Google Knol: The Story so far

[Guest post by Praval, a freelance writer/blogger and works for Uswaretech, a Web Application Development shop as a Web Evangelist and Online Marketer. ]

Since last year, we have seen an array of services introduced by Google basically to grab the attention of large pool of users. A year before, on December 2007, Google launched Knol and shortly afterwards there was an entry on Google’s official blog by Udi Manber informing us about this new service. Well actually, according to him, Larry, Sergey and Eric (group of noble and generous people who are trying to make this world a better place, or are they not?) posed a challenge to find a way to help people share their knowledge through the medium of web.

On the other hand, Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia which has gained widespread popularity since its launch in early 2001, offers pretty similar services. Every body took Knol as a Wikipedia’s rival but in fact it’s a bit distinctive in Google’s own ways.

How Does Knol Work?


If we look from Google’s perspective, each article is a Knol, a unit of knowledge. You can write on any topic which you want and yes, that’s right each article is owned by its author. The author has given complete rights to choose licensing, collaboration and the advertising model for each article.

For instance, the author can connect an article to his/her Adsense account which there by requires a verification process (you can verify it either using your mobile phone or through credit card). By default, all Knols are licensed under the Creative Commons CC-BY-3.0 license which allows anyone to reuse the material as long as the original author is named, but authors may choose the CC-BY-NC-3.0 license which prohibits commercial reuse or can simply opt for all rights reserved copyright protections instead. Lastly, for collaboration, author can choose from the following options: open: anyone who’s signed-in can edit the article, moderated: anyone can suggest edits but you or another author will be able to approve these before publishing it this is by default applied), and closed: only owners of the article can edit.

Criticism Raised so far:

I have read a lot about the articles published on knol so far, that knol is full of plagiarized articles so I tried searching the truth behind it myself. I searched for Wikipedia on Knol and got a handful of articles. I picked the first article and got a shock by looking at its content. The article was taken from Wikipedia (Wikipedia: about) and was put by its author as it is on knol. In fact the author even got its copyright. This is just for an example; knol is flooded with such kind of articles.


Google has been also condemned for being biased towards knol articles and giving them higher preference and page rank in Google’s search engine. Other major concerns like Google’s duplicate content filter favoring Knol articles over the original articles, giving license to spam articles thus favoring the distribution of wrong information, integration of Advertisements will attract spammers in huge number etc.

Google’s motive was right behind the creation of knol but I think they have failed to implement it. A lot has to be done from Google’s side if they really want to make knol a fair platform of providing correct and authentic information otherwise knoll will meet the same fate like Google Answers.

What’s your opinion?

Leave a Reply