Tag Archives | Cuil

Cuil Me Once, Shame On You…

Remember Cuil? Back in 2008, The search engine gained brief notoriety back in 2008 by claiming to be better than Google when it was in fact laughably, bizarrely bad. Then it mostly disappeared, except when bloggers need a synonym for “failed launch” or “unbridled hubris.”

Now Cuil is back with a new project I learned about in a GigaOM post by Matthew Ingram: Cpedia, an algorithmic encyclopedia with more than 384 million “automated articles.” Cuil founder and CEO Tom Costello explains:

Cpedia returns an automatically written article in response to a query, rather than a list of hits. It can be very compelling; it is especially good at surfacing facts that I didn’t know before. At other times it is weird — it does reflect the web after all.

[section explaining that Cpedia censors offensive matter snipped]

I find Cpedia best on topics that I thought I knew about. I find out things I should have known but didn’t. I’ve noticed productivity has slowed in the company since we have had it up for internal testing, as people ask each other about stranger and stranger trivia, or exclaim, “I didn’t know your middle name was Hector?”

Cpedia is very different from a traditional search engine, and not at all like Wikipedia, but that is its strength; it is something new and different. I hope you like it. I certainly do.

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Ten Reasons It’s So Damn Hard to Out-Google Google

Sifting through the blogosphere buzz on search engine Cuil today, just about everyone broaches the question of whether it might be a better search engine than Google–maybe even a more successful one someday. Judging from my experience with it so far, the real question is whether it’ll get marginally adequate, not whether it’ll topple the most dominant Web site the planet has ever known. But the chatter got me thinking: Why is it so $@#@$% difficult to beat Google at its own game?

It’s not like nobody’s giving it all they’ve got. Cuil is merely the most recent startup to be positioned as a possible Googleslayer: Others have included Powerset (recently snapped up by Microsoft), Wisenut (which is no longer with us), and Wikia. And every time Yahoo or Microsoft or Ask launches some feature which will supposedly prove an irresistable lure to Google fans, Google’s share of all searches only trends upward.

In short, nobody’s really even managed to give Google a flesh wound. As with Freddy Krueger, tryng to kill it seems to do more harm than good. But why?

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Cuil is Back Up! Sort of!

Last night when I trudged off to bed, much-hyped new search engine Cuil had launched, was giving me odd-to-awful results–and then was replaced with a “We’ll Be Back” page saying that it was proving so popular that they had to take it offline to beef up their server capacity.

This morning, it’s back up and running. But despite claiming the planet’s largest index, it still has some sort of glitch that results in it sometimes failing to find any results at all:

In other Cuil news, my friend Dan Tynan is rightly wondering what Cuil’s founders were thinking when they gave their site that name. They say it’s an old Irish word for knowledge, and that it’s pronounced “cool.”

It seems inevitable that half of Cuil’s users will have no idea how to pronounce it. And if any of the the other half recommend it to a friend in person, that friend will have no idea how to spell it unless it’s spelled out–which is kind of a singular achievement for a word with only four letters in it.

It gets weirder: Until recently, Cuil was going to be called Cuill. They say that they changed the name to simplify the spelling…

To be named Cuill and change the spelling to Cuil based on that rational is sorta like living near the San Andreas Fault and deciding to move to safer territory–and buying a house that’s fifty yards to the south.

Safe prediction: It Cuil turns out to be good enough to gain traction, it will be called something else someday. Maybe soon…


Is Cuil a Googleslayer? Nope, Not Yet–Not Hardly

A search engine called Cuil launched tonight. It touts itself as the world’s largest search engine, with more than 121 billion pages indexed–three times as many as Google, it says. Its “About Cuil” page sniffs at “superficial popularity metrics”–for which read Google’s PageRank–and says that it has a better approach to figuring out a page’s content and relevance. The site’s management includes multiple veterans of Google, plus Louis Monier, who was instrumental at AltaVista, the first important search engine. In short, both its claims and its staff set the bar high. And its claims, in particular, beg you to compare it with Google.

After spending a bit of time playing with Cuil, though, I’m more puzzled than impressed by the results. It would appear that the site is suffering some technical glitches tonight: In some cases, it’s told me it found zero results for a search, then has returned lots of them when I tried again. In fact, that’s happened often enough that I’d be cautious about judging any results that Cuil provides tonight:

I’ve done a bunch of other searches in hopes of finding an instance in which Cuil clearly beats Google. No luck so far. When I search for George Washington, the first result relates to George Washington University, not the Father of the Nation. The second result is Wikipedia’s entry on the great man, but the text excerpt is a snippet from the bibliography at the end of the article, so that’s not clear. The third result is a page about the George Washington Carver museum in Austin, Texas. I can’t imagine anyone arguing that that outdoes Google’s results. In fact, placing a result relating to George Washington Carver so high is evidence that Cuil’s understanding of my search was shaky; it’s unlikely that anyone looking for information on George Washinton Carver would fail to include the “Carver” in the search.

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