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A Not So Cuil Way To Search

When a couple of former Googlers announced their own, new search engine, there was some conjecture they'd give their old company a run for their money. A quick look at it shows that Google is safe.

Any developer should get kudos for creating a search engine, arguably one of the most daunting of technology tasks to undertake. The fact that the developers are striving to garner search results by content rather than popularity is admirable too. Yet, trying to cull information based on content when you are dealing with such a vast amount of information is bound to have its hiccups.

Let's take issue with many bloggers and commentators regarding Cuil's homepage. There seems to be a collective "nay" on the design. In this era of ocular overstimulation and search engines jam-packed with graphics, links, and images of people dancing to reduced mortgage rates, the simplicity is a welcome change. Besides, the color scheme and font kind of gives the home page the look of a 1960's Fellini movie poster.

However, you will find no disagreement here about the accuracy of search results and performance. The first thing "cuil-ed" over here was the word "cuil." The first ten pages of hits were all on an area of Ireland. It's a lovely area, I might add, based on the sites -- not to mention that "cuil" is taken the Gaelic, "knowledge." But nothing on Cuil as a search engine. Google lists news reports on Cuil and Cuil's home page as the first five hits.

Now, I understand that Cuil does not report based on popularity, but wouldn't the designers take pains to ensure that "cuil.com" is the number one hit within their own search engine? If you Google "Google" better believe google.com is number one.

Next, an insipid search test using "washington d.c." The search resulted in over 2 million hits on Google and over 700 million for Yahoo. Astonishingly, the same search text copied and pasted from Yahoo to Cuil resulted in the message, "We didn't find any results for "washington d.c."" As a matter of fact a search for "n.y." and "George W. Bush" came up empty, until the periods were removed.

Can the engine not recognize punctuation marks? Also puzzling are the images that come up with the results. A search on my name resulted in hits, but the images that were associated with the links are a mystery. The performance leads much to be desired. Navigating through results pages showed noticeable latency.

Is this search engine some kind of joke?

Understandably, search engines are complex and go through a weaning period before they are completely bug-free. Yet, for this to be launched as a non-beta release is mind-boggling, especially given the talent behind the project.

Cuil left us cold.

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