Google claims the service, which has been kept under wraps in private testing, is different to Wikipedia in a number of ways. Specifically, it encourages writers to use their real names and stand behind their articles. It will also offers users the possibility to generate income from their work via Google ads.
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"Every knol will have an author, or group of authors, who put their name behind their content. 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," Knol product manager Cedric Dupont and software engineer Michael McNally said in a blog.
Wikipedia, on the other hand, has a culture of anonymity in which contributors rarely use their real names, and no ads appear on the site.
In addition, Knol apparently will have more controls over submissions and edits than Wikipedia. In Knol, readers can suggest changes to articles, and the authors have the final word on whether to accept or reject the feedback. "This allows authors to accept suggestions from everyone in the world while remaining in control of their content. After all, their name is associated with it," the Google officials said.
"Readers will also be able to rate articles and write reviews of them."
In Wikipedia, anyone can make changes to articles and have them appear instantly online.
Although in the blog posting knols are described as "authoritative articles about specific topics, written by people who know about those subjects," a Google spokesman said that anyone can write an article.
"Google will have no advance knowledge of the content of a knol and we will not be doing editorial screening of content posted by users and authors," he said.
In addition, Google will encourage authors to use their real names, but will not require it, he said. Google will give authors the ability to have their identity confirmed via a telephone or credit card verification process. Articles penned by these authors will appear with a 'verified' stamp, he said.
Another difference is that in Wikipedia all content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. This means that Wikipedia content can be copied, modified, and redistributed, as long as the new version extends those same freedoms to others and acknowledges the authors of the Wikipedia article used.
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