[Updated] A few Celsius short of cool

“Alternative” is all the hype. So, of course, when Tom Costello and ex-Googly Anna Patterson created Cuil as an alternative to Google, everybody and their dog brought out the champaign. But the celebrations stalled quickly – it soon became apparent that indexing 120 billion web pages isn’t much worth if you’re not able to generate meaningful serach results from them. And spicing them up by randomly injecting porn images and other totally unrelated stuff apparently didn’t do the trick, either.

Try to search for my name, for example. While the first entry does indeed bring up my site, the shown excerpt contains text that is nowhere on my site, but Cuil makes it look as if it were. I don’t know no Helen, and I certainly wasn’t sitting with one in my living room. If Silke finds out, I’ll be in hot water - but not as much as this guy, I guess :).

And don’t get me started about confusing people by showing images that have no relevance at all next to the search results.

So it’s not such a big surprise to see that they didn’t even get their own name right. According the The Register, their agenda that “Cuil” were the Gaelic word for “knowledge” is complete bollocks. As it looks, “cuill” (close enough) is the Gaelic plural form of “coll”, which means hazelnut, and according to a legend, sid hazel nut is distantly connected to wisdom. Wow. Apparently their interpretation of that legend is as accurate as their search results.

But while I often tend to agree with the folks at The Register, I think in this case they’re wrong. Cuil isn’t pants. Cuil is nuts.

Updated 2008-08-06: Well, apparently they “fixed” their search index. Now a search for my name yields 1 (one) result.

How uncuil!

Not bad for 120 billion indexed pages :) Or maybe they didn’t like criticism and kicked my site out of their index… how uncuil!

Update #2, 2008-08-08: TechCrunch has a good article about it, IMO. And someone has already created a rip-off mockery called Yuil, which was quickly renamed to “4hoursearch” (courtesy of the Cuil legal department?). The funny thing: It works 10 times better than Cuil… and you can download the source code.