Internet search engines

Tips, tricks, confidentiality

August 2, 2021 — January 2, 2024

computers are awful together
faster pussycat
information provenance
NLP
search
Figure 1

1 Search with notionally good privacy

I don’t want large search businesses to know what I am searching for.

Also, some argue, monopoly search engines make the internet boring.

Here are some links to search engines which may redress these problem.

Many of these make strong claims to protect user privacy, although few offer substantive guarantees in excess of inspecting tracking headers. Some of them repackage other searches; some run their own indices. Most of them have very unclear business models.

1.1 Mojeek

Mojeek/Mojeek Focus (Bookmark) Search Engine

Mojeek was created to provide a globally competitive and genuine alternative search engine based in the UK, and from the outset one that didn’t track its users nor simply retrieve its results from another engine (i.e. to provide real alternative results).

Mojeek’s technology has been developed entirely from scratch by Marc Smith, mostly using the C programming language, and uses no pre-existing search or web crawler technology. All technology and IP is fully owned by Mojeek Limited.

UK company.

1.2 Startpage

Startpage claims to repackage Google search results AFAIK anonymously, although I cannot see much information about why I should believe them on this. Dutch company. To use them as a searchbar search I needed to add a browser extension which is weird and tedious.

1.3 DuckDuckGo

Perennial favourite, duckduckgo is a search engine run by strident privacy advocates which is laudable I s’pose. The search is… OK. Usually not as good as Google. Every now and again it is serendipitously wonderful, but this cannot be relied upon.

1.4 Brave

Brave Search recently launched, backed by the creators of the Brave browser. TBC.

1.5 Qwant

Qwant promises to forget user data rapidly. French company.

1.6 Runnaroo

Similar? See runaroo. Promises to aggregate many other search engines and reviews sites. Business model utterly opaque.

1.7 Search encrypt

search encrypt claims to additional privacy via encryption in the Perfect Forward Secrecy mode. Presumably this is supposed to prevent them from assembling a history of my searches?

2 DIY search proxies

A.k.a. meta-searching. I suspect these imply maintenance overhead as the search companies attempt to circumvent this circumvention of their business model. Effectively, you would be participating in an arms race.

2.1 searx

The searx family is a network of metasearch engine portals with the aim of protecting the privacy of users. Searx does not share users IP addresses or search history with the search engines from which it gathers results. Tracking cookies served by the search engines are blocked etc. The flagship instance is searx.me There are many user-operated instances and it is open source. Advanced: run your own DIY search anonymiser!

2.2 mysearch

mysearch — Local search engine portal designed to anonymise search requests and display search results better.A public instance is available at search.jesuislibre.net. Dead AFAICT.

5 Suppressing spam

6 Incoming

  • Introducing Simple Search

    Simple Search is an extension that highlights the “traditional” or “ten blue link” search results provided by the search engine, laying them over the info boxes and other content. Close the window to view the full results page. Compatible with Bing and Google search engines.

  • Internet Search Tips · Gwern.net

  • Kagi search features | Kagi Blog

    • No ads
    • Ability to block/boost domains
    • Bangs allow you to quickly jump to all popular sites on the web.
    • zero telemetry, zero tracking
    • See how fast is a website or how many ads/trackers it has before clicking the result.