Google takes on about.com? wikipedia?

Earlier this week, we started inviting a selected group of people to try 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.

from Google Blog, at
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/encouraging-people-to-contribute.html

more at
http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2007-12-14-n19.html

Sounds interesting. I’ve contributed sporatically to wikipedia, mostly just in a few edits and revisions. I’ve also written for the New Georgia Encyclopedia which is fact checked, reviewed and edited. If Google does not verify info, I do wonder how successful Knol will be in the long run. Wikipedia has a huge user base and a reliance on ANY user review/revision. About.com seems to have more reliable authors (in some cases) but it is sometimes hard to determine an author’s expertise beyond interest and the interface at about.com leaves something to be desired. I’ve haven’t spent enough time in Helium.com to know how reliable it is, but it seems to be similar to about.com. Citizendium seems to be more along the lines of Knol, except that anyone can submit their credentials for writing.

I do always wonder about these invitation things, though. How do they choose? Just google for particular subjects they would like to see written on and then contact those folks in hope that they will agree to participate? Choose users with pre-existing google accounts? Bloggers?

Anyhow, it does sound like an interesting project, at least as interesting as wikipedia.

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