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New Search Engine Cuil Takes Aim At Google 649

Posted by timothy
from the shows-promise dept.
theodp writes "CNET reports that Cuil (pronounced 'Cool'), a startup founded by the husband-and-wife team of Xift creator Tom Costello and former Google search architect Anna Patterson, is launching a new search engine today that claims to index three times as many Web pages as Google." Running a few searches left me underwhelmed with the content of the results (hitting the next-page button on a search with a listed 62,200,000 results — for "seattle" — got me the unexpected error message "We didn't find any results for 'seattle.'"), but pleased with the actual layout of the results when it worked, so I hope the kinks are worked out. Update 7/28 18:30 GMT by SM: corrected Tom Costello's accreditation, he wasn't a professor at Stanford as the linked story suggests, just did some research there as a grad student. Thanks to the Stanford CS department for pointing this out.
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New Search Engine Cuil Takes Aim At Google

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  • Tried it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AndrewStephens (815287) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:14AM (#24365945) Homepage

    Well it sure looks nice, puting pictures along with the results is a cool touch. It's a pity that the usefulness of the returned links is not on par with google.

    • Re:Tried it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chalkyj (927554) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:35AM (#24366077)
      It may be a cool touch, but they appear to be using a rather rubbish algorithm to pick them. My search for "slashdot" returned an image of the Beijing Olympics next to the result for this site.

      Oh, and now all I get is "Due to overwhelming interest, our Cuil servers are running a bit hot right now. The search engine is momentarily unavailable as we add more capacity."

      Slashdotted. That'll teach them to try to compete with Google, I guess :)

      • Re:Tried it (Score:5, Funny)

        by dotancohen (1015143) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:41AM (#24366511) Homepage

        Oh, and now all I get is "Due to overwhelming interest, our Cuil servers are running a bit hot right now. The search engine is momentarily unavailable as we add more capacity."

        That's because the googlebot is crawling them as we speak.

      • Re:Tried it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ewg (158266) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:45AM (#24366553)

        Searching for "Bill Clinton" yields the Bill Clinton Wikipedia article as the first result, but with a thumbnail depicting someone else (Thomas Kean?).

        http://www.cuil.com/search?q=Bill+Clinton [cuil.com]

        • Re:Tried it (Score:5, Interesting)

          by etnoy (664495) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:02AM (#24366677) Homepage
          Seems like the search engine associates weird images with the search results. I tried googling for my full name, found my blog alright, but what the heck? I get an image with the text "My sucess with Scientology" together with the search result. I am not a scientologist, and haven't even mentioned the cult on the blog.
          Makes me distrust the search engine...
        • by no1home (1271260) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:39AM (#24367013)

          Funny... I saw a pic not related to him as well when I clicked on your search. Unlike my earlier test searches, clicking on the 'next page' link actually worked (somebody already mentioned the problem I was having: no search results found despite several thousand being available according to the first results page)... which led to another pic-problem: the wrong party logo associated with him! LOL

          Since I comment a lot on various blogs, I've found it's easy to keep track of what I said and where by just googling the name I use. Google gives me very relevant, easy to understand results with very few false-positives (unknown misses, but it seems good in that respect). Cuil, on the other hand, was a bit off. The results look like they're all me in that the sites are places I've commented at, but the text blurbs for the links are collections of pieces of comments, some mine, others not. There are a lot of repeats. The pictures that come up have nothing to do with me and the ones I've checked has nothing to do with the item linked to.

          Speaking of links... I'm sure it's a matter of getting used to how Cuil does things, but the linking is very much NOT obvious. All these links that are supposedly to my individual comments are each for a given story, right? Nope. The links at the top and bottom of each search result are to that website's log of my comments. So I have a bunch of links to my Lifehacker member's comments. Another to Gizmodo's index of my comments. (Yes, they're the same system, so it's the same list with a different background, but that isn't any search engine's fault.) I even get this for sites I've only left one comment at. Yet, each search result claims (via its headline) to be linking the story or comment directly. The only time I've found that to be true is on the websites that don't provide an index of members' comments (like Popular Science).

          I want the competition and I hope it improves. The layout is pretty nice (well, would be if the info was accurate). So far, color me unimpressed.

        • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:58AM (#24369057)

          With google all the results are ranked. With Cuil you mind is not quite sure if things in the same row are the same rank or what. As a result you may be inclined to scan down further till you see the picture you think is right.

          in the end however you read just as many entries, but somehow the perception is that the right one was "closer to the top". But that's perceptual not actual.

          Howver perception counts: if you can more quickly absorb 2-d layouts than 1-d then it's better. But of course google to do this to.

          the quality of the search seems lower.

