The Search Engine Cuil has just announced CPedia in a new blog post. Cpedia is an Automated Encyclopedia service that takes the information from within the search results and creates a written article containing all the information about whatever it is you were searching for.
Technologically speaking it is the first of its kind on the web, and at first glance it works well but that isn’t the striking issue with me.
This is blatant copyright theft. Remember the furore with Google News and Murdoch only a few months ago?
I know I was praising Zero-Click and Duck Duck Go only days ago which has similar intent, but in their case they are sourcing open-rights content, quoting and linking to it and giving search results as well.
Cuil’s Cpedia is stealing content dismissing any purpose of passing on traffic to the hard working site. Sources are not given with the text, or on the page at all. Numbered footnotes are available, though “footnotes” is the wrong word as they link to a list of appropriate web pages. These notes are so small to be barely considered legible referencing and a good source of traffic for the pages. Put it this way, you wouldn’t see them and you would leave to use another search engine.
I’ll take the query “Winston Churchill” as an example, it is the kind of search somebody would use and gather information on in this situation. The resulting page is set out as;
- Option to see other CPedia pages about similar things
- The Article
- THAT IS IT!
At first glance the article looks like a long and well written piece but it reads like a list of facts, and naturally being composed by a computer it lacks any memory of what it has said. It states
“That same year Winston Churchill married (the first and the last time) Clementine Hozier”, yet the only dates given beforehand were “during World War 2″. Though obviously stolen content, it seems possible that all the facts contained would satisfy my information craving. Which brings me back to my problem with this service, the person and website that created that content gets no traffic or thanks whatsoever.
The second example I tried was “F3FA”. A query with little competition referencing a sort of joke website I set up that I know is in Cuil’s index. CPedia gives me one sentence about F3FA and in a  6 pixels high, links to another page that gives me the search results that I would have been happy with in the first place. I would not expect somebody to click through to my site from Cpedia.
In their blog post Cuil claimed it was nothing like Wikipedia at all, but all links within the article link to other CPedia pages with “wiki” in the URL. Either it is going to be like Wikipedia or it is not a wiki (a document editable by anybody). It isn’t for now that is for sure.
To me, CPedia also says “We Give Up” as a generic search engine. Cuil has had a long history of failing to convince people to use it. CPedia is on by default and only where no Automated Articles can be produced does it provide a traditional search engine list of results. CPedia may be useful for searchers of popular information though I think in most cases, it should be better as an option. Cuil have to change the credit to websites instantly if they want to be a success, else webmasters will block their access. I know I would. Will it be more popular than Wikipedia? No.