Monday, March 13, 2006

Accoona.com generates buzz

I read an article about Accoona.com this morning which suggested this up-and-coming search engine may give Google a run for their money. Accoona (named after the Swahili phrase “accoona matata” which means “no worries”) has been around for a few years. They threw a huge party in Dec 2004 with guest speaker Bill Clinton in order to generate some buzz, and since then they’ve worked on improving the artificial intelligence which runs their engine.

I did some playing around to see if Accoona could be used as a web repository for Warrick. I did a search for “frank mccown” to see what would appear:


When you place your cursor on top of each search result, it shows the domain name at the bottom of the browser (indicated by the arrows), but not the full path to the URL. Searching through the HTML, I found this very unsightly URL:

<a href="http://www10.overture.com/d/sr/?xargs=15KPjg1mdS55Xyl%5FruNL
bXU6TFhUBf14Prpo5wWsU8AJsIrSE%2DDqchceOZxIEnDvI%5Fq
lOM24HMv6oXLvD%5FkfKJFgeNRkXRFJWL2I%5FHzo4%2DQNmhWK
A2grY6n%2DfpzrZ%2DEH4Gaxi0eaC97Oe6Noz0N2gQ848VkRCY%
5FfluyNnryL5AS%5F6HhQtupVGCY8patrBxvPzydMgfFb9Uf8eRjS%2
DIcZlF3Zx4wZ2EDhVNdnrNoSxj4gfcS3Mq8OyeJJlItLPn2ZZ0Wd
S6ws8XZkSFpfliyS6m&yargs=www.cs.odu.edu" etc...>


The actual URL for the search result can’t be found in the HTML! Apparently they use Overture, a marketing company now owned by Yahoo, to redirect you to the proper URL. They are probably using this strategy for at least two reasons: 1) scrapping their pages for search results won’t get you anything, and 2) they make money giving Overture information about what you click on when performing certain searches.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Accoona is allowing access to cached versions of pages. Maybe they want to save bandwidth, maybe they don’t want to deal with possible lawsuits that caching might entangle them in.

There doesn’t appear to be any advanced search, and there isn’t any help pages describing how to use parameters in searches. I was able to make queries using “site:” and “url:” parameters which are popular on other search engines.

Bottom line: not useful for Warrick just yet.