The back-channel chatter on Google's Wikipedia-like Knol database, which opened to public editing today, is simple: Google plans to use Knol to replace Wikipedia, then serve ads on it.Jimmy Wales's open encyclopedia sits conspicuously high in Google's results for just about any search. See above: There are only two links in Google to the iffy Wikipedia page about me. Both come from other Wikipedia entries. Yet Google ranks that page higher than any of the articles from my 12-year online writing career. Whether Google artificially boosts Wikipedia's rank or not is a popular drinking topic among search engine optimizers. But Google's certainly not trying to push Wikipedia down any, as they've done with sites deemed problematic in the past. Wikipedia provides a handy reference-book-like entry among the first three results for most searches on famous people or popular topics. Great for us. But imagine if every customer clickthrough to Wikipedia could be rerouted to an AdSense-powered page from Google's own servers. Would they do that? Hell, they'd be stupid not to.
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