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Cuil Stumbles Out Of The Gate

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update -

Wow. A lot of things happened since this post.  First, I’m no longer married.  And second, Cuil is dead.  Finally went off line at some point in September or October 2010.  I didn’t even notice.

My wife IM’d me today and says, “did you hear about the new Google?”.  Seriously.  So Cuil is making the rounds in a big way today, with a flare gun.  I’ve been finding posts on mainstream sites like CNN, and even MSN (Pulitzer would be proud!), it’s one hell of a launch when the headline is Ex-Googlers launch Cuil.  With a 120 billion page index out of the gate,  Cuil (pronounced ‘cool’) is really risking something with this huge grand scale ‘first impression’.  So far, it doesn’t look like the gamble is paying off in the search blogosphere.  Reviews have been poor to lukewarm (my favorite so far being over at Search Engine Land).

I found some bugs.  Not sure if it was due to an influx of new traffic, but a lot of searches didn’t resolve around 11:30am (eastern).  The “About Cuil” link didn’t work, either, but is restored now.

Also, for having more indexed pages than Google, I found it very thin in variety.  In a blended search world, I appreciate this engines layout, but it really does lack media blending.  Pages that seemed to rank well for their ‘relevancy’, as is the selling-point of this engine, didn’t seem to be all that relevant. I do very much like the Explore By Category feature, and look forward to that improving (it was my favorite feature of the SearchMe.com engine, but I’m not sure Cuil is quite as diverse here).

In searching for “Bill Sebald”, I found some pretty unrelated things – some seemed to be tied in through links, but not all.   One listing on the front page pulled up Bill Slawski’s Twitter page.  I’m honored to be mistaken for Bill Slawski (though he may not like it), but this is not giving me the warm and fuzzies about the reliability of this engine.

Cuil stumbles out of the gate, but looks like a potentially strong finisher in a race that has stalled in the last year.  I’m rooting for it. Not sure yet how much human power is in here.  I think there has to be a decent amount of hand-work, which I like.  The ‘user privacy’ angle is pretty impressive, though I wonder how they’re going to monetize this.  I hope they can find a way, so they can improve quickly. And by quickly, I mean this week.

Here are some more screens:


Suggestion functionality is standard.


Explore By Category Can Give Some Options For Savvy Searchers.

Update -

So the Cuil bashing got pretty nasty.  And rightfully so, unfortunately.  But sometimes bad press can be better than no press, and turning this puppy around quicker than a Puff Daddy shooting scandal is always a possibility.  I like this post called Lessons From The Great Cuil Failure.  Some great analysis here!  And I definitley agree – excuses are not a great way to smother this fire.


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