      • Re:Tried it (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mattsson (105422) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:50AM (#24366583) Homepage Journal

        Must have been fixed amazingly quick. I have no problem using it now... =)

      • Re:Tried it (Score:5, Funny)

        by jo42 (227475) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:12AM (#24366755) Homepage

        39,384 results for monkey balls

        First result:

        Squeezing gently will spin the Monkey Balls briefly in the air, producing a mysterious whistle. Try spinning them from one hand into the other. The higher into the air you spin them, the longer they whistle. (Please be sure no real Monkeys are in the vicinity when trying this trick, they may become disturbed. The Pendulum - Hold one Monkey ball between...

      • Re:Tried it (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:20AM (#24366845)

        Working for a school district, i tried doing simple search like " schools" and no search results came back. disappointing. So then, searching for our district USD #, it finally returns some results (i would hope so), but like chalkyj said, they need to do some work with their image algorithm. Next to our junior high website link, i get a picture (looks like a college logo t-shirt) with "Boobs" written on it. Not the kind of results you want parents seeing, then calling the school to get the webmaster fired!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by subtraho (187805)

        http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/4479/huhkf9.jpg [imageshack.us] (Screen snap of Cuil results)

        Yeah, there's something wrong with this picture (no pun intended).

      • Re:Tried it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Amouth (879122) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:58AM (#24369075)

        i have already tried to contact them (with no luck) about the image next to result "feature"

        it has serius issues in my mind.. such as putting the logo's and diagrams for the company i work for as thumbs for links going to our competitors sites.

        who ever thought it was a good idea to allow the use of images from site A as thumbs for links to site B made a serious logic flaw - while we arn't the type to sue someone - there is alot out there that will.

        and if they don't get it resolved we will have no choice but to make a big deal out of it to protect our brand image along with our material.

        i like the UI - the groupings is nice.. but the contetn they have sucks and they have some really stupid flaws

    • by Mick Malkemus (1281196) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:59AM (#24366237)


      Google has been around for years.

      Cuil has only just opened. Already, it is pretty decent.

      I for one would love to have options to Google.
      • by s31523 (926314) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:42AM (#24366515)

        Cuil has only just opened. Already, it is pretty decent.

        I disagree. Basic one word searches return no results. I have to change my oil in my car and wanted to search out the best brand to use. Typing in "oil", let alone my original search term, yields nothing.

        While I agree it would be great to have a nice alternative to Google, Cuil had better step it up a notch...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Fozzyuw (950608)

          Cuil has only just opened. Already, it is pretty decent.

          I disagree. Basic one word searches return no results. I have to change my oil in my car and wanted to search out the best brand to use. Typing in "oil", let alone my original search term, yields nothing.

          It's just after 7AM CST, I searched for "oil" and I got 175,600,000 results for oil. Not only that, they have this "Explore By Category" menu with the first category being "motor oil" with a list of different types of oils "synthetic", "fuel", etc.

          Then across the top, as a nice touch I think, they have a horizontal menu-like bar that must list the most popular oil keywords like "Olive oil", "Oil Paintings", and "Fish Oil".

          Definitely interesting. I won't complain about problems with their server for the t

      • by dotancohen (1015143) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:42AM (#24366519) Homepage

        I for one would love to have options to Google.

        http://www.google.com/preferences [google.com]

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Akatosh (80189)

          Where's the get your cameras off my front lawn option? Also missing, the don't turn my browsing habits into the feds option, and the turn off this ajax-based popup advertisement option.

      • except (Score:3, Interesting)

        by speedtux (1307149)

        Except the Cuil founders used to work at Google, and Google is constrained in what they can do because they have a big user base.

        Cuil could have innovated greatly and pushed search to the next level. Cuil looks pretty incremental to me, and a bit unpredictable at that.

        The fact that some common phrases result in no hits also suggests to me that they optimized at an unacceptable expense in search quality. In the end, users don't care how few machines they are using if they simply don't deliver the results.

      • Failed already... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cliffski (65094) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:16AM (#24366805) Homepage

        these guys fell at the first fence. They have to include an explanation of how to pronounce their product name.
        That's such a basic mistake it's laughable. If you want to build a global brand, starting with a name people can't remember or pronounce will not help.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        Have you tried Clusty? I gave it a go as my default search engine a while ago. It consistently ranks the search results much better than Google but, again, is hampered by the fact that it's database is much smaller. My desired result might be on the fifth page with Google, but it won't be in Clusty at all.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zeromorph (1009305)

        Cuil has only just opened. Already, it is pretty decent.

        I don't know, the algorithm seems to be rather bad. They surely have indexed a decent amount of pages, but extracting relevant information seems to be done rather badly. E.g.: if you search for a language, whose name is also a place name or something, and put the name - say "Rwanda [ethnologue.com]" a Bantu language - in the search field and then add "language", because you are interested in the language and not the country. Google ranks the results with a closer syntactic (or semantic?) connection between "Rwanda" and "lan

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by immcintosh (1089551)
          The algorithm isn't just bad, it's horrible. I guess it's halfway decent for popular news items and such, but with the first technical term I tried ("Gödel's incompleteness theorem", in this case), well, the results are not looking so great. Compare:

          Google [google.com] vs. Cuil [cuil.com].

