Recently Google announced the public availability of Knol, after a test run of around 7-8 months. Most of the people see it as Wikipedia killer. Though there are similarity between Knol and Wikipedia, there are noticeable difference as follows -
- The first difference is that Knol is all about articles and not creating encyclopedia. Wikipedia is more subject/topic centered whereas Knol is more article/ author centered.
- Author can still own the copyright of the article and decide whether s/he wants contribution from others or not. He has also few license options available to choose from. Option for selecting license is not possible with Wikipedia.
- One major difference that I see it the option for monetization. I had written one post previously that Twitter and FriendFeed should allow monetization, so why not Wikipedia? Google approach definitely encourages sharing and collaboration by adding monetization aspect to the contribution.
- All articles in Knol is having nofollow attribute, so there will not be an impact on the page rank of the hyperlinked page. Though the link to your blog/ website will not affect PageRank, still you may expect increase in traffic.
- Knol puts strong emphasis on trust and they have a verification mechanisms. They recommend name verification by telephone or by credit card.
Instead of Wikipedia, I believe that Knol has more similarities with About.com. If you don't know, About.com is a portal where you can get articles on various topics written by prominent authors. Generally all those articles are paid articles and About.com pays to the authors. Seeing Knol's article centric approach, I believe that conceptually Knol is very much similar to the About.com. I would prefer calling Knol a "Web 2.0 About.com".
About.com doesn't give reader of the article any method to contribute to the article similar to Wikipedia. Neither it does allow everybody to publish new articles in different categories. So the contribution is very much restricted in About.com. Knol.com takes the idea of About.com, fixes contribution issue and also incorporates monetization which again promotes contribution. The emphesis on contribution is what makes it "Web 2.0".
I am not saying that Knol.com is going to kill About.com. In fact, in my opinion, there is good possibility for co-existence of all three websites - Knol, Wikipedia and About.com. Though I am saying that Google has made About.com available to everybody and we will definitely see excellent knowledge base in future.