Whozat? – an early look. Ow, that hurt my eyes.

A few weeks ago, Whozat? burst on the scene as YAPSE (yet another people search engine), with a press release that said

Whozat?, The People Search Engine, was recognized by the prestigious TechCrunch20 competition among the 100 hottest new start-ups on the planet. In a blind study of the relevance of search results for ordinary people, Whozat? beat every other search engine by a large margin.

(Other parts of the press release change “on the planet” to “on Earth” (thx for the clarification) and “in the world.”)

I’m always interested in YAPSEs, so I figured I’d apply for the beta and wait. The signup page is a bit, umm, colorful (see the face in the ?), but why not:


The best part – which you can’t see in the screenshot and is no longer there – was the <BLINK> tag around the “Recognized…” line. I’m very sad it’s gone – who sees the BLINK tag anymore?

Today my beta account became active, and here’s what I got (after logging in from a Windows dialog)


OK, still talking about TechCrunch20 which has become TechCrunch40, and there’s no way to log out. But fine, I search – type in a first and last name, wait 15 seconds, and get


I’m sort of at a loss here. Three background colors,  weird phrases in tags, dropdowns (the ones on the top right) without content, colored backgrounds used to strange effect (two are actionable, one is not), strange use of images when text will do, keywords to vote on which are clearly meaningless – and, if you look at the text results, a remarkable number of spam/stolen content sites below the fold.

When I search for my father, I do get this:


For the record, George W is not my father.

There are some clever bits – the “select the one you are looking for” actually seem like names. Well, that’s one. But then you have dropdown content like


and you know that there’s just a whole bunch they haven’t thought through yet.

Anyway, these guys may be presenting at TechCrunch60, so I may be stealing their thunder. Hey – good luck. I’m going to look more when it isn’t a Friday afternoon…


8 Responses to “Whozat? – an early look. Ow, that hurt my eyes.”

  1. Jason Says:

    Out: <BLINK>

    In: <span style=”text-decoration: blink”>

  2. Scott Says:

    unfortunately archive.org doesn’t have a version of this homepage, though it does note that in April 2007, the domain was parked.

  3. Marzia Says:

    Hey Scott, thanks so much for blogging about us ! We love your sense of humor. Please keep on sending us feedback. And keep on looking for our ‘clever bits’, you will find more… sorry that your eyes hurt for now… rest assured it will be easier to change blink tags and background colors now that we’ve created the algorithms behind some of the interesting functionalities required for a true people search engine, without asking the users to do all the work for us by creating their profiles all by themselves. Following the feedback of people like you, we have just begun an effort to redesign the look of the UI. We don’t claim to be done yet, which is why we are still in private beta, after all. We gave access to a few people we did not know because we need feedback from people like you !

    As for the pictures and phrases, they are there to help you find the right results. Every search engine offers you many results, most of them not interesting to you, people seem to be willing to do the effort of reading the titles and snippets of the results and decide if they are interested in each one of them, why not doing it with pictures or extracted phrases? It is much faster ! Once you find something you like, you click on thumbs up or down and get to see or eliminate results similar to the one you gave feedback on. Isn’t that better than browsing through a long list of snippets ? We had really good feedback from several people on this, but we’d love to hear yours after you’ve played with it yourself!

    If George W is not your father, that would be a good way to decide that you are not interested in that result. If your father would have had a picture on his website, it would have been easier to spot since we would have shown the picture itself (this is what happens most of the time, anyway).

    We apologize for some ‘weird’ phrases :we are a semantic engine, the first one in this field, and we are looking to push or evolve the concept of keyword. Stay tuned for improvements to this.

    Our philosophy is that in private Beta, we’d rather offer imperfect innovations rather than perfect old stuff –we are not interested in unintelligent aggregators that make no attempt to tell apart different people with the same name, or social-networky sites which are not true search engines but require most of the information to be input by users, making them useless to find information on ordinary people.

    You mention spam/stolen content sites. Are you referring to Jobster, or are there others? We are currently testing the next generation of our ranker, so any feedback on this is welcome. Also, you may be pleased to know there will soon be a way for you to influence (but not veto) what appears under your name.

    Looking forward to more feedback, you can always use feedback@whozat.com for more detailed one.

    Thanks again !

    Marzia Polito
    Co-founder, Whozat?

  4. Alex Backer Says:

    We listened, and acted. Please check out the all-new Whozat and let us know what you think.
    Co-founder, Whozat?

  5. Mark Says:

    Well here’s some feedback for you Whozat people: Stop spamming everyone! Sending out e-mails with cryptic subjects and the body stating “You are receiving this email because someone found you when searching for you or for somebody related to you on Whozat” is certainly a business practice that I will not tolerate. I don’t give a damn if somebody “finds me” using your service, so stop pushing it into my face via unsolicited commercial e-mail (a.k.a. spam). Thanks.

  6. Mike Says:

    Whozat peeps, you’ve been blocked.

  7. Chris Says:

    Blocking here too – they’re spamming mailing lists as if they’re people too..


  8. Ree Says:

    Why do they send those emails, anyway, saying “someone found you on Whozat”? I just got one at my work email while I was on vacation. What’s up with that?

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