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The Real Problems With Knol  (View post)

milivella [PersonRank 10]

Tuesday, July 29, 2008
15 years ago4,926 views

Really good ideas. I hope Google is reading.

Nova Spivack [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Hi there! Nice post.

You are basically describing (some) of what Twine already does. Twine is not a direct Knol competitor, but there is at least some overlap. Twine is for interest networking – for keeping up with what interests you individually and with groups, by leveraging collective intelligence. We have much of what your wish-list includes.

We are not doing exactly what Knol is doing – in my view Knol is for static knowledge reference – like the Wikipedia. Whereas Twine is really for keeping up with dynamically changing news and content about interests. There is a difference. But some are using Twine to create static collections about topics as well.

Definitely read this article about Twine to understand better:

And come play with us – Twine is still in beta and much has to be added but we are making great progress already.

I think Knol is more of a competitor to WetPaint and Wikia than anyone else.

Adrian [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

Knol would be a good candidate for an API to enable front ends to be built, updates from other sites and new comment features.

Jane Doe [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Some of these ideas are right on the nail because they are so fundamental, the linking system especially. Discovering articles on Wikipedia is SO easy, and I feel like I have struggled to see material on Knol that is related to what I'm already looking at. Without a proper linking system, I honestly don't really see the point of Knol, and it feels like the whole model is flawed. Even a "Possibly related articles" section on each article that can be automatically generated would be helpful in discovering articles.

There needs to be more articles in order to see if this is really going to be successful. Right now, many of the articles are "how-to" related... after all, if you're not a professor or something, the best kind of knowledge for you to share are experience-based how-tos. Unfortunately, already accomplishes this with grace and elegance.

Knol may have some potential, but right now it's hidden underneath these blatantly obvious flaws. To think that Google released this at this stage, it makes me think that the idea was not really well thought out.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Insightful post, thanks Reto.

If knol is going to aspire to be "Everything2 with pictures" (and even if it isn't), it desperately needs to provide a way to caption a picture. We need a standard way to credit the photo source and to link to its licensing.

Sure, you can manually put the captions in the next line (or 2 lines) of text, like the photographs in this knol:
Or you can hack the HTML manually as Philipp suggested. But it's not the right solution.

Andy Wong [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Anna the Ex Googler does not get it. Her thinking still stay in mid 90s, when indexes and pages did matter, as Hotbot did. The soul of Google, I think, is collective intelligence, started from page rank 10 years ago. Cuil just tried to compete against Google with nothing relevant.

Michael McNally [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Nice post, Reto. Thanks!

Andy Wong [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

I just wonder whether Knol will become a platform of debates between authors talking the same topic.

Ramiro [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

One of my first contributions to the knol repository was an article about what Knol needs to improve:

I would say that a value proposal, that does not include other languages apart from English, is not very strong.

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Very good points all. While I've yet to dwell that deep on the guts of Knol, the thing that gets me is the truly unintelligent implementation which

• monopolizes the entire standard screen width (~1024px) at default IE font sizes, which makes it impossible to view an item without sideways scrolling when using larger font sizes (try it – I don't use IE myself, but I always check how any bright! new! thing! will appear to the great unwashed mass of lusers);

• I don't understand the (apparent lack of) thinking behind offering any new wide-appeal service THAT HAS NOT BEEN CO-DEVELOPED with mobile use in mind. If you aren't allowing people to post/ write/ edit knols because of potential verification problems, at least make them better readable in low-graphics/ small screen conditions than current "model."

ADMINISTRIVIA @Andy Wong: []: there's no Anna, whose 90s mind you criticise, in the comments to Reto's article – here, nor anywhere else. Yet the entire phrase "Anna the ex Googler" sounds specific and unique enough, so I took it upon myself to research it. As of now, 14:27 GMT+2 on Wed., 30 july, just one indexed instance of it on the web – Google crawler has yet to make it to the 'ol Blogoforum since yesterday. Lo and behold – it's your own still-unreferenced, same "thoughtlet,"
of which the above BG-one is a copy (and no Anna there either!)

