| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Google opened its website Knol to
the public on Wednesday, allowing people to write about their
areas of expertise under their bylines in a twist on
encyclopaedia Wikipedia, which allows anonymity.
"We are deeply convinced that authorship -- knowing who
wrote what -- helps readers trust the content," said Cedric
DuPont, product manager for Knol.
The name of the service is a play on an individual unit of
knowledge, DuPont said, and entries on the public website,
knol.google.com, are called "knols". Google conducted a
limited test of the site beginning in December.
Knol has publishing tools similar to single blog pages. But
unlike blogs, Knol encourages writers to reduce what they know
about a topic to a single page that is not chronologically
"What we want to get away from is 'this last voice wins'
model which is very difficult if you are a busy professional,"
Google wants to rank entries by popularity to encourage
competition. For example, the first knol on "Type 1 Diabetes"
is by Anne Peters, director of the University of Southern
California's Clinical Diabetes Programs.
As other writers publish on diabetes, Google plans to rank
related pages according to user ratings, reviews and how often
people refer to specific pages, DuPont said.
Knol focuses on individual authors or groups of authors in
contrast to Wikipedia's subject entries, which are updated by
users and edited behind the scenes.
Knol does not edit or endorse the information and visitors
will not be able to edit or contribute to a knol unless they
have the author's permission. Readers will be able to notify
Google if they find any content objectionable.
Knol is a hybrid of the individual, often opinionated
entries found in blogs and the collective editing relied on by
Wikipedia and other wiki sites.
The service uses what it calls "moderated collaboration" in
which any reader of a specific topic page can make suggested
edits to the author or authors, who retain control over whether
to accept, reject or modify changes before they are published.
In its early stages, Knol remains a far cry from Wikipedia,
www.wikipedia.org, which boasts 7 million collectively
edited articles in 200 languages.
Google signed a deal with Conde Nast's New Yorker, giving
Knol authors the rights to use one of the magazine's famous
cartoons in each Knol posting. Google will allow Knol writers
to run ads on their entries and will share income with them.
DuPont said that rather than competing with Wikipedia, Knol
may end up serving as a primary source of authoritative
information for use with Wikipedia articles.
"Knols will fill gaps on what we have on the Web today.
That is what we hope," DuPont said.
(Additional reporting by Michele Gershberg in New York;
Editing by Toni Reinhold)