Google is sending out reminders that it is closing its online encyclopedic wannabe Knol.
To the vast majority of web users that is not surprising. What's surprising to them is that there is a — what? — Knol to close to begin with. Or, as my wife put it, "que c'est ca?!!"
Is Was Google Knol?
Knol was meant to be a community created online encyclopedia. Think Wikipedia but corporate owned.
Why would people write content for a corporate owned encyclopedia? Google thought it had that figured out by offering the incentive of monetizing what you wrote through ads.
What Happened To Google Knol?
Nothing, in fact.
For a brief moment some worried that Google would wade into content territory and become its own content farm, wiping out tons of real websites on the world wide web.
No such thing happened. A handful of people wrote a handful of articles and … Nothing.
The product was in fact so unremarkable that a downtime in 2010 seemed to go unnoticed by Google itself.
What Will Happen To Knol?
The Official Answer: until October 2012 you can export your Knol entries or move them to WordPress.com. Entries exported to WordPress.com will automatically redirected to that location. Other entries can be manually redirected.
What Will Really Happen: as was the case with the closing of Geocities — and really, the disappearance of any web property — content is scraped and being archived as we speak. This content will make it back to the web in the form of spun spam, fake web sites, and stolen articles.
Oh — and every SEO and marketer is busy creating Knol entries like crazy just to get the redirect 😉
This and other Google product closures were announced several months ago, so no surprise here.
For most business owners there are no actionables. Perhaps someone sees an empty spot in the market with the closing of Knol.
It's kind of refreshing to see Google cutting away all the cruft it had accumulated. Even without additional efforts what remains must be a more focussed company.