.. or as Tiffany Monhollon so deftly put it in the words of the bard, To Knol or Not to Knol? Her post is well worth reading since it summarizes much of the present decision problem many of us are facing:
That is the question of the day, isn’t it? With so much talk about whether or not this new service is the Wikipedia-killer or a threat to Squidoo, thought-leaders (and potential experts) everywhere have to be turning that question over in their minds.
The problem is, Knol is such a new tool, even though Google’s done an admirable job trying to define how the process works and what a good product looks like, no one really knows what to do with it yet, much less what to think of it. That’s because what will really define Knol is user involvement. And you better believe Google knows that.
In a world where content is king, Google’s new service simply can’t survive much less become a threat to anything without thoughtful participation from a crowd of established experts. The reason for this is simple: That’s the added value Knol supposedly brings to users – expertise.
If you take what Google is saying at face value, that is certainly a fair assessment. However I believe the reality is very much simpler. Knol will never be a place to go to check out information. Google has now already in the Beta phase created a mountain of lucrative web pages that will bring appreciable Adword revenues as these web pages turn up in keyword searches.
If you are surprised by that just check out some of the topics in the Plain old bag o’ knols section of the Knol home page.
Multiple Myeloma, Normal Pregnancy, Interstitial Lung Disease and Pulmonary Fibrosis, Conjunctivitis, Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck), Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Diverticulitis, Libido Problems in Women, Seasonal Allergies, Liposuction, Hypothyroidism, Anxiety Disorders, An Overview of Rectal Surgery, Osteoarthritis, Basal Cell Carcinoma, AIDS, Family Planning with Hormonal Contraception, Urticaria, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Patient Safety, High Risk Pregnancy, Hemorrhoids, Decreased Hearing, Specific Information about the Four Major Leukemias, HDL-Cholesterol, Dyslexia, Croup, Coronary Bypass Surgery, Central Sleep Apnea, Malaria, Female Sexual Function and Dysfunction, The Quality of Healthcare, Hematuria, Tinea Versicolor (Pityriasis Versicolor), Prostate Cancer, Menopause – What Is It?, Perioral Dermatitis (Periorificial Dermatitis), Common Cold, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Acute Renal Failure, Nasal Polyps
Since these topics are on the Knol homepage, which is now receiving an incredible number of links from everyone trying to understand the Knol, it is quite clear that these Knol pages will naturally dominate the keyword query search pages. Although some question whether Google will wish to continue with Knols, they will probably find it too attractive in revenue terms to kill off.
For others of us dealing with topics which are less ad-rich, Knol presents a real dilemma. Will Knol become the place to be seen? That will be true only if regular Knol pages turn out to have natural high rankings in keyword query searches. Although a Knol page gives only minor returns to its author, if you are number one in a marketplace, can you afford to let your competitor be the one who writes the important Knol page in your field.
On present indications, you probably can let the competitor do the work. It seems quite clear that Google cannot give an unnatural advantage to its Knol pages in its search algorithms. If it did, the distinction between its natural listings and its paid advertising would become very fuzzy. That would be something that many would certainly encourage the FTC to check out with vigor.
.. and of course if the competitor does write a knol that seems to be gaining traction, your choice is clear. Just go out and write a better Knol on the same subject. If yours gets better reviews then presumably like cream it will float to the top.