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Derek Featherstone's Box of Chocolates: You never know what you're going to get

Box of Chocolates

Tuesday, July 29th - 12:52pm

Wacko Search Results

Jared had a great little piece in his latest series “Producing Great Search Results.” He describes a term that has stuck with UIE — wacko results.

As soon as they [the user] encounter a wacko result, it reduces their confidence in the search. For some users, this makes it unlikely they’ll continue using Search as a reliable method for completing their objective, since it works unpredictably.

That pretty much sums up my first experience with Cuil, a new search player with VC funding, managed and founded by a few former Google employees that seem keen on changing the search game.

Kudos to them for braving the “search space” or whatever it is called now, exclaiming mightily:

Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance.

They completely failed for me on relevance, though as I subjected them to the first test almost any blogger will perform: searching for your own name. While most of the results were relevant, what was associated with them threw me for a loop.

There are several wacko results on that page, including an image of a crying baby beside my name as an A List Apart author, indexing a URL that is a textdrive subdomain. Peculiar.

There is the book that I contributed to, with several other fine authors: Web Standards Creativity, referencing an image that shows the cover of Beginning JavaScript with DOM Scripting and Ajax by Christian Heilmann. Odd. (I mean the result, not Christian. <cheek>Or do I?</cheek>)

But this one trumps all. It is off the wacko result scale:

Rob Weychert\'s double middle-finger salute avatar shown beside the description for my company.

Now, I loves me some Rob Weychert, but why oh why is his personal avatar associated with my company? Don’t get me wrong. Rob is a very good friend. Along with his stellar beard, he’s a an air guitar genius.

But his two-handed middle-finger salute avatar, ummm, doesn’t exactly send the kind of message that I want to be associated with the company description, if you know what I mean?

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8 Comments

This seems typical of what I have seen others reporting (NSFW feature at the Register: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/29/cuil_launch/ ). Yesterday, I searched for my book’s short title of “Advanced Ajax” and it brought up the description of my book with someone else’s cover. Today, it returns no search results.

anders pearson

July 29, 2008

Searching for one of my books: http://www.cuil.com/search?q=“error+and+annihilation”

The contextual image it brings up is the cover of “Garfield Eats His Heart Out”.

Thanks for the link.

Worse still, searching for Clearleft comes up with a picture of Morae – one of Silverback’s competitors! (Silverback being a Clearleft product for those that didn’t know)
http://www.cuil.com/search?q=Clearleft

Searching for my name also throws up a picture of Christian Heilmann, oddly. Cuil need to release a statement on how their image-association algorithm works.

feather

July 31, 2008

Hey Matthew – interesting. Both your mismatched image and mine are both gingers. I looked at the Cuil Management and I see no gingers there — though it is tough to tell with black and white images :)

Ah, yes, did a similar thing…moments after reading about it (via Mashable), did a search for a company I know quite well, and then found (to my amusement) that some of its images were being re-used results for similar sites of rival companies….classy! At that point I realised something wasn’t right with Cuil and I haven’t been back to it since. I quite like the look of it otherwise.

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