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Google’s Knol – A Wikipedia Killer or a Blog Killer?

Posted By Darren Rowse 24th of July 2008 Pro Blogging News 0 Comments

Is Google’s Knol an attack on Wikipedia or Could it hurt Smaller Publishers like bloggers more?

So today Google finally opened up and launched Launched Knol (it’s been coming for a while) a place where people can publish ‘authoritative articles about specific topics’. It’s like Wikipedia in that articles can be edited by others – but changes need to be approved by the authors of the articles. Articles can be monetized in a revenue share arrangement where Google and the authors share income derived from articles.

My Three initial reactions to Knol

Google Competing with it’s Partners

My mind goes back to sitting in the offices of Google in Sydney where in a presentation by a Google staff member (a fairly highly ranked one) I heard him say that Google was not in the content business and didn’t ever want to compete with their publishers sites. He said that they were in the business of organizing the world’s information and not creating it. There was a murmur in the room at the time and a few raised eyebrows because we’d been hearing about these kinds of new products emerging from Google where they not only organize information but host it on their own properties. It’s a fine line – increasingly so with Knol.

Back in 2006 Google CEO Eric Schmidt was famously quoted as saying that Google was not a media company – “But that doesn’t make us a media company. We don’t do our own content. We get you to someone else’s content faster.”


There’s a lot of talk going around the blogosphere today about how Knol is a Wikipedia killer – but I wonder whether it could ‘kill’ (or perhaps maim would be more appropriate) a few smaller publishers before they really hurt Wikipedia.

Update: for more thoughts on this see Journalistopia.

I can only imagine how highly Knol articles are going to rank in Google’s search results in a year or two. Wikipedia makes it difficult enough for a publisher to grab the number 1 ranking for many terms in Google simply because of it’s size and the number of links pointing at it – have we just seen the launch of a product that will mean #1 and #2 positions are generally taken?

Spam Haven?

I can almost hear the blackhat community running over to Knol to see how it can be manipulated. I’m sure Google have safe guards in place – but where there’s a will there’s a way.


I’ve come across a number of people lately who have gone full time (or close to it) using Squidoo to publish articles and monetize them. They’ve build up profiles and search rankings for their Squidoo pages to the point that they’re able to generate significant incomes via advertising and affiliate revenue. I suspect we’ll see the same with Knol.

It’s going to be an interesting one to watch!

What do you think about Knol? Is it something that could help or hurt your blogging?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. it’s – the contraction for it is

    its (its) is the form you want when you speak of something like “its partners”

  2. As a relatively new blogger, having a hard enough time with my own blog, my main problem with Knol is where should I be putting my longer article-like posts. On my blog? Or on Knol?
    In the meantime, searching for things on Knol isn’t particularly good, whereas Google rankings seem to be amazing already, just after a short while.
    See my latest post at http://debizblog.wordpress.com/2008/07/24/how-much-do-you-knol/ for my first take on Knol.

  3. I like the concept they reveal a person who wrote those articles.

  4. It might be a bit early to predict exactly how Knol will work out.

    If it gets big, it could be both good and bad news for certain bloggers.

    > How Knol could be good for bloggers:

    – Bloggers could establish credibility and quality on Knol;

    – Knol could attract more traffic and readership if it establishes a heavy presence on the web;

    – Knol could trump Wikipedia, since the AdSense model could fine-tune how quality content is searched and found (this is an ethical issue Google will likely encounter)

    – Bloggers could publish their longer posts as articles on Knol

    – Bloggers could use Knol to build quality content with “for more info see MyBlog” links

    > How Knol could hurt bloggers:

    – Knol seems like an easy substitute for blogging, especially for publishers who don’t blog;

    – If Knol succeeds in being recognized for premier content, some bloggers will have a bigger challenge establishing credibility and some could be squeezed out;

    – Knol might attract non-bloggers who are enticed to share AdSense revenues;

    It’s hard to say for sure. My feeling (completely gut here) is that Knol could be huge. If Google is ethically clean, establishes filters for quality content and attracts authoritative authors, Knol could really become one of the biggest repositories of content on the web.

  5. I feel that knol can be a very useful tool, and while there are certain ethical issues it is certainly an opportunity to be investigated.

  6. The interesting thing to me about Knol is the “expertise” part of the pitch… but then there’s the fact that as far as I can tell, there isn’t really going to be any fact-checking or vetting going on, other than traffic patterns, etc.

