Search: 8 Reasons Why Wolfram Alpha is a Waste of Time and no Threat to Google
Wolfram Alpha is another overhyped “Google killer” on the block. It’s allegedly a search engine.
Google killers usually die
Do you remember the last few much hyped Google killers in the search arena? Not? Well, I do.
- Wikia has been discontinued after just a few months.
- Powerset had been promising but it has been bought by Microsoft and subsequently its development stopped. It’s a better Wikipedia search as of now
- Cuil has silently vanished altogether after serving low quality results for a few years
My favorite search engine for a few years is DuckDuckGo but it’s still a niche offering despite its many benefits and advantages over Google (think private, ad-free, objective search).
OK, so what about Wolfram Alpha? I just tested it and the results are abysmal. I’d really love to see a search engine that ends the Google monopoly but sorry, Wolfram Alpha is not even a real search engine.
Reasons not to waste your time
There are at least 8 reasons why Wolfram Alpha is a waste of time and no threat to Google:
- bizarre name – I live in Germany where the weird name Wolfram stems from. Even here it sounds strange and is difficult to pronounce. What about the rest of the world? Obviously the guys at Wolfram Alpha (WA from now on) couldn’t afford to ask a linguist about a name
- loads forever – it took ages to search with WA, usually web users stop a search or abandon a site that doesn’t appear in seconds
- doesn’t work – after waiting for ages, it felt like in the nineties, I got an error. WA can’t handle the load. It wasn’t just once. The network connection timed out the next time.
- intriguing but useless information – According to other bloggers you can find out lots of intriguing but useless information you didn’t really ask for. When you want to play around you might want to use it, not for search though.
- not enough choices – In spite of the fact that most searchers click the first result as the most accurate you still expect a choice of at least several sites. Not on WA. You get one answer. It’s not a good one though in many cases.
- most searches are no “questions or calculations” – Most searches are simple words or word combinations. Only a small percentage are real questions. Do you remember Ask? Yeah, it’s a search engine that focused on answering questions. It’s almost forgotten by now.
- nonsense results for common terms or dictionary results instead (test query “design”) – The first thing I always search for on new search engines is SEO. In case an engine manages to find the best results there it will also manage elsewhere.
WA doesn’t even know what SEO is! I thought it was maybe my fault searching for such an exotic term like SEO.
Thus I tried a more popular query like “design”. What did I get? I got a dictionary and thesaurus definition and no search results. I know what design is, I don’t need a “search engine” for it. Sorry.
- other Google alternatives offer better results without succeeding, try DuckDuckGo or Yandex. All other still existing search engines offer better results than Wolfram Alpha.I showed you why DuckDuckGo is really a good alternative for some queries by now. Why the hell should I use a broken dictionary instead?
What is Wolfram Alpha and why use it then?
Alpha is geek speak but means in “natural language” rather “in early stages of development” or “I’m broken” and yes it is. Usually the first impression counts when it comes to software.
When it’s broken you won’t use it in future (when it’s fixed) either, especially if you have one that works. Why bother with Wolfram Alpha then?
Wolfram Alpha is the latest joke from the same hype machine that offered us the swine flu scare and the Oprah/KFC coupons disaster.
I’d like to cite Public Enemy number 1: “Don’t believe the hype!” Btw.: To make it even more ludicrous WA doesn’t get even the basic definitions right.
Check out abysmal and compare to a dictionary search for abysmal.
Whatever Wolfram Alpha is: it’s not a search engine and it’s not a threat to Google. It’s a waste of time for most people. It may be fun for geeks.
It was fun for the 10 minutes I spent playing with it, but it’s definitely no threat to Google, I agree.
i think you are right.
what others do with a time consuming such machine :)
NO GOOGLE KILLER. i don’t know where people keep thinking that every single new engine that comes out is designed to kill Google. the engine is a computational engine, so if we want to use it for Calculus and other crazy mathematical equations, then it will be there for us. now i doubt there would be a day for the general public to ever need such processing power, but imagine a time from now when this engine has enough servers to accommodate everyone’s request and is even learning how we are asking it. we are looking at new realm here but again NOT A GOOGLE KILLER. i wouldn’t be worried about SEO for it, it gets data from databases, we are only at day 1 so i haven’t figured out how it does that yet, but i would assume that structuring verified xml databases would be the trick to being part of their system. and i will agree, they don’t have the internet thing down yet, yet it’s Harvard, they’ll figure it out. i am the first to back anyone up about Google, but try this in any search engine, math geeks rejoice!
