Google, who will not be satisfied until it owns pretty much every major site on the internet, has its sights set on Wikipedia. No, it doesn't want to buy the gigantic, credibility-challenged encyclopedia. It wants to beat it at its own game. That's why Google is developing Knol, an open encyclopedia that aims to bring some credibility to the genre while, yes, bringing in some more coin to the big G.Knol will still allow anyone to add entries, just like Wikipedia, but it'll allow people to have bylines and author profiles so you know just who is pretty much writing your term paper for you. A professor at Cal State? Awesome! Some shut-in from North Dakota? Better get a new source. It'll also have improved referencing tool and allow people to rate Knols for accuracy.
In addition to making authors public, Knol will give people incentive to share their knowledge by giving them the option of putting ads on the entries they author. If they do, they'll get a percentage of the revenue that those ads generate. If an author doesn't want ads on their page, they can keep it ad-free.
When the project launches, look for "Knols" to come up at the top of search results when you search for, well, pretty much everything. Will that automatic dose of enormous exposure, increased transparency and financial incentive help Knol take the mighty Wikipedia down a notch or two? Time will tell, but it certainly seems like an interesting take on the concept. [Google via Electronista]