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Google is Safe For Now

The tech community is all a-flutter this week about the launch of a new search engine, Cuil. It’s been a month since the iPhone 3G, and people are a bit starved for content.

Cuil did a good job generating buzz. The preferred version: “Ex-Google employees build a better search engine; David beats Goliath.”

Mike Volpe wrote 3 Reasons Why Cuil is Not Cool. I think he’s right, but his #3 reason is my #1.

#3 Their results suck. Search for “Cuil” in Cuil and you Search in Google for “Cuil” and you get a bunch of results that make sense, including a news article and Cuil itself. Search for “Cuil” in Cuil, and you get results like “Properties for Sale in Cuil Mhuine, Ireland”, “The Shire of Cuil Choluim” and “Download Chase Around the Windmill”. What a joke.

The search results must be good, better than Google, for Cuil to start winning share. That’s how Google got me to change from Alta Vista, back in the day – Google started giving me better results that Alta Vista. Cuil can format the results to their heart’s content, but it’s just lipstick on the pig until they give good results. Examples:

1) Start with the ego search. OK, I know I’m not the most famous Dan Dunn out there, but c’mon, I rate at least a mention! Fine, let’s make it easy, and say Dan Dunn Arlington MA. I know that there’s only one person that matches that search . . . but still, Cuil links to a dead server talking about 6th Annual Millennium Mile. Strike 1 for Cuil.

2) I think a classic search engine test is “broken windows.” Are you talking about your operating system, or the glass between you and the real world? Cuil takes a pass on this daunting question and unhelpfully suggests:

  • 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.

Strike 2.

3) This one is, as they say, Not Safe For Work. Let’s say your name is Matt M. Let’s say, just for fun, that you’re a kid, and your parents have carefully made sure that Cuil’s “Safe Search” feature is enabled. And let’s say you do your own ego search for Matt M. You just learned something about gay porn.

Strike 3. (hat tip to Digg)