it when reading your work.

You can use it as one of the sources to search further at best (more or less like SERPs).
Some use it to point people on a webpage for quick definitions of terms etc (and that's what gives it the ultra high SERPs).

menial




msg:3528769
 3:40 am on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've never quite understood why people would spend their lifetimes to provide content hosted and managed by others for free or a "revenue share." Or post thousands of messages on a given subject providing content for others.

IF they were truly EXPERTS in their fields, they would spend $6 for a domain and do their own website or blog, sign their name and any other contact details their want to get the full credit and fame, even put advertising. I don't see who would like to do it on Knol (or who is doing it on similar projects). Sharing revenue with another party doesn't make business sense; being one of the thousands of other contributors doesn't make self-realization sense.

Unless someone is a wannabe expert then I would agree it makes sense to be a contributor on such projects. But then most of the information would be duplicated from Wikipedia and other pre-existed sources anyway.

Oh, I forgot about spammers.. who are always "experts" in their fields ;).

Jonathan




msg:3528790
 4:24 am on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Skewing results would be very overt, and, IMO, extremely unlikely.

The conflict of interest can play out in many subtle ways. How about topic selection? They can gently influence that, without "editing", or "blessing" content. It's not like the first 10 knols will just happen to be about mesothelioma, but still. Or, what about the process by which the "authors" get selected? Have they released details on that yet?

These days, if a very large corporation says that their main goal is to help people find a way to share their knowledge, I'm skeptical. If it's a non-profit, I'm much less skeptical. If it's a very large corporation moving in on a non-profit's "area of focus", I'm extremely skeptical.

A knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read.

In a sense, a knol on a particular topic is also "meant to be" the first result returned.

Google's likely neutrality in ranking Blogger pages is a good example. However, their role as publisher/creator/provider of knols appears to be one step more involved.

This is like the "comments" feature of Google News. I like that feature a lot, I use it often, and I can see that varying viewpoints are presented. However, Google is soliciting the comments, and then selectively publishing them. There is too much room for bias to slip in. Not necessarily "one-sided" bias, but generalized bias. So, on the one hand, they are algorithmically ranking the news stories without bias. On the other, they are publishing comments in a manner that allows for bias.

They are inching too close to the role of content creator, while trying to maintain the neutrality of content ranker.

loner




msg:3528821
 5:52 am on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Everyday wikipedia is taking a little bit more in my field. Adsense made it worthwhile to produce more and let me shift my priorities and be competitive in producing far better content than volunteer 'experts' have (in most cases). I doubt Google will destroy wikipedia, but knol and wikipedia will probably mean the last of me. Especially if Google gives me a flick so they can glean a bit of miniscule profit.

walkman




msg:3528827
 6:06 am on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> Wikipedia disallows original research

original research is published on scholarly journals or books. Let's be honest now. Any expert will have to borrow and cite from somewhere.

asas111




msg:3528838
 7:31 am on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Nobody has asked the following question, even though someone came close by declaring "Google won't need the web anymore soon"

My question is: will there come a day where Google will no longer need any third party publishers to publish their ads, because they can just display them on Knol, Groups, Orkut, Blogger etc.? I mean, these pages will surely number in billions, so why need publishers, why not save that money?

callivert




msg:3528841
 8:04 am on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

IF they were truly EXPERTS in their fields, they would spend $6 for a domain and do their own website or blog, sign their name and any other contact details their want to get the full credit and fame, even put advertising.

That's one strategy for monetising your expertise, and speaking from first-hand experience, it's pretty hard work. Not all experts have the time, expertise, or inclination to do that.

rehabguy




msg:3528932
 2:42 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ok, I want to go on record as saying "THIS WILL SUCCEED".

Google's spinoff apps have not done well in the past, but this is not a spinoff app. It will go directly in the search results, which is directly tied to Google's killer app: search.

If it was going to be another "Tab" or "Link" at the top like Books, Finance and Groups, I'd say no way.

