A column by Randolph Hock in this month’s edition of The CyberSkeptic’s Guide to Internet Research alerted me to Pipl (apparently pronounced “people”). It does not appear to have yet been discussed on SLAW so I thought I would mention it now.
It is a search engine to find people. What’s makes it different, according to the site, is that it searches various (presumably free) databases on the Web that are part of the “deep” or “invisible” web:
Unlike a typical search-engine, Pipl is designed to retrieve information from the deep web, our robots are set to interact with searchable databases and extract facts, contact details and other relevant information from personal profiles, member directories, scientific publications, court records and numerous other deep-web sources.
I found sample searches interesting but the quality of results varied a lot. The search results here on the name of the mayor of Toronto were not as good as a simple Google search result (realizing of course he has a common name). In the Pipl search for the mayor, it seemed as though the search returned results from CanPages.ca, MySpace, FamilySearch.org, Infogo.gov.on.ca, and various other databases. “Google results” also appear, but further down the results page.
I looked but did not find a complete list of the “deep” websites they crawl. When searching on my own name (yes, I am vain) I noticed one of the results was from the National Library of Canada catalogue, so presumably they crawl that site and if there is a “hit” they return the result. They also have an alpha version of a Pipl Directory that appears to be a bit of mashup of various social networking sites, although there is not yet a lot of explanation and I found some of my search results on their directory interesting, to say the least.
This may be an interesting product to monitor.