Is there a competitor to Wikipedia

In competition with Wikipedia, Google opens the knowledge platform Knol

Last year, Google presented its alternative to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and the competitor product Citizendium. Today the internet service provider activated the beta version of Knol - short for Knowledge. In contrast to the "wisdom of the masses" on which Wikipedia relies, in Knol primarily individual authors or small groups of cooperating authors should write high-quality articles on Google's anti-Wikipedia using their real names.

In typical Google understatement, the start of the new project was announced by blog posting. "An enormous amount of information rests in people's heads. Millions of people know useful things and billions could benefit from these things," write Google product managers Cedric Dupont and Michael McNally. The production and dissemination of information could still be improved. Not everything is written and not everything is organized in such a way that it can be easily found.

By highlighting the authors, Google hopes to achieve a higher quality and also to attract experts who do not want their texts to be changed and supplemented by others. The articles already published as examples set high standards, which can hardly be met by many and probably also deter many who cannot and do not want to write a comprehensive, rather labor-intensive end product right away. In an article in a craftsman's journal, for example, you can find out how to clear a clogged toilet, and doctors provide information about diabetes or menopause.

Even Knol tries to encourage the collaboration of authors despite the focus on the recognizable individual. Although it is possible at Knol to work on an article similar to a wiki, the standard mode is "Moderated collaboration": Here, all registered users can make suggestions for changing an article, but they have to go back to the main one. Authors of an article can be activated. It is also possible to refuse any collaboration. In that case, Knol readers can only leave comments below the article.

The interface is reminiscent of Wikipedia in many aspects: Registered users can change articles via an "Edit" tab, and the revision history is also reminiscent of the free encyclopedia. Shortly after the start, Knol - of course in beta status - is overloaded. It is possible to call up all pages, but the editing window does not open. Previously simple texts could only be imported with an import tool.

The use of free licenses is also preset. The Knol authors can choose between two Creative Commons licenses or a restrictive copyright license that prohibits any further use of the content. Google offers the authors to share in Knol's Adsense earnings.

In order to make the collaboration palatable, Google relies not only on the desire of authors to present themselves, but also on the possibility of making at least a little money by writing. The Knol authors can incorporate advertising from Google AdSense. The ads are aligned with the content of the articles, every time a reader clicks the ad link, the author receives money. In addition, Google promises that the articles will be presented "appropriately" in the search engine. However, if you want to take notes on Knol, you first have to open a Google account. (Torsten Kleinz) / (fr)

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