2x^2 – 3xy + 4y^2 + 6x – 3y – 4 = 0
– jason nadaf
I don’t think it’s making an attempt to be a threat to Google. That’s not the goal. I listened to an interview with the creator of WolframAlpha, Stephen Wolfram (the source of the name, by the way), and I believe that he could care less about Google. It seems to me that the (extremely, extremely ambitious) goal behind this project is to take the sum of human knowledge and turn it into a computational mass. So it’s less to “find stuff” than to compute data.
Also, it’s slow because it’s doing computations — lots of them and difficult ones. They’re running on some powerful machines, but the load is pretty heavy, particularly because it just launched.
I think it’s pretty interesting. I don’t think it’s anywhere near finished, and it’s definitely got all kinds of glitches and gaps. At the same time, though, I’m not going to write it off just yet.
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9. Too difficult for the average jackweed using the Internet to use. It’s not intuitive, therefore it will never see a good adoption rate. It’s dead on arrival unless they or someone else can create an interface that actually works like Google.
If as you say its not aimed as a “google killer” then it may find a niche for itself.
Completely agree with you. I had so many expectations but after playing around with it I was really disappointed.
It has absolutely no to the common user, I’m sure people will still use wikipedia to find the information they want.
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You are completely missing the point Wolfram|Alpha it is not meant to be a replacment for google and was never designed to be.
Wolfram|Alpha is about knowlege not refering you to other websites.
Also everyone of your points has fault.
In paticular your first point its named after the creator. They have better things to do than worry about naming.
Wolfram is a new search engine, which means some in the media are going to call it a potential “Google Killer” just like they have done with every other search engine that has come out.
This doesn’t mean Wolfram is, or ever intended to be, a killer of Google. Most search engines are smart enough not to try to beat Google at their own game, and instead try to do something different.
Hahaha….I googled “2x^2 – 3xy + 4y^2 + 6x – 3y – 4 = 0″…guess what came up? The answer! Of course, Wolfram Alpha computed it, but Google indexed it! I love it.
not Wikia, it’s wikia search.
The first time my friend showed me Wolfram Alpha I thought it was one of those virtual chat things (like that one that lets you pretend to ‘chat with God’) because that’s what it looked like when I first used it, only without special scripts. Then I heard about this Google killer thing..didn’t know it’s supposed to be a search engine.
I tried asking it “What percentage of the American population own computers” for a paper and it didn’t give me an answer. Tsk..
Wolfram Alpha is incredible. It’s definitely a Google Calculator killer. Maybe you should try using it for what it’s designed for.
According to me, the name itself is a major turn Off. I mean, even though it may be a Good search engine, who wants to type in a long domain name in the address bar. Atleast i wouldn’t. Another fact is, no matter how good a search engine you are, Google is far too big, though not perfect for you to convince people to stop using it.
Wolfram Alpha is a search engine? I thought it was a tool to perform complex mathematical operations. I understand that you can search “dwayne johnson” on it and find out more about him but I viewed it mainly as a really cool calculator.
I asked WA ten questions: 3 math, 3 science, 2 geography, 2 current events. What it got right was 1 math, 0 science, 1 geography, and provided intriguing but useless bits of info related to the current events questions. Google did much better.
Steven Rossi, John Doe, and a few others have the right idea. WOLFRAM|ALPHA IS NOT A SEARCH ENGINE!!!!! It is a computation and knowledge database. If you want to know what conspiracy theories there are behind Abraham Lincoln’s death, just do a damn google search! If you want to know the major events of May 1946, look on wikipedia. If you want to know what x is when 4x^55=45, use Wolfram|Alpha. If you want to know the chemical structure and makeup of Etheline Glycol, spend two minutes typing in google.com>Etheline glycol, and then searching through links until you find your 3D image, or do it on Wolfram|Alpha! Once again, IT IS NOT A SEARCH ENGINE! It is a computation and knowledge database.
It’s a badass calculator, though.
Oh, and for the author, it’s called Wolfram because it was created by Steve Wolfram.
There is no way it can compete with google. Google now owns about 85% of the search engine. It’s a total waste of time. Wolfram is out it’s league.