Knols Authors will be Biased, but Wikipedia is Crazy


  The Entrepreneur 
  Originally uploaded by eschipul

Google announced "knols",
which is a site where people can contribute on topics, or knols, they
are familiar with. Very similar to Wikipedia. The google blog describes
knols as:

… a new, free tool that we are calling "knol", which stands for a
unit of knowledge. Our goal is to encourage people who know a
particular subject to write an authoritative article about it.

The
key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. Books have
authors’ names right on the cover, news articles have bylines,
scientific articles always have authors — but somehow the web evolved
without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted. We believe
that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better
use of web content.

and

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.

Now – first I do agree that the zealots at wikipedia are a bit crazy. For example the Houston Technology Center as I write this does NOT have a wikipedia page?
Do they add it themselves and get yelled at for bias? How is this
problem solved? Wikipedia has no facility to solve it beyond hoping a
non-HTC person adds the page and then vets it for bias. So this model,
while obviously powerful and prolific, has obvious flaws.

Knols on the other hand takes the dangerous step of revenue sharing with the authors.

Well for someone like me ad revenue from some web page isn’t worth
pursuing as I have a, you know, job. So in this scenario there is more
financial incentive for a seo working out of their house to churn out
pages, or knols, on a subject. Perhaps even authoritative pages.

Yet I *do* strongly agree that there should be far more weight on the
AUTHOR of a piece of content in search rankings. The author matters a
great deal. And who they associate with. So knols, in combination with Open Social, has great potential. But they will have to clear out the spam like never before for this to be successful.

Bottom line – I am hopeful for knols. I expect release 1.0 to be filled
with Spam. And I expect wikipedia to remain the dominant player for a
long time to come. And if wikipedia is smart, they will connect with
facebook and form a counter rank-by-author-engine for content. My two
cents.

That photo of the entrepreneur? Just a popular one from my flickr stream about an entrepreneur who thinks they can do EVERYTHING. I am not that talented, but perhaps the team at google?