Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Google Knol - The Story for Case Discussion

Startup Venture from Number one in Industry - Still Faced Fierce Attacks From Established Competitors and Media commentators.

Google launched Knol in December 2007. At one stage, knols were written in 59 languages. People visited Knol from 197 countries and territories on an average day.

Google announced its closure in November 2011. Content not available for public viewing and editing from 1 May 2012.

The story of google knol.

Announcement of Knol Project                                                                     

Udi Manber, VP, Engineering declared in a post in the google official blog on 12/13/2007, "Earlier this week, we started inviting a selected group of people to try a new, free tool that we are calling "knol", which stands for a unit of knowledge." (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/encouraging-people-to-contribute.html)
He continued, "At the heart, a knol is just a web page; we use the word "knol" as the name of the project and as an instance of an article interchangeably. It is well-organized, nicely presented, and has a distinct look and feel, but it is still just a web page. Google will provide easy-to-use tools for writing, editing, and so on, and it will provide free hosting of the content. Writers only need to write; we'll do the rest."
He explained the concept further, "Knols will include strong community tools. People will be able to submit comments, questions, edits, additional content, and so on. Anyone will be able to rate a knol or write a review of it."
According to the concept, at the option of the author,  adsense advertisements can be included. Google will not serve as editor. Only authors have the editorial responsibility. Visitors provide their opinions.

Knol Made Open to Everyone                                                                        

Cedric Dupont, Product Manager, and Michael McNally, Software Engineer of the knol project made an announcement in official google blog on 7/23/2008. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/knol-is-open-to-everyone.html - Knol is open to everyone.
It made an appeal to people in general. Everyone knows something. See what people are writing about, then tell the world what you know: knol.google.com
Thus there was an general appeal to people to get involved in the knol project. The post also carried the announcement that a new feature termed moderated collaboration is being introduced. In this mode of collaboration, the author of a knol can review the edits done by others to his knols and then approve, reject or modify the edits and then allow the author edited version to be published for public reading.



I, Narayana Rao K.V.S.S., observed the announcement of the public opening of the knol on blogger dash board and immediately made my first post, a bio data of mine and my intention to write management knowledge revison knols.

100,000th Knol Published                                                                             

In an announcement made on 1/16/2009, Cedric Dupont made a surprise annoucement. "A few weeks ago the 100,000th knol was published." (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/100000th-knol-published.html).
He went on to state, "People visit Knol from 197 countries and territories on an average day, from the Aland Islands and Antarctica to Zambia and Zimbabwe. We welcome you to share your knowledge with the world and write a knol."
According to the announcement, knols were written by that time in 59 languages. Knol interface was made available in 8 languages. Mr. Cedric Dupont stressed the fact that most authors were  accepting edits under moderated collaboration. Hence readers must not hesitate to press edit button whenever they feel the need and urge. Visitors can bring the desired change in a knol.

Goal of Knol - Top 100 Website                                                    

At one time, authors were worried about the survival of the knol platform due to number articles that were written in various print as well as web media regarding the knol project. The downtrend in the economy meant that google went into cost cutting mode. Many persons had written that google was not having traction and it might be abandoned. Authors were worried about the possibility and there were discussions about the anxiety in knol comments.
But a comparive study of the similar sites shows that knol has shaped up well in the face of serious competitive onslaught in the form of negative publicity. It has performed well in the first year of its public operations and authors now feel confident that it will come out with a better performance relative to other article sites in its second year of public operations. The open plan for the second year posted by Narayana Rao K.V.S.S.,  (Goal of Knol: Knol Authors 100,000 - Knols 1 million - Top 100 Website)  calls for scaling up the authors' number to 100,000, knols' number to one million,  page views to average of one million daily and visitors to maximum daily figure of one million. The open plan allows others to come out with better plans. Some authors agree on the feasibility and desirability of this plan.


Marketing Through Challenges and Contests

Google knol had adopted challenges and contests to motivate knol writing. Holiday knols, Dummies How to Knols and Indian Cooking Knol-Edge knols were organized so far. The recent one was the Indian Cooking Knol-Edge knol contest and it was closed for entries on 20th June 2009. This contest was aimed at attracting authors from India as it was conducted in 5 Indian languages. Some more details are as follows:

Indian Cooking Knol-edge Contest

Sanjeev Kapoor and Google bring you the Indian Cooking Knol-edge Contest!

Highlights of the contest

Sanjeev Kapoor is a household name when it comes to Indian cooking. Knol is a powerful new Google product that will simplify the creation of high-quality content in Indian languages. So, we teamed up to launch a contest to find the best recipes in five Indian languages (Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam).Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor will pick one winner in each language. Winners will get Sanjeev Kapoor’s cookbooks and grand prizes worth 150 USD each. Google goodies will be awarded to the next 40 shortlisted entrants.

