Cuil = Epic Fail

Yesterday, former Google employees introduced a brand new search engine called Cuil (pronounced “Cool” or maybe “Kewl.”)

Before the site debuted, there was quite a bit of excitement on the Internet. Once it was available… Well, all that excitement exploded in a fireball of debris.


The website itself quickly went popular on, only to have the notorious “Digg effect” crash the site. Yes, you read that correctly. A *SEARCH ENGINE* crashed from too many users.

Double oops.

Now, to be fair, the interface on Cuil is beautiful and elegant. It’s very pleasing to the eye, almost relaxing. I’d love to use Cuil. I really would. Unfortunately, it has some major flaws. For one, the search results are awful. It doesn’t even recognize “George W. Bush” when the period is included after the W (check out this submission on Digg for more details.)

Of course, to test the efficacy of Cuil, I initially ran a search on my name. My blog appeared on the first page of results. My website, however, which is listed at the beginning of a Google search, doesn’t show up on Cuil for pages and pages. A lot of people are experiencing the same problem, with some people’s websites just not showing up at all when, on Google, the same websites rank first.

Sure, maybe Cuil just shows a different set of search results that we might not find on Google. Maybe it’s even set up to show us listings that are on page 1,598 of Google. That would be lame enough, but it gets worse.

If you notice, Cuil has a handy feature that places a photo next to many of the search results. This would be great… if the photo had anything to do with the link next to it! For some reason, Cuil likes to place completely random photos next to search listings. Do you think I’m kidding? Check out these screenshots from when I looked up my own name:

Cuil couldn’t find my website, but it did find a random resume I put on Go Freelance. But what’s the deal with the picture next to it: “I Am Who I Am” with the subtitle, “Your approval isn’t needed. :}” Umm, what the heck? Is Cuil sending me subliminal messages or something? What messages am I going to see next? “You’re Good Enough!” “Wow! So Beautiful!” or maybe “Donate to Barack Obama!”

I guess while I’m at it, I should address the horse graphic next to another of my links in Cuil’s search.

I don’t know what the heck that horse graphic is about! Cuil was kind enough to pull up an obscure paper I co-wrote for AEJMC while I was in graduate school. Never mind that the description over the link is NOT for the paper I wrote. And the horse graphic? It’s more of a “WTF” moment. Translation: I don’t know why it’s there. A subliminal message to start riding horses?
Not content to just Google myself, I looked up some people who visit this blog too. 🙂 Oh, I guess I can’t use “Google” for Cuil. How about “rip roaring adventure down an Internet search apparently based on drug-induced hallucinations”?

First, I am convinced that Amy Vernon has paid off Cuil. 😉 Her blog showed up first in Cuil’s search results. Not only that, but check out the pic next to the link:

While my listing (when my blog finally does appear) shows a random sci-fi pic that I never actually used in my blog, Amy’s link proudly boasts: “Top 100 Television Sites!” Now, I’ve got to be honest, her blog is pretty awesome. So in this case, Cuil is accurate. But I still think she paid them off. 😉

It’s OK though, because apparently Kevin Tracy did too. A search for Kevin Tracy reveals:

Not only does his blog get top billing, but it’s accompanied by a photo of a presidential candidate! And all I got was a cartoon horse? So… Cuil is telling Amy that she has the top website, Kevin that he should be president, and me… That I should ride cartoon horses and have more self esteem.


But wait, I’m not done yet! I had to look up my friend Cindy Gordon, a very talented professional photographer. Her website also received top billing. Unfortunately, Cuil confused Cindy herself for an elderly man with a thick beard:

Last but certainly not least, I looked up Adam Riggins, a frequent commenter on this blog. Here is Cuil’s result:

Sorry Adam. 😦


30 responses to “Cuil = Epic Fail

  1. Hey Dave! A search for “Darkly Dreaming David” showed a combination of your blog and Darkly Dreaming Dexter. So you fared pretty well. I’m jealous! LOL

    Adam – I don’t see beta anywhere. Maybe I’d be more forgiving if they had a disclaimer somewhere.

  2. Regardless of beta or not, if you’re going to gather press based on the fact that you’re ex-Google, you gotta be ready for the debut.

    I agree…Epic Fail.

    Hey, by the way…silly as it is, consider yourself awarded!