    So it’s interesting to me that you bring up that Knol could be a blog killer.

    If it is, does that mean bloggers in the know now should go ahead and create the authoritative Knol on their topic? Or would that just entrench the problem?

    What’s your personal take?

  7. The Knoll will not kill blogs. And that is a fact. They are two different mediums.

    If bloggers attempted to switch to Knol’s they will probably discover that, other than the few lucky ones, most bloggers would make a lower income.

    You can’t sell your books, offer free things, offer your friendship.

    Knols will have their place of course, but I believe many bloggers should avoid concerning too much about Knols. The more a blogger concerns about Knols the less he is concerned about his blog.

  8. I dont see anyone knocking off wikipedia at anytime in the near future, for the simple fact that its platform is so large.

  9. Wikipedia and Knol both publish user-created content, but that’s where the similarities end. Wikipedia is significant for what it is NOT, to wit, a sourced for original content. It’s a real encyclopedia, meaning it is a tertiary source, not a primary or secondary source. I wrote more here: http://roadtoblack.blogspot.com/2008/07/is-knol-wikipedia-killer.html

  10. Any place online where you can gain a credible following is what it’s all about, although it might be widely understood that getting there first on certain topics might be the best way to attain expertise.

    I already signed up with Knol and have yet to use it to my advantage….but use it I will, maybe as spotlight post articles that I could link to in my blogs!

  11. Chuck says: 07/27/2008 at 7:48 pm

    I think it’s horrible. Now there will be these stupid Knol pages ranking high in Google like Wikipedia pages for good keywords and taking the spot from real websites people have put a lot of time/years into.

  12. Google Knol, i really dont feel a serios effort from Google against Wikipedia. it’s more close to Blogger or Squidoo or hubpages. The only fear of Wikipedia is that Google may put Knol on top of Wikipedia’s millions of keywords.

    Just after 3 days of Knol launch. The “Knol” keyword is showing knol webpage on top of Wikipedia. Before Wikipedia was coming on top of knol webpage for the same keyword.


    Let see how long Wikipedia keep his keywords top on Google.

  13. When I made a squidoo page for my book Guardian of angels, I thought it was not much sense as I already had own sites and blogs and market places to sell. Earlier, I tried the wikipedia and I hate ending up there even through links coz it’s jerky with those removals and comments that do not allow to make your pages. I even got friends telling me to make pages for them at wikipedia due to their removals…and now, the Knol. I wrote a whole piece of Management article and only later to realize, the post went blank – it called for verification and for this, one got to be in US!!!

    Google is in business of organising content and not creating. I guess with a hype of Google Knol, precious moments online are wasted in creating pages with faulty layouts and navigation. Advantages I see is, google will rank knols in search engines and maybe, we find some good content knols from US till more content is allowed.

  14. Knol might be more appropriate than Wikipedia, its possibly a better medium though I think it depends on what your goal is.
    It won’t quite go head to head competition wise with Wikipedia. It seems it has a different objective in terms of authorship which pretty much makes the site much different than wikipedia.

  15. I really don’t think Knol can beat blogs. Both have their own purposes.

    I had just submitted my first post to Google Knol.
    It’s not related to any of my internet marketing works, but rather on my existing semiconductor profession. I use Knol to build a rapport on my professionalism by writing authoritative topics pertaining my semiconductor field, and share them with my clients. I could not use blog for this purpose, as it may not seem so professional in comparison to the hi-tech nature and conventionality of the field.

    But on the other hand, I think it will be difficult to use Knol for my internet marketing works.
    Firstly, in Knol it is hard to write an article with relaxed manner.
    Secondly, as it is difficult to categorize posts and show it’s chronology in Knol.
    Thirdly, I don’t see any ways we can put an opt-in option on Google Knols.

    If Knol is going to kill anything, then I think it will be the article directories.

  16. Darren,

    I started a blog on Google Knol to track how far it will go – as well as an effort to ride the knol wave :)

    During my 2 weeks of blogging on knols, I’ve seen many spams in knols – affiliate links, wikipedia copy and paste (I can’t understand why people would do this), and self promotional contents.

    Hopefully the commenting and star rating system will help people separate the good from the bad.


  17. Google is in business of organising content and not creating. I guess with a hype of Google Knol, precious moments online are wasted in creating pages with faulty layouts and navigation. Advantages I see is, google will rank knols in search engines and maybe, we find some good content knols from US till more content is allowed.

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