A new search engine appears: will you use it?

Tonight a new search engine showed up. Techcrunch has the details. So do tons of other blogs. Search engine guru Danny Sullivan has a great post about the new engine, Cuil, (pronounced “cool”). I wasn’t pre-briefed or anything. Like I said last week I’m trying to get out of the PR game and try to get back to what made me like blogging: sharing information with other users.

So, has anyone figured out a good way to quickly test search engines? I haven’t. Everyone has their own search terms that they use to judge whether or not an engine is interesting.

I remember when I was trying to convince my dad to move from Alta Vista to Google he had a bunch of very specific scientific searches he’d do. He used to love showing me that Alta Vista had more and better results. I kept at it. After about two years he switched to Google too.

Today isn’t like back in the Alta Vista days. Back then there was porn and spam that was showing up in my result sets. Google doesn’t have those problems and usually works for almost anything I search for. When it doesn’t work, I try some of the other engines, or just refactor my search and it almost always works. I can’t remember the last time I was totally stymied by Google.

But, what’s great about the blogosphere is that everyone gets to participate. Look at TechCrunch’s early searches and the comments that are coming in. I, too, think that Cuil is going to face an uphill battle based on my early searches.

On the other hand, let’s give Cuil the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say it actually was a better search engine. I still doubt many people would switch. Why?

Distribution.

Huh?

Well, my Firefox browser has Google built into it. Most people have no idea how to switch it. Most people, on our tests, really don’t understand much of anything except that that little box probably now goes to Google. The Google.

It’s so pervasive of an expectation at this point that many people type URLs into that box. Or, type the word “Yahoo” into that box so they can get to their email and other Yahoo services.

Is Cuil going to be able to get into this game?

No way, no how.

On mobile phones it’s worse. My iPhone has Google built in. No way that Cuil is going to be able to rip out Google and replace that with its own engine.

So, why is Cuil here?

I think it’s a play for Microsoft money. Microsoft needs to get back into the search game, so will continue buying companies to try to get back into the search game. Yahoo, if run by management that’s rational, will probably start doing the same thing.

Look at Powerset. They cashed out early to Microsoft. Cuil probably will do the same thing if it brings enough to the table.

Just for fun, though, and to get back to being a user, let’s try one search:

Barack Obama’s technology policy

I put that into all the search engines without any quotes, just to see which one does the best job. Here’s the result set:

Cuil (gave an error, couldn’t find any results)
Google. (best of the three)
Yahoo. (close to Google, but not quite there)
Microsoft. (by far the worst of the big three, didn’t bring the technology policy up as the first result).

Anyway, I did a bunch of other searches on Cuil and they are trying to be different, that’s for sure, but I didn’t see enough of a need to try it out further.

How about you?

150 thoughts on “A new search engine appears: will you use it?

  1. I searched for my wife (who has an uncommon name) with Cuil.

    The 1st result was our ancient family website (last updated in January 2004)! The picture attached to the search result has nothing to do with that website.

    The top of Google’s search results are my wife’s Facebook public profile and her Amazon wishlist.

    Google wins.

  2. I searched for my wife (who has an uncommon name) with Cuil.

    The 1st result was our ancient family website (last updated in January 2004)! The picture attached to the search result has nothing to do with that website.

    The top of Google’s search results are my wife’s Facebook public profile and her Amazon wishlist.

    Google wins.

  3. Id probably end up forgetting all about this search engine. There were sites on there I know haven’t even existed for years. Why do we need another under powered search engine.

  4. Id probably end up forgetting all about this search engine. There were sites on there I know haven’t even existed for years. Why do we need another under powered search engine.

  5. Several people have mentioned how Google came from behind, via word-of-mouth to win the search game and suggest that Cuil could do the same. I disagree; I am a pretty heavy user of search and have been for a while and the day that I heard of a new search engine called Google (what was that name about?) I tried it and immediately saw that it cut through the porn and other garbage to deliver EXACTLY what I was looking for. I was hooked from the first moment and never used Excite again (along with just about everyone else it seemed) and told everyone interested about this great search engine with the wacky name

    I tried Cuil in the same way and sadly it lost me straight away – first by being down (I don’t recall ever seeing that happen with Google – how are Cuil going to compete with that scale?) but I can forgive that…just. But by failing to return any answers to some queries that Google just nailed – I’m not talking about stuff that requires up-to-the-minute indexes, just regular searches that cuil thought were so specialized that nothing could be found whilst Google took me straight to the answer. Sorry guys but I’m too busy to help you debug your stuff when I have a perfectly adequate solution today.

