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Google develops Wikipedia rival

Now in beta, the "knol project" aims to present authoritative articles; once project goes live, contributors can monetize their pages.

Search and advertising giant Google is developing a user-generated online encyclopedia that could rival Wikipedia.

Google has named the encyclopedia the "knol project," a knol being a "unit of knowledge," according to a blog post by Google engineering vice president Udi Manber. The company aims to tie strong identities to contributing authors and those seeking to edit knols.

"Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it," wrote Manber. "The goal is for knols to cover all topics, from scientific concepts to medical information, from geographical and historical to entertainment, from product information to how-to-fix-it instructions."

Google will host and provide tools to produce and edit knol Web pages, but will not edit or advocate any of the content. However, entries that Google judges to be of higher quality will be given a higher page ranking in Google search.

Entries will be rated by the community and will be able to be reviewed after the unspecified testing period. The project is in beta and has been sent to a small group of testers. Once the knol tool goes live, contributors will be able to monetize their pages by including Google ads.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.