TechCrunch has a great article on Pipl.com, comparing them to spock.com and wink.com. They explain that Pipl does better (‘scarily’ better) than some of these competitors by crawling the ‘deep web’. This means that Pipl spiders enter commonly used terms in search pages and interact with other dynamic pages in a more intelligent way. This means that they find pages that most spiders cannot access from static crawl directories and sitemaps and in this way extract more information. This is not as sophisticated as it sounds. Many crawlers use this approach to generate new seed pages to crawl from. I think the ‘deep web’ is more marketing than technology. Nonetheless, it does well.
I did a test search for my dad, Michael Allenson in the UK. It’s very useful that you can specify a country and that Pipl will only use sources for that country. The site found two traces of my father from scirus.com (a scientific information search engine, which I helped build a l-o-n-g time ago. At that time it ran on FAST, just like the Yellow and White Directories that Truvo runs) — two patents that he authored in 2000.
Most searches for Allenson on search engines, including people searches, return information about Gary Allenson, a baseball player. By being able to exclude US information, Pipl did better than most from the start.
A useful feature is that Pipl returns a number of image results inline with text links (a bit like Cuil.com). This meant that when I searched for my friend Nuno Macedo, although it quickly found his LinkedIn profile I was able to select this from the results even more quickly by clicking on his picture.
Sesam, a Norwegian search engine has for some time allowed users to search for a term, then show related images, web results, businesses and people that it’s extracted from the search results. This means that if you search for Steve Ballmer, both Bill Gates and John Markus Lervik (CEO of FAST, which was taken over by Microsoft) will come up as associated people, you’ll see some pictures of Steve (including one with his tongue out).
When I last visited pipl.com I got the following front page message:”
Sorry, we’re very popular…
Due to an unusually large amount of traffic we had to disable the search access for a short while. Please be patient while we upgrade our capacity or bookmark our site and visit us later.
Thank you for visiting Pipl.”