January 23rd, 2009 § 1 Comment
Google recently announced publication of its 100,000’th Knol, but 5 months on from launch where does the Knol service really stand? Heralded as Google’s answer to Wikipedia, a place for authoritative, quality information on a wide range of topics, has Google Knol lived up to expectations?
As e-consultancy puts it, No:
- A lot of the articles are spammy
- A lot of the content is copied
- A lot of the formatting is crap
- If you still want to browse, you can’t
I’d like to expand on this and add my own observations. They are not scientific or in any way fair, but that’s why I have Piggynap, right?
Firstly, how on earth do Google decide which Knols to put on the front page? Wikipedia choose based on such factors as; what’s interesting today. Featured Knols on the other hand appear to be the arbitrary ravings of madmen. For example, ‘How To Farm Lightning™’ appears alongside ‘Dreams Are Fun Because They Are Emotional Not Logical’ whilst the browse button is about the size of a pinhead. ‘Bag o’Knols’ is a poor translation of “we couldn’t be bothered to build a menu”.
They didn’t even register www.knol.com
Google claim that Knols are used by people in 197 countries. If their traffic is really that great why do some featured Knols have less than 5 page views? I think Google mean that people from 197 countries write Knols, which would explain the 100,000 bizarre articles in various grades of English. My last post on the subject said that Knols seemed to rank pretty highly but that no longer seems to be the case (cue some unscientific observations). Perhaps it’s related to this apparent lack of editorial standards?
Writers can put adverts on their Knols, which sounds okay only a) most people will never get any traffic and b) you have to sign up for an Adsense account meaning Google have sold you another product and can potentially make money out of your efforts (assuming you buck the trend in a). Anyone familiar with the make-your-own-page service Squidoo will notice a strange resemblance, only Squidoo doesn’t pretend to offer authoritative content. It focuses on community and personal taste – “Dreams Are Fun” wouldn’t look so crackpot over there.
As with any free-page service, Google had to decide whether links from Knols would be nofollow. They are – except for those from “trusted users” (whatever that means). Nofollowed links, although annoying, do have the rather useful effect of discouraging spammers from posting. If there’s an easy way around the nofollow (i.e. become ‘trusted’) it will be gamed and therefore useless.
Finally, and this could just be me, you have to click the back button twice to get off a page. Argh!
July 25th, 2008 § 1 Comment
I’m certainly not the only one interested in the rankings of Google Knols. Over at Search Engine Land there’s been a bit of research done into the Google rankings of entries that appear on the Knol home page – follow the link to see the whole article.
1/3 of the Knols rank well – this seems to indicate that they have an advantage over ordinary websites. Could Google deliberately not rank Knols? Now there’s a question!
July 24th, 2008 § Leave a Comment
Google Knol has just been opened to the public after being in Beta for some time. The idea is part Wikipedia, part Squidoo and part About.com, with ‘experts’ writing detailed articles on specific subjects, from their own point of view.
At the moment Knols have mainly been written by healthcare professionals – a glance at the front page selection shows the narrow range quite clearly:
Google states that Knols will appear in the search results, just like any other website. I’m reminded of Google Books, which appear for many search results regardless of whether you want a book. Presumably soon Knols will be appearing near (above?) similar Wikipedia entries.
MSN used to be the worst culprit for trying to keep you on their own network but it seems Google is going the same way. I’m all for healthy competition but when Google have such a monopoly on search they could quite easily rank their own domains before, well, real websites.