Cool Cuil Knowledge

July 28, 2008

Cuil logo

Cuil‘s the new search engine on the block. Cuil claims it searches over 120 billion pages, “three times as many as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft”. Cuil says it uses relevancy, not just popularity.

Is it any good?

Cuil – pronounced “cool” – is an old Irish word for knowledge, with an interesting back story in Irish mythology about Fionn mac Cumhaill‘s thumb (in English, Finn mac Cuil) and the Salmon of Wisdom.

Barely 12 hours old, Cuil is still sucking its thumb, but not to good effect.

I tried searching on my current research topic: I get results I already know are irrelevant.

Better results for the vanity search on my own name, but they’re not grouped for relevancy in obvious ways. That’s obvious and relevant to what I think, of course.

Searching for a previous employer (a 6-word phrase)… nothing, unless I cut the last two words off. Bizarrely, one of the first 11 returns is a spam keywords page (pretending to have Sheena Easton lyrics) which contains the word “For” – just one of my keywords. Not exactly a precision search!

However, the real problem is the number of times I see, “We didn’t find any results for …”. Just not enough capacity to handle the enquiries?

Here’s an expert view… Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, formerly of Search Engine Watch, isn’t impressed: Cuil Fast Test – Relevancy Isn’t A Google Killer.

I like the idea that they don’t collect information about your searches, according to Cuil’s Privacy statement. Much like I’m not impressed with websites wanting to collect information about me when I ask for a train time (fortunately those days seem to have passed).

… we do not collect any personally identifiable information, period. We have no idea who sends queries: not by name, not by IP address, and not by cookies…. Your search history is your business, not ours.

Nice idea, but how about the searches?!

(Michael Arrington of TechCrunch seems to be the breaking news – Cuil Exits Stealth Mode With A Massive Search Engine- yet there’s no comment beyond what you can find on Cuil’s site.)

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2 Responses to “Cool Cuil Knowledge”

  1. Alex Says:

    I think Cuil is going into the right direction, however I am not entirely sure their concept is going to work in the long run.

    Think about it, the reason we are using Google, Yahoo or MSN is because we trust their results and the fact that they display the difference between what is a natural result and what is an ad-result (take for example “Information Architecture and Flash development blog” and you would see Whatwasithinking.co.uk as its first result – okay sorry for the self-promotion).

    With Cuil it is different. According to its mission statement it searches for relevancy. Now thinking back a few months, Google announced in May ’08 that pretty much anyone can bid on any possible keyword – even brand names! So what does that mean? It means that relevancy is being diluted to “on-site relevancy” and “affiliate relevancy” playing a stronger role in page ranks and subsequently Google’s ranks.

    As you pointed out, Cuil will show ANY relevancy, and in this case a great number of spam results linking to websites containing anything but what you searched for (small correction: it WILL contain the keywords you searched for, but in no relevance to the rest of the page in a footer or sub-note).

    Let’s see how Cuil performs, it is a nice concept to search for sites relevant to your studies for example (as that makes sense then, oh hang on, that’s what Google Alerts is for ;) ), but I think in a broader market of trying to find what you were looking for without too much ad-results I think it will fail.

    Thanks for the article, Pete, and thanks for enduring my rant, world :)

  2. infomancie Says:

    Alex… thanks for the comments. Rant accepted! For his full go at this, read http://www.whatwasithinking.co.uk/2008/07/28/on-cuil-the-new-relevance-search-engine-a-rant/ .


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