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Google to take on Wikipedia with open collective knowledge database

Google is at work on a new encyclopedia-like series of Web pages, which aims to gather knowledge on any subject from a collective of people.

Much like Wikipedia, the goal is to encourage people who know about a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it. However, differing from Wikipedia, the articles will have authors with bylines so that readers can know the source of the information. As opinions on subjects such as global warming may vary, various articles may appear on the same subject by different authors with different points of view.

“Books have authors; names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors — but somehow the Web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted,” said Udi Manber, VP of engineering at Google, in a blog post. “We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of Web content.”

Each individual entry will be called a “knol,” for unit of knowledge. Knols can include ads, if the author chooses to. In this case, Google will share the revenue with the author.

Google will not serve as an editor in any way, and will not endorse any content. While editorial responsibilities and control will be in the hands of the authors, knols will include community tools, so that anyone can submit comments, questions, edits and additional content, as well as ratings and reviews.

For quality control on system, which is open to anyone, knols will be ranked in search ratings by articles that Google feels are most important.

The tool is in the first phase of testing, and is available by invitation only. However, when it opens, anyone will be able to write an article.

Google will not ask for any exclusivity on any of this content and will make the content available to other search engines.

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