The Wall Street Journal and others are reporting today about Knol, a Google service now in beta that's being compared to Wikipedia, a comparison that I believe is incorrect.
While Wikipedia attempts to accumulate all the world's knowledge and information as a sort of user-made encyclopedia, Knol seems more like a collection of knowledge based on the experiences of its contributors. Also unlike Wikipedia, Knol contributors are clearly identified.
I respect the Journal for its fair and objective news reporting, which is usually free of opinion (except where noted, of course). This particular piece, however, injects the writer's opinion as the article's main premise. For example, Jessica E. Vascelarro's article in its second and third paragraphs, reads:
Google on Wednesday took the wrappings off its previously announced publishing-and-reference service called Knol, which allows users to write articles on specific topics and to make money from them.
By trying to provide such content, the service is likely to compete with online encyclopedia Wikipedia...
Says who? Granted, the promise of monetary compensation will surely attract contributors, but I contend that content could become suspect for that very reason. Wikipedia's 75,000 active contributors do it purely for the glory (or something like that). And as the writer herself also points out, Wikipedia allows just one article on any given subject, and rejects those that it deems too much like marketing or not otherwise in keeping with its factual nature.
Google, which refers to Knol as a "unit of knowledge," requires very little from its contributors in terms of Knol's writing policy and best practices. The Wikipedia manual of style, on the other hand, offers guidance on everything from the title and first sentence, to use of capitalization, italics and links.
The way I see it, Wikipedia is more pedia and less wiki, and Knol is just the reverse. Fortunately, the Internet is big enough for both.