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123People is part of the French Yellow Pages Group. It is, therefore, particularly strong at finding people in Europe. The following countries are very well represented by this search engine: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Canada and the United States are also well covered.

123people people search page

Similar to Pipl, 123People lays out the search results by category. Unlike Pipl, however, 123People is not as good as eliminating duplicate content, so you may have to do a bit more digging on this site. Nevertheless, some of the result categories are useful and unique to 123People. For example, there is a category called Amazon (for anyone who ever left a comment on Amazon’s website). There are categories for phone numbers, email addresses, domain names, professional associations, blogs, biographies, etc.

One thing to note about 123People is that it does mix free information with paid content. Sometimes this is done in a confusing manner. For example, there is a category for premium public records and criminal record checks. Both of these categories cost money.


Tag Clouds

A category found on 123People and some other people search sites is something called a “tag cloud”. Tag clouds are essentially visual depictions of key words associated with a person. The more important tags are shown in a larger font size.

One caveat with tag clouds is that they only work well with people with unique names; otherwise, the tag cloud is a mash of the results from two or more people. Below is an example of a tag cloud for Arnold Schwarzenegger, a famous person with a unique name.

tag cloud of Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger has had three careers in his life: body builder, actor and politician. He is currently the Governor of California.

One thing to note about tag clouds is that they can be useful in pointing you in general directions based on someone’s career, hobbies or place of residence.

Another much more subtle thing to note is that tag clouds tend to favor more recent information over older information. This is evident with the tag cloud for Arnold Schwarzenegger. His latest career (politician) gets the most prominence. Prior to becoming a politician, Arnold was an actor, which is also featured in the tag cloud although in a less-prominent position. Finally, Arnold’s first career as a body builder is evident in the tag cloud because you know to look for it. This may not be at all evident if you were looking for someone with a different, unknown background.

If you use tag clouds to point you in the right direction be very aware of this subtle bias to favor more recent (and possibly less-relevant) information over older (and possibly more-relevant) information.

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