Google launches Knol, but sacrifices quality?

Knol, Google's Wikipedia beater has been in beta since December 2007. Last week we saw the wrapping come off and Knol opening up to accept new content entries. Knol, short for Knowledge, is on a steep slope to compete with Wikipedia. With 9.2 million UK users [according to Nielson], even with Google's size, trying to achieve over 8bn articles [and counting at Wikipedia] will take some time.

But Knol has one distinct advantage over Wikipedia: Contributors can earn money from their contributions. By attaching their AdSense code to their Knol profile, contributors can start to benefit from their work. So this means, if I write lots of content, and the content is good, I should be able to make some income from the ads.

This is very clever from Google [in a history of cleverness] as it incentivises the bog content producers to come over for the lure of money. So far so good. BUT - does this have the distinct disadvantage over long term quality of the content?

Like the spam blogs of old [easy content creation for the purpose of click spam] will Knol be subject to a deluge of high income generating content, like mortgages cheap loans and credit cards?

The other clever thing about Knol [and previous incarnations like, and the writely aquistions] is that Google is also moving from content indexer to content producer which will help feeds its continual growth requirement.

So will it achieve growth over quality? I guess only time will tell...



Ad-incentivised splog deluge?

Google Knol completely undermines the implicit contract that has grown up between Wikipedia's contributors - admittedly, it's not virtually impossible to grasp it all - but this understanding has formed the cornerstone of Wikipedia.

Now, it's easy to regard it both as good and evil, but because there's no financial incentive to take part and in fact, an aversion to marketing-style pimpage on the site, the copy tends toward an altruistic, thought not necessarily correct view.

The incentive behind Google Knol makes a perfect and compelling argument for the marketing-savvy SEO types. The most compelling entry will garner the most advertising, doesn't matter if it's correct. This is a rapid descent towards Truthiness with a pot of ad cash at the end of the rainbox. It'll end in tears.

Wikipedia may not always be ad free

Sam's comment is valid. However, Wikipedia may not always shy away from the advertising dollar. There has been rumours that they have changed their T's & C's to make it easier to accept advertising, but I'll need to check my facts [an episode of TWiT to be precise] before I spread further.

Knol may actually be part of a wider Google initiative to grow content in general, just launched under the banner of 'worthiness'.