Cuil Crashes And Burns At Launch

Smoking servers ain't so cool

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Crashing right after launch is, apparently, a startup rite of passage. If, however, you’ve touted your new search engine as a Google killer, you might want to make sure crashes can’t happen. Google never goes down, and quite simply, can’t be killed with overloaded servers.

After Powerset’s sudden sale to Microsoft, the blogosphere needed a new contender. A former Google search architect and her Stanford professor husband, along with other former Googlers operating under the protective wing of the anti-noncompete laws of California (a law, ironically, Google likes to leverage when it can), thought for sure they could provide that new challenger.

And then all went blank at Cuil (cool), which was touted to have thrice the index of Google, scanning 121 billion web pages. Servers today couldn’t keep up with demand, illustrating what Powerset foresaw as their biggest hurdle: scalability. Microsoft provided that, along with enough cash to see it through. Even if you could get a query to return something today, though, reviews of the results have been mixed.

The results are supposed to be an alternative to Google’s ranking system, which is often criticized for being more of a popularity contest (among a myriad other criticisms) in the search results. Hence all the Wikipedia and YouTube returns.

Cuil is said to operate differently from Google’s distributed server, load-balancing concept—which incidently handles about a trillion URLs several times daily and manages to stay online—and has its servers divided according to category. If one searches for a sports-related query, for example, there are designated sports servers to handle that. One issue, as we’re seeing today: If a spike in sports queries knocks the sports servers offline, other non-specialized servers specializing in, say, cooking, will handle the results instead.

In that event, you get either no results or bad ones, which is likely the cause of all the subsequent, to put it lightly, disappointment following initial launch hype. I thought an ego-search would be sufficiently simple for it—there couldn’t be that many sources to pull from. After a few minutes, Cuil did bring back several instances where my articles have appeared on TechMeme, and once from the New York Times’ Blogrunner. A few images accompany the results, none of which are of me, one of which appears to be a female.

There’s an interesting "Explore by Category" section currently (more than a few minutes later) unclickable to see where they lead, categorizing me, interestingly, under Critics of Scientology, Investigative Journalists, American Bloggers, Scottish Premiere League Players, Villages in Illinois, and Black and White Films.

Yes, there are other Jason Lee Millers, several of them, one of them an up-and-coming young actor, who is noticeably absent from Cuil’s results. But he did change his name to Jason L. Miller noticing, I imagine, how I dominated Google under that name. Also noticeably absent from Cuil: any result from WebProNews, which would seem the most relevant.

Cuil criticism is catching on. Fark, to put it mildly, was unimpressed along with scores of other bloggers. Someone zapped me this image from Photobucket, which appears to be a Wikipedia entry popping up at some point during the day before being edited back to the more positively-spun version. Is it or isn’t it? Doesn’t matter. It expresses a rising viewpoint on the Web today, as evidenced even on Google Hot Trends, where the phrase "cuil sucks" just made the number 2 biggest gainer spot.

So far, Cuil the Google Killer is a colossal flop. Could it recover? Maybe, but it’ll probably be really hard to get all the people on board this morning to give it another shot. 


Cuil Crashes And Burns At Launch
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  • Guest

    From using cuil for the first time i found it a breath of fresh air to use and god it was nice to use something different that gave me easy to understand search results in nice tabs. Ok it crashed but sureley it could mean people are happy to change from the long in need of an update google to something different.

    • Guest

      You means to say different…means..no relevance of what are you looking for.

  • http://www.scea.com/ Ivan_PSP

    Cuil is going no where when i searched for the word PLAYSTATION 3 on Cuil i got 3,200,000 look at my other results.

    1. Yahoo 440,000,000
    2. MSN 152,000,000
    3. Google 109,000,000
    4. AOL 17,400,000
    5. Ask 16,120,000
    6. Cuil 3,200,000

    • Guest

      Do you really WANT 440 million hits?

      Wouldn’t 1 or 2 hits with the correct information be plenty? I am sure I’m not going to look through 440 million or even 3 million pages to find whatever I have googled on.

