Google Knol”edge”, Wikipedia and Trias Politica

Arnold Zafra posted about Google’s KNOL service (derived from the word “knowledge”) already on Friday here at

Yesterday Brook Schaaf from Schaaf Consulting reported at about an article about the subject at the Times Online that was published also yesterday.

Based on the article at the UK news paper, did Nielson Online estimate Wikipedia’s traffic for October to be 107 Million people compared to over 260 million people who visited Google that same month. Wikipedia pages also rank very well in Google, too well actually, which causes some displeasure among search engine marketers, which is actually well founded. It is understandable that Google would like to get a piece of this for themselves.

But Knol is not like a Wiki that is open for anybody to edit. The Times Online states, quote:

“Where Wikipedia promotes collaboration between authors, knol looks set to foster rivalry. Contributors to knol will not be able to contribute anonymously and will not be able to edit each other’s work, two defining characteristics of Wikipedia. Whereas on Wikipedia, readers find only one entry on, say, the First World War, on knol authors will submit separate pieces that will compete for advertising dollars.”


“Contributors will retain the copyright to their submissions.”

The Times Online cites Jimbo Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, who questioned the quality that “Knol” will be able to produce, quote:

“(He) suggested that knol articles would lack balance. “They are not going to allow collaboration and aren’t going to go for Wikipedia’s neutral style”

Brook Schaaf also stated:

“This description made it sound sort of like Squidoo to Me.”

That is a comparison which is actually pretty accurate. Seth Godin’s brain child allows people to create articles for a keyword and benefit from the earnings, which is shared between Squidoo and the content creator. Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land also reported about Knol and its resemblance to Squidoo and also points out the spam problem Squidoo had in the past, which caused the site to get penalized by Google.

Google did already steps into content creation in the past with tools like Google Pages and the blogging platform Blogger. Danny Sullivan states about that issue

“Is this Google going a step too far? Google abandoned its search roots long ago, the idea that it was just a pointer to other information.”

I also see another problem, the increasing conflict of interest. Google has a financial benefit and interest that Knol pages rank high in their own organic search results that their own AdWords ads on those Knol pages will generate money for Google.

Google will be the manufacturer, distributor and retailer of their own goods. No problem, unless you have a market share like the top 15-20 grocery retailers combined. Google seems aiming to become the equivalent of the legislative, Judiciary and executive branches of a state, as defined by the “Trias Politica“, all-in-one. This will not only cause potentially some legal troubles and pressure from the FTC, but also a loss of trust by users of the search engines. Google should either organize the worlds information or produce them and don’t try to monetize them on top of all that.

What are your thoughts to this development? Do you like the idea of Knol? Why? If you don’t, please share your concerns with me and the other readers of .

Carsten Cumbrowski
Internet Marketer, Entrepreneur and Internet Marketing Strategy Consultant