Today Google launched their new service Knol. Speculation has been that Knol is an attempt of Google to take on Wikipedia at first glance I think Knol is actually closer to Squidoo or Hubpages.
Knol appears to be ambivalent on the commercial appeal of the site. Wikipedia has been robustly and adamantly non-commercial- deleting any page which is “commercial” in even the broadest terms. Knol of the other hand specifically allows knols that are about a commercial subject.
Knol even has Adsense and allows authors to keep 100% of Adsense revenues: but the placement of the single Adsense block is far right and below the fold, about as bad as you can get.
Knol seems to have a bit a flawed launch too. Some features appear to be glaringly missing: you can tell exactly how many versions of your knol that you have saved but there is no statistics and no way to link to Google’s Analytics.
Although they claim to want international authors: the only way to become a verified author is to have a US address associated with your credit card or phone number. I have a verified Adsense account – why is that not good enough for Knol? It’s not like they are ever going to add my New Zealand credit card to a database anytime soon!
Its also totally unclear as to what the advantage of being a verified author: though only verified author’s appear on the surprisingly static front page of featured knols.
Read my full review of Knol and Hubpages here