back to article Google unfurls less laughable Wikipedia

Google has unleashed its Wikipedia killer. Back in December, the search engine cum world power announced an anyone-can-edit online encyclopedia it insists on calling Knol, and this morning, with a post to The Official Google Blog, product manager Cedric Dupont and software engineer Michael McNally opened things up to world+dog …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Knol roolz

    Eye 4 won m glad Googol wil help uss all with gooder knoledge.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    All the major subjects covered

    I notice both "lawn care" and "an overview of rectal surgery" what else could there be. Mines the one with grass clippings and ... no I can't go there it's too sick.

  3. Rich


    It seems disease obsessed. I looked for Wellington - nothing; Auckland - nothing; New Zealand - nothing; United Kingdom - nothing.

    Just articles on constipation and toilet clogs.

    Wierd - will it ever get critical mass. They should just have seeded it with Wikipedia.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Well I'll be Durn

    That might actually work - but then how will they make sure that the 'names' are real? (and would you want your email address hanging out there for all of the spammers in the world?)

    Paris - because we will always have Paris.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    User controlled online content made less anarchic by powerful search tools

    Back in the day, we called that Usenet, but the content was kind of limited and it also had a crappy signal to noise ratio.

    Then came the World Wide Web (passing over gopher to keep the narrative rolling along) and the big 3 ( no, 2.. no, 1.. no, 2.. hey, how many are there??) search engines - with their portals and whatnot - but the content was kind of anarchic and it also had a crappy signal to noise ratio.

    Then there was Wikipedia with its rules, and its orders, and its clans. The Brotherhood speaks for God, but God also speaks, and by his word entire worlds are crushed into nothingness and their knowledge is lost to man for eternity. As for content, it is kind of a bit limited but not too much so (as long as you offend no-one), and the hazing is a little intrusive, but the signal to noise ratio is not so bad. The "fact" to "deeply held personal belief" ratio is a bit iffy, however, and the "Lohan" to "Renaissance Sculptors" ratio is way off the chart.

    Now it seems that we are finally about to learn a Truth. To truly harness man's vast wealth of knowledge, we need to embrace every mind - cradle its precious thoughts and ideas - and then weed out the ideologs, idiots, anarchists, profiteers, and privateers (not to mention private ears!) until, free from the chaff, we are left with the delicious golden kernels that are knowledge.

    One can't help but wonder if somewhere, in the musty halls of Brittanica, the wise old hermits - who create the bitmapped illuminations and bind the digital velum - aren't chuckling smugly at this assault on The Brotherhood, while casting a slightly worried eye over the rapidly accelerating info-hemoth that will soon be bearing down on them, as well....

  6. Richard Bennett
    Thumb Up

    Google knows

    @George Treasury Secretary:

    Google knows if you're using a fake name, for it sees all and knols all.

    No entries for Google or Google's hobby, "net neutrality". Can't wait to see the inevitable bias.

  7. RW
    IT Angle

    Wikipedia woes will bite Knol

    I've been using the Wikipedia more lately, and I'm impressed (positively) by the in-depth articles are some pretty obscure topics. Let me point to the articles on the Codex Sinaiticus and on the Georgian language as examples. These are clearly written by knowledgable people as a labor of love.

    Of course, the coverage is patchy: the Wikipedia has very little on the Quecha and Aymara languages, which are just as interesting as Georgian.

    The trouble is that when a topic is contentious, two or more schools of thought engage in a tug of war over the content, each trying to refute (and edit into nothingness) the p.o.v. of the other(s).

    In some -- by no means all -- cases these "schools" are, on the one hand, some large institution that dislikes being criticized, and on the other hand the rest of the world. The RC Church and nearly any large corporation are examples of such institutions.

    But other contentious topics include religion, inter-ethnic sniping, politics, you name it. And sometimes there are spats over surprisingly minor points such as "what is an abugida?" Or when scholars themselves are divided, controversy can erupt, as over the correct methodology for sorting out languages into families.

