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Google's Knol, Expert Wiki, Goes Live 263

Posted by kdawson
from the trusting-in-experts dept.
Brian Jordan and other readers sent in word that Google has taken the wraps off Knol, its expert-written challenger to Wikipedia. (We discussed Knol when it was announced last year.) Wired has an in-depth look. Knol's distinctions from Wikipedia are that authors are identified by their real names (and verified), and that they can share in ad revenue if they choose to. The service initially features a lot of medical articles, which is interesting considering that Medipedia also launched today. This medical wiki is backed by Harvard's and Stanford's medical schools.
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Google's Knol, Expert Wiki, Goes Live

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  • Citizendium? (Score:4, Informative)

    by commodoresloat (172735) * on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:32PM (#24312023)
    Why duplicate the efforts of Citizendium []? Are knol's goals substantially different?
  • Hmmm.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by arizwebfoot (1228544) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:33PM (#24312029)
    Went to and it says they don't launch until the end of 2008
  • Re:Citizendium? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:40PM (#24312105)
    I believe that Knol articles are all single-author, while Citizendium is basically Wikipedia with mandatory editor registration.
  • Scholarpedia? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jnana (519059) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:46PM (#24312173) Journal

    On the topic of Wikipedia-like sites, I recently found Scholarpedia [], which I imagine a lot of slashdotters might like. They don't have that much content yet, and they are currently focusing on a few fields (science- and tech-related), but I have found some really high-quality articles by experts in the field, like:

    Neural Correlates of Consciousness [], by Christof Koch.

    Algorithmic Information Theory [], my Marcus Hutter.

  • by Eq 7-2521 (159354) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:57PM (#24312295)

    I read the article as well, but question his authority on the subject. While convenient, stoves are certainly not essential in all areas at all times. On the other hand, Bourbon is, which he fails to mention at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @06:13PM (#24312439)

    Posting Anonymously so I don't negate my moderation...

    I'm not worried about this. Most of the hardcore contributors to Wikipedia are not academics or prominent experts. They're just highly motivated amateurs. The two demographics don't overlap because academics usually want attribution for the content they write (it is, after all, their profession to pass on knowledge) and academics have little patience for engaging in edit wars or undertaking the lengthy process of being socialized into the Wikipedia community.

    Insofar as these Knol articles will be written by experts with attribution, I think that this will complement Wikipedia. Wikipedia has a hard time getting easy access to scholarly-level sources. Most people won't go to a library to research their topic, and few have access to JSTOR or EBSCOHOST or other journal databases. Knols will be a low barrier way for academics to write something that is easily accessible and quickly publishable, while Wikipedians will be able to access and cite Knols with far greater ease than other more traditional sources.

    One way to think about this project is simply Google attempting to fill in the logistics chain between accumulated primary source knowledge -> published secondary source knowledge, and -> online tertiary source knowledge. Since Wikipedians are disallowed from "original research", synthesizing primary source knowledge is out of the question. It's access to authoritative secondary sources that's most necessary to Wikipedia, and Knol seems to be an effort toward filling that gap.

  • Re:Online Resources (Score:3, Informative)

    by cashman73 (855518) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @09:25PM (#24314027) Journal
    Umm, I wouldn't call Uncyclopedia a "competitor". It's owned by Wikia, which is essentially Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales' for-profit wiki venture.
  • Re:Losing Anonymity? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @09:33PM (#24314085)

    Appear to Authority is only a fallacy in arguments when it becomes something like "I have a degree, so therefore I am correct." Going to the right "authority" for information isn't a fallacy. Do you go to a bum on the street to get your appendix out? Why not?

  • by Fulg0re- (119573) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @01:39AM (#24315403)

    I don't think that having so-called "experts" contributing to Google Knol is necessarily going to make it a better overall resource that Wikipedia for several reasons.

    Firstly, a lot of these early articles are seriously lacking. Let's take for example, the article on Methicillin Resistant Staphlococcus Aureus (MRSA). It's a generally well-written article, and the author looks to be fairly reputable. Nonetheless, there are arguably some significant deficiencies, that with the current format of Knol, cannot be rectified.

    In the article's description, the author notes that there will be a discussion on how MRSA can be treated. Yet, when you look at that portion of the article, information on management is seriously lacking, and the description of the medications is ultimately quite useless.

    At least with Wikipedia, the article would link to a corresponding article on the specific antibiotic, so you would have the opportunity to easily gain further information, whereas with Knol, this simple linking procedure is currently lacking significantly.

    Now, for a simple example. Having a description that Vancomycin "is considered first line treatment" for MRSA is useless for any practicing clinician. What I would want to know are things such as dosing regimens, important things to remember such as having to measure Vancomycin trough levels every several doses (and why), what alternative medications I can use if the MRSA strain is resistant to Vancomycin, etc., all of which are extremely important in the management of MRSA. There is also a significant lack of information about what strains are prevalent, which although not necessarily important for an Internist, is important for Infectious Disease specialists, the people who are consulted on a daily basis for the management of MRSA.

    I can continue to criticize the article, but the difference between it, and the Wikipedia entry are night-and-day. And my criticism isn't pointed to this article alone, there are countless very poorly written and uninformative medical articles on there thus far.

    A community effort with anonymous editors will (eventually) weed out mistakes, and have the distinct advantage of constant peer review. Knol on the other hand, is unfortunately stuck with the one author knows best paradigm.

  • Ugly old horse (Score:1, Informative)

    by SanderDJ (1004445) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @04:05AM (#24315981)
    In Dutch, "knol" means ugly old horse (think: Sarah Jessica Parker). Weird choice.
  • Re:Losing Anonymity? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Khalid (31037) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @06:02AM (#24316379) Homepage

    You should find what you are looking for here : []

  • by JasonNolan (628882) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @06:46AM (#24316587) Homepage Journal
    You can't be a member unless you're american, or are willing to fake your ID. Yes, it is beta. Poor google can't to global authentication? Heh. Just another 'global' company who thinks of the world after the fact. Hegemonic? Wow!
  • Re:Losing Anonymity? (Score:2, Informative)

    by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Friday July 25, 2008 @05:00PM (#24342243) Homepage

    But at least you ALSO get a coherent version uninfected by creationist idiots (apparently there's a harun yahya cultish type thing big in Turkey atm)

    In wikipedia you just get, well, infected articles. I can't seem to find a better term.

    Most people are utterly incapable and unqualified to write wikipedia articles. And they have this huge ego at the top who'll "fix it all". Riiight.

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid