Google Knol: Does It ‘Go Too Far’?

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Google’s new Wikipedia, Squidoo, Answers, site “Knol” was introduced last night (and soon may be accompanied by the return of Google Answers as Google Q&A). Here’s Danny Sullivan’s lengthy write up of Knol.

Eventually, if it takes off, local content or “expert” content with local implications will certainly make it in there and you could expect that to become part of search/universal search results. (As an aside, what’s also interesting about this is how far Google has come into the world of user-generated content and social media.)

There’s lots of debate going on about whether Google has “gone too far” and is trying to “own everything.”

What do you think?

Does this somehow represent a transgression of some boundary that Google is supposed to observe? Will it succeed? Will it fall short? (Remember, many of Google’s products are not successful — the old Answers was shuttered amid stronger competition from Yahoo!) Should Google exercise “self restraint,” pursuing some projects and not others, for the benefit of their partners or the Internet as a whole?


4 Responses to “Google Knol: Does It ‘Go Too Far’?”

  1. Malcolm Lewis Says:

    I think there IS a boundary issue, possibly even a monopoly issue. The big problem being that Google controls what content is presented to users in response to their search. Obviously they have a vested interest in presenting their own content as they transition from an impartial gateway to other peoples’ content, to a content provider with a vested interest in promoting their own content..

    At this rate we’ll perform the entire search, find, learn/transact process on pages owned by Google or otherwise controlled/managed/enabled by Google. And of course Google gets to keep the lion’s share of the ad revenues on every page. Their primary gateway position makes it very hard for others to compete for an audience in a world where most users start their searches on Google.

    In this particular case I suspect that Wikipedia has too much momentum for Google to put much of a dent in their (non) business. That said, Google’s concept of author’s owning the content and thus a share of all future revebues generated by that content is clearly attractive to author’s who don’t make a penny on Wikipedia. At a minimum, if I were them, I’d submit my content once to Wikipedia and once to Google so I could own that future revenue stream.

    Never a dull moment in the Google world!

  2. Ahmed Farooq Says:

    Google’s entire ‘strength’ was that it wasn’t in the content business. News, Finance, Maps – it was always aggregating information from other sources.

    I for one am not comfortable about the blurring of the lines. I’m already not a big fan of universal search, and this sends me the other way too.

    At the same time – I definitely don’t want any regulation. Just like enough users complained about Beacon to cause it to become opt-in, I hope enough users can try out other search engines too. I’m gonna be trying out Yahoo for a while now.

  3. Kevin Abramson Says:

    I say let the market decide Google’s limits. As long as Google can push out products that users like and can do it better and cheaper than others (see free Google Analytics and Google Docs), let them have at it.

  4. Malcolm Lewis Says:


    Generally I would agree with you re market forces and may the best man win. As long as it’s a level playing field.

    The problem is, it’s increasingly becoming anything but a level playing field, largely due to Google unique position as the primary gateway to online information. IF Google provides the search gateway AND the content AND the advertising used to monetize online content THEN I think there’s a potential conflict of interest.

    Will they always promote the most relevant pages to the top of the SRPs? Or will they start favoring their own content even if not quite as relevant? And by their own content I include Google pages that aggregate and summarize scraped third party content (eg news or business reviews).

    To use a dumb and imperfect analogy, it’s like we are all too lazy to shop anywhere but Walmart because, hey, they have everything we need under one roof. Being smart, Walmart starts to slowly replace third-party products (food, clothing, etc.) with Walmart-manufactured products of similar quality. Does the consumer lose out? Not really, if the products are comparable and the prices remain low. Do the third-party manufacturers lose out, mainly because we’re all too lazy to drive to another store to buy their products? Probably. Long term, is it healthy to allow Walmart to exploit their position as consumer gateway of choice for food and clothing to drive manufacturers out of business? Maybe!

    I’m not saying STOP GOOGLE!, but I do think there is an interesting conflict of interest discussion in here somewhere.

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