          I mean, you don't even have to know what the theorem is to see how much better Google's results are for someone who'd be searching for basic information on it. I mean, for Chrissake, Cuil returned a bunch of garbage from what looks
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Maestro4k (707634)

        Cuil has only just opened. Already, it is pretty decent.

        No it's not. Maybe it's the load but it's totally screwed up. Results return with images that have nothing at all to do with the actual result. (Someone posted a screenshot of a result about Giant Squid, the image with it was two WWE wrestlers). Some queries come back and say no results. I personally tried anime blogger and got nothing. Google returns 3,910,000 results for the same query. Bizarrely searching for anime blog got results, however nearly every single image was wrong, most coming from sit

    • Re:Tried it (Score:5, Informative)

      by 404 Clue Not Found (763556) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:45AM (#24366541)

      Well it sure looks nice, puting pictures along with the results is a cool touch. It's a pity that the usefulness of the returned links is not on par with google.

      Meh. Big deal. GooglePreview [mozilla.org], a Firefox extension, adds thumbnails to every Google and Yahoo result. It's been around for a while.

  • by Bryan Ischo (893) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:14AM (#24365947) Homepage

    A few observations:

    * "Cuil" is a really dumb name. "Google" is a dumb name too, but at least its pronounciation is obvious to anyone reading the name. Can't say the same for "Cuil".

    * It's unlikely that this new search engine even approaches Google in its comprehensiveness, or ever will

    * Cuil has some weird bugs. I searched for my name, found a link to a Gallery page I have about my son's birth earlier this year, and they have a little thumbnail icon next to the search result for that. But it's a random map of the United States completely unrelated to the page it links to. Bizarre.

    * Cuil's results come back more slowly than Google's (but this is from New Zealand, maybe it's faster from the USA), and their page re-renders in odd ways (at least on my oldish Firefox install) as results come in.

    * Cuil seems to give the most favor to any page that has the word "is" after the search term. Invariably, the first result for almost any single word search will be whatever page starts out with "[Search Term] is ...".

    * Google is really bad for Silicon Valley. So many good software developers in SV got sucked in by Google. Too much of the top talent in the area is now working for Google, doing almost completely useless stuff, and it's not healthy for the industry. Is there any software company in the bay area that hasn't had at least a couple of engineers sucked away by Google? Are algorithms for pushing targeted ads and useless web applications that never get out of beta really worth depleting the industry of so many of its best? I predict that when Google comes crashing down (and it will - anyone who has seen the ridiculous excess of the Google campus cannot help but realize this), the net result will have been to set back innovation in the software industry a great deal, by tying up so many people who would otherwise have done something useful.

    * For the above reason, I wish Cuil all the success possible, because I'd love to see some actual competition in the search engine world.

    Anyway that's how I see it.

    • by Tim C (15259) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:28AM (#24366035)

      I have another observation - there doesn't seem to be any localisation to it. That may well come with time (it was a while before Google had it), but being able to go to google.co.uk and specify that it should search for pages from the UK can be extremely helpful, for example when searching for details of public holidays or shops or similar region-specific things.

      And yeah, Cuil is a dumb name.

    • by YA_Python_dev (885173) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:41AM (#24366119) Journal

      * Google is really bad for Silicon Valley. Too much of the top talent in the area is now working for Google, doing almost completely useless stuff, and it's not healthy for the industry. I predict that when Google comes crashing down (and it will - anyone who has seen the ridiculous excess of the Google campus cannot help but realize this)

      So I guess they didn't accept your job application, uh?

    • Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sd.fhasldff (833645) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:49AM (#24366165)

      I predict that when Google comes crashing down (and it will - anyone who has seen the ridiculous excess of the Google campus cannot help but realize this)

      It's unlikely that this new search engine even approaches Google in its comprehensiveness, or ever will

      What mechanism will bring about this Google crash? Unlike the famous companies in the .com bubble, Google is actually making money. And lots of it. More than a billion dollars a quarter, to go along with their $12 billion in cash and zero debt.

      This is not to say that Google will remain eternally dominant, of course not, but the rules of the game favor the incumbent, especially in a lobbyist economy.

      You say Google will come crashing down, yet you also say no one will "ever" be as good in search. So I ask again, what mechanism or event do you foresee in your crystal ball to bring about such an unlikely crash?

      • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pallmall1 (882819) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:01AM (#24366253)

        What mechanism will bring about this Google crash?

        Greedy media companies, patent trolling lawyers, and stupid and/or corrupt judges.

      • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bryan Ischo (893) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:29AM (#24366425) Homepage

        Well that is a good question. I agree that my statements do seem contradictory. What I think is that the online ad business is going to end up as another bubble; companies are going to wise up and realize that the money they pay for ads on web sites like Google's are not worth nearly as much as they thought, and the trend will be to a large reduction in money spent on ads. And Google will feel a big crunch because of this, and because they've spent so much money on so many frivolous enterprises, and fostered such a lacsidasical corporate culture, they will simply not be able to produce any new products or online services with the capability of recovering their previous levels of revenue. Eventually, they will become marginalized and irrelevant.

        My choice of phrase - "crashing down" - is admittedly poor, since this is something that I don't think will happen all at once, but will occur over a period of time, 5 - 8 years or so.

      • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Interesting)

        by shic (309152) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:15AM (#24366789)

        What mechanism will bring about this Google crash? Unlike the famous companies in the .com bubble, Google is actually making money. And lots of it. More than a billion dollars a quarter, to go along with their $12 billion in cash and zero debt.

        Google won't crash like the .com hilarities of 2000, but to consider it invincible is a mistake too.

        While they expect to drag in $4.8bn this year, they are valued at $152bn. This is equivalent to a gross return on investment of 3.1% - which is not, in my opinion, an encouraging yield. Their advertising revenues (in my opinion) are unlikely to grow significantly - and (as far as I can tell) they've scant other revenue stream developed. In an economic downturn, of course, I'd also expect to see advertising spend slashed... putting even further pressure on share price.

        As I see it, the only justification for today's share price is an expectation of spectacular capital growth. I think that game is over. If google returned 10% yield, I think that would be credible... that would decimate their share price - and, in so doing, would foster a complete lack of confidence among investors who would see their speculative gains wiped out. Even $12bn in cash won't keep them up forever - especially considering the size of their wage bill if they are going to stop their to talent jumping ship.

        Don't get me wrong, I think Google are awesome, but I do think they are over-valued.

      • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Orne (144925) on Monday July 28, 2008 @11:54AM (#24370119) Homepage

        You say Google will come crashing down, yet you also say no one will "ever" be as good in search. So I ask again, what mechanism or event do you foresee in your crystal ball to bring about such an unlikely crash?

        1. Microsoft wears down Yahoo's board, purchases Yahoo, and more importantly, all of its search engine advertisement revenue patents
        2. Microsoft, upon examining Yahoo's internal documents, reveals that Google had grossly underpaid Yahoo for use of US patent 6269361, the core of the Google PageRank system. Although news reports indicate that $330 million in stock was exchanged, both Yahoo and Google's financial reports only record $30 million [techuser.net] because of how the stock was recorded. Only Yahoo and Google have the text of their agreements... and whoever buys Yahoo will know.
        3. Any kind of financial shinanigans on Google's point will pop the stock bubble [yahoo.com] (which is already down 2% today to Oct 2006 price levels), and adding the very slow growth in advertisement revenue over the last few quarters, combined with added patent payments, this would be the catalyst for investors to pull out.
        4. The other path is that owning the patent allows Microsoft to freely develop their Live search, which has been crippled because of Yahoo's resistance to licence the ad-revenue patent to Microsoft. This would finally allow Microsoft to develop its search engine to compete on-par with Google's main source of revenue. Microsoft surely will only do an adequate job, but since the market share is out of balance in Google's favor, any additional player in the search revenue market can only hurt their bottom line.
        5. With the collapse of Google's stock, employees disperse for other companies (like the Cuil engineers), draining their talent pool, and they are done.
    • Oh please... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:09AM (#24366311) Homepage Journal

      Don't blame Google for using job market and IT industry supply and demand forces to fill whatever positions they need.

      Google found a niche, exploited it for all what is worth, and are so efficient at it that they can allow themselves to get the best talent money can buy.

      Please grow up, that is how a job market is supposed to work. If the rest of the IT industry can't come with innovative ideas good enough to attract new investment and bright people, it is hardly Google's fault.

      When Google comes crashing (yeah, we know, all companies do, thanks for the insight genius) it will be for more important reasons than treating well, even lavishly, their employees.

      At the moment it seems to be working, so I really don't see why they should change. I am not saying that all companies should provide whatever Google provides, but I am sure that morale in many companies would be increased immeasurably if they put a few pool tables around and some comfy sofas were to nap or to have a chat.

      Most companies forget their employees are human and that it is important to give a degree of human empathy to your employees.

      When the bad times come all those extras can be taken away, but to do so at a time when business is brisk is nonsense. It just shows why they are billionaires and some around here are unsatisfied middle managers or angry technicians.

      • Re:Oh please... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Bryan Ischo (893) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:40AM (#24366505) Homepage

        Why the hostility in your post? I get the feeling that you have some kind of personal tie to Google. Maybe you work there?

