We just learned that Google has – somewhat quietly – discontinued Google knol, a very interesting project that presumably never really took off and/or was so eclipsed by Wikipedia that Google decided to kill it. I’m a little surprised because it seems to me folks should NOT start social media projects unless they intend to at least keep them posted online indefinitely. Otherwise, in my opinion, you have sort of broken an implied contract with your contributors that you will at least keep a website/project/media alive for the long haul. I can understand “no more support” for such things because that could represent a significant expense, but it seems we have more and more examples where big players are abandoning projects and deleting content from the web, which in general is not cool at all. Google (and another example, Kodak’s photo environment) generally allow people to download or move their content to other services, but I’d sure be upset if I’d devoted many hours to knol only to learn all my time would soon be wasted by the big G. THAT SAID, Google deserves a lot of credit for creating a way for people to redirect the knol links to WordPress. It does appear to me they have anticipated the concerns expressed here and made it fairly easy for folks to preserve their work. Likewise with Kodak where they are pushing the content to Shutterfly. So, in summary, maybe it’s overreacting here given that the content will be preserved, just at different URLs:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Knol?
Knol launched in 2007 as a method for authors to work together to create authoritative articles about specific topics that they know about.
Why is Knol being discontinued?
Google is prioritizing our product efforts so we can make things much simpler for our users and devote more resources to high impact products.
When is Knol being discontinued?
From now through April 30th, 2012, Knol will work as usual, but we’ve made it easy for you to download your knols to file and/or export them to WordPress.com. From May 1, 2012 through October 1, 2012, knols will no longer be viewable, but can be downloaded and exported. After that time, Knol content will no longer be accessible.
How do I download my knols?
From now through October 1, 2012, you can download your knols from knol.google.com
. There will be a large section at the top of the page with links to either export your knols to WordPress.com or download them to a file. Clicking the latter will take you to Google Takeout where you can create your archive.
What are the alternatives to Knol?
Knol authors have worked together to create very informative and authoritative content. To continue fostering this, we have worked with Solvitor and Crowd Favorite to create Annotum
, an open-source scholarly authoring and publishing platform based on WordPress.
Why is WordPress.com the default destination for Knol content?
The team at Automattic, which runs WordPress.com, has worked hard to enable Annotum and make its review and publishing functionality available by imported knols. The peer review workflow can be enabled for any Annotum site by following a few simple steps outlined in this knowledge base article
Can I redirect my knol’s URLs so people can find the content?
Yes. Knols exported to WordPress.com will automatically be redirected. To manually set redirects, visit knol.google.com
and click on My knols. On the Knols tab, each published knol will have a link to “Set a redirect URL”. Click that link and enter your new target URL. Click Save to set the redirect. Note that users who try to visit the knol’s original URL will see a page informing them that the page’s author would like to send them to a new page and be given the choice of whether to continue. Any co-author or co-owner of a knol has permission to set or remove a redirect URL for that knol until May 1, 2012, when they will be locked.