Cuil Search Thinks Knowledge Is Cool
The new search engine, named after an Irish word for knowledge, claims a bigger index and better relevance than competitors makes it a better search solution.
Well, they’ve got plenty of Wikipedia results in their search. The online encyclopedia holds a catnip-like appeal for new search engines; witness how Microsoft’s recently-purchased Powerset managed to turn this into a quick flip for millions.
The debut of Cuil (pronounced ‘cool’ they say) comes with a boast of an index triple the size of Google’s, at more than 120 billion pages. Size doesn’t really matter in search as much as it used to, as people want a relevant result from two or three words of a query.
When it can hit Wikipedia, Cuil does fine. A quick search for Robert Johnson brought up several results for the legendary blues guitarist, returning those results in a three-column page. The page includes a box with "Explore by Category" options, where a searcher can look at related queries. In the case of our soul-selling bluesman, those include people like Son House and Blind Willie Johnson.
Clicking on them found Cuil a little too hot to handle. "Due to overwhelming interest, our Cuil servers are running a bit hot right now. The search engine is momentarily unavailable as we add more capacity," said the message that returned instead of results.
Danny Sullivan said the site runs off two datacenters, with a thousand 8-CPU servers apparently handling the index, and another 280 delivering results. At press time, it wasn’t enough to handle the buzz from coverage at places like TechCrunch and GigaOm.
Webmasters who want Cuil to tap their pages should be seeing a crawler called Twiceler hitting their sites. Sounds like someone at Cuil might be a fan of Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Lorax’, which featured an environment-trashing executive called Onceler as its antagonist.
The real test for Cuil when it comes back will be how well it handles the niche queries people make all the time, expecting a solid result from very few words. That’s how Google built its dominance in search; people assume search works this way, and they will be happy with Cuil if it does.