Google is launching their own online encyclopedia, Knol. Unlike Wikipedia, Knol will be written by experts who sign each entry. This will directly combat some of the major criticisms of Wikipedia: posts can be poorly researched or written, and no one is held responsible for the quality of an entry.
Knol, by contrast, will err on the side of expertise. The encyclopedia will still use Web2.0 technologies, such as rating entries for usefullness and adding user comments.
Here are a few of the advantages I see:
- I’ll know that an actual expert’s reputation is on the line – they’re likely to be more careful about what they write.
- Entries will be more substantial, and less like the random stubs that make up a lot of Wikipedia articles.
- I’ll have a one-stop-shop for background information. I won’t have to do as much general web surfing and website evaluation.
- I will be able to see what others think – smart people will be able to add what they know in a comment (without changing the basic content of the post).
- Experts will be more likely to add useful bibliography entries. Then I can use the bibliography to learn more.
- Wikipedia has articles on the latest pop culture phenomenon. You can’t beat Wikipedia for a list of Pokemon characters and their DVD releases!
- Knol will be slower and smaller. Experts take time to build good entries, and it will be a while before there are a lot of them. Wikipedia may have a lot of stub articles, but at least they’re a start.
- Wikipedia is almost always at the top of Google results – it’s extremely easy to find. (We’ll see if Google puts a stop to that phenomenon . . . )
So, what do the rest of you think about this? Will it be just another internet flash in the pan, or do you think Knol will take off?