Friday, December 28, 2007

Google Takes On Wikipedia

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on December 15 about a new initiative by Google:

Google Inc. is taking aim at popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia with a new service that will let users write authoritative entries on subjects they know about -- and provide the Internet search engine with more content that can carry ads.
The new platform, which is being privately tested, will allow users to create pages that contain their photos and entries about a wide variety of subjects. The pages will be known as "knols," which Google said stands for a unit of knowledge.

Readers will be able to review and rate the entries as well as suggest edits. Google insists it will neither edit nor control content. Authors will have the ability to place Google ads on their knols, and Google will share the revenue with the authors.

The big question is whether Google will give preference to its own knols with ads over Wikipedia's ad-free content. Google insists they will rate the knols the same way it ranks all other Internet pages.

Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, says he isn't concerned about Google's new venture "because it seemed to him that Google would end up compiling a series of blogs rather than an authoritative encyclopedia. With more than 75,000 active contributors, 2.1 million English-language articles and a dominant position in search results, Wikipedia has a huge head start."

It will be interesting to see (1) if Wales is right, and (2) if Google abides by its promise not to favor its own program.

Remember your motto, Google: Do no evil.

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