        I knew back in in the '97 - '99 time frame that all of the money being thrown at useless internet companies was going to come back and bite the industry in the end. I'm not looking for any kind of pat on the back here, because obviously alot of people thought the same thing.

        I see Google kind of the same way. The stock market has thrown HUGE amounts of money at them. Online advertisers have thrown HUGE amounts of money at them. And I think that soon, this bubble is going to burst too. I feel the same way about Google as I did about the internet stocks of the late '90s. Vastly overrated, built on a business model that is not sustainable (in Google's case, online ads, which I honestly believe are going to tank hugely when advertisers finally realize the true value of online advertisements such as those sold by Google - and it ain't alot in my opinion), and wasting ridiculous sums of money on employee luxuries that only serve to create a complacent and unmotivated work force. And I think the result is going to be the same.

        You may disagree with me, which is fine by me. Honestly I don't care enough about your opinions to attack you personally for them.

        • by Tumbarumba (74816) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:09AM (#24366731) Homepage

          ...built on a business model that is not sustainable (in Google's case, online ads, which I honestly believe are going to tank hugely when advertisers finally realize the true value of online advertisements such as those sold by Google - and it ain't alot in my opinion)

          Regarding the true value of online adversing... In my case, I can say that the advertising I put onto Google is worth it. I've just enabled the online store at http://www.lillifoot.co.uk/ [lillifoot.co.uk] and started advertising on Google. It's very easy to track the metrics of how much I spend versus how much income it brings in. If the advertising wasn't covering costs, I would be looking elsewhere to spend advertising money.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PietjeJantje (917584)

      "Cuil" is a really dumb name.

      That seems to be the meme here, and that any new search engine is immediately written off if it does not match or exceed Google's index from the start (So it seems Google quest to create as big a barrier of entrance as possible has succeeded. Isn't intend and potential much more important for new players? If we are gonna be like this, yes, Google will remain king of the hill and grow up even more to the company that the money and market share dictates).

      But about the name. I'd say that all the people compla

    • by speedtux (1307149) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:19AM (#24366839)

      There have always been few companies where the best and brightest wanted to work and could do research: Bell Labs, AT&T, MITRE, SRI, IBM, Xerox, Microsoft, Google, and a few others.

      It's good that Google exists, because without them, the only corporate research lab worth talking about would be Microsoft, and that is a truly depressing state of affairs.

  • by mwanaheri (933794) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:15AM (#24365949)
    what I miss most is any sort of 'advanced' search, like the restriction on TLDs etc.
  • by Random Walk (252043) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:15AM (#24365961)
    I just tried it, and I really like the way the layout of search results is done (several columns, small paragraph for each result).

    And I typically got relevant results with little spam, but that may depend on what you are searching for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:16AM (#24365973)

    The number of search results does not mean anything, relevance is what is important - if what I want is not in the first 5 pages of search results I assume it doesn't exist (and I expect to find what I want on the first page 95% of the time).

    • by Shihar (153932) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:39AM (#24366495)

      Cuil's claim to fame is that it indexes more pages than Google, not that it will give you more hits (though you would think that it would). That said, you are right in that it doesn't matter. So what if it is indexing 3x more pages. Are those pages worth indexing? I am really skeptical that a page that Google doesn't index for whatever reason is the page I am after when I search something.

      There are only two things that matter when it comes to what happens after you hit the search button, the interface and the results in the first 1-5 pages. The rest is junk. Telling me that I got three trillion hits is like my computer reporting that it took seven billion calculations to open a program. Great. That is a fun fact, but I don't give a shit.

      If you want to beat Google, you need something new. Natural language searches, search engines that act as agents continuously looking for things for you, whatever. Doing what Google does but supposedly slightly better just isn't enough. Google already does it good enough for most people. If you want to beat Google, you need to do something innovative that Google doesn't do... and then rest the temptation to not take the dump truck of money they offer you should they recognize you as competition worthy of being bought out.

      • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:57AM (#24367213)

        true, however my colleague and I both noticed 1 thing immediately about this search engine:

        no f*cking links to shopping comparison sites.

        Just because of that, I may come back to it in a month or so, and if it continues to filter those b*st*rds, then I may well just keep using it. That in itself makes it a Google killer IMHO, some searches in Google return a dozen pages of the same kelkoo, pricerunner and dooyoo links.

  • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:16AM (#24365975)
    Is it me, or does page count seem like a poor metric to compare search engines by? Somehow I don't think Google is failing to notice 2 trillion pages, so either the numbers are off or Cuil is somehow spidering a lot of redundant pages. In either case I would find it hard to believe that there would be something on Cuil that's not on Google unless it's brand-new or spam.
  • The seattle bug (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:17AM (#24365979) Journal

    seems to be fixed.