    The description of Knol suggests that it will suffer similar problems, but worse. If I am first out of the starting blocks on the topic "Roman Catholic Church", then, if I understand aright, the topic is mine, mine, MINE, MINE I TELL YOU, DON'T YOU DARE EDIT MY SACRED PROSE, YOU HERETIC, YOU!

    I think El Reg's readership probably gets the thrust of my objection.

    Any idea how Knol intends to get around this issue of contentious topics being dragged back and forth like the baby in front of Solomon? Wikipedia tries to do so by locking articles when it becomes clear they're the subject of disputes, but at that point one of very serious defects in the set up of Wikipedia becomes apparent: the people behind the scenes who make the decisions are, as far as I know, anonymous and doubtfully qualified to handle the responsibilities and authority they have.

    IMHO, Wikipedia would improve itself if its inner cabal were known by name, and whoever is the ultimate power behind the throne took steps to ensure that the cabal is both qualified and responsible.

    This leaves the online EB holding a trump card: its articles are written by selected experts, not just the Joe Schmoes of the world. And the articles are edited, so you don't get the badly written material you sometimes find on the Wikipedia.

    I just don't see how Knol is going to be demonstrably better than the Wikipedia.

    Footnote: the Wikipedia article on Stalin, though marked with a warning that it may be biased, is surprisingly even handed.

  8. Will
    Paris Hilton

    Yay, more ads on the net, just what we need...

    Its just an ad serving system. Googoil will allow Knol writers to run ads on their entries and will share income with them.


    Ill be looking for the first Paris Knol and accompanying ads tho.....

  9. Roger Denholm Silver badge

    conspiracy theory

    I wonder if the ganj section will have a grassy knol ?

    Mines the one with the two stroke oil stains

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Interesting selection of articles

    Genital warts, nasal polyps, scabies, rectal surgery, hemorrhoids (sic),TB, impetigo and Installing a Ubuntu Hardy Heron Java Development Environment on a USB flash drive. Isn't the latter similar to rectal surgery?

  11. charles platt

    Google got it right

    So now instead of thousands of people competing to rewrite the history of Hitler (which is apparently one of the three most edited topics in Wikipedia) there can be thousands of separately authored Knols about Hitler. Which would be--almost like a bookstore, right? Multiple authors, multiple viewpoints, and you synthesize your own assessment from them.

    Wikipedia had the lunatic idea that it would have just ONE all-purpose collaborative entry on any topic, coauthored in a monumental battle in which those who had the greatest ability to waste their time would overwhelm the rest. It always was a stupid concept, and like most attempts at a "communitarian" model it quickly degenerated into authoritarianism, since the community was incapable of policing itself.

    Google has now dispersed the authority to the individual writers, which is where it should reside, and each Knol will have a user-assigned rating, just like books on Sure some of the users will be clueless, but generally speaking, ratings are better than no ratings, I think. And you are always free to search for the lowest rated Knols if you so wish.

    Identities are checked on Knol either by verifying a credit-card number or by verifying a home phone listing.

    Wikipedia is doomed, and Google now begins to look a little like Microsoft, profiting by copying the product of a competitor and improving on it after the competitor has done the hard work of making the initial blunders.

    One little thing gives me pause: Looks like you have to have a gmail account to write a Knol. At this rate Google will OWN email. All email. Yikes.

  12. Anonymous Coward




  13. Thaddeus Quay
    Paris Hilton


    "Toilet clogs - Solutions for the most common problems - by The Family Handyman Magazine"

    Since when did "The Family Handyman Magazine" become a pseudonym for The Register? This reminds me of how my British cat, Mr. Fluffer Wickbidget, III, used to drink out of the toilet, until I showed him The Register, and now he paws at the keyboard all day long. At least his hairballs aren't clogging my toilet anymore.

    Did the lot of you know that amanfromMars has a blog, where he copies and pastes all or most of what he writes online? So, if you can't get enough of his writing here, you can check the blog to see what else he has to say, and where. Speaking of, he should copy and paste that entire blog into this Knol thingy, seeing as how Google needs more content to index, on its march to becoming THE Internet. Who knows? Maybe the sheer density of his writing will cause a critical mass to form in the depths of GoogleDom, causing a fusion reaction of knowledge, which will expand and overcome the Internet as we know it, sort of like the ending of "2010", the sequel movie to "2001: A Space Odyssey", except this time it will be Mars, instead of Jupiter.

