Google unveils Wikipedia rival Knol

Google has opened its answer to Wikipedia, Knol, to the public for the first time.

The website allows people to write about their areas of expertise under their bylines in a twist on encyclopaedia Wikipedia, which allows those posting to remain anonymous.

Cedric DuPont, product manager for Knol, said: "We are deeply convinced that authorship -- knowing who wrote what -- helps readers trust the content."

The name of the service is a play on an individual unit of knowledge, and entries on the public website are called "knols".

The website was first announced at the beginning of December 2007 when Google began limited testing on the site.

Knol has publishing tools similar to single blog pages, but unlike blogs, Knol encourages writers to reduce what they know about a topic to a single page that is not chronologically updated.

Google wants to rank entries by popularity, decided by user ratings, reviews and how often people refer to the specific pages, to encourage competition.

DuPont said: "What we want to get away from is 'this last voice wins' model which is very difficult if you are a busy professional."

Knol focuses on individual authors or groups of authors in marked contrast to Wikipedia's subject entries, which are updated by users and edited behind the scenes.

In another point of difference from Wikipedia, the new offering does not edit or endorse the information and visitors will not be able to edit or contribute to a Knol unless they have the author's permission.

Readers will also be able to notify Google if they find any content objectionable.

Although Knol is backed by the might of Google, it has a long way to go in catching Wikipedia, which boasts 7m collectively edited articles in 200 languages.

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