Catholic Google has a catchy name, a funny logo and a location near one of the most Catholic places on Earth, the pilgrimage town of Lourdes in southwestern France. After only three weeks on the web, it has seen its user stats grow to about 16,000 visits a day. But the site that describes itself as“the best way for good Catholics to surf the web” may be in for a rebaptism. Its webmaster has asked Google if it has any objections to the name and is waiting for a reply.
While doing research for my blog post on Catholic Google on Sunday, I found it was based in a village outside of Lourdes. In a phone call today, webmaster Paul Mulhern told me he set up the website with standard Google filters last month as a service for Catholics who want to surf the web without all the objectionable material they usually come across there. The idea came from his wife, who runs a religious goods shop in Lourdes. They're originally from Leeds in the UK.
He said most reaction to the site had been positive, although some comments accused him of trying to create a segregated corner of the web just for Catholics. "I can see where they're coming from but I think they have the wrong point of view," he said. (Photo: Pilgrims pray at the Lourdes grotto, 5 Nov 2006/Regis Duvignau)
Mulhern said the safe search filter blocked most objectionable material but it still let some through, as readers who've tested it have found to their amusement: "We're in the process of trying to eliminate as much of the unsavoury adverts as possible, but they have to be blocked by domain name, which is why it is taking some time." Those ad links on the right side of a Google search can change according to where the reader is based, so this could be an enormous job. And the more ads he blocks, the less he potentially earns.
Some bloggers have asked if this site violates the Google trademark. "I'm in the process of speaking with them," Mulhern said, adding he was dealing with Google in the United States. "I've asked whether they object to the name." Just in case they do, he has been thinking about alternatives. "We're thinking of changing the name of the website to something more catchy," he said. "We might put out a poll."