    I do appreciate the play on privacy – that alone got me interested enough to try it even after the initial service crashes. But you have to deliver and right now it doesn’t

  6. Several people have mentioned how Google came from behind, via word-of-mouth to win the search game and suggest that Cuil could do the same. I disagree; I am a pretty heavy user of search and have been for a while and the day that I heard of a new search engine called Google (what was that name about?) I tried it and immediately saw that it cut through the porn and other garbage to deliver EXACTLY what I was looking for. I was hooked from the first moment and never used Excite again (along with just about everyone else it seemed) and told everyone interested about this great search engine with the wacky name

    I tried Cuil in the same way and sadly it lost me straight away – first by being down (I don’t recall ever seeing that happen with Google – how are Cuil going to compete with that scale?) but I can forgive that…just. But by failing to return any answers to some queries that Google just nailed – I’m not talking about stuff that requires up-to-the-minute indexes, just regular searches that cuil thought were so specialized that nothing could be found whilst Google took me straight to the answer. Sorry guys but I’m too busy to help you debug your stuff when I have a perfectly adequate solution today.

    I do appreciate the play on privacy – that alone got me interested enough to try it even after the initial service crashes. But you have to deliver and right now it doesn’t

  7. Several people have mentioned how Google came from behind, via word-of-mouth to win the search game and suggest that Cuil could do the same. I disagree; I am a pretty heavy user of search and have been for a while and the day that I heard of a new search engine called Google (what was that name about?) I tried it and immediately saw that it cut through the porn and other garbage to deliver EXACTLY what I was looking for. I was hooked from the first moment and never used Excite again (along with just about everyone else it seemed) and told everyone interested about this great search engine with the wacky name

    I tried Cuil in the same way and sadly it lost me straight away – first by being down (I don’t recall ever seeing that happen with Google – how are Cuil going to compete with that scale?) but I can forgive that…just. But by failing to return any answers to some queries that Google just nailed – I’m not talking about stuff that requires up-to-the-minute indexes, just regular searches that cuil thought were so specialized that nothing could be found whilst Google took me straight to the answer. Sorry guys but I’m too busy to help you debug your stuff when I have a perfectly adequate solution today.

    I do appreciate the play on privacy – that alone got me interested enough to try it even after the initial service crashes. But you have to deliver and right now it doesn’t

  8. Several people have mentioned how Google came from behind, via word-of-mouth to win the search game and suggest that Cuil could do the same. I disagree; I am a pretty heavy user of search and have been for a while and the day that I heard of a new search engine called Google (what was that name about?) I tried it and immediately saw that it cut through the porn and other garbage to deliver EXACTLY what I was looking for. I was hooked from the first moment and never used Excite again (along with just about everyone else it seemed) and told everyone interested about this great search engine with the wacky name

    I tried Cuil in the same way and sadly it lost me straight away – first by being down (I don’t recall ever seeing that happen with Google – how are Cuil going to compete with that scale?) but I can forgive that…just. But by failing to return any answers to some queries that Google just nailed – I’m not talking about stuff that requires up-to-the-minute indexes, just regular searches that cuil thought were so specialized that nothing could be found whilst Google took me straight to the answer. Sorry guys but I’m too busy to help you debug your stuff when I have a perfectly adequate solution today.

    I do appreciate the play on privacy – that alone got me interested enough to try it even after the initial service crashes. But you have to deliver and right now it doesn’t

  9. Robert, very perceptive about the possible MSFT angle.

    Love how someone further up said they “cuiled” themselves… and the image mix-up thing is downright comical (you’d think they would have checked at least that bit, apparently they served up even quite a few X-rated images next to unsuspecting poeple’s bios, etc. ).

    Just finished an in depth look at the Cuil branding disaster (with Knol hot on its heels):

    http://businessmindhacks.com/post/cuil-knol-and-other-crimes-against-branding

  10. Robert, very perceptive about the possible MSFT angle.

    Love how someone further up said they “cuiled” themselves… and the image mix-up thing is downright comical (you’d think they would have checked at least that bit, apparently they served up even quite a few X-rated images next to unsuspecting poeple’s bios, etc. ).

    Just finished an in depth look at the Cuil branding disaster (with Knol hot on its heels):

    http://businessmindhacks.com/post/cuil-knol-and-other-crimes-against-branding

  11. Try searching for “Facebook f8″ (without quotes). What result would you expect at the top? Google shows developers.facebook.com, while live shows the webpage for the F8 event.

  12. Try searching for “Facebook f8″ (without quotes). What result would you expect at the top? Google shows developers.facebook.com, while live shows the webpage for the F8 event.

  13. I compared Cuil, Google and Live Search on 3 terms that are important to me: eceblogger (the blog I run), Project54 (the project I work on at UNH) and “Andrew Kun” (my name). Results:

    Cuil:
    eceblogger: Only finds references on other pages, search should produce http://www.eceblogger.com as the top result.
    Project54: Search produces no results. It should find http://www.project54.com.
    Andrew Kun: Worst of all, it can’t find me very well! Shocking. When I search for Andrew Kun, I find a golf player in Canada and some old pages I set up, but not my current page in my department, or my http://www.andrewkun.com.

    Google:
    eceblogger: top result http://www.eceblogger.com
    Project54: top result http://www.project54.unh.edu
    Andrew Kun: top result my current UNH page, http://www.andrewkun.com is 3rd

    Live Search:
    eceblogger: top result http://www.eceblogger.com
    Project54: top result http://www.project54.unh.edu
    Andrew Kun: top result http://www.andrewkun.com

    So forget Cuil! ;) Google and Live Search are tied with a slight edge to Live Search for placing http://www.andrewkun.com on top.