    Lastly, I just went back to the main Knol page, refreshed it, and got an error message. "The Knol service was recently updated. Please refresh the page and try again. We're sorry for the inconvenience." Another refresh gave me the same message. I suggest someone write a Knol about how to use Knol. Paris, because that's where no one will find me after this comment.

  14. Antti Roppola

    Meta-idiot rating

    I had always considered the basic indivisible unit of intelligence to be the Iota, the amount of intellect to operate a light switch. Say it takes 15 Iotas to tie your show laces at 1 kI to program a VCR. Lost opportunity for Google here.

    But Knol is an improvement in that the star rating will tell us how many idiots are in the fan base of an idiotic author. After all, isn't popularity what good writing is all about? Considering the authors and topics, maybe they could have stools instead of stars and handle both issues at once? I'll have to inveestigate Knol more before I form an opinion.

    No icon because The register doesn't have a stool icon.

  15. Keith Clancy

    Search for the Evil

    Hmm ....

    Brings up one result and look who he works for.

  16. david


    in a google search for knol this

    Comes back higher than

    Looks like they are playing nicely...

  17. Chris Bidmead

    Knowl is not Wikipedia

    Amused to see the Wikipedia bashing continues unabated here in good ol' RegLand. Like a dog with a shoe, it just won't let go.

    A cursory glance at Knowl is enough to discover that it's nothing like the Wikipedia. Knowl writers are encouraged to write in their own voice on topics of their own choosing that are not required to pass the notability test. The authority of a Knol resides in its individual author or authors, not in the community around the project.

    But if el Reg hasn't been able, after all these years, to get the Wikipedia, it would be unfair to expect it to get Knowl within just a few days of its launch.

    I do worry, in a small way, about el Reg. I seem to remember that after its own fashion it used to carry some weight of quirky, quizzical authority (where are you, Lettice?). Now just being pissed away in lazy supercillious opinionating.

    Suggestion: el Reg might use its neurotic preoccupation with the authority of other Web voices as a mirror to examine its own standing. Has el Reg ever admitted to the need for a [citation needed] tag (the Wikipedia)? Or paused to reflect that "all good writing takes time" (Knowl)?

    Take a deep breath, guys, regroup and focus on getting back to being a voice that readers can rely on, rather than perpetuating your own Wonderland mixture of fact, opinion and sheer fancy.

    Hope this helps...



  18. aL

    yes lets all trust google, they surely cant be evil, they say so them selvs

    knol is an AWFUL lot like wikisource imo..

    i personally think wikipedia does a pretty good job of presenting al the views on a perticular topic in its articles..

    the risk of someone writing all kinds of bs (rasism, propaganda or worst of all, creationism) and presenting them as fact, seems far grater on knol than on wikipedia because the party with the most authors can drown the other parties posts..

    for hightly debated subjects i foresee thousands of flamewar articles that are absolutly useless to someone who is trying to form a well balanced oppinion of the subject..

    also, we all know how google feels about censorship..( anyone?) google is a massive corp and deserves no more trust tan microsoft or apple..

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I dont care.....

    ......if its idealogically better than wiki or more factually correct than Brittanica.

    Its an assault on the eyes.

    Look at it .......

    It looks like a 4 year old blind skiddie with a wikigrudge spent 3 minutes trying to replace wiki, got bored, puked on it, wiped his arse on it then stuck it on the internet.

    Its truly awful, in a way that completely contradicts google normal clean front page.

  20. Mike Groombridge

    @Nah, same problems...and then some new ones...

    surely this is better as instead of a police force that itself is made up of people working for free with no effective punishments for acting in your own self interest or the interest of others

    we now have a paid police with rules and punishments for acting in your own self interest not to mention the fact that it will have a clearly defined policy and not edit as you go policies. the problem i for see is how long before google focus adds for specfic topics. or charges to see the move popular ones.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accountability, not?

    I like the way how I log in with my Google account to create a "knol", and it says "Welcome, Anonymous!"

