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After several months in beta, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is going wide with content site Knol. While the site appears to be a challenge to Wikipedia, Google stresses that the articles and entries have a professional quality. The way Google is maintaining this difference between Knol and Wikipedia is that all entries must have be identified by the writer’s name. While Wikipedia does rely on editors and the community to police the site, Google is trying to go a little further. The articles on Knol can have multiple authors, which under Google’s structure, is called “moderated collaboration.”
Like Wikipedia, any reader can make suggested edits to a Knol entry. But the author may then choose to accept, reject, or modify them before these contributions become visible to the public. This allows authors to accept suggestions from everyone in the world, while retaining control of their content, Google says. The first entries on the site include topics on diabetes and lung cancer, both written by doctors who provide some details about their background. Another post, a voluminous guide on How To Backpack, features a few of the author’s personal details, such as his name, job and a photo, but nothing about his expertise related to the topic. More details in this GoogleBlog post.
Joseph adds: Something that has come up before with this project, and will be worth watching is how well individual Knols rank in search. Similar services, like Wikipedia, About.com, Squidoo and Mahalo are heavily dependent on search traffic. For Google, this could be one way of keeping that traffic in-house. It’s worth noting that most of the Knols featured on the front page have to do with medical — terms for which there’s a lot of competition to rank well. As a test, let’s see how long before this Knol on Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) lands on the front search page.