Is Privacy That Cuil?

from the newest-google-killer dept

Search engines are no stranger to questions of privacy. They range from the petty (location of privacy policies), to the questionable (storage of IP addresses), to the disastrous (exposure of personal searches). Most of the concerns stem from the massive amounts of data gathered by the companies from users, much of it personally identifiable. In response, we've noted how search firms are competing over clarity and accuracy of their privacy policies; Ask.com even created an opt-in anonymity option late last year. That didn't seem to have much of an impact, so it's not clear if people really care all that much about their privacy. Well, one new startup is betting otherwise.

Cuil, a newly unveiled search engine, takes this focus on privacy to an entirely new level by declaring that it does "not collect any personally identifiable information, period." No IP addresses will be collected, logs created or cookies retained. On the one hand, Cuil is sidestepping regulatory hurdles and privacy headaches. But, more questionable is its ability to compete with the incumbents who use vast databases of search histories to fine-tune future results. And, based on initial reports, they are having serious difficulty delivering results at all, as service is intermittent. Although it claims to have dramatically increased the efficiency of crawling the web and present search results in a new manner, does that really matter? People looking at search results don't seem to care that much about crawling efficiency (so far, Google is "good enough") and so far there's been little indication that "privacy" is a real catalyst for switching search engines. And, with many believing personalization being the next big leap in search technology, Cuil has already cut itself out of that market with its privacy settings. So on what factor will Cuil really be able to compete?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Xanius, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 6:39pm

    It obviously needs more fine tuning. When I used it earlier today I searched for WoW and LOTRO, for LOTRO all results were gold buying sites not even the official page came up. For WOW wow-europe came up but not the official blizzard site.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    me casa, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 6:48pm

    I "googled" me on Cuil. I didn't show up in 13 pages of results. My website is my name. I'm number one in the results of goole. Dammit, man. Just when I was on top of the world!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    eleete, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 6:56pm

    Re:

    Ditto: I did the same similar results

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Jul 28th, 2008 @ 7:06pm

    Not quite ready for Prime Time

    I looked up my own site on Cuil.com (keywords=CHL Plano Texas), and the listing for my site had a picture with it that had nothing to do with my site, and did not appear anywhere on my site. I checked out several of the other listings in the same category, and found similar results. Their "FAQ" on where they get their pictures is just plain wrong. In fact, they get the pictures that they put on their listings from some random place unrelated to the sites they list.

    Since Google is far more than just a search engine, my guess is that Cuil is no threat to them. They are definitely not ready for Prime Time.
    --
    www.chl-tx.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Spectere, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 7:12pm

    N'yes...

    It still needs a lot of work. Like me casa, uh..."cuiling" my alias didn't bring up my web site. It's not like my web site is megapopular or anything, but it wasn't even on the first ten pages of Cuil's search results (I didn't go any further through them). On every other search engine I tried it on, spectere.net was the number one result.

    Also, what's with the name? All of the other search engines have simple, easily pronounced, easily spelled names. Then there's...Cuil. Yeah, it's easy to pronounce (it's apparently pronounced "cool") but how is someone who isn't familiar with Gaelic supposed to know that? Also, if you try to tell someone about it in person they're going to get confused because it isn't spelled anywhere near like how it's pronounced.

    Even if they were hellbent on keeping that name, the way things are looking they should have delayed the launch by a couple of months. Cuil, right now, is shaping up to be an alpha-level product dressed up as a final release. At least Google has the courtesy of marking their in-development stuff as clearly being in beta (and even then it's a lot more stable than most release-level application).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    TX CHL Instructor, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 7:27pm

    Re: N'yes...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Jul 28th, 2008 @ 7:28pm

    Re: Re: N'yes...

    It may actually have been ranked fairly high -- mine was, but I missed it the first time I looked because of the random photo attached to my listing.
    --
    www.chl-tx.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 7:32pm

    Sounds like a good idea for all us anonymous cowards, but my search produced this...

