Is Cuil Killing Websites?

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An anonymous tipster wrote to us this morning to tell us that Cuil, the ill-fated “Google Killer,” has unleashed its Twiceler indexing bot on websites across the globe and in the process, has brought many sites down.

“I don’t know what spawned it, but when Cuil attempts to index a site, it does so by completely hammering it with traffic,” the tipster wrote. “So much, that it completely brings the site down. We’re 24 hours into this “index” of the site, and I’ve had to restrict traffic to the site down to 2 packets per second, while discarding the rest, or otherwise it makes the site unusable.”

The Admin Zone forums are abuzz over Cuil’s overzealous method for indexing. Countless posters on the site have said that their websites have been brought down because of the Twiceler robot and one user said it “leeched enormous amounts of bandwidth — nearly 2GB this month until it was blocked. It visited nearly 70,000 times!”

Website owners are also saying that the way Cuil indexes sites isn’t scientific in any way and is actually quite “amateurish.” According to those who experienced the Twiceler onslaught, the bot seems to “randomly hit a site and continue to guess and generate pseudo-random URLs in an attempt to find pages that aren’t accessible by links. And by doing this, they completely bring a site down to where it’s not functional.”

Upset site owners contacted Cuil to see why Twiceler was hitting sites so often. James Akers, Cuil’s Operational Engineer responded to the issue by saying that “Twiceler is an experimental crawler that we are developing for our new search engine. It is important to us that it obey robots.txt, and that it not crawl sites that do not wish to be crawled. If you wish I will glad to add your site to our list of sites to exclude, but I need you to tell the site name to block as email return addresses frequently from the domains that wish to be blocked.”

Akers also claims that Cuil has seen a “number of crawlers” that pretend to be Twiceler, and site owners should consult the company’s IP addresses page to determine if it’s really Cuil causing all the trouble.

Cuil has yet to respond to a request for comment, but it doesn’t look like the pelting of sites by the company’s Twiceler bot is an isolated incident. And if it’s true that Twiceler is trying to find pages on sites that don’t even exist to simply increase the index size, Cuil should work quickly to modify the bot before it receives even more negative publicity.