So just what do you think this here is, some kind of web heap for redundant, unlinked arguments with some Anna you're having trouble width? Perhaps you haven't understood what makes the web what it is, the defining characteristic vs. previous opinion-publishing models: it's the built-in ability to display one-click/ aka direct-access links to those opinions, etc., that one disputes. Use it. Because your entire UNLINKED-TO-SOURCE-STATEMENT "Anna the Ex Googler does not get it" in reality just says "Me, Andy Wong is clueless."

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

[put at-character here]IanF: (In fairness to Andy, I think he accidently posted that comment in the wrong forum thread. Looks like a comment about 'Cuil', whose co-founder, Anna Patterson, previously worked at Google.)

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Reto, that may well be the case, but it WAS a repost of something already posted elsewhere, twice out of context; his comment did not include a backlink which could have made a difference, and showed he cared (a complaint I could extend towards quite a few other present "conversational" posters here); and, besides, since when are we, the contributors to individual fora, expected to read minds of fellow posters in all other fora?

Clearly, the responsibility of ensuring that what we utter in public in some context be at least marginally topical and enhancing, rather than "entropying" each debate falls on each and one of us, Andy included. That said, I apologize, and blame it on Philipp's flaky reputation server that at the time showed Andy's PersonRank to be "0," which played well into my impression of his me-too-newbeness.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

My New Words Learned Today Counter just increased by 1, thanks to "fora".

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Philipp, always ready to noblesse oblige.

Back to Knol: I positively like the fact that the documentation for the system is done up as knols, too, e.g. (even though the number of "/knol tokens/" in the url seems somewhat redundant?).

This, the need to illuminate own raison d'être using but the tool itself, is something that I've been advocating loudly for word apps and browsers ever since early 1990s Eudora days, when I had the temerity to suggest something sooooooo radical – a special set of help files that'd automagically appear as messages in the Inbox in response to chosing "Help" or other administrivially-similar request/ menu items (and would be hidden whenever "deleted"). Instead, that used to be done in binary second-tier apps, up to Gmail days – with Netscape 2.x a particularly slow DHTML/JS stab at it. I'm glad the Knol-ers didn't perpetuate that method, but chose the only sane one for a service that, after all, simply manipulates words in ever more deviant ways and manners.

[put at-character here]Ramiro: [] – I congratulate you on being consistent when making a point that any service catering only to the lingua franca du jour sucks big time. Point taken, your Spanish knol seems wordy enough, but wholly impenetrable to non-Spanish readers. Perhaps you'd care to provide a few leading "abstracts" for it in Mandarin, Norsk Bokmål, and Russian, to stay truer to your original (I think) "complaint-thesis"? Also, couldn't it be succinctly summarized in internationally- viable fashion with the Spanish word of (here in approximate, thus flaky, English paraphrase): "inverted-exclamation-mark Carramba exclamation-mark?"

Matt Cutts [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Excellent suggestions. I'm guessing that the Knol team has seen this, but I'm passing it on regardless.

Aakash [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

Thanks for linking to that cartoon on Wikipedia... It definitely summarizes much of how my time online has been spent, especially recently! (I have also become a Wikipedia editor, trying to improve – and in some cases, correct – as many articles as I can.)

I signed up for Squidoo and Qassia the other night, since they involve the possibility to make money on your entries, by running ads (at least that how it seems, from the description... Though I could be mistaken.) Also, you can include links to your websites and web pages, which is quite tricky (and risky) to do, in Wikipedia.

I don't know how some people manage to participate in all of these online features, services, and products, while not going blind (or bonkers :-)... And how can we find the time for all of that, while juggling everything else?

I know that some people have accomplished this... And I hope that I am able to master that skill, in the near future.

[HTML formatting removed – Tony]

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