Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Is Cuil.com Genea-Cool?

Several genea-bloggers have been checking out Cuil at http://www.cuil.com/ so I thought I'd better check it out. Why is it named Cuil? The web site says:

"The Internet has grown exponentially in the last fifteen years but search engines have not kept up—until now. Cuil searches more pages on the Web than anyone else—three times as many as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft.

"Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency.

"Then we offer you helpful choices and suggestions until you find the page you want and that you know is out there. We believe that analyzing the Web rather than our users is a more useful approach, so we don’t collect data about you and your habits, lest we are tempted to peek. With Cuil, your search history is always private.

"Cuil is an old Irish word for knowledge. For knowledge, ask Cuil."

Is Cuil better than Google as a genealogy search engine?

For this comparison, I chose to run a typical search of an ancestral couple in my genealogy research. I chose "Cornelia Bresee" and "James Bell" for my first comparison because I'm extremely interested in finding other researchers interested in this couple.

1) http://www.cuil.com/ searches (search terms in red):

* cornelia bresee -- 1,092 matches claimed, 75 shown
* cornelia bresee james bell -- 14 matches claimed, 2 shown
* "cornelia bresee" -- 103 matches claimed, 10 shown
* "cornelia bresee" james bell -- 14 matches claimed, 2 shown
* "cornelia bresee" "james bell" -- 7 matches claimed, 1 shown

2) http://www.google.com/ searchs (search terms in red):

* cornelia bresee -- 916 matches claimed, 416 shown
* cornelia bresee james bell -- 624 matches claimed, 314 shown
* "cornelia bresee" -- 105 matches claimed, 20 shown
* "cornelia bresee" james bell -- 9 matches claimed, 9 shown
* "cornelia bresee" "james bell" -- 8 matches claimed, 8 shown

Hmm - what's different? Frankly, I didn't see many of the "junk" matches on Cuil that I usually see in Google. That's good!

What about genealogy searching?

1) Using the "cornelia bresee" "james bell" search (because that's the type I usually use), the Cuil site had:

* Genea-Musings "Genealogy Research" tag file -- not the specific post, but a blog category on Genea-Musings. Here I have to search for "cornelia bresee" "james bell" to find the terms. Whoops - they're not on that page when I use the Edit>Find tool. If I search all of Genea-Musings using the Blogger search box, I get five of my Genea-Musings posts.

2) Using the "cornelia bresee" "james bell" search, the Google site had:

* "Who are parents of my Cornelia Bresee" on the Genforum message board for the Bresee surname
* "Re: Who are parents of my Cornelia Bresee?" on the Rootsweb/Ancestry Message Board for surname Bresee
* "Index for my Cornelia Bresee search" on GeneaMusings
* "Following up on Cornelia Bresee" on GeneaMusings
* "Randy's Search for Cornelia Bresee" on Becky Wiseman's Kinexxions blog.
* "Re: Who are parents of my Cornelia Bresee?" on the Genforum.com message board ( a mirror of the other one, in plain text)
* "sprague family" -- two pages for Cornelia Bresee on Lance Sprague's Rootsweb WorldConnect database.

The comparison is striking, isn't it?

Cuil found one of my GeneaMusings posts and not any others, and the link didn't have my search terms on it. I had to search for it on the entire web site.

Google found items on GeneaMusings (but listed only one of them - there were 5), Becky's blog, the Genforum message board, the Rootsweb/Ancestry message board, and the Rootsweb WorldConnect database.

Is http://www.cuil.com/ Genea-cool? Is it ready for genealogy research prime time?

Not for me - not yet, anyway.

Maybe it will improve -- but it will have to improve by including the main resources that genealogy researchers use. And, hopefully, more of them. After all, that's what it claims to do, isn't it? Find more and better search results.

A caveat: this was just one fairly simple test of the web site, using methods I use on Google. I encourage other researchers to do other comparisons and share them with the genealogy community.


wendy said...

have you checked Jasia's post on this same topic? She did a search for her blog & in results it showed an "inappropriate" photo linked to her site!

Jennifer said...

I had the same experience with my "tester" names that I always use to try out new stuff... got alot of garbage and none of the typical sites that pop up when I go a google search.

The reactions I am reading from the tech sphere is equally disappointed, although I am hearing that there are a few kinks being worked out, and things should improve somewhat over time. Seems to me they should have waited on their launch a little, but oh well. I'll be sticking to the Google search for now!

Unknown said...

Let's also let Cuil know about the results of our comparisons.

Terry Thornton said...

Randy, I did three searches across Cruil and Google. The first was for the name GARFUS THORNTON; Cruil had 172 hits mostly articles I'd written whereas Google had 142.

When I searched "James Monroe Thornton" with quotes, Google 140 and Cruil 10. Of the six Cruil displays, none were Hill Country or GenForum posts I'd written.

Final comparison: "Dorcas Weaver Hollingsworth" --- Cruil three hits including one GenForum post I did whereas Google have five hits, four were references to articles I'd written.

For now, I think I'll stay with Google.