Part of the Personal computing glossary:

What is Knol?

Knol is an online knowledge base under development by Google. Knol was originally conceived by Google engineer Udi Manber. The beta version was launched on July 23, 2008. Although most of the initial content is related to health and medicine, Google hopes that the site will eventually encompass the entire range of human knowledge.

The term "knol," which, according to Google, stands for "unit of knowledge," refers to both the encyclopedia and entries within it.

Knol has been compared to Wikipedia but there are significant differences. While Wikipedia allows anonymous submissions, Knol publishes the names of authors. According to the developers of Knol, this practice encourages authors to vet each other's work as well as strive for accuracy and authenticity.

Also in contrast to Wikipedia entries, a knol cannot be edited by anyone but the author(s). Every knol entry consists of a main article followed by blog-like comments. Comments by readers typically include suggestions for improvements, requests for additional information and external links. The author may reject suggestions but cannot delete comments.

Anyone with a Google account can contribute to Knol. Authors must state their real names. Google attempts to verify the author's identity through credit card information or telephone callbacks. By discouraging anonymous contributions, the developers of Knol hope to instill confidence among academics and professionals, which has sometimes been lacking in regards to Wikipedia entries. By allowing comments and encouraging collaboration among authors using their true names, Google hopes to create a dynamic, evolving repository of information.

Unless the author specifies otherwise, Knol entries are licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-3.0, which allows reuse as long as credit is given to the author. Alternatively, contributors can enter their work under traditional copyright law or under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-3.0, which prohibits reuse for financial gain. A content policy defines unacceptable topics such as pornography, explicit violence and overt advertising.


Learn more about IT:
> Visit the Knol Web site.
> Wired describes how Knol works.
> Wikipedia has an entry about Knol.

This was last updated in February 2012
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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