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um… what?

My mom just tipped me off to the new search engine that was released Monday (yes, I’ll admit it, my mom got the drop on me) called Cuil. Say: cool. Yeah, that’s a problem right there for those of us who don’t speak Gaelic (sorry, Dad). There’s a neat little story in the FAQ that makes the name almost okay, but I think it’s still going to prove to be a hindrance. People can’t recommend what they can’t pronounce.

However, I don’t really care what they called it so long as it works, so of course I tried the hello world of search engine tests: the ego search. Yup. Typed “rachel smith nmc” into the little box and hit enter. (I used to do just “rachel smith” but ever since that other one nearly made it to Miss Universe, I’ve had to be more specific. Adding “nmc” usually keeps her out of the results.) Let’s see what you’ve got!
Cuil Search Results
Um. What? At first glance, none of the results are relevant except the first and last ones. I recognize the NMC logo, and I recognize the screenshot of our podcast page. The rest of the photos are not me, not anyone I know, and not relevant.

But the text is.

Who are those people? There’s my Academic Commons profile in the #2 slot, but that’s not a picture of me. I’m willing to give Cuil some credit and say that it is a photo from a different profile on the AC site. Not ideal, but understandable. Let’s look at the next entry. An older blog post from CogDog, looks like, talking about the Director’s Meeting in 2005 that focused on Campus Impact. I was there, so that’s likely to be relevant. But the photo is… oh no! It’s her! WTF?

At this point, I glance over the rest of the page and realize that EVERY SINGLE text entry is relevant, but NONE of the photos of people are. Some of them aren’t even related to the text they are next to, like the CogDog/Almost-Ms-Universe combo. And what’s up with the one on the horse? Who knows.

I am now wondering how they pick their images. Maybe the FAQ will shed some light. Let’s check it out.
Cuil FAQ about images
Not so much.

If you can’t match the photos with the text, don’t put ’em in. It’s just misleading. I notice the photos first and assume the results aren’t relevant. For comparison, the first 21 images in a Google Images search on the same phrase are either me or related to me. That’s the entire first page. My pageant counterpart doesn’t even turn up until page, um, I don’t know. I got bored and stopped looking for her after page 9.

My $0.02: Not ready for prime time. Sorry Cuil.

One Comment

  1. Alan says:

    It’s even worse than that. As you page through the results, you get the same images, associated with different stories. So there is zero, maybe even negative relevance to the images.

    If they were smart, they might add some digg-like tool to indicate if the image was related or not, but their search engine obviously makes no more than a semi-random effort with the images.

    And even more badness. At least 2 links per page do not even go to the sources. On page 9, a link to a blog post I wrote has a URL of

    and links supposedly to NMC goes to and

    My regrets to your Mom, but this is the stupidest most transparent attempt effort and is more of a splog than anything. Stupid and lame in one effort.

    Not only “not ready for prime time”, it is most un-cuil and destined to be the laughingstock of the web. What a frigging legacy.