  14. I compared Cuil, Google and Live Search on 3 terms that are important to me: eceblogger (the blog I run), Project54 (the project I work on at UNH) and “Andrew Kun” (my name). Results:

    Cuil:
    eceblogger: Only finds references on other pages, search should produce http://www.eceblogger.com as the top result.
    Project54: Search produces no results. It should find http://www.project54.com.
    Andrew Kun: Worst of all, it can’t find me very well! Shocking. When I search for Andrew Kun, I find a golf player in Canada and some old pages I set up, but not my current page in my department, or my http://www.andrewkun.com.

    Google:
    eceblogger: top result http://www.eceblogger.com
    Project54: top result http://www.project54.unh.edu
    Andrew Kun: top result my current UNH page, http://www.andrewkun.com is 3rd

    Live Search:
    eceblogger: top result http://www.eceblogger.com
    Project54: top result http://www.project54.unh.edu
    Andrew Kun: top result http://www.andrewkun.com

    So forget Cuil! ;) Google and Live Search are tied with a slight edge to Live Search for placing http://www.andrewkun.com on top.

  15. As a fine art landscape photographer, I was surprised to “cuil” my name and see a suggestive image of a woman next to website results…I don’t photograph people. I did similar searches for other photographers in my circle and discovered the same thing – sexually suggestive images of women next to the results. I wrote cuil an e-mail straight away because to me it’s not appropriate that they make such an association and could potentially trash my name to their users. So much for relevant content…

  16. As a fine art landscape photographer, I was surprised to “cuil” my name and see a suggestive image of a woman next to website results…I don’t photograph people. I did similar searches for other photographers in my circle and discovered the same thing – sexually suggestive images of women next to the results. I wrote cuil an e-mail straight away because to me it’s not appropriate that they make such an association and could potentially trash my name to their users. So much for relevant content…

  17. I just Cuil’d myself, and the first result was me. What’s more, I discovered that I’m also a racing driver.

    They may claim to have more pages indexed than Google, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It depends on how you count, such is the nature of the web.

    @Andrew: Well, is anyone actually going to want to find Cuil using Cuil. They are obviously aware of the search engine’s location if they are using it.

  18. I just Cuil’d myself, and the first result was me. What’s more, I discovered that I’m also a racing driver.

    They may claim to have more pages indexed than Google, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It depends on how you count, such is the nature of the web.

    @Andrew: Well, is anyone actually going to want to find Cuil using Cuil. They are obviously aware of the search engine’s location if they are using it.

  19. Google managed to overtake established search engines based almost solely on word of mouth… Cuil could to the same thing.

    BTW it’s incredibly easy to make Cuil your default search in Firefox… firefox asks you to add it while you’re on the Cuil web site, if you expand the search option box top right.

    Cuil should quickly add news – their layout would be great to add google news-like search results for certain queries – in a tabbed option layout. So far I think this is pretty good. It’s not like Google search is so amazing that it’s untouchable.

    Like most things, there is tons of room for improvement.

  20. Google managed to overtake established search engines based almost solely on word of mouth… Cuil could to the same thing.

    BTW it’s incredibly easy to make Cuil your default search in Firefox… firefox asks you to add it while you’re on the Cuil web site, if you expand the search option box top right.

    Cuil should quickly add news – their layout would be great to add google news-like search results for certain queries – in a tabbed option layout. So far I think this is pretty good. It’s not like Google search is so amazing that it’s untouchable.

    Like most things, there is tons of room for improvement.

  21. Have searched for “Cuil” and “Cuil.com” on http://www.cuil.com – and their own site is nowhere to be seen :).

    Very smooth.

    “Cuil.com – works 60% of the time — everytime”

  22. Have searched for “Cuil” and “Cuil.com” on http://www.cuil.com – and their own site is nowhere to be seen :).

    Very smooth.

    “Cuil.com – works 60% of the time — everytime”

  23. Since there is no eraser on the Internet, I just “Googled” myself on http://www.Cuil.com ….and…was pleasantly surprised liking the display of results and what I read. Guess I’ll be using Cuil again and again and even advertising there when offered.

  24. Since there is no eraser on the Internet, I just “Googled” myself on http://www.Cuil.com ….and…was pleasantly surprised liking the display of results and what I read. Guess I’ll be using Cuil again and again and even advertising there when offered.

  25. There is a ‘bounded rationality’ meaning people generally settle on ‘good enough’ and don’t need ‘the best’. Google is THE ‘good enough’ of today’s search-sphere. We do not need any other search engine.

  26. There is a ‘bounded rationality’ meaning people generally settle on ‘good enough’ and don’t need ‘the best’. Google is THE ‘good enough’ of today’s search-sphere. We do not need any other search engine.

  27. This site sucks in my opinion. Although the pics beside the results are pretty cool, that doesn’t account for the irrevelant results. Next!

  28. This site sucks in my opinion. Although the pics beside the results are pretty cool, that doesn’t account for the irrevelant results. Next!

Comments are closed.