  3. I the Google world of forever beta, I think people miss the point of new software, and the need for it to be tested… Take a look at the iPhone, you don’t see beta on any of the software, but it crashes all, AND I MEAN ALL, the time!

  4. They had a good conversation about Cuil on the latest Net at Night podcast. One great point they make is that if you want people to go to your website, it should be fairly easy to spell. Considering it is pronounced “cool”, they didn’t do a great job there!

    By the way, I searched for my name, and one of the results links to your page!

  5. Cinema – WOW! But the question is… Will Cuil pull itself back up, fly again, and end up a hero like Maverick?

    Adam – VERY good point about the name. It’s really going to be tough for people to spell, which is the hallmark of a bad domain choice.

    AdamJonFuller (I have to write your full name since 2 Adams are commenting here, lol) – I think you’ve just convinced me to never buy an iPhone. 😉

    Knight – THANK YOU!!!! I’ll be blogging about that award in the next day or so. Yay! 🙂

  6. I totally agree about the name. When I first saw it I had no idea how to even pronounce it. Was it like an Irish or Gaelic name, like Siobhan (Shevawn?)

    The first thing I looked up was fantasy editor. No results. That didn’t seem very promising… Not even fantasy and editor. Just nothing. Back to Google I went.

    But I’ll go with what you said. It is quite attractive.

  7. Steph! I can’t believe that result when putting in Remote. Ha! This is freakin’ hilarious. And the photo is astounding, especially when you consider that we haven’t been No. 11 even for quite some time! (We have the top TV sites badge on our website, but we’re somewhere around No. 20)…. I don’t blame you for thinking I paid them off. lol

  8. I also had a favorable first impression followed by less than solid results. I turned up as Marcia Brady (!) I guess it’s better than Alice?

    Then I tried to look up Rockland, Maine – admittedly a small seacoast town but hey, 7000 people live there, the town itself has website that’s not that hard to find…but no. “No results.”

    I’m still just shaking my head “Marcia, Marcia,Marcia…”

    The Leather District Gourmet

  9. Well, so far I totally agree with you…I did my own search tests and found that most of the time Cuil wasn’t so “cool” after all. Most of the terms were met with the “we can’t find your darn term” page…arrrgghh. When you hype yourself you need to be able to deliver…back to Google as I use it for more than just searching.

  10. Most search engines now use variants of PageRank (Google term), I expect Cuil to be using some sort of PageRank algorithm…

    So the results would only get better with time… so you either give Cuil more time (and Hits 🙂 ) or keep using google for the rest of your life… coz no one else knows as much as google about user clicks..

  11. Pingback: Cuil not so cool after all « Surf’s Up

  12. I think that Cuil missed the boat by releasing too early. They might make a comeback and improve quality, but the damage has been done….

  13. Yea, poor me…they caught me on a day where I didn’t shave, looks like! 😉 Wow, didn’t know I could look that unkempt…

    I think trendy misspellings are getting a bit old… and “cuil” is a bit of a stretch if it’s supposed to be “cool”…


    not impressed yet, but I’ll be watching your blog to stay posted!

  14. This might be a case of their spiders not completing their search of the web. Google has had their spiders patrolling our online content for over a decade… all that content is still out there, but now, Cuil’s spiders have to catch up.

    With the server crashing… I have no room to talk… something always seems to go wrong after I pass 5,000 visits in a single day.

  15. ha ha. I just tried using cuil to find my site and the first one that came up was literally a site called “sex in a car”!!!

    nice blog 🙂

  16. Amy: That’s so funny about not being #11 anymore. Glad your pic was better than some of the others!

    Cindy: LOLOL. Did you get any hits from your link being in this post?

    Jacqueline: LOL!!!!!!!! Marcia Brady? Oh my!

    Kevin: You know you’re just defending Cuil because it likes your website!

  17. It is embarrassing to have Cuil all over the news networks and yet nothing comes up when you do the simplest search. I also noticed CSS and images not loading on the main Cuil pages.

    Next time, make sure everything is operating five-by before telling the world to check you out!

  18. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  19. Pingback: Josh Asbury

  20. Seems I was right about Cuil, looking back years later. 😉 I just put on a new post for the first time in almost 2 years! If you’re interested, check it out. I’m debating about blogging again or if there are better methods of sharing thoughts besides short Facebook status updates.

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