Another people finder – Yasni

In the week I spotted Phil Bradley’s review of a people finder called Yasni.

I’ve linked to the UK domain here, for obvious reasons.

Having blogged elsewhere on the merits (and limitations) of various people finders, and given how useful they are becoming as people increasingly remove themselves from more traditional people finders (like electoral rolls), I thought it worthwhile giving it a quick once-over.

Although I always use a range of approaches to people finding, I thought I’d do a quick compare and contrast of its results against 123people – probably the free, bespoke people finder I use most at present.

So here‘s the (UK) results for a search for me in Yasni.

…and here‘s the World (there used to be a UK option, but alas no more) results for a search for me in 123people.

The first major advantage 123people has over Yasni, is it’s organisation by type of web content. Right at the top of results in the former, you will find images, then email addresses, then phone numbers (US only, from experience) etc.

Yasni does filter, but not as intuitively – it tends to filter more by source than by type of content.

That said, often the email search in 123people lacks a touch of finesse – opting for best match rather than exact match, and hence returning lots of irrelevant results (which I suppose is to an extent inevitable, given the unorthodox conventions people and companies use in email names).

To be fair, I can only find one mention of my BBC email address in either Google or Yahoo – from a game of Online Chess I didn’t(!) play ages ago. Neither Yasni nor 123people found reference to it.

I have to say there’s an interesting clash between two of the more contentious aspects of people finding between these two engines. Across the top of results in Yasni you will find a Private tab, which brings back results from Amazon (wish lists) and Myspace.

The latter is a little disingenuous to say the least – as public Myspace profiles (for viewing purposes) have always been public.

Nevertheless, the Amazon results in 123people are getting less useful than once they were. When I first started using 123people, the Amazon results brought back customer’s wish lists (which Yasni has done – albeit not my wish list, rather that of someone else who shares my name).

Now in 123people this module just features book titles authored by people of the name you are searching. This is where 123people falls down on two counts – it’s only bringing back book titles (how many people have actually authored books?), and it found a range of results for an author called Dick Murray – which just goes to show that Pipl‘s attempt to find names incorporating word-order in the search, is a valuable addition to the mix of people finding.

In terms of general web and blog results returned, 123people definitely pips Yasni – by some margin, in my case.

However, there is an exception. The biographies section in 123people has never been one I focus too heavily on – but here is a section where Yasni comes out on top – they’ve recovered my CV, where 123people has failed to. Surely it can’t be that hard to filter biographical content for the terms CV and curriculum vitae?

Keeping on with the theme of biographies – and thinking aloud here, it would make sense for any people finder to focus heavily on filtering about pages in websites and blogs. That is after all where people (if they’re going to share information) will tell you the who, why and what of their online presence – neither set of results brought back the about pages from my blog or website.

It wouldn’t be so difficult either – WordPress urls feature an about folder by default, Blogger urls feature a profile folder etc.

Actually that’s just got me thinking about developing that contributor-finding search engine I made a couple of months back.

The tag cloud function in 123people is something I’ve often got some mileage out of – in terms of teasing out relationships between the person you’re searching for and their associates – and both are good.

I’d have to say 123people’s social net profiles are broadly better (courtesy of the rather hit-and-miss ZoomInfo results) than Yasni’s results (for me).

Phil mentioned in his review (and this is borne out from my experience) that you can claim your own identity in Yasni, and even pick out those Yasni results from a search to create a wider profile of yourself (or the person you are after).

This is, though, something to be rather wary of – I’ve found before how other people finders (like Spock) allow complete strangers to claim a web identity, and how this can be a possible breeding ground for hoaxery and other bad stuff.

One last thing to mention – Yasni offer a search agent function – which is summarized here:

…we search in many more sources on the web and will send you an email about all results within 24 hours. After that you will be notified weekly regarding new results about “Murray Dick” (this search can be canceled at any time).

I’ve subscribed, and will update the blog when/if anything comes back. This is a great initiative, albeit I imagine something which may not be easy (or cheap) to replicate en masse.

So in summary, I’d say I’ll still be using 123people first, but clearly Yasni has a couple of aspects about it which make it good to use too. If nothing else, the results just go to show what I’ve always thought, which is the more tools you use, the more likely you’ll be able to find who you’re after.

Of course by way of caveat, I should point out that a single search for a single person isn’t a particularly fair way to measure which is best out of these engines, but I’m short on time this weekend so… 

UPDATE: so I got my search agent mail back from Yasni, roughly 24 hours after I blogged the above.  Written in German, it directed me to three more pages, sadly none of which are relevant to me.  Still, its a good initiative, in principle if not necessarily in practice.

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