Wikipedia, as we're sure you know, has become the encyclopedia of the Internet, with tons of information compiled by people who, for the most part, just want others to know what they know about particular subjects.

Google today announced it was opening a new site with a similar model, but with one important addition -- a profit motive. The site, called Knol will allow the writer of an article -- which Google is also calling a "knol" -- to share in ad revenues.

"At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads from our AdSense program," the announcement says. "If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with a revenue share from the proceeds of those ad placements. . . .

"The key principle behind Knol is authorship. Every knol will have an author (or group of authors) who put their name behind their content. It's their knol, their voice, their opinion. We expect that there will be multiple knols on the same subject, and we think that is good."

With the ad revenue as an enticement, one would suspect that this model would tend to encourage authors to write about popular topics that would draw a larger audience and, of course, more interest from advertisers. Should be interesting to watch.