Knol, Google’s answer to Wikipedia, finally got launched just a short while ago, looking somewhat more different compared to screenshots posted last year, when news first broke about it. In fact, Knoll has launched without much hype and fanfare, but my main interest is how it will turn out and evolve 6-12 months from now. There is a big difference now with Knol, compared to last year, when it seemed that only certain authors would get approved. Now, everyone can be a Knol publisher. And that’s the potential I see in Knol to get really big, notwithstanding the potential drawbacks in having a full fledged Web 2.0 concept, IF that’s what it has adopted.
How does Knoll differ from Wikipedia? Knol actually allows anyone to write on a topic of their own choice, which they would have to choose as being either an Open, Closed, or Moderated article. At the time when Knol was announced last year, there was talk that Knol would be on an invite only basis, but today, it seems almost anyone with a Google account can sign up and start writing/creating a Knol almost immediately. There are no restrictions on being a Knol author as long as you have a Google account (and can type).
This is wicked. It seems to be a lot like Squidoo, where authors publish a Knol (or Lens), and then are able to edit the contents, pretty up the page, or delete it in one fell stroke. Users on the other hand, can have their say in reviewing a Knol, much like what Squidoo is already doing with their Lens rating system, or in the case of moderated Knols, to be able to add their own flavor to the Knol, subject to approval by the author.
Having a large number of authors without credentials and the possibility of voting rings are some of the drawbacks I see with this, actually in effect – with all Web 2.0 concepts. Plus there will be the usual opportunistic behavior to attempt to grab high paying keywords and topics and such, and the danger of Knol leaning a little too much over to the Dark Side of Spam, over time. Unlike non profit Wikipedia, profits from Adsense are going to figure a lot in the equation, and therefore, creation of topics and articles at Knol. Unless, Google has already foreseen all this, and have their measures at the ready.
I’m really hoping that Google will implement some quality control measures into Knol if it is really serious on Knol being a credible site of knowledge (and authority). But it’s still early days, and I’d be forgiven if I really think that Knol is a Squidoo-Wikipedia hybrid, ala Google style, at this juncture.