Search engine alternatives

Agreed.

As I continue my move away from big tech and closed-source solutions, I take situations like these as an opportunity. For me, part of the opportunity is a learning process. I prefer to go the way of the open-source community as I am a strong believer in for the community, by the community philosophy.

In this situation, I will take the time to learn how the community has addressed this issue. So far, it appears that Searx is the communities solution to privacy-based internet searching. I will be learning more about Searx.

Also, I hope that some of the DLN pod-casters will discuss this issue as I would love to hear some of their opinions, and others opinions here.

@dasgeek @MichaelTunnell @Ulfnic @CubicleNate

5 Likes

What about Brave search?

I crowd sourced some alternatives and was given the following. Sadly I haven’t had time to do much research so consider this a list of kinda-maybe options:

  • Brave search
  • Qwant
  • Ecosia
  • Startpage
  • Various Searx instances

I will be moving though as soon as I get the lay of the land.

1 Like

Good question. First, I don’t hide my distaste for ads. However, Brave is doing something that I believe is unethical. Take this with a grain of salt because this comes from an unconfirmed source, but I’ve heard from several webmasters that Brave intercepts ads on their sites and replaces them with their own Brave ads within the Brave browser. As much as I hate ads, this sounds to me like a copy-right violation.

Someone from another forum pointed out that Searx is just a proxy for other search engines (Bing, Google, etc). If that is the case, the source from Searx is tainted. That would make Searx good for privacy, but would still be compromised by censorship.

What a less than wonderful world we live in.

If we’re looking for more than a proxy it means the service has to have it’s own web crawlers.

This chart is a beginning but it doesn’t include Brave despite them having their own crawlers:

Excluding search from Chinese companies (because censorship is mandated by law) and Google, that leaves the following (adding Brave):

Bing
Brave
Exalead
Gigablast
Mojeek
Naver
Qwant
YaCy
Yandex Search*

*Yandex is Russian though similar to the others I don’t know much about their policies or if they’re legally required to manipulate search so it may be similar to how everyone uses Telegram without any known issues although emergency war powers may change that.

1 Like

Something not-so-fantastic you need to do with Brave is turn off telemetry in settings. You only need to do it once per browser but as it’s set in a cookie it’s annoying if you like to purge cookies.

Settings - Brave Search

2 Likes

Yeah Searx can search a bunch of different engines that you can choose. If there is no ideal search engine then getting results from as many sources as possible is maybe the next best thing.

Here’s a search engine I just found: ecosia.org
Based in Germany and they somehow use searches to plant trees(???)
According to them they anonymize search data within a week, searches are encrypted, they don’t use external tracking tools and their own tracking can be turned off easily.

Although when I run a search and scroll all the way to the bottom I see “Results by Microsoft”

I also found presearch.io. A blockchain based search engine… because if it exists there’s a crypto of it.

2 Likes

Ecosia - Wikipedia

escosia seems to be a privacy focused front-end for Bing similar to DDG

1 Like

Good discussion everyone. Keep it coming…

1 Like

Gave Mojeek a go and it’s search is almost unusable for anything too obscure.

Qwant however was so exceptional I had to double-check that they use their own indexing service and crawlers because it felt like DDG.

You guys need to check out this quote…

"Ensure neutrality and impartiality

Qwant indexes the whole Web with no discrimination. It applies its sorting algorithms with the same requirements, without trying to put forward some websites because it would suit some particular business, political or moral agenda. With Qwant, the information is treated equally, with a constant care for impartiality. Moreover, because we never try to know who you are, we don’t try to offer results that would make you feel comfortable with your own opinions. Qwant presents the reality of a complex world, with diverse opinions, which make it rich and worth living."

Our philosophy - Qwant Help Center

I mean I don’t want to call this one early but dayum.

2 Likes

Excellent find. I’ll definitely take a look at it.

Any dig deep enough into Qwant to determine how they are making money? Inquiring minds want to know…

I also switched to Searx, but use an existing instance chosen from this list: SearXNG and searx instances . Based on the filters I settled down on https://searx-private-search.de/ , as this is also located in Germany with EU laws in effect as an additional plus. Now I am trusting this server.

1 Like

Found this “about Qwant”
“Designed and made in France with passion, Qwant is the first European search engine to have its own web indexing technology, which protects user privacy by refusing any tracking devices for advertising purposes. Users can search in total privacy and security. Unlike the main search engines on the market, Qwant does not install any cookies on the user’s browser, does not try to find out who they are or what they are doing, and does not keep a history of the queries they make. With a pleasant interface that leaves plenty of room for results, Qwant makes it possible to efficiently find the information you are looking for on the entire Web, while respecting total neutrality. Qwant treats all indexed sites and services without discrimination, without modifying the order of results according to the user’s own interests or sensibilities.”
Seeing that they’re French, that means that they have to comply with the GDPR. And at least, that’s something. There have been some hefty fines doled out to companies who got caught here in Europe.
So at least, that’s something.
How they make their money still needs to be seen.

BTW Qwant was also the best single alternative search engine I found too. But it is not Open Source like Searx is, so we need to trust them without the ability to know if it is true. Also it still saves the IP adresses and shares the data with Microsoft:

What data does Qwant collect when I search?

When you search on Qwant, we naturally receive your search terms, as well as the IP address of your computer or mobile device, and information about your browser (the “User Agent”). We use this data to process your inquiry and return your inquiry, as well as the corresponding answers. We pseudonymize what we need to keep for statistics and for transfer to our technology and business partners.

Why are you transferring data to Microsoft, and what data is it?

Microsoft provides some of the search results you see on our pages, and provides ads to the keywords in your search inquiry. This means that we need to send Microsoft some information related to your search that allows our partner to return results and ads relevant to that search, and to prevent fraudulent clicks or other activities that are not permitted by our Terms of Use.

In order to detect fraud, Qwant uses a specialized service offered by Microsoft, which does not have access to the keywords of your search. Only your IP address and the browser (your “User Agent”) are communicated to this specialized service to calculate a fraud probability score. Keywords are sent separately to another service that does not know your IP address.

Processing of our users’ queries

To respond to the query by displaying results and ads matching your search, as well as for security and reliability purposes of its services (detection of spam, automated activity, fraudulent clicks on ads…), Qwant processes the following data:

2 Likes

Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is what pushed me away from Qwant awhile back now. I tried a number of ‘alternative’ search engines, and while DDG is maybe not ‘perfect’, it’s the best that I found. Qwant is very nice, but this sharing of info with Microsoft is just not OK with me.

I did find that Qwant makes it’s money off of ads and that, for me at least, those ads are only on Qwants search page. I didn’t see any ads on the search results page.

What does everyone think about using searx, but configuring it to only use Qwant? The next question will be, which searx page to use.

1 Like

With SearX i’m worried about skin-in-the-game and accountability.

Some random dude hosting a SearX instance doesn’t have much to lose and no one (or very few people) to blow the whistle if they do implement things they’re not transparent about.

If hypothetically you wanted to mine date or do something nefarious SearX is a great place to start because if you’re found out you can just pop back up somewhere else or flood trackers with your nodes.

It’s an interesting question what an “ideal” SearX instance might look like and answering that would help in the finding of one as close to that as possible.

The only true way is to host SearX yourself on your machine. But it would be only available to your machine I guess (don’t know), unless you make it public. That also means you can’t access the search from any system or phone otherwise. But it is the ultimate private search engine for you in this case: Searx - LinuxReviews has some explanation how do to that, I might do it if it’s not complicated. maybe

Agreed. There are some project-based searx pages out there.

Here is one:

This one being run by the Garuda distro.