    No results because of high load...
    Due to excessive load, our servers didn't return results. Please try your search again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    wasnt me, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 8:05pm

    i searched for the full url of my co on cuil it didnt even find it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    dave, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 8:16pm

    I use google for much more than search. It's my email, instant messaging, my specialized home page with all my regular links, my first stop for news headlines. It's also my word and spreadsheet apps. Sure I use it to search but that is a small part of my day.

    I tried cuil, it looks nice but to be honest it was much easier to determine if the search results were useful on google. a quick list overview is much better for me but that's my personal pref. I can usually tell if the result is worth while in the first sentence. On cuil I found I had to concentrate more and not get distracted with everything going on within the page.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    TAP, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 8:46pm

    One other such search engine, better results

    gigablast is another search engine that does not gather or store any personally identifiable info, and their results seem much better. they've been in production for a few years now, i think

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Spectere, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 9:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: N'yes...

    Nope...it comes up with my Zazzle account as the first result.

    If I explicitly type "spectere.net" it'll come up as the first result, but that's a bit backwards.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    jonnyq, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 9:18pm

    ZOMG.

    Why is this crappy web site getting so much attention? Sounds like most of their 33 million got spend on one wad-shooting marketing blitz today. They're on frikkin every news web site remotely related to tech. What are they paying for this?

    Any chance they had of being respected is gone now because their web site was total crap today. When it wasn't down due to load (don't market the damned thing if you can't handle the load), there were broken links all over the place and simple, common words returned no results half the time (don't market the damned thing if it doesn't work right).

    They don't have one single feature that not already done better elsewhere. When I did get the site to work, every feature I found was better duplicated by Ask.com. Ask.com, with its user-friendly features and "algorithm" still aren't enough to tear me away from Google. What makes these ex-Google janitors with venture capital money think they can do any better?

    (sorry for the rant... I really should get my own blog...)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 9:48pm

    I can't see them ever overtaking google, and their rocky start just solidifies that feeling.

    I tried Cuil and and I did kind of like the presentation and overall feel of the site. However, like others, I experienced problems. Searching for common phrases linked to big-name websites returns tons of crap I don't care about on the first few pages I glanced through. With google, 95% of the time the result I am looking for is in the first page .. the majority of the time in the top 3.

    I know people are drawn to sites and applications that don't record personal data .. but I sort of like it. It fine-tunes the results to my habits, and I have nothing to hide.

    Maybe if I ever plot some grand government conspiracy I'll settle for Cuil. Until then, google and the extremely accurate results it produces from tracking months of my searching tendencies will be the least I accept.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 10:30pm

    cant find itself?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 10:30pm

    cant find itself?

    i even tried to search for 'cuil' on cuil and it doesnt find itself!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    zcat, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 10:39pm

    'cuil.com'

    When I first saw this article, I did the obvious thing and typed 'cuil.com' in the address bad, which simply gave me an empty (1x1) popup-dialog window. Then I tried cuill.com which did exactly the same. Then I tried a google search (Oh, the irony) and the top result was 'www.cuil.com', which worked.

    WTF?!!


    I see that plain 'cuil.com' works now, but seriously..! I won't be switching any time soon.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Faces!, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 12:01am

    Index Inflation?

    I too tried a few searches on cuil today. However, it appears their index is inflated since searches that return a single result say they have many more results. For example, if you search for 'english thesaurus download free' you get shown 1 result, but it says '137 results for ...' to the side >

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    everard, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 1:48am

    if you type cuil into the cuil search engine it does not even find itself..!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Sean, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 3:07am

    Already switching

    Google's days are numbered - if not by Cuil, then something else. It's a one-horse show that's running out of steam.

    Let's look at why we started using Google - it was much better at finding what we wanted than anyone else (yahoo and Alta-Vista being the other main search engines at the time).

    These days however, it's almost impossible to find what I want on Google - I have to put real effort into my search queries to find anything remotely un-mainstream. The Google index is packed with sites optimised for Google (like the abovementioned sites) regardless of whether or not the site has anything to do with what I want.

    So I'm willing to give Cuil a go, if only because it's knocked all the SEO on the head. And it's Irish, like me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 4:00am

    Shouldn't it be pronounced "Crap"?

    Because that's what it is.

