Google's Knol

In July 2008 Google released a new service called Knol. You’re probably wondering what sort of funny name that is, and after I’ve told you what Knol does, you’ll still think that, but at least the name will make sense.

So what is a knol? Google describes it like this:

Knols are authoritative articles about specific topics, written by people who know about those subjects. Today, we’re making Knol available to everyone.

Knol has been described by others as a Wikipedia of sorts, but that’s not quite right. While Wikipedia is structured like a classical encyclopedia, with editors guarding like watchdogs what is added or edited, Knol lets many people write many different articles on the same topic. Readers can then rate, review and sometimes even edit other authors articles (via something called moderated editing, meaning edits by others must be approved by the author of the knol). Compared to Wikipedia, that’s about as laissez fair as it can get.

So, how has Google Knol been doing since the start? As the official Google blog announced last month, the 100,000 knols barrier was broken sometime at the end of 2008. That’s not too bad for a service that’s only been around for a mere six months. I guess the fact that Google lets you display ads on your knol’s page didn’t hurt either.

Which is where it becomes tricky. Right now one of the featured knols is an article that deals with plagiarism on Google Knol. According to the article, especially Wikipedia articles get copied massively without attribution, which is simply against the Wikipedia license. And if those people who’ve copied Wikipedia articles also earn money by having ads displayed on their stolen content, it gets a bit nasty.

The measures you can take if you feel content has been plagiarized are absurdly complicated. The owner of the copyrighted material has to contact Google in writing. That’s right, a letter on actual paper. Why on earth they wouldn’t simply let them contact them via e-mail or a form or whatever else people have been using on the Interwebs for the last 15 years is beyond me.

Anyway, I accidentally stumbled over a how-to contest Google Knol is holding in cooperation with, so I decided to add another knol to those 100,000. Since there’s at least a thousands things I could write the most splendid how-tos on, it was tough for me to decide, but I chose something that most people would be able to connect with. That’s right, I wrote a how-to on the perfect Martini. Check it out! And don’t copy it without attribution!