Knol was launched in July 2008, and is Google's version of Wikipedia. The search firm has done relatively little to entice users to the site, which collects written articles on many different topics.
This lack of marketing activity led some commentators to believe that Knol might be going the way of Lively, Google's version of Second Life, which was scrapped altogether in November.
But Google is now running a contest that allows participants to write a how-to article on a subject of their choice in a move to promote Knol.
"This competition, which we're putting on with Dummies.com in the US, is meant to encourage even more people on the internet to start sharing their knowledge and becoming authors," said a Google spokesman.
Submissions will be open until 23 March, and Dummies.com editors will select five finalists who will have their Knol feature on Dummies.com. A cash prize of $1,000 (£723) will also be given to the winner.
Knol will have a lot of catching up to do if it is to provide any competition to Wikipedia, which has 97 per cent of the online encyclopaedia market, according to figures from Hitwise. MSN's Encarta is in second place with 1.27 per cent.
Wikipedia's dominance recently led Encyclopaedia Britannica president Jorge Cauz to criticise Google for repeatedly hosting Wikipedia entries at the top of search result pages.
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