Search No Further... 7+ Search Engines That Are Worth Checking Out
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Learn about a handful of helpful search engines that are not Google, Bing, or any of the other really obvious ones
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- Search No Further... 7+ Search Engines That Are Worth Checking Out
- DuckDuckGo - For the Privacy-Preoccupied Person
- Honorable mention: StartPage
- Ecosia - For the Environmentally-Inclined Activist
- Honorable Mention: Blackle
- Semantic Scholar - For the Sharp-Minded Student
- Honorable mention: Google Scholar (and Google Books)
- WolframAlpha - For the Computationally-Concerned Citizen
- Webopedia - For the Tech-Intent Savant
- Yippy - For the Oddity-Oriented Obscurist
- The Internet Archive - For the Nostalgia-Blinded Romantic
- All the Search Engines of the Mind’s Eye
- More Articles on 256KB
When it comes to search engines, everyone knows about the old standards like Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL, and so on. In English-speaking countries (where search engines like Baidu and Yandex are largely irrelevant) and on a global scale, Google’s eclipsing dominance has long remained uncontested, and these other examples have fallen into relative obsolescence.
While Google does have offer an extremely helpful smorgasbord of integrated features, such as Gmail, Drive, YouTube, and Google+ (lol) to name a few, Google is ultimately not the most ethical or forward-thinking company out there. And though Google does many things amazingly well, there are some smaller search engines out there that do specific things much better.
Here are seven search engines (and some honorable mentions) that everyone should be aware of.
Search No Further... 7+ Search Engines That Are Worth Checking Out
DuckDuckGo - For the Privacy-Preoccupied Person
When it comes to search engines that place an emphasis on the privacy of their users, DuckDuckGo is the gold standard. It makes a point of not storing any information about you or your search criteria. Whereas Google and other websites use your search history to profile you and aim specific search results and advertisements at you, DuckDuckGo does not track your history and only uses generic advertising.
DuckDuckGo also has some helpful features, such as Instant Answers, which shows answers to your search query without you needing to select any results, and bangs, which allow you to enter a prefix to search specific websites directly.
For a more in-depth look at DuckDuckGo, check out this nice article.
Honorable mention: StartPage
Although it’s taken a bit of a backseat to DuckDuckGo, StartPage was the original privacy-focused search engine. It is still a valid option and worthy alternative to other search engines.
StartPage also offers a proxy that allows you to not just search the web but also browse sites with full privacy.
Ecosia - For the Environmentally-Inclined Activist
Ecosia is a fairly standard search engine that donates at least 80% of its profits from advertising revenue to organizations that plant trees around the world. At the time of this writing, Ecosia’s website says that they have planted over 48 million trees. In order to retain transparency in their spending and ensure devotion to their mission, Ecosia publishes their monthly financial report so that you can see what their profits are going toward.
Ecosia’s operation leaves a negative CO2 footprint on the world – their servers operate on 100% renewable energy and each tree that they plant removes 1 KG of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Although Ecosia’s focus isn’t on fancy features, their search function is high quality enough. Search results are based on Bing as well as Ecosia’s own algorithms.
As an added bonus, Ecosia is also a fairly private option. They do not sell any information to advertisers and always make search results anonymous within a week of the search itself.
Honorable Mention: Blackle
Blackle is a search engine developed by Heap Media and powered by Google Custom Search that replaces Google’s blinding, electricity-guzzling stark-white backgrounds with black. Blackle’s aim is to save energy, which can be beneficial both to the planet and your electricity bill. At this time, Blackle claims to have saved over 7 million watt-hours of energy.
Semantic Scholar - For the Sharp-Minded Student
Semantic Scholar specializes in helping you search for peer-reviewed journal articles and is an amazing resource if you’re a researcher, a student, working in academia, or just want to get information straight from the source.
More than just a resource for finding articles, Semantic Scholar was developed by the Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence, and uses a combination of AI, machine learning, data mining, natural language processing, and semantic analysis as a means of identifying the most important papers published and discovering links between them more quickly than human researchers would ever be able to do.
Referred to as a “smart” engine, Semantic Scholar uses data mining and machine learning to highlight the most important parts of a paper and semantic analysis to draw connections between different papers. On their website, the team behind Semantic Scholar says that within 20 years AI will be able to connect the dots between studies to suggest experiments and hypotheses that may have otherwise been missed.
