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Google Knol as trusted User-Generated Content?

Google Knol presents a problem — how can we trust the relevance of a search result if the web pages we’re being given are owned by Google and are being artificially elevated to the top results?

Google Knol presents a problem — how can we trust the relevance of a search result if the web pages we’re being given are owned by Google and are being artificially elevated to the top results?

It’s a dilemma many have been writing about this past couple of days. But this isn’t a unique problem, either — Google have been doing the same thing with YouTube video, among other properties of theirs.

UGC (User-Generated Content) as a barrier to Google Knol

For me, Google Knol looks to be an attempt to usurp Social Media, as much as it is an attack on Wikipedia.

The problem for Google is that if they wish to emulate Wikipedia, they’re going to have to pitch their Knols at much the same audience — those massed ranks of people who’re only too happy to sit up all night editing Wiki web pages.

There are additional problems, not least the quality of certain web pages on Wikipedia. I personally think the problem of editorial quality is being blown out of proportion.

Yes, there have been pitched battles fought over Wiki web pages for political gain. But for topics as academically dry and incidental as spermatozoa and deep sea hydrothermal vents, I think we can be sure of their authenticity.

So in addition to attracting editors who might otherwise feel that Google have made a thinly-veiled assault on Wikipedia and the perceived editorial quality, there’s also the ability to reference those Knols in the same way we currently reference Wiki web pages.

It’s still quite early and Google have to make more announcements to clarify just what the anatomy of a Knol is.

But I suspect a Google Knol will have to look very similar to a Wiki we page — in that there’s an index of in-page links at the top, which allow people to then reference specific sections, rather than the entire page, which is just one small example of the way in which people use Wikipedia.

Indeed, the very foundations of Wikipedia is now a common and well-supported format. Even with Google’s considerable weight pressed against Wikipedia, it’s unlikely all those behind them using the same tools are likely to concede hard-fought ground to Google’s will.

I see Google Knol as a solution arriving too late to a problem long solved. And the solution that exists is itself weighed down with social foibles and idiosyncrasies that no amount of technology can fix…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

2 replies on “Google Knol as trusted User-Generated Content?”

I cannot agree more with the point you have stressed here Wayne.

Google seems to have developed a new craving for acquiring everything in sight and also stating their own services in some areas that has a good response and already have a saturated market.

I understand they have a wide reach and can make or break any service, but as you have said, Google Knol, might be like fishing in a pond that has already been fished out!

On a similar pattern, Unlike “Yahoo Answers”, that received a tremendous response, Google answers failed. But they have initiated Google Answers project again, trying to get the rest of the market.

How this goes and how successful this would be, would be interesting to see!

Hi Vikram, I’m not too sure of the virtue of the path that Google appear to be following these days.

Some things are really best left alone, lest interference break what’s already there to begin with.

That doesn’t seem to bother Google much now.

I’m pretty sure the Google of old would have continued their support of Wikipedia to ensure there was no fragmentation of what is the best solution to a difficult question…

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