      • http://www.andover-it.co.uk/ Andover IT

        Says how much it’s used when a brand name becomes a verb. Not even McDonalds have that honour.

  • Ian Bell

    What’s the point of that – did you read all 109,000,000 from Google? Make some meaningful comparisons


    Are you directly paid by Google? what a display of unprofessional and poorly written journalism, really biased, harsh and even more, showing a complete ignorance on the topic (not that I’m an expert, but I do not pressume of being so as the author)… Shame on the editor and obviously the columnist for such a poor demostration of parciality and blogging abuse…

    • CSR

      If you are going to go around buying posts from places like Fark and Slashdot extolling the virtures of your Google killer and then your servers crash, your results SUCK and your about page CANNOT BE FOUND, you deserve all the editorial beatdowns you receive. 

      Or, we could be like you and let our hatred for Google cloud the fact that Cuil or Cool or Kool or COUOIUOUOIL (however you spell it) is a horrible, horrible offering.

      Jason was spot-on with his article.

  • Guest

    Ok, so a lot of nerds like me that went there on day 1 had poor results… but what is most significant is that people are looking for alternatives to Google’s "click through to page 8 before I actually find what I’m looking for" results. I know that doesn’t scare Google now, but what it means is that if Cuil can pull it off and deliver better results, Google’s standing will drop faster than Netscape’s when MS started bundling IE.

    Having a bad first day only means that a small handful of people who actually read technology press releases are disappointed. If they do a good job with the rest of the 500,000,000 computer users in world, they’ll do fine.

    I’ll be checking their site (and other so-called contenders) regularly, hoping that eventually one will provide more accurate (fewer + more relevant) results.

  • Guest

    The important thing about Cuil is their privacy policy. Unlike Google they keep no records of IP addresses or search queries.

  • Guest1337

    Is it just me or is this author uneducated? Dude, do you work for google or you just love to kiss as$? This article is so biased it makes you look like a danger to society. I advice this author to go back to school and redo english and ethics.

    • Guest

      It’s you.  Perhaps you are uneducated.


    • Guest

      "advice"?? uneducated lol.

      The article is, almost, unreadable though, thanks, largely, to the insistence on, commas every couple, of words.

    • Guest

      Use of  "advice" should be "advise"…  Perhaps a little English education would help everyone’s writing…

  • Benjamin Brown

    Wow, that wikipedia article was haliarious. I didn’t have any problem with using Cuil, but I did have a problem with feeling even a bit impressed. That being said I don’t understand the criticism against this article, or are there just that many people who hate Google who will look beyond the facts? O.o Cuil does indeed suck, no image search, no video search, and no way to turn off the damn pictures. Not to mention it doesn’t even search well, and that’s all you can even do with it.

    Maps? Nope. Shopping? Nope. News? Nope. Those are just the basics for search engines today, and Cuil has none of it.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if they hadn’t arrogantly toated this search engine as superior even before they launch, but they did so they deserve all the criticism they can get. After all first impressions are everything, and they blew it.  Cuil is soo 20th century.

  • Guest

    Wow.. this idiot went out of his way to tell us about some irrelivant crap about how he searched himself and actors with same name and a bag of bs and talking about wikipedia. Does this moron know that wikipedia can be edited by an 8 year old? Wow… this jackass just wasted 5 minutes of my life. Thank you, and thanks to codeproject for emailing this article written by a complete moron.

  • Mark W

    Did you write this when you were drunk?  It’s almost completely unreadable.

  • http://www.testpaperworld.com Raj Kiran Singh

    Well, a failure right in beginning does not mean end of the road. They should learn from that and rectify the issue.

  • Guest

    Most importantly it rock sh*ts… than your crap.

  • Guest

    I dont know why….I feel that the the pages which came up after I tried a few keywords where kinda irrelevent. I guess they need more time to get that right…….And I believe that after using google…you are kinda addicted to its interface….i.e simplicity

  • Anvarzhon Zhurajev

    The thing that surely sucked when I tried ciul – it is absolutely unaware about languages other than English. I tried to find biography articles about Russian writer whose book I am currently reading (providing writer’s name in cyrillic script), but nothing (zilch, nada) was returned. This is not serious.