But since these results will show up in the main search area (as opposed even to Adwords which has a 1.5 - 5.0% CTR), I say it will succeed. Even if it's spammy at first.

Capturing the 3rd page, where people (with money) spend 90% of their time is huge.

Again, I give it a 100% chance of being the hot topic of 2009 - Google maims (but doesn't kill) Wikipedia.

europeforvisitors




msg:3528945
 3:03 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I doubt Google will destroy wikipedia, but knol and wikipedia will probably mean the last of me.

I'm skeptical, if only because the structure and concept of a site based on user-created articles don't lend themselves to depth and breadth. Let's use Squidoo as an example: I looked up the name of a major tourist destination last night and found a number of articles, including a couple of city guides, but there was a lot of duplication, and not one had the breadth or depth of my own coverage of the topic (600 or 700 pages at last count, with dedicated articles on a host of subtopics). Will the Knol format even lend itself to comprehensive coverage? And if it does (e.g., if a Knol contributor can build a comprehensive Knol site on a particular topic), how many contributors with that kind of dedication and ambition will host their work with Knol instead of setting up independent sites? Some will, but many won't--especially if there's no guarantee of exclusivity for the topic, as there would be with a more structured megasite like About.com.

Knol sounds like a great place for the person who wants to write individual articles about different topics (a la Squidoo or Suite101.com in its current incarnation) but not such a great place for the person who wants to build a best-of-breed site on a given topic. The latter requires real work, commitment, and a sense of ownership: It isn't recreational like participating in a forum, posting hotel reviews on TripAdvisor, or adding bits and pieces to Wikipedia. And even if Knol did provide the tools for building a comprehensive site, I expect that the rate of abandoned Knol sites would be comparable to the number of abandoned blogs at Blogger and its rivals.

menial




msg:3528958
 4:12 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Besides... we are not in the 90-ties anymore. It could be HUGE back then where people were blind and naive as far as the world-wide-web was concerned.

Now, even newbies and moms-and-pops know more about the Internet, blogs, websites, ecommerce, and online marketing than "the experts" knew yet 10 years ago.

cmarshall




msg:3528960
 4:18 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wikipedia is doing a damn fine job of destroying itself.

I know that The Register [theregister.co.uk] has a general gripe with WikiMedia, but they also have great fuel for their campaign. It appears as if the WikiMedia people are living in Melrose Place:

[theregister.co.uk...]
[theregister.co.uk...]
[theregister.co.uk...]
[theregister.co.uk...]

Most of these articles reference the threads in WikiMedia itself where these peoples' own words are recorded for posterity.

europeforvisitors




msg:3528963
 4:23 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think there are several questions that have yet to be answered:

1. Will Knol succeed in terms of contributors, traffic, and revenue?

2. Will Knol hurt Wikipedia?

3. Will Knol have a noticeable impact on your business or mine?

Questions 1 and 2 are academic in the context of this "Webmaster General" forum (as opposed to, say, the GOOG forum); the real concern for most of us is likely to be question 3.

Jonathan




msg:3528988
 5:11 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Regarding #3 -- It depends on the quality of your existing content.

Google is planning for multiple knols per topic.

For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject.

Of course, they'll all be interlinked. Wikipedia dominates results, but frequently only with 1 listing and a 2nd indented listing. Google may not be expecting to "beat" Wikipedia in the rankings, but to fill in several slots below the Wikipedia results. There is often a very large gap in quality between the Wikipedia results, and the next results. Knols can fill that gap.

This will likely be a call to independent webmasters to "step it up", to "fill the gap" themselves. They should already be leveraging wikis to produce user-generated content, as well as encouraging their community "experts" to write articles.

This competition is likely to drive up the overall quality of search results.

Also, a minor issue in regard to licensing -- the "insomnia" knol example presented by Google is licensed under a very liberal Creative Commons license (to clarify, Wikipedia is GPL'd). Despite that example, by my understanding, knol authors will "own" their content, and will assumedly be able to license it as they choose.