Honorable mention: Google Scholar (and Google Books)
I know I said that we’d be staying away from Google, but Google Scholar is a great advanced search engine that is perfect for finding studies, articles, abstracts, and other peer-reviewed materials. It has a number of search parameters you can set in order to refine your search as well. If for whatever reason Semantic Scholar doesn’t do it for you, you can’t go wrong with the big G’s own scholarly search engine.
Though it has a much different focus, it’s also worth mentioning Google Books, which allows you to search through and view a huge amount of scanned books that Google has in its archives. These books are provided by the author, publisher, through the Google Books Partner Program, or the Library Project. For books in the public domain, you can even download PDFs of the texts for free.
WolframAlpha - For the Computationally-Concerned Citizen
WolframAlpha is a “computational knowledge engine” that provides factual answer and solutions to just about any objective questions you may have. Rather than providing a list of links to other sites as a search engine does, WolframAlpha answers your calculates your answer directly using externally-sourced data.
WolframAlpha has uses that cover a wide range of disciplines, perhaps most notably the realms of science, mathematics, and technology. Their website has a helpful list of topics that it can help with right on the homepage. Here is a greater breakdown of the different subjects it can tackle, with examples given for each.
Webopedia - For the Tech-Intent Savant
Webopedia, as the name implies, is an encyclopedic resource specializing in definitions and terminology relating to computers and technology. It is aimed primarily at students, educators, and IT professionals, but is a good resource for anyone who wants to learn more about computers and technology.
One of the major goals of Webopedia is to provide definitions and explanations that are easy to understand regardless of the reader’s prior knowledge on the subject, making it an accessible website for professionals and newcomers alike.
Yippy - For the Oddity-Oriented Obscurist
Yippy is a metasearch engine with a talent for locating deep web pages that are typically difficult through conventional search engines. Essentially, Yippy searches through the results of other search engines for you and sifts through content for you. Yippy is useful for locating niche hobby blogs, hard-to-find news, or other under-the-radar sites.
I honestly haven’t had the proper opportunity to locate an obscure interest through Yippy, but if you’re invested in renaissance puppetry or have a strong interest in the intricacies of maintaining the population of spectacled caiman, Yippy could be the search engine for you.
The Internet Archive - For the Nostalgia-Blinded Romantic
The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with a stated mission to provide universal access to all knowledge. The Archive began retaining and documenting Internet history in 1996 and today works with over 450 libraries and a variety of partners in order to identify important web pages, acquire sources to archive, and procure additional funding.
According to their website, The Internet Archive presently contains 330 billion web pages, 20 million books, 4.5 million audio recordings, 4 million videos, 3 million images, and 200,000 software programs, totaling over 30 petabytes of server space. The Internet Archive is also an activist site, advocating for a free and open Internet. Therefore, the vast resources collected by the Archive is available to anyone completely free.
The Archive may be most notable for the Wayback Machine, its vast archive of web pages collected automatically by web crawlers. With the Wayback Machine, you are able to take a trip through time to see what your favorite websites looked like in past iterations, which can be a really fun way to spend an afternoon.
For my money though, what keeps me coming back to the Archive is this little gem.
All the Search Engines of the Mind’s Eye
Although none of these search engines are likely to completely replace Google and its wealth of extra features, resources, and applications, they are all extremely well-designed and useful when it comes to their particular area of expertise. Whether it’s the privacy offered by DuckDuckGo, the application of WolframAlpha when working with science and technology, or simply that Yippy helps you find something off the beaten path, all of these options have huge benefits to offer. There are also more great search engines out there that I have never even heard of!
If nothing else, you can always switch your default search engine to Ecosia and help get a few trees planted (it’s not like Google needs the ad revenue at this point). And whenever you’re feeling like a hopeless old sap, why not take a trip down memory lane with the Wayback Machine?
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I think the list is also missing the new kid on the block: Givero (at https://givero.com/).
It's a search engine giving 50% of all ad-revenue to charities of your choice. It's based on similar search engines as DuckDuckGo so pretty good sources.
DuckDuckGo is great. But other privacy-based search engines offer better actual privacy.
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