  • http://www.andyshellam.eu Andy Shellam

    I tried searching for my own website, which on Google is #1 for "Andy Shellam."

    I found some references to it on page 13.  The first 12 pages were all posts from archived mailing lists – how can that be more relevant to me than my own website?

    Also the pages from my website that it had indexed haven’t been available since November last year.

    It’s like they’ve pinched Google’s index when they left the company and not bothered updating it!

    Plus Google has 5 times the number of pages Cuil has (5700 vs 1076!)

  • http://andreaplanet.com AndreaPlanet

    When I searched my freeware application AndreaMosaic it returned 850 links (Google 38,500) and none of them links to the official home page. Google return my home page as the first link… lol…

  • Guest

    A large pier in the UK caught fire yesterday, so I tried looking for "pier fire" on Cuil. I got back a few pages about old piers that have burnt down around the world, but nothing about the one that was in the news yesterday. The same search on Google brought back at least 4 pages of links to different news sites that were covering the story. Don’t think I’ll be using it again.

  • http://www.jendagee.com Akbarbuneri

    I want to congrate CUIL "cool" team … they will soon be provideing FAAAAR better search then google I hope so ….


  • Hitesh sharma

    I read about Cuil in the morning newspaper and tried searching for an image compressor….just 12 results as compared to thousands of results which google displayed..

    As google recognises a + sign between two searches(For joined search) Cuil has just got an error message for the same…..

    Nothing really COOL about Cuil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Piyush

    Its too cool really i means cool……


    i searched for picasa web google


    it hasnt shown me picasaweb.google.com anywhere




    is it anti google or its not supposed to shoe google link or what is cuil about this cuil.com


  • Guest

    Run a search on Cuil for this

    "Cuil Crashes and burns at launch"

    and then run it on Google.



  • Noms

    Get some perspective people: Even Google needed time, efforts and money to be where it is today. Its very commendable of Cuil engineers and investors to stand up to giants like Google, Yahoo and MSN, and very chilidish and unprofessional of us to start commenting on Cuil so early,

    I would give them some time before passing any sort of judgements. And for people who are comparing the number of results, r u telling me that you go through over a 100 million results to get what you want if so mate its about time you change your search engine. Coz even 10 results are good enough for me if it gives me what i am looking for.

    So far Google has been quite successfull in that as compared to others but i believe there is room for improvement.


  • http://gb-software.blogspot.com Guest

    I pefrormed an ego search and also a search to find my blog and web pages. There were no results returned. I was expecting from their claim that index three times more pages than google that almost all pages would be available. I hope they get their search ok so that we can have an alternative big search engine.

  • John

    I thought this was a search engine?

    • Guest

      Claiming they index 3 times the pages as Google, I am amazed how few of my search results they found.

      And WHY do they add so many dating profiles on the end of the results? When Cuil only find one or two results for my search, it often put 2 – 3 dating/adult content webs at the end, and these sites have absolutely NONE of the words I searched for…


      Nahhh – i dont know – perhaps this is not a search engine after all, perhaps they only wanted some attention and get a lot of "clicks" onto their new "cuil.com" domaine….



  • John

    Seven seconds is the average length of time you have to make a first impression. If your first impression is not good you won’ t get another chance.

    Taken from: The SideRoad

  • Guest

    I like the format, could do with better results and an improved safe search. I tried a couple of porn related searches with safe search on and got some pretty explicit pics, even though the hit contents seems to have been filtered nicely (I know the content could mislead the engine).

    When I search for something decent the pics doesn’t really make me jump with joy, but oh if someone would give me 5 pages of relevant hits rather than 5000 pages of slightly relevant hits I’d jump ship anyday.

    So I’m hopeful that we’ll see something different and that once the servers stabilise we get some decent results. I’ll go back there once a month for a couple of months to see if things improve.

