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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Knol is a Disappointment

Google finally opened Knol to the general public. I thought Knol was a neat idea. If implemented properly, Knol would be a Wikipedia-killer.

I created a Knol account and copied my article on the Compound Interest Paradox to Knol.

I very rapidly concluded "Why am I wasting my time contributing to Knol?"

Here is a list of defects with Knol, which were obvious to me after using it for 5 minutes. Since nobody at Google noticed this, and Knol was heavily hyped, I conclude that Google is no longer relevant.

  1. All of the "featured articles" were written by academics, in "closed collaboration" mode. This means that other people are *NOT* allowed to edit or make contributions. The article I created was in "moderated collaboration" mode. This means that other people may contribute, but I must approve changes. There also is "open collaboration" mode, which allows contributions by anyone.
  2. Even if an article is published in "closed collaboration" mode, there should be a convenient way to "fork" it, creating another page with that article as a starting point.
  3. Since all the "featured articles" were in "closed collaboration" mode, this makes Knol seem like a walled garden rather than an open community.
  4. Google should have made sure some of the "featured articles" were written by ordinary people and not academics.
  5. Unless my article becomes "featured", there is no way that other Knol users will ever find it.
  6. There is no "recent changes" feature. This makes it impossible for me to determine who are the other active Knol users.
  7. After creating my article, I attempted Knol searching for it. The search returned no results. Why write an aritcle when nobody can find it? If I create an article, the Knol search index should be immediately updated.
  8. How are other Knol users ever going to know my article exists?
  9. What's the benefit of making a submission to Knol, compared to writing on a blog? With a blog I get better readership statistics and better reader feedback.
  10. There's no readership statistics. How can I know how many other people read my Knol submission? With Blogger, Google Analytics tells me how many pageviews I received. Knol provides no such feedback. What's the point of writing an article when I have no way of knowing how many people read it?
  11. Some people working for Google should have made an effort categorizing all the interesting articles. The category pages should be in "open collaboration" or "moderated collaboration" mode, so that anybody can update the index with their own article.
Google's Knol project was a humongous disappointment. It had the potential to be super-awesome, but it turned out to be super-lame.

It appears that whoever worked on Knol has never used Wikipedia or any other Wiki engine. It appears that whoever worked on Knol has never written a blog.

If anybody feels like wasting time, go ahead and copy some of my most popular articles to Knol. That's probably not worth my time.

Is this really the best Google can do? Knol didn't live up to my expectations, and I expect it to be a flop unless it's totally overhauled.


Thomas Blair said...

I also posted the compound interest paradox to Knol. We'll see how long it takes for the index of articles to update and allow for search functionality.

In addition to your criticisms, it just looks BLAND.

Thomas Blair said...

Ok, it's up now.

FSK said...

I couldn't find your Knol article on the compound interest paradox. Did you copy my article or make your own?

Knol search is lousy. I Knol searched for "Federal Reserve", which returned no results. That search should find my article on the Compound Interest Paradox, because it contains that search phrase.

I'll see if Knol drives any traffic to my blog via Google Analytics. It looks like a waste of time to me.

I've been contemplating writing my own Wikipedia/Digg killer engine. Seeing Knol flop makes me more interested in trying. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!

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