  22. Lex
    Paris Hilton


    Im not sure I like the sound of "Multiple pages for the same search....and that's good". If I am wanting to look something up I want 1 page which is fact-checked and (at least reasonably) accurate. Not 30 pages of different opinions to look through.

    I generally like Google's things, but this just doesn't sound tempting at all.

    [Paris - Because she's still stuck on the load page working out how to spell 'Gullible' as someone told her it wouldnt be there]

  23. Colin Guthrie

    I tried to find God

    Search Results:

    No results found for god

    Ahh well, that's settled that then :D

  24. hahnchen

    It won't take off, unless...

    The reason Wikipedia is so popular is because Google ranks everything in it at the top of all search results. The only way anyone is going to find out about knol is if they start fondling their Google-rithms to like it a lot more, this of course, will only take a matter of time.

  25. Tim Bates
    Thumb Down

    Isn't this a retarded way to do things?

    Which "Knol" on a topic do you believe?

    I agree with Michael... This doesn't solve any of the criticisms of Wikipedia. In my opinion, it's going to end up worse. If you don't agree with an article and they won't let you change it, you make your own. That's just retarded.

    @charles platt: Wikipedia's idea of having one encyclopedia style article about a given topic is hardly lunatic. What's lunatic is the people that don't read Wikipedia's policies, and then get upset when they are banned for repeatedly breaching them.

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Anonymous Coward

    <checks, light dawns>

    Ummm. am I the only one who was thinking "toilet clogs" were some odd kind of footwear I'd never previously encountered...?

  28. Robin

    [Citation Needed]

    That is all.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    "knol" that sounds like NULL to me.

    so is it where we are going redirect all the standard output (and error) that we want to disappear into the void ? (as in /dev/null for the uniniated )

    Paris because it seems she has null knol between the ears......

  30. Tim

    Has anyone actually looked at KNOL?

    Its really poor. No structure at all and all done with the ubiquitous "Google Search" box. You cant really casually browse like on wikipedia, and as above comments suggest, you can write your own flavour of article which you can prevent from being corrected.....

    At least google are trying though eh?

  31. Paul R


    So, and expert creates an article on a given subject, they do a good job and write an accurate article. Because they own it, no-one can come along and screw it up. All good so far.

    Time moves on, the facts change, and the article needs updating. But the author has effectively abandoned it for whatever reason; maybe they're no longer in the field, maybe they've forgotten about it, or maybe they died. What now?

    I have no idea what the answer is, but that isn't my problem.

  32. david

    gmail account

    One little thing gives me pause: Looks like you have to have a gmail account to write a Knol. At this rate Google will OWN email. All email. Yikes.

    No you don't you need a google account. It can be attached to any email address.

  33. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Paris Hilton

    Zap Ruder

    Toilet Clogs?

    What a pair!

  34. Sceptical Bastard

    Cynical capitalism

    Ah, a new knowledge base for everyone! Wonderful! It's even got a self-imposed neologism which some geek made up in an uninspired moment

    But wait. What's this? "Sign up or use your Google account to create your knol."

    Yeah. Right. I spend enough time deleting cache and cookies, shifting (dynamic) IP address, and using other search engines to avoid Google building and stashing and selling my internet usage profile.

    For everyone? No. For those who want to be Google's ad fodder. For those who don't mind Larry and Serge's quest for world domination. For those naive enough to believe 'Do no evil'. For those who don't find the Google-coined word 'knol' a toe-curling cringe-making embarrassment.

    I fervently hope that this falls flat on its arse for Google.

    Bah! Humbug!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm currently in the process of preparing my Knol: "Buckets and other containers it's fun to fart into".

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ Charles Platt

    "Which would be--almost like a bookstore, right? Multiple authors, multiple viewpoints, and you synthesize your own assessment from them."

    I couldn't agree more.

    "Wikipedia had the lunatic idea that it would have just ONE all-purpose collaborative entry on any topic, coauthored in a monumental battle in which those who had the greatest ability to waste their time would overwhelm the rest."