  • Guest

    Why Da Fuck am I begin redirected?

  • Guest

    For a couple of smart people at the top of Cuil, they sure don’t realize that going back and forth between a totally black screen and a totally white screen is a MAJOR STRAIN on the eyes.

  • Guest

    It doesn’t even understand what to search for if you enter ".net" !!!

  • Guest

    I would not comment anything regarding the search result. But, I would like to bring into the notice that if you open google it will use all the pixels to show the website which is not the case of cuil.


    This will indeed save lots of electric energy of the world.

  • http://www.shamskm.com Shams

    It crashed and that was very disappointing. But today I found its working good. Just time. It needs some time. In two weeks it will perform much better than now.

  • http://www.chl-tx.com TX CHL Instructor

    According to their ‘FAQ’, they get photos from somewhere in the site that is in the listing. Not so. They get random photos from unrelated sites. I verified that by searching for my own site (keywords: CHL Plano Texas), and there was a picture of a smiling young woman. It took me a minute to realize that was even my site. I have no pictures of women on the site, period.

    Cuil is basically not quite Ready for Prime Time. This is an alpha product, not even a beta.


  • Guest

    So many websites are now optimised to appear specifically [high] in google searches that any new contenders are bound to give different results.

  • Guest

    I tried them yesterday on a couple searches that I had already done on Google and Yahoo…  It came back with no results found…  Should really have had a different error.  I suppose I could deal with a "servers overloaded" error better than "no results found"… 

    Seems like some really bright people that did not do ALL of their homework.  Hope they survive to fight another day, I certainly won’t be back until I hear some positive feedback on their search capabilities…


  • Jason Lee Miller

    first of all, I don’t think ludes are around anymore…

    secondly, I’m all about competition, and Google needs some of that for sure, but I’m not so sure little ol’ critical me can eff up anybody’s good idea. If it works, it works. I wanted it to work. It didn’t. Just called it as it happened, gave the play by play. Cuil didn’t measure up, and there was a ton of hype about it. It wasn’t ready to launch, seems obvious in hindsight, but if you’re going to tout yourself as a Google killer, you’d better be ready.

    cheers, peace, love, and moonpies

  • Alan Balkany

    I just tried a few sample searches on cuil and it’s a lot faster than yesterday.  The speed today is comparible to Google, and the results are more detailed.

    I welcome a competitor to Google; competition is good for users.

  • Guest

    Well, it’s been close to decade that i’ve been using google and i just like it the way it is.

  • dave

    if you search for "cuil crashes and burns" on the cuil website it doesn’t find any results.

  • http://www.cdgems.com Carl Davis

    I just did a quick test of:

    carl davis gems

    and cuil could not find me, the first 10 pages have the same pictures for each of the pages, none actually had anything to do with gems.

    I did the exact same search on google, and I’m on the first page, and the search description and link are correct.

    I do like the idea of competition, but cuil needs a little updating on their search algorithm, and don’t display the same pictures over and over again.

    Carl Davis


  • Guest

    With a name like that, it will never take off.  Couldn’t they think of something a little catchier.  If they are going to pronounce it Cool, why not Kool or even Cool?



    • H

      The name Cuil isnt much worse than Google, which sounds like babble from a newborn baby.

      • Guest

        Actually, Google comes from the word "googleplex" which is a numeric value equal to 10^100. On that note, Google refers to their headquarters as the "Googleplex." While I suppose to average internet users it may sound like babble, pretty much all people in math/science/IT/engineering/etc. knew what it meant when it went live. Considering that that group of people probably constituted at least pretty close to a majority of internet users at the time of Google’s launch, it wasn’t a bad name at all.

        • Guest

          Sorry Guys,

          You are both incorrect. Cuil is Irish for Goal. The Irish word for knowledge is Fios.

          Google does not come from Googleplex. it is a bastardisation of Googol – look it up.

          Slan agus beannacht

      • Guest

        One of the founders is Irish.
        Cuil is a gaelic word for wisdom.

