Jimmy Wales’ Wikipedia is the seventh most visited site on the Net (says Alexa), and Google (GOOG) isn’t going to let all those pageviews escape its grasp.
But a few key differences between Knol and Wikipedia stand out. First, articles on Knol are bylined, which should encourage a greater pool of contributors than those willing to anonymously contribute to the greater good of Wikipedia. Secondly, authors get paid. From the announcement:
At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads from our AdSense program. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with a revenue share from the proceeds of those ad placements.
The idea sounds promising, but it’s not without its kinks. Copyright/licensing issues may be become more prominent for Knol than Wikipedia, as Google will directly sell ads against some Knol pages. (Google signed an agreement with the New Yorker magazine to allow one cartoon per Knol.) And Google still seems to have no idea how to organise its content: For the big launch, a “featured knol” on the site’s main page is “Toilet Clogs: Solutions for the most common problems.”
Next time we run into that problem, we’ll think of Google.