Google's purported answer to Wikipedia, Knol, appears to be all but dead just over three years after it was announced by the search engine giant, with a number of circumstances contributing to its slow and gradual demise.
The homepage of the service, which was once coined Googlepedia, bears many hints pointing in that direction; For once, the copyright notice hasn't been updated since 2009 and the number of pageviews recorded by each article appears to be suspiciously made up with most of them looking like rounded up numbers (see below).
Likewise, the site speed, something that Google always prides itself of, is abysmal, even on a 100Mbps line; toggling between Knol's pages is a painfully slow process. The twelve listed categories have accumulated 75,000 articles in English, 50 times less than Wikipedia.
Just over two two years ago, the 100,000th Knol was reached but since then, nothing noteworthy has happened, the number of languages increased from eight to twelve also some of them (Dutch for example) are hopelessly devoid of content. As for the content itself, quite a few of them (see here and here) look suspiciously spammy with links going to for-profit websites eager to get some Google juice out of Knol.
The rise of socially-driven Q&A sites like Quora might finally have convinced Google that, unlike Yahoo, it is DEFINITELY not good at producing content; it tried before with Google Answers and failed miserably.
As recently as last week a $2 million grant was earmarked for the Wikimedia Foundation which supports and operates Wikipedia; it was the first time that Google has put forward funds for Wikipedia (even if it is Google.org rather than .com).
Back then, Jimmy Wales said that the donation was celebrated as the "recognition of the long-term alignment and friendship between Google and Wikimedia"; that sounds a lot like Google is giving up on Knol altogether.