Lycos Powered By Windows Live & Retriever Directory

It's been a long time since I've looked at Lycos, given how far it has slipped in the search world. Someone asked me about it today, so I took a look -- and what's this at the bottom of the page? "Portions powered by Windows Live."

So hey, it looks like an unannounced Microsoft win. Not much of a win, in that Lycos doesn't have much traffic. And maybe it was announced, and I missed it. By the way, only the unpaid results come from Microsoft. Paid results come from Google -- unless Lycos is showing me Google results because it knows I'm in the UK and has a partnership on this side of the Atlantic. Those in the US potentially are seeing Microsoft adCenter listings.

Lycos also has a new Lycos Retriever directory that I hadn't heard about until seeing Martin Belam dissect it this week. In part 1 of his look, I'd say he's pretty underwhelmed by it.

He is intrigued that it is an attempt to scale through technology. But that just makes me think that Lycos perhaps dusted off the WiseWire technology it bought and deployed back in 1998 for its Lycos Community Guides. Those weren't a killer app for Lycos then. I kind of doubt doing a similar thing in the midst of Web 2.0 hype will help much now.

Meanwhile, part 2 of Martin's look basically asks if the new directory isn't just a scraper site designed to draw in search traffic from elsewhere. Perhaps. To be fair, some pages like this for Belarus use the meta noindex tag, which should keep them out of other search engines. The same thing is true for the blank page example Martin shows in his report. But other pages like this for Minsk have no such restrictions.

Postscript: Brian Ulicny sends me this:

I was one of the guys who worked on Lycos Retriever before Lycos got rid of its search staff (well, all but 2) in February. It is not based on WiseWire technology at all. The idea was to build an automated, self-updating Wikipedia. In any case, the idea was interesting, and it was a fun project to work on. I wrote a paper about it recently, which I can send if you like.

Some topics came out pretty well. For example, see e.g.

But we had quite a way to go before Retriever was all we'd hoped it would be. In any case, I'm sure we'll see more things like it in the future.

Cool -- and I'm asking Brian for a link to his paper, to add to the above. Meanwhile, Lycos also wrote to say that the Windows Live partnership was indeed an unannounced change and that:

Retriever is a beta project our search group launched several months ago. We will continue to capitalize on our assets with our Daum engineers in Korea, taking full advantage of Daum's knowledge and expertise, in continuing to build out the Retriever product and other search initiatives

Postscript Barry: If you would like to view the presentation and paper on this, Brian posted them at his blog. You can download the paper on Retriever and also the slides & presentation.