    I also tried Tiananmen and was returned a blank face (I'm in China). This is many Chinese people's first benchmark at a new search engine. For me, the result is expected, since the Great Firewall is a hybrid of generic and Google/Yahoo/etc-targeted implementations.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:22AM (#24365995)
    i thought the word "cool" was supposed to be spelled "kewl" on the intertubes...
  • Not impressed so far (Score:5, Interesting)

    by g-san (93038) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:23AM (#24365997)

    The layout is pretty, the related results is nice, but the main function... the results... they suck. I was searching for an uncommon sailboat and there were 0 pages returned. Google returns results for the same query... On other searches, the domain name no longer resolved, there were 404s, I got a page that was last visited in 1997, just junk. The results summary needs to be cleaned up also, lots of funky symbols in the results are just noise.

    This is the same reason I stopped using Altavista way back when. I don't buy this 120 billion pages thing. You know you can get every article on slashdot on games.slashdot.org, tech.slashdot.org, politics.slashdot.org, etc... I bet they include all those, and every other site that allows you to view message threads 8 different ways. But no results for my first query!

    It could be a while before someone is going to beat google at searching. I really do like the alternative approach to displaying search results, so I will at least keep my eye on it.

  • by bmo (77928) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:24AM (#24366005)

    We didn't find any results for "cuil pronunciation"

    Some reasons might be...

            * a typo. Please check your spelling.
            * your search includes a term that is very rare. Try to find a more common substitute.
            * too many search terms. Please try fewer terms.

    Finally, try to think of different words to describe your search.

    About Cuil | Your Privacy | Add Cuil to Firefox

    ---------------------

    Well, that sucks...

    --
    BMO

    • I just tried to doublecheck the results for "cuil pronunciation" (sic!) with "cuil pronounciation".

      What I got was

      We'll be back soon...

      Due to overwhelming interest, our Cuil servers are running a bit hot right now. The search engine is momentarily unavailable as we add more capacity.

      Thanks for your patience.

    • by Siener (139990) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:44AM (#24366135) Homepage

      We didn't find any results for "cuil pronunciation"

      When you search for the same thing on google [google.com] the first two hits both have the required information. However I couldn't find the article that gives the alternative spelling for cuil (F-A-I-L) .... at least not yet.

  • Invisible... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wild_quinine (998562) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:27AM (#24366023) Homepage
    It doesn't seem like I've been using Google for very long. I remember the first search engine that I really came to rely on was AltaVista. Looking back at the waybackmachine, I can tell that I only used AltaVista for six months at most. Which means, by inference, that I've now been using google for nine years. I use it every day, and don't even realise that I'm doing it. And the fact that I've barely even noticed it yet is a credit to how little, for a company so large, Google throw shit at my window.

    There's a lot of talk about how Google is in decline, and I won't comment on that, because every company has its tipping point. But for them to have been a invaluable (and in many cases incomparable) tool in my life for the best part of a decade and to have remained almost invisible as an agent in that process takes some doing.

    In fact, the most insidious thing about Google may well be that any new attempts at reorganizing the layout of a traditional search engine, such as cuil is now attempting, seem like deliberate contrivances. And probably are.

    • Re:Invisible... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bryan Ischo (893) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:39AM (#24366107) Homepage

      I also started on AltaVista way back when it was useful. It was extra good because for a long time, an AltaVista search searched the web and usenet simultaneously, which back then, was a good thing because usenet actually had more content than the web.

      I also use Google daily. However, I like to think about how much I value Google by how much I'd be willing to pay for their service. And the answer is, zero. I would just find some other way to find information on the web. How much would you be willing to pay for Google's search service?

  • The best for them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:27AM (#24366031)

    The best they can hope for anyways would be to be bought by Google. Either that or they'll stagnate due to scalability issues or even suffer a slow death.

    Besides, "Search 121,617,892,992 web pages" and none from my website? Allow me to remain sceptical..

  • No problems? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Evildonald (983517) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:31AM (#24366053)
    I just "cuiled" the phrase "problems with linq to sql".. and it suggested there were no pages at all. Google however knows there are TERRIBLE problems with LINQ to SQL and served me 3,180,000 results. To say there are no problems with linq to sql is not very cuil at all.
  • Gone.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Capt James McCarthy (860294) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:35AM (#24366081) Journal

    "former Google search architect Anna Patterson"

    Someone's going to sue somebody.

  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:36AM (#24366085)

    Why does Cuil claim to have "2,784 results" to my search yet display only one? Does it mean we have to divide the impressive 121,617,892,992 claimed index web pages by 2,784 to obtain the astoundingly round number of 43,684,588? What are the odds that the result of this division would be an integer number?

