The Google version of Wikipedia, Knol is the fairly new service that allows users to write articles on whatever they have knowledge on. This is to emphasise the importance of an article being written by someone who is an expert in their field.
This stringent quality control is similar to how Google wants webmasters to be "Authorities" in their area of expertise, this is apparently key to getting a website to achieve a top ranking position. This is quite idealistic and demanding for webmasters, but it does place importance on quality of content which is great. Without this, the internet could have become so overladen with spam that users would never find what they wanted. Well done Google.
With Knol, Google has the chance to properly control the information published there and place greater emphasis on "Authorities" and people with unique knowledge. They could potentially alter the position of Knol pages on the Google SERPs too. By making Knol easier to login and publish articles than Wikipedia, it makes it *potentially* one of the biggest user generated content websites. Knol will, in time have coverage to rival Wikipedia, it will have a page ranking for just about every search term ever...
While Wikipedia relies on a large amount of inlinks and consistant traffic and readership to ensure it ranks highly, what's stopping Google from being evil* and artificially improving the position of Knol pages on the Google SERPs? They could always argue that as Knol articles focus on "experts" and "authorities" on a given subject, they will rank higher... Remember how to get a top ranking page? See "Authorities"
So what does Google get out of all this? Well, the big difference between Wikipedia and Knol, is that one is owned by a not for profit company and one is owned by, perhaps, the biggest money spinner of all time, Google. Google has got a revenue generating strategy for Knol, and this is to place its Adsense programme all over the UGC articles created by you and I. Now, I am sure that providing the Knol users with some revenue via Adsense is great, but does this steer content away from being measured on quality?
People will always criticise Wikipedia for the inaccuracies and downright lies on its articles, but for such a massive site, it deals with this pretty well, and mostly the content is good. If Knol is easier to create an account on, I'm going to bet that content will be terrible compared to Wikipedias. How will Google monitor all of this? Easy, by watching their bank balance grow...
* - Google is now officially evil after it monetised brand names that it didn't own on PPC. How much money has it made from the PPC brand issue since it went live?
A funny headline on this post about Knol. If that didn't cut to the chase, nothing does! Here is an example of "quality" content generated by an expert/authority. Or is it just very poorly written and researched? Does this still count as the work of an expert/authority on film reviews?
An example of "quality" content generated by an expert/authority. Or is it just a Wikipedia article that has been pasted in?