    It gets even more ridiculous now that they have tightened their rules. You can no longer create a new Wikipedia article without someone in their inner circle reviewing it before hand and approve it. New articles are routinely dismissed as "not noteworthy enough". If you submit a basic new entry meant to be a starting point for others to add detail over time, it will be rejected as "not enough substance". You are then forced to invest a lot of time to research and write a fairly complete article carrying the risk that the article will be rejected anyway and all the work you put into your submission will have been in vain. Yet, if you do research and deliver an article which does have the substance they ask for, the chance is they reject it again because you are now a suspected fanboy and probably biased because who else would put that much effort into an article on something that they believe isn't noteworthy in the first place because they never heard about it before.

    At the point when you have finally addressed all the objections the reviewers have thrown at you, when they have nothing more to criticise, then all of a sudden the whole thing turns into a personal pursuit of "winning the war". It is no longer about the subject matter, no longer about ensuring quality, it becomes personal, they simply want you to go away, nothing else matters. The tell-tale signs for this are when they claim that the sources you give are not credible. In order to fix this you will then have to fall back to more conservative sources which are often only available in print and not online. But then they reject the article on the grounds that the sources are not verifiable online because they cannot be bothered visiting a library.

    Even more ridiculous is the fact that those who review new submissions are totally clueless on the subject matter of articles they review. There is no requirement in their policy that says that a reviewer to approve or reject a new article should know something about the subject matter of said article.

    Yes, Google got this absolutely right with their model because it resembles the real world where authors choose to publish and don't get shot down by a censorship board while readers get to choose from multiple publications by multiple authors and work out for themselves which authors are more reliable than others.

    I for one will be looking forward to Knol and I might even contribute there.

  37. Niall


    I don't think so. Heretofore I shall call it, Woogle.

  38. TeeCee Gold badge


    When's it out of Beta then?

  39. Patrick O'Reilly
    Dead Vulture

    Good Awful

    I just tried it out and it's terrible.

    Looks like the the bastard child of Drupal and Google (Goopal)

    There's no content really and what is there is pittiful.

    No Ireland, no USA, no dogs, not even an entry on Google itself!!!

  40. breakfast Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    "Knob" more like.

    I haven't actually looked at it properly or gone into any detail on it, I just wanted to share that insight.

  41. Anonymous Coward


    @Chris Bidmead

    "...Knowl is not Wikipedia...

    ...A cursory glance at Knowl is enough to discover that it's nothing like the Wikipedia... would be unfair to expect it to get Knowl within just a few days of its launch... ..."all good writing takes time" (Knowl)?"..."

    a slightly less cursory glance is enough to discover that it's called "knol" not "knowl". *sigh!* does anyone on 'el reg' ever engage brain before putting fingers to keyboard?

    incidentally, wikipedia has an article on 'knol' but knol disnae have an article on 'wikipedia'. i'm not sure what the implications of this are, but i'm sure it's terribly meaningful.

  42. Joe K
    Thumb Down

    Repellent home-page

    Pretty much nothing but fear-mongering articles about diseases.

    *hits back button and vows to never visit it again*

  43. Luther Blissett

    On a clear day you can see for... ever

    > You can see the Knol here. Zapruder is just outside the frame.

    Is the problem in a nutshell: because Geoge H.W. Bush is just outside the frame too, and a few other "interesting" people.

    Knob is no Wiki competitor. When you can't get people to swallow The One Truth, there's no choice but to offer it to them in a zillion bitesize and equally unappetising different pieces, some round, some square, some jagged little pills with 6 points on them. It's a big big win-win for the nu insect overlards. (G'd morning how RU?)

    This is Radio Luther broadcasting on the X-Ra waveband. For your edification, an oldie but goodie. Straight from the Knol to you. When Truth was only mmmodern. I Can See for Miles. Who knows. (Not a question). I can. For Miles.

    And miles and miles

    and miles

    and miles

  44. shay mclachlan

    Puffs and shills ahoy maybe

    Wikipedia has a reasonably balanced (OK a couple of jabs) article on Knol.

    Interestingly the article says 'Content designed to promote businesses, products or services is allowed, but articles devoid of substantive content and created solely to generate ad revenue are not.'. Be interesting to see how that one pans out in reality.