    1 out of 2,784.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I've done a number of simple searches on both Cuil and Google to see how the results compare. Despite Cuil's claim to have more indexed pages, Google is consistently giving me a larger number of results, and they tend to be more useful, as well.

      Someone needs to tell these cuil guys that it's quality, not quantity, and they're currently failing at both.

  • by will_die (586523) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:39AM (#24366103) Homepage
    Gave the site a try and cot this

    We'll be back soon...
    Due to overwhelming interest, our Cuil servers are running a bit hot right now. The search engine is momentarily unavailable as we add more capacity.

    Thanks for your patience.

    So is this search engine HOT or NOT?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:51AM (#24366183)

    It may need a few bugs ironed out and a bit of patience to see if it will catch up with Google in its technical capabilities, but it's already better than Google in the privacy department:

    "Privacy is a hot topic these days, and we want you to feel totally comfortable using our service, so our privacy policy is very simple: when you search with Cuil, 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 (more on this later). Your search history is your business, not ours.

    More precisely:
    Logs

    We do not keep logs of our users' search activity."

    I think this could be a real selling point over Google if they can also provide a comparable search.

  • by Knos (30446) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:53AM (#24366195) Homepage Journal

    I initially got abysmal results (no result found for just about anything I searched for, like the very technical "implicit volumes" or "queyras")

    Then I deactivated "safe search" and finally obtained some results. However I suspect my original good impression I had of having found "relevant" (authoritative?) results in the first place were due to the safe search being on.

  • I tried the classic "search yourself" trick with it. Searching my last name (Charabaruk), I got 11,429 results (and for the first page, only one of them wasn't to do with me specifically).

    Searching the short version of my name, Chris Charabaruk, turned up nothing! Strange, because Twitter knows me by that (well, as my real name, not as my account) and that shows up when searching my surname. I tried again, though, and got 11,997 results. Quoting didn't change a thing.

    I searched again for Christopher Charabaruk and got 1,395,435 results. Quoting that got me nothing, and retrying with the quotes on ditto.

    It looks nice and shiny, but there's a hell of a lot of work required before I'd try making serious use of it.

  • by baboonlogic (989195) <<anshul> <at> <baboonlogic.com>> on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:01AM (#24366255) Homepage

    Privacy Policy [cuil.com]:

    Privacy is a hot topic these days, and we want you to feel totally comfortable using our service, so our privacy policy is very simple: when you search with Cuil, 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 (more on this later). Your search history is your business, not ours.

    Way to go!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by John Hasler (414242)

      They say "not by cookies" yet they try to set three of them when I visit their "info" page.

  • Eh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TrippTDF (513419) <hiland&gmail,com> on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:01AM (#24366261)
    I think I would have done a closed, invite-only beta before going live with this thing... two of the four searches I just tried came back with nothing, and almost all the images that came back with the articles were not relevant.

    What could be cool is the automatic synopsis they have going on... if they can make that work a little better, it could be a good place to go for some quick information on a topic.

    They still have a long way to go, though.
  • by l-ascorbic (200822) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:09AM (#24366307)

    The first time I encountered Cuil was when I blocked their "twiceler" spider from my site. It was hammering it with thousands of requests for non-existent pages. It seemed it was generating URLs at random. It then ignored the robots.txt for ages.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They at least mention how to block them [cuil.com].

      They also mention

      If you have modified your robots.txt file for Twiceler, it may take several days for us to re-read the file. If you need something blocked right away, please let us know.

      • by Tim C (15259)

        They also say:

        If you would prefer that we not crawl your site at all we are happy to oblige. Just drop Jim a note to that effect and he will place your site or IP address on our do-not-crawl list. Be sure to be explicit about the site to block as email address domains frequently differ from the site in question.

        I'd much prefer they correctly obey the robots.txt file personally...

  • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:24AM (#24366393)

    .....and then shut down -- if the servers overload that quickly, they're going to fade into obscurity pretty damn fast.

    But I saw enough in those 5 minutes to realize it has major problems:

    -- Returned fewer results than Google on 2/3 of my searches
    -- Compound "words" (such as, say, "georgebush" as opposed to "George Bush" as might be found in file names, tags, captions, etc.) produce NO results
    -- Eliminates common words, connectors, and even pronouns from exact phrase searches, which defeats the whole point
    -- Seems to have no provision for ordering by date or viewing most recent additions
    -- Also does not seem to allow more than 10 results per page, which severely slows things down
    -- Their "safesearch" (which I wouldn't use, but I wanted to try it for comparison) seems to eliminate even some innocuous terms
    -- Some of the images that accompany the entries have nothing to do with the actual webpage listed
    -- The layout sucks with their "paragraphs all over the page" format -- Give me a LIST, dammit, that I can quickly scroll through and scan

    Overall, just as useless to me as most search engines have been. Google has its own faults, and you may rightly criticize them for their ethics, privacy policies, or business practices, but it is still a far better tool, and no one is seriously challenging their dominance anytime soon.