How to Post the Entry and Use the Recipe Template

Click the Contest Link. Sign in to your Google Account. Google Account is the email and password you use to sign in to Gmail and other Google products. If you don't have a Google Account, please create one here. You will now see a blank Knol page. Decide what recipe you wish to write and use the template for your language at the Recipe Templates page.
  • In the Title field - write the name of the dish.
  • In the Subtitle field - write a one line description of your dish including how many people you are serving.
  • In the Summary field -  write a brief paragraph about yourself with information relevant to the contest. Feel free to add a link to your food blog, if any.
  • In the Body field - Write your recipe using Indic Transliteration as explained below. Mention the ingredients and then the process for preparation. Serving size for two to four people. You will find examples for each language in the section below this.
  • To add a picture click on the insert link on the top of the page. You can upload a picture from the web or choose one from your computer. Make sure you own copyright of the picture you add.
  • Click the Save button on top once you are done. Click the Close button to view your creation! You must Publish your Knol for others to view it -- you will find the Publish button on the right side of your Knol under your Article Rating.

  • Click the Contest Link. Sign in to your Google Account. Google Account is the email and password you use to sign in to Gmail and other Google products. If you don't have a Google Account, please create one here.
  • Users outside India will have to enable Indic Transliteration by visiting Knol Settings page.
  • Users in India can just click on the अ icon while you are in Edit mode, pick your language, and then type in English. 
  • For example, you type in Hindi with English alphabets and the Hindi word that you have typed with English alphabets will be converted into Hindi characters after you hit Space or Enter. For example, typing "aloo" in English transliterates into Hindi as आलू . Similarly, "urulakizhangu" becomes உருளைகிழங்கு in Tamil and ഉരുളകിഴങ്ങ് in Malayalam while "bangaladumpa" becomes బంగాళదుంప in Telugu and "aalugadde" becomes ಆಲುಗಡ್ಡೆ in Kannada. To learn more about our powerful Indic Transliterations tools, please visit the Indic Transliteration FAQ page.
  • Please use the Recipe Template for your language. Feel free to give it your own flavour but the Summary section must include a few words about yourself in English and the main body of the Knol can be divided into Ingredients for Dish and Method of Cooking. The quantity of ingredients and cooking method should be tailored to serve two to four people.
Entries/Knols Submitted to the Contest
Hindi: 253
Tamil: 134
Telugu: 58
Kannada: 31
Malayalam: 13

The Product

Knol as a product has to be viewed from the perspective of various stakeholders. Visitors to the knol who come to it for accessing knols, authors who write knols, and advertisers who use knol to advertise.
Knols can be written in any language. The search facility provides capability to search knols written in many languages. Presently for 12 languages interface facility is provided. Knol help pages are created in those languages and a knolhelp mail id is also available for these languages.

Author Perspective

Knol is a publishing platform and it is improving day by day as new features are being introduced continuously some on the requests of authors and some on the initiative of the management of knol. Initially for some time authors did not know what is happening on their knol unless they open the knol and find out if comments are written by somebody or modifications are made by somebody to their knol. After sometime, an email was sent to the author whenever there is some activity on his knol. Similarly, authors could see page views of their knols also after some delay only. Subsequently, the list of most viewed authors appeared. Now, a provisin is made for installing google analytics for the knol portfolio of the author.
A knol collection feature was introduced recently. It is the opinion of  many authors that knol technical team is a responsive team to the suggstions of authors. 

Visitor Perspective

Knol has material that caters to various levels of visitors. It has many "how to learn a language articles' that are aimed at beginners. It has research papers. There is a proposal made by me that Ph.d theses can be published on knol.  Thus knol has content suitable for various levels of knowledge in various subjects. It also has materials in number of languages.
The promoters of knol made a public announcement that knol will have articles which cater to first reading requirements on any topic by a person. As  knol is a publishing platform wherein content is posted by individuals voluntarily at their convenience, it may take quite some time for fulfilling the objective of providing a beginning article on many topics of interest. Knol can always approach some authors and persuade them to write articles that are suitable for first reading and accelerate the process fulfilling its declared focus theme.


October 2011
Knol has an estimated monthly unique visitors number of 6.95 million and this number gives it a rank above 740 in global web sites.
Knol - A Top 1000 Website

12 October
There is an outage on Knol platform and Knol was not accessible to visitors. Subsequently the service was restored but the search facility did not function. Knol author aggregate statistics counters which were not working from May 2011 were updated. Search is an important facility on Knol platform and till 20th October, the facility was not restored.


Google Knol - Breakeven estimates

There is an estimates based on the idea that there will be 1.84 page views per day.
B.E.P was shown at
630617 knols - 34,799,190 pv - rev.$119,535 p.m.  Royalties $47,814, Sal. $37,500, Hosting: 30,063

But many things have gone wrong with progress of Knol.
By October 2011 only 600,000 knols appeared on Knol. Page views per knol are not one per day even now. Instead of the expected 3 advertisements per knol, only two are being inserted as the product is still to prove its strength. May be Knol may reach B.E.P. by end of the next year.


Original knol - http://knol.google.com/k/ google-knol-the-story-for-case-discussion - Knol Number 1340

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