    Anyway, I'm off, I've got a Knol article to write promoting the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation and its wares.

  45. Perseus


    Yes, 'knol' in Dutch does translate to 'turnip'. Unfortunately for Google, the Dutch language is so rich that a 'knol' is also Dutch old, worn-out horse.

  46. Stef
    Thumb Down

    @ Chris Bigmead

    "Amused to see the Wikipedia bashing continues unabated here in good ol' RegLand. Like a dog with a shoe, it just won't let go."

    Eh? There is almost no Wiki bashing here. It is all Google/Knol bashing, and a general defence of Wiki.

    Obviously you didn't bother to actually read any of the posts, as you kept misspelling "Knol" as "Knowl".

    It seems you are the "dog with a shoe" as you won't let go, and just inject your misplaced rant in the topic.

  47. James

    The problem with knol

    is it falls between two stools.

  48. Dr Stephen Jones
    Thumb Up

    Poor Chris Bidmead

    ....It sounds like his favourite hobby horse has been shot. Humour is usually wasted on the humourless, Cade.

    While most of the media couldn't get far enough up Jimmy Wales back passage, The Register has done an outstanding job explaining the fatal flaws in the project. Cade Metz's description of "cult" is very appropriate indeed. Wikipedia is harmless if no one believes it - but then why bother?

    Chris, it sounds like you're the one in Wonderland. Maybe you should start your own.

  49. Zmodem


    I could put down my chicken sarnie and waste 10mins and add more by this author and auther rating system

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    "there can be thousands of separately authored Knols about Hitler" - does anybody remember Everything2? It was along the lines as described above, whereby each topic could have multiple entries. It degenerated into people posting song lyrics and daily diaries that were only of interest to the writer, but there were a few genuinely good factual articles, the best of which were better than Wikipedia's equivalents. I remember a description of fascism that was concise, well-written, and totally rad.

    It also had some wacky stuff that amused me no end, e.g. an entry on Japanese puns.

  51. Gav

    This has been done before

    So, if you disagree with an existing page, you write your own page about your own opinion and no-one else is allowed to edit it if you don't let them.

    Sounds familiar. I think they used to call this "the internet".

  52. Mike

    What did Google do to the Swiss? Move Scharfenberger to the top of the list for Chocolate?

  53. Ron Luther

    Simply worthless

    No 'anime'?

    No 'porn'?

    Worthless I tell you. Simply worthless.

  54. Anonymous Coward

    But ...

    It must be crap! There's no entry for either Doctor Who or Time Lords!!

  55. Andy Bright

    Don't why anyone uses either

    Not sure why anyone would use either resource, and don't Google already have an encyclopedia, called Google.

    What I like to do ask the Google God what I want to know and then believe what the first link says. Sorted.

    You got to have some faith in your gods. I believe what the Google God says because as everyone knows, everything on the internet is true.

  56. OrsonX

    God Knol

    Earlier today I wrote a very informative KNOL - it's intention was to clarify for uncertain people whether or not God actually exists (here's a clue: he doesn't).

    Seemingly this non-inflammatory factual KNOL failed to make it past the big G, as, although it's "puplished" I don't find it when I search?

    Fire, because I'm gonna burn in, oh no, wait a minute...

  57. possession
    Thumb Down

    The obvious problem with the model is...

    ... there is going to be an inevitable land grab as people seek to gain primary authorship of their chosen knols and then they will become the arbiters of what comes afterwards. In essence I can choose to give my person account of `The Register' (for instance) in the first Knol creation about the Register and then if someone from The Register wishes to indicate that it is completely wrong they will need me to relinquish my hold over my *likely* spurious account or else they need to appeal to some higher power (employees?) or some democratic decision (in which case it just becomes a clunkier wiki).

    My two cents.

  58. Zmodem
    Jobs Horns

    Faith is a weakness

    Hell yeah, the universe is a free4all, and goolge aint good to be called a god, page title = a match the page content is skipped and will still return a result

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikipedia is fairly accurate if you stick with the math

    but no bets on anything else.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like