    UPDATE: It just came back up. Why am I seeing many of the SAME results on page 2 and 3 and 4 as I saw on page 1? Is it just repeating entries to inflate the numbers for results? This thing is not just "not ready for prime time" -- it's not even ready for "obscure middle-of-the-night cable slot."

  • Bizarre images (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jolyonr (560227) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:29AM (#24366419) Homepage

    The images put next to descriptions are, let's say, a little odd.

    For example, I searched for 'titanite' (a titanium silicate mineral),

    http://www.cuil.com/search?q=Titanite&sl=long [cuil.com]

    Not sure if it'll be fixed by the time you read this, but it had some nice My Little Pony type things next to the link to the Wikipedia article.

    And, more seriously, I don't think the quality of search results on a few random tests I tried were anywhere near Google in terms of quality.

    Jolyon

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:03AM (#24366687)
    A search for western hindu in google gives:
    • Hindunet: The Hindu Universe: Western followers of Hinduism
    • A Vision for Hinduism: Beyond Hindu Nationalism - Google Books Result
    • IngentaConnect Hindu Medical Practice in Sixteenth-Century Western ...

    On cuili we get:

    • Western ~ National Gazette
    • CNN.com - Many Chinese want Western companies to be ...
    • Typhoon in western Japan forces 300 households to ...

    Google gives much more relevant hits

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by chalkyj (927554)
      Their search algorithms is really messed up for multiple search terms in other ways too. Do a search for something (anything!), and copy a 5 or 6 word phrase from the top search result.

      Stick that back into the search box and press search. 90% of the time you will get a "0 results found" message, even though you just saw that exact result.

      God knows how they are performing their searches!

  • yacy.net (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nahooda (906991) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:14AM (#24366773) Homepage

    Check out the yacy search engine. It's an interesting approach (based on p2p technology) and - theoretically - can't be censored.

    -Dennis

  • by toppavak (943659) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:21AM (#24366859)
    "zeta potential analysis of gold colloids" returns no results whereas google returns 44,300.
  • Slow (Score:3, Informative)

    by kno3 (1327725) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:54AM (#24367183)
    Wow! Just had a go on it! That is one slow search engine. I know it will speed up with less people trying it out, but it cant be getting any where near the traffic of Google, and it is incredibly slow.
  • May I suggest... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Monday July 28, 2008 @11:27AM (#24369607)

    If you aren't blessed with particularly tender sensibilities, I'd suggest you turn off the "Safe Search" option. I entered "rhinoceros" in the search box and came back with virtually nothing. After turning off "Safe Search" and "Typing Suggestions" in Preferences, I got back about what you'd expect from a decent search engine.

    There's obviously some bugs to work out, but Cuil looks like it could be a winner. I especially like the fact that they emphatically DON'T keep track of searches and personal information. That aspect of Google has always made me a bit uneasy. True story: about six years ago, my sister was having trouble with her new dog. I thought I'd find some information to help her train the beast, and typed "Dog Instruction" into Google's search box. What came back was, um, not exactly what I expected.

    I can imagine Google linking that search up with my computer in some way, and stuffing it away in its little electronic filing cabinet. For that matter, I'm not pleased with ANY of my searches being tracked, and not because I spend my life searching for pornography or anything else shameful. It just isn't anybody's business.

  • Not going anywhere (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Monday July 28, 2008 @12:07PM (#24370363) Homepage

    First of all, from CNN's article, Patterson enjoyed her time at Google, but became disenchanted with the company's approach to search. "Google has looked pretty much the same for 10 years now," she said, "and I can guarantee it will look the same a year from now."

    This is part of what works for Google. It's reliable, consistent and simple, from a user's point of view. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    My "reference search" was for "CREB", a protein. As with google, the first result was the Wikipedia article on CREB. After that, Cuil went to hell. The second result is "Uberpedia", which cloned the wikipedia article. The third result was for the same article (no longer existing) on a polish server. The 4th result was useful. The 5th result was some sort of wikipedia related server called adorons.com, but it returns an error referring you back to wikipedia. The 6th result, somewhat useful. The 7th result, another non-existent wikipedia copy on a polish server.

    In addition, wikipedia offered 600K results vs. Cuil's 100K results. If they're indexing more, why are they returning fewer results?

    I don't see myself using this anytime soon.

  • -A INPUT -s 64.1.215.160/255.255.255.224 -j REJECT --reject-with icmp-port-unreachable

    whois returns:

    network:Organization;I:CUILL, INC. (259492-1)
    network:IP-Network:64.1.215.160/27

    Why? because despite multiple attempts to prevent the aggressive spidering of my sites by this abuser they did not stop.

    Buh-bye, losers.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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