“Cuil” is anything but

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News is all over the place today about the new Google competitor, Cuil (pronounced like “cool”). There are a few interesting aspects to it, like the paneled search result display and related categories area. However, when I did a little ego-surfing, the results were very strange.

First of all, my own website didn’t even show up on the first page of results (on Google, it’s the first result). The weirdest part were the seemingly random images associated with the results. My LinkedIn page, for example, shows a still taken from a video interview I gave over a year ago that isn’t even mentioned on my LinkedIn page. The Cranky Geeks result has the old album art for The Sword and Laser, my sci-fi/fantasy book club’s podcast.

Cuil says that they have 120 billion web pages indexed, which according to Techcrunch means they could be “arguably the most comprehensive search engine on the web.” But what good is an index that large if the results don’t make any sense? On one discussion thread started by Jim Goldstein on FriendFeed, commenter Jared (W.) Smith says:

This picture thing treads incredibly dangerously. Think of the potential misappropriation claims when someone’s photo is randomly associated with an article about, say, a person with a similar name committing a violent crime. Cuil needs to stop the practice. I found my LinkedIn profile with a completely random picture of a person who was nowhere near the profile. Not cool.

What do you think? Have you tried Cuil yet, and if so what did you think of the results that came up? Should Google have anything to worry about here?

69 thoughts on ““Cuil” is anything but

  1. AndrewP – It’s much different when you’re launching a new search engine. There are certain expectations involved. And they’ve apparently been at this for years? If the images that come back are so far removed from the subject that they don’t even make sense, then they have a major problem with their software.

    Yes, anything can get taken down by server load, but there are bigger issues than that going on.

  2. No quick links to maps, news or even image search? That means no PicLens – EEGAD! What would I do without googles image search capabilities? How else would I ever scrub through a gazillion photos of Veronica Belmont doing crazy things – like yoga??

    The ironic thing is that Google, purchased its search indexing algorithms from Anna Patterson the same developer as Cuil.

  3. The Register posted an article today that talks about Cuil and some of the issues with non-matching images attached to search results. Here’s a hilarious quote: “…as loyal Reg reader Dr. Jonathan Grattage points out, he and his quantum research are identified with “little pictures of a US serviceman and a guy masturbating over some other poor sap”

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/29/cuil_launch/ (NSFW picture)

  4. i don’t know what they’re indexing, but it’s not working. i can’t even find my own website and i searched for the name of my website. how is it that when i search for “thoughtsforbarter” that i don’t get anything for thoughtsforbarter.com?

  5. it is so weird, unlike my first use of Google back in 1999, I searched all my sites and they all have some random image that is not remotely related with the sites.

    Then they go from a dark awful screen to a white screen with results splattered all over, sorry Cuil…

    no go.

    BTW, Veronica I just found out you existed a couple of days ago and everything I’ve found of you on the internet is awesome, keep up the good work.


  6. Yeah but Veronica,

    Considering what’s happened over the past few days for Cuil, it’s essentially been a stress test on a very early Beta product that avalanched into way too many people passing early judgment. (It doesn’t even have its revenue system in place for crying out loud.)

    What expectations did people *have* for this thing? Its launch stage to be on par with Google, a tech giant that’s had one of the biggest growth rates in tech history that’s reinvested its profits into recruiting hundreds of the nation’s best and brightest programmers/IT professionals? For perspective, Google used to have links to *other search engines* on its main page, years after public launch!

    Give Cuil some time to sort out its bugs and recruit additional talent. I think we’d be doing a service to rationality to look at Cuil’s potential–*that’s* the direction the search engine will be approaching over time.

  7. Veronica, like you a vanity search for myself on Cuil results in only 5 out of the 11 are actually me. The other six are old news stories of Howard Dean and things that mention “simmering” in the articles. Thankfully there was no image spam, but considering I checked searches on Google and Yahoo, it’s clear that this new search service is truly not cuil.

  8. Yeah but Veronica,

    What Cuil has gone through over the past few days is essentially a stress-test of a very early Beta product. Cuil doesn’t even have its revenue system in place for cryin’ out loud! We’re the same age V–I can’t tell you how many times I ditched Google for AskJeeves, Mamma, or AltaVista when I was working on college papers back in the day. (Google made it easy–at that time, they offered hyperlinks to other search engines on its *main search page!*) Took years for its algorithms to be great.

