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Cuil Like Dat

Yahoo!'s Tech Ticker has featured coverage of Cuil, the new search engine that some feel is a competitor to Google. Cuil created a lot of buzz when it launched, primarily for all of the problems people had using it. But its founders (one an ex-Google engineer) feel that despite these problems, they can still compete.

I've used Cuil a bit, and let's face it, they're not ready yet. Leaving aside the quality of their search results for now, when you can't even get a search result because you get results unavailable messages back from them, you've got real problems. Some feel that they launched too soon, and that people won't bother coming back because, let's face it, there are better alternatives. Perhaps all this buzz will get people to come back, but Cuil better be ready. You don't get too many second chances in the search biz.

Should they even get to the point where they are a viable competitor to Google (for a user audience), I wonder if the founders (or their investors) will permit the company to stay independent. Arguably, Powerset has a newer, conceptually improved (according to some search experts) means of indexing and ranking content, but they were sold to M$ for $100 million. We'll never know what might have happened if they'd held out, but in this economic environment, who can pass up an opportunity for that much money (if they don't already have that kind of money)?

Getting back to the subject of Cuil's query load, I remember reading that the late Paul Flaherty of AV told Google's founders, when they approached AV to buy its technology, that if they wanted to go it alone, they needed to find some way to support the query load, especially if it was bots trying to take down their site. Cuil needs to be aware of this, as bots are far more prolific now than they were ten years ago. Even script kiddies can easily and cheaply get their hands on technologies that can take down a new site.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 18th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
Cuil is definitely going for it, but it's hard to imagine them doing anything but incremental changes to what Google's done. And even that would take years of effort.

Me.dium.com has taken a different tack. We have a full web index, but we change the results based on the surfing activity of our user base (now over 2,000,000). It's in alpha, but I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. http://me.dium.com/search

Aug. 19th, 2008 06:44 am (UTC)
Re: Cuil
Thanks for dropping by. I tried a few queries at me.dium.com and was generally satisfied with the results. For the queries I made, the order of the results was very similar to Yahoo!'s, so if other (reasonably popular) queries' results rank similarly, you're in Yahoo!'s ballpark. I didn't have any problems accessing the site – no service unavailables or anything like that, which is a plus in my book.

There are lots of search engines out there like yours that don't get any notice. I think part of the Cuil buzz is that one of the founders is an ex-Googler. If it had been founded by people no one had ever heard of, it probably wouldn't have created any buzz at all, especially considering how rough their launch was.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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