Thanks for posting the articles cmarshall. Yes, The Register appears to have an agenda, but still, interesting.

europeforvisitors




msg:3528997
 5:36 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject.

Yes, and that's exactly the problem--the same as on Squidoo, Blogger, TripAdvisor, etc. The person who wants to learn about the life of Mother Teresa, the workings of internal-combustion engines, or how to reach midtown Manhattan from JFK Airport will have to dig through the clutter of redundant articles just as he would on the Web at large. Ratings may help the user drill down (especially if articles can be ranked or filtered by rating), but users may still find it more productive, in many cases, to simply browse through Google Search's top 10 results.

ken_b




msg:3529014
 6:27 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

There is often a very large gap in quality between the Wikipedia results, and the next results. Knols can fill that gap.

AH, so now the serps might look like:

1: Absolute Crap
1a: More absolute crap

2: Mere junk
2a: More mere junk

3: Quality content from an independent publisher.
3a: More quality content from an independent publisher.

Like opinions, perspectives may vary. :)

jtara




msg:3529030
 6:58 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Here's a quandary for Google: should they use the rating of a Knol article to affect it's position in the SERPs?

If they do, they will set-off a firestorm.

If they don't, they risk showing low-quality but SEO'd articles higher on the SERPs.

That is, an article that rates poorly on Knol could be manipulated to rank high on the SERPs, while a highly-rated article might sink because it was honestly written without any trickery.

This is, of course, assuming that the rating system will itself be fair and can't be fooled. (A big assumption, and an unlikely outcome.)

If they use the rating system to influence the SERPs, then should they do this for outside sites?

The minute Google treats their own sites differently than others, Google needs to drop their claim of impartiality.

Of course, Google will just claim that their algorithm is able to determine quality simply by reading the text and links. They've always claimed this, but it's clear that it works poorly. Simply having a rating system on Knol in the first place puts the lie to that. If the SERPs ranking worked so well, why do they need a rating system for Knol? Why not just have the same algorithm rank the articles within Knol?

europeforvisitors




msg:3529032
 7:19 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Of course, Google will just claim that their algorithm is able to determine quality simply by reading the text and links. They've always claimed this

Actually, Google claims that, by combining "overall importance and query-specific relevance, Google is able to put the most relevant and reliable results first." That isn't the same as rating quality. (Users might rank an online edition of the Bible's King James Version 5 out of 5 for quality, but it wouldn't be the most relevant and reliable result for a search on "King James I of England.")

joeking




msg:3529105
 10:21 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

This struck me as odd:

"There are millions of people who possess useful knowledge that they would love to share, and there are billions of people who can benefit from it. We believe that many do not share that knowledge today simply because it is not easy enough to do that."

Not easy enough? Are they joking?

To me it's more like "Wouldn't it be great if Google Ads appeared on wikipedia. And since that isn't going to happen let's create our own wiki with our own ads on it."

indigojo




msg:3529139
 11:46 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think there is a greater agenda here, PEER REVIEW, and AUTHOR REWARDS. This sounds like a swipe at a multi billion dollar industry SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS who charge authors thousands to publish a paper!

europeforvisitors




msg:3529188
 2:32 am on Dec 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Not easy enough? Are they joking?

No, they're not joking. They're 100% correct. (I just got an e-mail from a longtime guidebook author who thinks having a Web site is too technically challenging. He might be a perfect candidate for Knol.)

simey




msg:3529189
 2:46 am on Dec 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

"We believe that many do not share that knowledge today simply because it is not easy enough to do that."

Anybody who is technically challenged by blogger, wordpress, squidoo, myspace, forums, newsgroups, or any of the ez site builder tools out there will probably be technically challenged by Knol too, )

menial




msg:3529190
 2:46 am on Dec 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

(I just got an e-mail from a longtime guidebook author who thinks having a Web site is too technically challenging. He might be a perfect candidate for Knol.)

Of course you told him he is 100% right, didn't you. Unless he's still using pen and paper, he shouldn't have a problem to set up his own website (or pay a foreign freelancer to do it for $100 total).

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