    And what was everyone expecting Cuil to be at launch? At the same level of Google? One of the fastest growing, most successful tech companies in history that reinvested much of its enormous profit into recruiting hundreds of the best programmers and IT professionals in the country to further develop Search and other services? Google is a monster.

    Cuil’s a baby with potential to do some very neat things. I just think it would be wise to exercise some prudence in judgment and wait for the company to continue to invest in personnel and improve its programming to turn in some more relevant results. It’s only officially a few days old. Search is tough to polish. :-)

  9. I still remember when everybody said that Google was nothing next to Altavista, Yahoo, Lycos or Excite…
    I give credit to Cuil for trying to make a search easier and more meaningful… I agree that the “popularity” criteria has made Google what it is… but it has its shortcomings when looking for some secondary aceptions of a word or topic…

    Let’s give this people a chance to prove their concept. After all, some competition is good for everyone… even for Google.

  10. I still don’t understand what the big deal is with this thing. Is it just the panel breakout and inclusion of images within the results page? Because other search engines like Ask have already been experimenting with things similar to that for awhile (and in a much cleaner, more logical form IMO.) Even Google’s slowly inching its way toward the inclusion of more non-text items in the results . . . when appropriate. I guess having everything above-the-fold could be considered different, but that’s about it.

    There’s a reason Google and others haven’t deviated too much from the list-like results page form. It works. It’s worked in database search results LONG before web search engines (heck it works in print) and it still works now. It’s clean, simple and easy to scan. And when you’re searching for something, that’s what you want. To be sure, you can make design tweaks here and there, but to me this is the search equivalent of Cover Flow – pretty, but functionally worthless.

  11. In portuguese, that word “cuil” looks like a bad word for “anus”, pronunced as “koo”.

    Know Conde Dooku from Stars Wars ? Here in Brazil, the translations turned his name to “Conde Dookan” because of that. The sound “dooku” sounds very bad.

  12. I did the same vanity search as you, Veronica, and was just as disarmed by the crappy results. But you’re famous, so you should be more disarmed. Love your work, muchly!

  13. Cuil’s on for good looks.But search results are’nt appropriate.would love to see the images tab up there..just like google

  14. Some time ago, one of my sites received a ton of traffic from a relatively new spider. After researching the source it turned out to be cuill’s spider crawling the web for content at an unacceptable speed.

    In my research I found thousands of webmasters who experienced the same hyperactive spider robbing bandwidth/resources.

    As a result of Cuill’s spider’s activity, thousands of sites requested to be removed from their spidering. Cuill obliged, possibly to the detriment of their SERPs.

    1. Will these same webmasters want to be indexed by Cuill’s spider now? Doubtful.
    2. Will this have an adverse affect on Cuill’s results? Absolutely.
    3. Will Cuill remove the requested bans in order to improve their search results to keep their investors happy? It’s hard to say.

  15. Veronica:
    I watch yopur “Tekzilla” show ALMOST every day..
    It’s the BEST!!!
    Keep it up. Over the years you forget the little things about the computer.. Your show is a real wake-up.
    Love it


  16. Tried Cuil the day I saw that it went live. As searches go it sucked. Our company is #1 on Google for a hotly contested search term. We didn’t show up until page 10 for Cuil. And, as stated, our logo appeared at random results (but nothing that we felt warranted misappropriation claims).

    None of my searches for specific things returned results sets that were useful to me. And the layout of the returned results is annoying as all get out. There should be an option for the layout style you’d want to see.

    “Cuil is anything but.” Indeed.

  17. I too did the vanity search and while a picture of me showed up from my company’s website, it was shown next to something about Faberge jewel collection….this is a joke

  18. I have seen all sorts of jokes about Cuil, the extinct search engine. For the way back machine has some Cuil result son it, so I will see this: “Cuil results for Google, Cuil!’ or Cuil, Cuil results for Search Engine, drumroll. And the worst: Cool is not Cuil!

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