When it comes to Google, nothing should surprise us any more. Last month it was Digg style social voting on search results, this month its a new project called “Knol” (which apparently stands for a unit of knowledge), a user generated knowledge project that combines parts of Wikipedia and Squidoo (and to a lesser extent Mahalo) into what could easily turn out to game changer in this space.
The idea behind Knol is “to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it.” 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.” Google essentially is the conduit for user generated authoritative content, Google provides the tools (editing tools, space etc) and you contribute the content. Then we get into Squidoo territory as writers will own pages (“The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors”) and the trump card: Google will offer a revenue share of ads displayed against the content.
Duplication could become an issue however, with Google saying that they will not serve as an editor in any way, and “will not bless any content.” To quote Google:
All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors. We hope that knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line. Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing.
It would appear that Knol’s will appear in Google search results, but which ones appear would be based upon peer review, which pages able to be voted up and comments left.
Once testing is completed, participation in knols will be completely open, and we cannot expect that all of them will be of high quality. 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. We are very excited by the potential to substantially increase the dissemination of knowledge.
I’m sure they’re excited, once again they could change an entire market space. Screen shot as below and full details on the Google Blog here.