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December 16, 2007


Bob Churchill

It seems like the only "compromise" you refer to is this lack of control over who might advertise on the site, yes? and thus who money is earned from? (Is this concern over receiving adverts from potentially objectionable sources the reason why Virtual Philosopher only "monetizes" via Amazon links?)

Anyway, I'm not sure that accepting money from ads served on pages we write is really such a "compromise". Knol authors, like most people who "own" a website, are accepting ads in a stream which is controlled by someone like Google Ads. The revenue the author accrues is coming from the ad provider, not direct from the company paying for the adverts. Google Ads is literally, in the philosophical sense, an advertising agency: they are the moral agent.

This is not to say that a website owner or knol writer shouldn't exercise some degree of caution over who is paying for the adverts on their pages, and the authors have every right and perhaps a resonsibility to complain or withdraw their content if the provider serves objectionable adverts to their page.

But the immediate ethical imperative to advertise responsibly and appropriately lies with the advertising intermediary; they are the third party and their policy over who they accept as advertisers is their responsibility. (And arguably Google "Don't Be Evil" Inc are a relatively trustworthy ad agency.)

By the way, there is indeed a ranking system. The Official Google Blog says "Anyone will be able to rate a knol or write a review of it." So presumably you will be able to search the knol base and sort the hits by (perceived) quality.

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