  • Texrat

    The artile here is somewhat amateurish, true, but the facts are that the hype of Cuil didn’t match the reality– not even close.  If one intends to brag about their product, they need to be prepared for an onslaught.

    Personally I hope Cuil succeeds.  I’m intrigued especially by its interface.  But so far the results are far short of acceptable based on my testing.

  • Guest

    "Search" Needs innovation to give result we are looking for. Needs to avoid false match. Other than "look & feel" I dont see any thing new here. Even look & feel is not attractive to me. Hope they spend more time & effort in search itself not just presentation.

  • bob

    Just tried with a couple of favourite searches vs google  – no contest.

    Cuil missed every major hit made by google, scores out of 10, a nice fat 0.
    or to put it another way, if it was offline who would care…

    Not worth typing its URL so far…..


    • http://www.arperture.com MGM

      Wow, these big , so called companies really need to hire a dam Web Designer or bust out a bag of free templates. Whats the deal, how can they actually stick just a search form on a webpage and call it a website is beyond me. Cuil and Google both need to Hire a  Webdesigner.



  • H

    I dont care.  I’ll take anything to avoid Google’s privacy invading censorship dating game with the brutal CCP.

  • http://www.netmagellan.com/ Net Magellsn

    The point is that Cuil is a badly needed competitor. It might not wipe out Google but there is always room for innovation, even if it makes Google work harder and give us a better product.

    If the founders play their cards right, they could be bought out by Microsoft, which is a great win for them.  They just need a proof of concept, which is where Cuil is today. You can’t compare a 10-year-old leading product against a new one that is Alpha at best.


  • Cynthia

    IT"S ABOUT TIME!!!!! I could care less about all the junk on a search engine page. … I know where the maps and videos are!  I feel like I am wading through a bunch of spam (google calls it "results") everytime I search!  I like that Cuil is clean and straight forward. Google used to be an awesome search engine.. but like everyting else it got greedy and selfserving, and here we are.  Heed the need Google.. we want to find what we are looking for, not what you want to serve us!!!! 

  • http://www.Salalah.Travel Salalah

    Cuil have scraped images from our site and placed them on search results for other sites – not once but throughout the search results. They have scraped images not only from one site but done it from many sites and placed them on other sites –

    not an accurate search at all

    • Guest

      I have noticed that too.

  • Quality Assurance Guy

    Tried it!

    I have just one question.

    Who did the Q.A. on this site?

    I want their names, NOW!!!


  • http://www.andover-it.co.uk/ Andover IT

    Had a look at Cuil yesterday and whilst I would say it looks okay, I can’t see a big switch to it yet.

    For a ‘Google Killer’ and with more pages logged I tried several searches and most came up with no results – not good. Not good for your ego either – I tried looking for Andover IT and according to Cuil, nothing. So much for our Page Rank of 3 on Google!!

    I do agree that Google needs to do something about rating it’s own products higher just because they own them. Their problem will be if people lose faith and see them as another self-seeking corporate.

    • http://www.andover-it.co.uk/ Andover IT

      Apparently, to get your site listed on Cuil you need to email them. Unusual – just wonder if anyone’s had any luck getting listed?

      • http://www.continentalwindowfashions.com Guest

        Yeah, kind of funny. Our site is several years old and ranks well on most search engines. But no where to be found on  cuil. Also, images they are pulling in the search results for terms we normally rank for…, some are custom images from our site!!! How can I not be in the search engine but our sites images are showing up to represtent  competitor sites. Where can I register a complaint LOL!


        I don’t get it.



    • Guest

      I agree with you, I did several searches and compared with Google, Google still beats them by a wide margin, the searches on Cuil only pulled a fraction of the links compared to Google or Yahoo. 

      Cuil still has a long way to go to even equal yahoo or Google.

  • Karthik Gopalakrishnan

    Type ".net" in cuil and search. It shows, "

    We didn’t find any results for “.net”

    type the same word in google, you will get  nearly " 5,510,000,000" results.

    Still a long way to go for cuil.


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