    For a service that's supposed to search billions more pages than Google, you'd think it would display expected results.

    Meh, Google's fine enough for me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 4:57am

    Re: Shouldn't it be pronounced "Crap"?

    Well, that bit about indexing more pages than Google right off the bat seems like more of marketing-speak to me anyway...

    To everyone who's bad-mouthing Cuil, just calm down and chew over this - instead of comparing it to the Google of today, shouldn't we compare it to the way Google was back when it was launched?

    I know usage was nowhere as heavy back then (otherwise I'm sure the Big G would have been snowed under too), but what about the quality of the results? Do you think Google got everything down pat right from the get go?


    * Not that I think anyone even remembers what Google was like way back then.

    * No, I don't work for Cuil! :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 6:38am

    I think I'll be using Ixquick for a while longer still. yes they keep identifiable info, but only for 48 hours. they care about the privacy (they don't even use unique cookies for various visitors) and get results that, in my searches, have been better than googles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    adriane, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 7:29am

    I find it disturbing that the pictures aren't related to the sites they are placed next to. When searching for my own site, I was confused at first because two of my competitors pictures and a random internet girl were posted next to my links. That is just bad for business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Gunther, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 8:01am

    Re: N'yes...

    There have been lots of sites with weird names, that are spelled strangely but pronounced like some other, normal word. All of them have failed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Patty, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 8:11am

    Cuil search results

    I searched on Cuil yesterday for Wall Sconces (I do most of my shopping on the internet) and it returned ZERO results. I then tried Sconces and still got Zero results. As I know there are plenty of sites that sell these I can only wonder about their claims to have a bigger database than Google's.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    bshock, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 9:07am

    meh

    I tried this site with the stupid name. It was useless. If they survive, maybe I'll check it a few months from now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    AJ, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 10:35am

    How to compete

    I was happy with Google until they demonstrated political bias in their presentation of information. I have been desperately seeking another search engine and was happy to see Cuil. With their slick interface and speedy results (when their servers aren't too busy to handle my search request), I will probably never go back to Google. A search engine M U S T be politically neutral and not show bias towards or against either side. I felt betrayed when I read about all Google does to influence content searches to their political agenda.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Spike, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 1:17pm

    Try searchme.com if you want to see an interesting new search engine with a very mac-like interface. No idea about their privacy policies, however.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Guigle, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 2:46pm

    I'm actually frustrated. In an age of advancement, someone has to hinder the course. I believe in competition, but Cuil really boasted without merit and now they may potentially be a thorn in the side of webmasters.

    If I type in a single word, which is the name of my site, my website doesn't list! Didn't these nuts test their system? I doesn't appear so.

    Maybe it's a conspiracy. Perhaps all search engines will eventually limit your search results to those things that control our governments want you to see.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    John, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 3:42pm

    Oh, What Sad Design

    I just checked it out.
    The listings are in panels that are hard to compare in order to select the best one.
    The results are corrupted by paid entries, or maybe they are unpaid but professionally designed to be picked up high on the list.
    I might as well search on Ebay as search at this new place - my forecast is, it will change or die within weeks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    RoJo, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 1:25pm

    What's cooler than Cuil?

    Fair is fair and Cuil is fairly cool and the media hoopla on the Cuil launch is well deserved and totally understandable (even if a bit harsh). After all, Cuil was built by a team of top-notch ex-Google engineers. But did you know that another new search engine -- built by a team of top-notch ex-Google users -- has surpassed Cuil in traffic this month? And with nary a lick of media love. Check out NeXplore Search (www.NeXplore.com) vs. Cuil (www.cuil.com) for the month of September using whatever website traffic comparison tool you prefer -- Google Trends, Alexa, Compete, etc. Cuil’s focus -- more algorithmic complexity and index envy. NeXplore’s focus -- a more visually engaging and productive search results page. Seems pretty clear which approach real folk prefer...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    دردشه, Jul 5th, 2009 @ 4:18pm

    Maybe it's a conspiracy. Perhaps all search engines will eventually limit your search results to those things that control our governments want you to see.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    شات صوتى, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:31am

    hi

    Thanks

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This