When initially launched, Google's Knol (the seeming competitor to Wikipedia) was widely dismissed as a flawed concept - placing the experts back at the top of the knowledge-creation food chain, in contrast to the more open and all together 'democratic' Wikipedia. That was then. Now, well, things seem to be a little different. From the Guardian Technology section:
Wikipedia editors seem to be dropping like flies, according to research by Felipe Ortega, from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid. He analysed Wikipedia's data on the editing histories of its more than three million active contributors in 10 languages and found that "in the first three months of 2009, the English-language Wikipedia suffered a net loss of more than 49,000 editors, compared to a net loss of 4,900 during the same period a year earlier," reports The Wall Street Journal.
But why? Hard to say, but a constant theme in the comments below (and that I've read elsewhere this last 6-12 months) is that many Wikipedians are leaving citing abusive, power-mad editors.
And many of them have jumped ship and gone over to Knol. From the comments section below the main article:
For two years, I maintained an important contemporary dental and oral surgery topic after heavy research, writing and editing to establish the all-important standard of care. I am a tech journalist with ample experience and training.
Suddenly the topic was dumbed down, removing long-standing authoritative referenced content critical for patient safety. It seemed to me as if some malpractice insurance carrier was suddenly editing the material, doing serious damage to the safety aspects as if worried that someone might wave the Wikipedia article from the witness box in front of a jury. Oh, Wikipedia says xyz is the standard of care. Since the surgeon did not use xyz, let's give a $M to the plaintiff.
I made repeated attempts to restore the content but it was always returned to the dumbed-down state. Somebody with a paycheck was watching. Disgusted, I jumped ship, rewriting and posting the content at Google Knol and at Scribd.com where no one but me can touch it.
Knol is very cool from a content management standpoint. My work has earned very high marks and I have now been invited to post at MedPedia (and I am working on it). Thousands have read the articles and many have downloaded. I am delighted because the safety issues are critical.
Is Knol for you? Give it a tumble, ask the top rated writers (many Wikipedia refugees, like me) for help. And have some fun with the low end stuff. Knol is a very liberal experience. www.knol.google.com.