We had thought Google (GOOG) was all about frugality and focus now: In recent months, the search giant has been killing off failed experiments like Twitter-rival Jaiku, mobile social networking service Dodgeball and virtual world Lively.
But it’s full steam ahead for Knol, Google’s would-be Wikipedia of research and how-to articles. This weekend, Google announced a Knol contest with $1,000 for the best entry and some cross-promotion with dummies.com.
We’re not sure what the thinking here is. We’re still not even sure what Knol is for. For a how-to, like performing car maintenance, we’ll go to a site that’s run by car-fanatics. For general knowledge, Knol can’t come close to touching Wikipedia. If anything, Knol seems to have a reputation for nothing so much as plagiarism, ignorance, and self-promotion.
We admire Google’s willingness to experiment with new ways to build cool (and potentially profitable) features onto their existing service. And we admire Google’s willingness to realise when their experiments have failed and shut them down. So why still back Knol?
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