Last week, Paul Barsch sent me an ABC news article introducing Google’s Knol, its own user-generated encyclopedia. Entitled Google Knol Opens to Public, writer Ashley Phillips claims the “move is widely seen as the Silicon Valley behemoth’s answer to Wikipedia.”
The primary differences between Wikipedia and Knol are that “people who write entries on Google’s encyclopedia are identified and can earn a profit from their articles with ads.”
Here is a quote from the article:
“The key principle behind Knol is authorship. Every knol will have an author (or group of authors) who put their name behind their content,” the company wrote on its blog Wednesday. “It’s their knol, their voice, their opinion. We expect that there will be multiple knols on the same subject, and we think that is good.
“Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it,” the company wrote on its blog in December. “We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of Web content.”
Frankly, I am not surprised that Google entered launched the site. It is apparent from anyone watching that Google, among others, wants to be all things Internet, including search and content. As we watch that battle emerge between Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, I am more interested in the answer to my question: Do We Want or Need Another Wikipedia?
In fact, let me take this one step further. Did we want or need Wikipedia? And how does paying writers using views at the criteria affect the writing? Does doing so tempt some to use hyperbole and unnecessary or unfounded provocation and controversy to up their numbers?
Now, this is where I earn my reputation as a contrarian and expect to learn a great deal from you. I don’t use Wikipedia. And on the few occasions when I have, my research in terms of time was doubled, even tripled, because I don’t see Wikipedia as a reliable source. I prefer my research to include not only writers (who come with agendas and biases, and I include myself here), but to also be backed up by professional editors and fact checkers. Furthermore, I want to know what makes the writer qualified to submit what I consider research-level content. Who is this person? What are their specific topical qualifications? And where can I learn more about him or her (a link or two)?
Okay, so where am I wrong (or right) here? Wikipedia and Knol claim to provide information we can quote. Would you (have you) done so without fact checking the info yourself? How do you, or would you, use these sites? Do such sites help or hurt the reputation and perception of online media, including social media?