After my post about Kosmix earlier this week, the company's director of communications sent me an email response.

From our point of view, the question isn't "which is better, Kosmix or Google?" but instead "Which one is better for my query right now?" Your query about "Should I buy GE Stock?" is more about getting a yes/no answer than about exploring the topic, and so Kosmix really isn't the right place to go. On the other hand, if you wanted to know more about GE as a company, you'd explore Kosmix by doing a query for General Electric company. This page gives you investor information like stock charts and footage from CNBC, as well as link to GE's different divisions, logos, fun old GE ads from the 1950's, etc. If you want to know more about investment strategy, on the other hand, the page would look like this. We give you an overview, rather than one right answer.

But here's the thing: "Should I buy GE stock" is not a yes or no question at all; it really means "I want to know more about GE." I want to know what GE's PE ratio is, and whether that means it's a good buy. I want to know what its future prospects are, what analysts think, and whether GE will ever raise its dividend again. I think it's strange that no search engines out there understand that.

Kosmix is doing its best to argue that it is trying to be different from Google, not better. But it's not that different. If you want a topic overview, Google will give it to you. But Google will give it to you in list form, instead of laying it out like a "multimedia encyclopedia entry," as the NYT described Kosmix's search results.

Compare Google's search results for back pain with Kosmix's results—which, by the way, take longer to load. Google first three results are overviews from WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, and the National Institutes of Health—all reliable, trustworthy sources. Kosmix's first result is an entry it has compiled, apparently with information from a website called, which I've never heard of. The beauty of Google is that it just presents you with a list ... and yet, it still manages to give you want you want a large percentage of a time. With notable exceptions, of course.