Dictionaries – and Thesauri – Are Your Friends

As Microsoft’s new “Bing” search engine fails pretty spectacularly to go anywhere fast, Google-haters should be delighted to hear there’s a new, ambitious search engine loose on the wild frontier of the internet, one whose founders are bound and determined to achieve total market domination.

The search engine is called “I’m Halal”, and it aims for global domination of the, yes, Muslim internet-browsing demographic. There’s an article here which details the background and goals of the project, which seem at first glance pretty straightforward.

I gotta say, though, in actual practice it’s a whole lot of fail. (Warning: Rest of post contains images that may be NSFW in ultraconservative environments, ’cause they contain very slightly naughty words in ’em, ‘kay?)

“First of all, we have blocked all sexually explicit content.”

Yep, quite effectively, I might add:

(Why lesbians? Beats me; I’m taking a wild guess here that a lot of men enjoy looking at badly-simulated girl-on-girl action. Hey, it was the first thing that came to mind…)

Well done, I’m Halal, for protecting the world from the evil scourge of, you know, sapphistry.

Oops. I guess a dictionary – or a thesarus – or a better search-engine algorithm – might help a bit, eh?

Like, maybe one that understands plurals?

…or widespread sexual euphemisms?

Alright, enough of the sexual stuff – one big epic fail there, I’m Halal. How about something a bit more straightforward, and culinary?

Bravo for identifying pork as a dangerously unclean and delicious temptation.

Oops.

Well done, folks. I’d say your product is totally, utterly ready for prime time… not.

Now, I admit most well-brought-up Muslims probably aren’t going to search for bacon buttie recipes, sexual acts, or so on, so these examples aren’t (necessarily) all that meaningful. But if the whole point is to protect well-meaning people from “accidentally” coming across eye-opening webpages by filtering results shown, then the whole thing really is a colossal failure, as it stands. Look at the second result for “sapphic”, above, and tell me you have any faith whatsoever in the search engine’s ability to accurately and effectively filter results.

It’s not that this is a bad idea, mind you – just that it’s been executed really, really badly. Maybe when they discover what dictionaries, thesauri, and “stemming” are, they’ll be able to produce a product worth using. Until then… not so much so, no.

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on September 1st, 2009| Comments Off on Dictionaries – and Thesauri – Are Your Friends

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