Cuil "the google killer" Search Engine Review

Sunday, August 03, 2008

As a background to this article, I'll tell you a bit of my personal history with search engines. I belong to the generation of internet surfers from the era where Yahoo! was the premiere search engine which is approximately between after the Marcos administration and up to the late 90s. Everything else that had to compete with it sucked ass (yes, you altavista).

Yahoo! however was a bitch to use, being practically in monopoly, they only put your link up if it was established (i.e. you're a corporate entity), if you passed their rigorous standards (i.e. no porn, no radical titles like, and you're willing to PAY to just get listed) Smalltime website owners like me didn't even have a chance. That meant so many others didn't either, narrowing the search range down, and kinda defeating the purpose of having a search engine. Yes, fuck you yahoo.

Then came Google. Google didn't bullshit you with all that big brotherly control over your searches. You didnt have to submit your site to their engine, their engine sought out your website, and indexed its contents. It was like somebody figuring out how to attach and engine tot the wheel. Sure, Google has its own issues (i.e. they store your search data, so they will know which one of you Public Static readers searches for horseporn on weekends) but overall, life was so much easier with Google.

And now there's Cuil. Cuil says it works three times harder than google, indexing three times as much as google. That means if I publish this page, after two hours, it should have been glanced through by Cuil already. Theoretically anyway, but we'll get to that in a bit. Another claim of Cuil is that it ranks pages differently from Google. I admit Google's pagerank has already been rendered useless because people know how to SEO it to hell. A month-old blog can appear to be more authoritative a relatively old news website, for example, just because many bogus sites link to it, no matter how irrelevant they are. In this light, I like to put faith in Cuil's promise to eliminate that problem.

As for the actual test, I "cuil"ed myself, searched "redkinoko" using the search engine. The resulting pages on the front page are as follows: - hardly active. This doesnt even contain anything about me other than my name. - somewhat relevant, but again, it doesn't contain anything about me outside what I like to write every now and then. - this is actually the same page as the one above, with a different URI binding. Do I see a potential problem here? - A compendium of a series I made YEARS ago. It's no longer relevant, but it's here.
- That and three otherlinks to ragnaboards forum, from songfics to poetry to idle talk that seldomly mentions my handle.
- I don't even know why this is here. It doesnt contain ANY mentions of redkinoko.

Noticeably absent in this list are my homepage (hosted on google-owned blogger), my videos page (hosted on google-owned youtube) , my wikiquote page, or even my personals in Friendster. For that reason this test is a complete failure for me.

I'm sure Cuil can perform better for other more mainstream topics like "breast cancer", "iraq war" and "paris hilton's snatch" but the thing is, most searches we make in Google aren't really mainstream. One reason I used redkinoko is that it's a good example of something we'd like to know about but isn't really popular enough to warrant a full analysis of the rest of page content, concepts, inter-relationships and the page coherency.

There are other finer points for Cuil, I'm sure, and maybe in the long run they can start tweaking their engine and indeces to turn out better results, but as for the question people are asking now "Is Cuil the Google Killer"? The answer is "No, not right now and possibly never."

Sometimes when something is good for being simple, trying to beat it by going more complex will just end up in utter stupidity. Cuil, try harder.

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