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Google's Wikipedia rival, Knol, goes public

The search giant says Knol authors can also add New Yorker magazine cartoons to their pages and make money from ads accompanying the articles.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. PDT with more details following Google interview.

Think you are an expert on a subject? Well, Google's got a proposition for you.

Google's Wikipedia competitor, Knol, was opened to the public on Wednesday morning, according to the Official Google Blog.

So-called knols are articles about specific topics written by experts on that subject.

Google is partnering with The New Yorker magazine to allow any author to add a cartoon from the magazine to their knol. Knol authors can run ads with them, as well, and receive a cut of the revenue from Google.

What makes Knol different from Wikipedia is that every knol will have an author, or group of authors, whose name is prominent.

"The big difference is authorship is highlighted," Cedric Dupont, Knol product manager, said in an interview with CNET News. "In the long term we hope that encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia, would use knols as references... If Knol is successful, it will help Wikipedia."

People can submit comments, and rate and review knols. Authors can choose to close their knol so that no one else can edit it, make it completely open to others to edit--like a wiki--or keep the default "moderated collaboration" mode in which the author selects which edits to allow.

"We think moderated collaboration mode will solve a large part of the problem" of complaints about accuracy that have plagued Wikipedia, Dupont said. There will, no doubt, be multiple knols on any one topic.

There will not be a Knol destination site or portal, but people can see some highlights on the main Knol page and search by subject or author. Every knol will be treated like any other Web page, crawled by Google's spider and indexed in the search engine.

"The ultimate goal is we want to improve search," he added.

A quick glance at some of the topics on the Knol page revealed many written by doctors that had to do with medical conditions, including an excellent article on rheumatoid arthritis. There also were some from The Family Handyman magazine on subjects including toilet clogs and installing a bathroom vanity.

A search on a few other topics yielded no or few results. For instance, there was one result for "dance" and it had no content, just a link to a related but not informative YouTube video.

Knol was announced late last year.

Google's Knol site is open to anyone who wants to write an article on a topic about which they're knowledgeable. Google