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I found some links to some old search engines and to my surprise, about half were still working.

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    The internet search experience suffered a setback when the major browsers abandoned the separate search box for the combined address/search box. Only FireFox retains this feature, where your default search engine is the first choice in a list.

    In the days before Alta Vista became better than Yahoo, and then Google crushed all other search options, there were meta-search engines that combined, filtered, and formatted results from several search engines of your choice. IIRC Magellan was one of these. I’ve toyed with the idea of reviving this idea for my own use. Google and Bing are pretty similar, but not perfectly similar, and provide different results depending on whether you are signed-in or anonymous. DDG usually provides different enough results to be important. There’s a lot of room for innovation in meta-search.

    Finally there are still all sorts of specialized search options. In this category I would start with Amazon and Wikipedia. There are also sites like noodle.com, specializing in education related searches.

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      DuckduckGo is my go to search.

      It is simple and doesn’t have the Google bloat to it and thise smart searches like where you can generate a md5 hash for example in a search query or do number system conversions is pretty cool

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        Duckduckgo owns, its my configured default search on all devices. When i need something specific from Google, i use the bang feature for google, !g.

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          I never knew that was a bang available, my word. Is there a !b for bing too? (Update: there is wow)

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          So essengially DDG has a great interface and is actually way more useful.

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            Let’s be honest, though: the results are not as good as Google for many/most queries.

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              I don’t know. I switched to DDG at home and I’ve always been able to find what I’m looking for. I still use Google at work so I’m able to compare and contrast. About the only place where Google is better (in my opinion) is in image search, and that may be due to how Google displays them vs. DDG.

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                Here’s a concrete example. Let’s say I’m trying to remember the name of the project that integrates Rust with Elixir NIFs.

                First result for me for the query “elixir rust” on Google is the project in question: https://github.com/hansihe/rustler

                After scrolling through three pages of DDG results, that project doesn’t seem to be listed or referenced at all, and there are several Japanese and Chinese-language results despite the fact that I have my location set to “United States”. I will forgive all the results about guitar strings since DDG doesn’t have tracking data to determine that I’m probably not interested in those (although the usage of the word “rust” in those results is in the term “anti-rust” which seems like a bad result for my query).

                That query is admittedly obtuse, but that’s what I’ve become accustomed to using with Google. These results feel generally characteristic of my experience using DDG. I end up using the !g command a lot rather than trying to figure out how to reframe my query in a way that DDG will understand.

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                  I think you did that wrong. You were specifically interested in NIF but left that key word off. Even Lobsters search engine, which is often really off for me, gets to Rustler in the first search when I use these: elixir rust nif. Typing it into DDG like this gives me Rustler at Page 1, Result 2.

                  Just remember these high-volume, low-cost engines are pretty dumb when not backed by a company the size of Google or Microsoft. You gotta tell them the words most likely to appear together. “NIF” was critical in that search. Also, remember that you can use quotes around a word if you know for sure it will appear and minus in front of one to eliminate bogus results. Put “site:” in front if you’re pretty sure which place or places you might have seen it. Another trick is thinking of other ways to say something that authors might use. These tricks 1990’s-early2000’s searches get me the easy finds I submit here.

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                    I disagree that “NIF” was essential to that query. There are a fair number of articles and forum posts on Google about the Rustler library. It’s one of the primary contexts that those two languages would be discussed together. DDG has only one of those results as far as I see. Why? Even if I wasn’t looking for Rustler specifcally, I should see discussions of how those two languages can be integrated if I search for them together.

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                      There are a fair number of pages where Elixir and Rust will show up without Rustler, too. Especially all the posts about new languages. NIF is definitely a keyword because you’re wanting a NIF library specifically instead of a page about Rust and Elixir without NIF. It’s a credit to Google’s algorithms that it can make the extra connection to Rustler pushing it on the top.

                      That doesn’t mean I expect it or any other search engine to be that smart. So, I still put every key word in to get consistently accurate results. Out of curiosity, I ran your keywords to see what it produces. The results on the top suck. DuckDuckGo is usually way better than that in my daily use. However, instead of three pages in, DuckDuckGo has Rustler on page 1, result 6. Takes about 1 second after hitting enter to get to it. Maybe your search was bad luck or something.

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                    I did exactly that search and found it at the 5th position.

                    While “elixir rust github” put it at 1st position. Maybe you have some filters? I have it set to “All Regions”.

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                  Google has so many repeated results for me that I feel they have worse quality for most of my queries than ddg or startpage. Maybe I’ve done something wrong and gotten myself into a weird bubble, but these days I find myself using Google less and less.

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                    Guess so. I have been using it at uni though for a long time and gotten atleast what I needed.

                    But I admit that googs has more in their indexes.

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                Searx is a fairly nice meta search engine.

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                  Finally there are still all sorts of specialized search options. In this category I would start with Amazon and Wikipedia.

                  DuckDuckGo has a feature called “bangs” that let you access them. Overview here. Even if not using DDG, their list might be a nice reference of what to include in a new, search engine.

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                    the URL bar itself now performs a search when you put something that’s not a URL in it

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                      I thought that was clear. What I like about the old style dedicated search box is it that its is so easy to switch between search engines.

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                        I believe that you can use multiple search engines in an omnibar by assigning each search engine a keyword, and typing that keyword (and then space) before your search.

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                          Or if you use DuckDuckGo, you can use !bangs to pivot to another search engine or something else.

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                          With keyword searching (a feature I first used in Opera, and which is definitely present in Firefox; I can’t speak to any other browsers), it’s “so easy” to switch between search engines—in fact, far easier than with a separate search box. I type “g nephropidae” to search Google, or “w nephropidae” for Wikipedia, “i nephropidae” for image search, or even “deb nephropidae” for Debian package search (there’s no results for that one).

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                            This is not completely obvious from the user experience. Without visual cues, much available functionality is effectively hidden. You must have either taken the initiative to research this, someone told you, or you stumbled upon it some other way. This also effectively requires you to have CLI-like commands memorized, the exact opposite of what GUIs purport to do. And adding new search engines? That’s non-obvious.

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                              I use YubNub to get large library of such keywords that is the same on every device.

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                        For those unaware, https://startpage.com is excellent and has great privacy policy. I actually prefer it to DuckDuckGo these days because I feel its default search is of higher quality.

                        Reminds me a lot of the Google from 10-15 years ago.

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                          The default search quality is higher probably because they act as a Google proxy sometimes (offering privacy by being between you and Google).

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                          One I used to use was called TurboSearch or something. A meta-search engine that ran the same input across many search engines combining their top results into one page. Need a new one. Anyone use one like that which is actually good?

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                              Isn’t search a meta one or maybe not. I can’t remember.

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                                *searx

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                              I actually liked the Gigablast one. I have never seen such a simple interface that isn’t terrible.

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                                On this query, we’re at No 7 instead of No 1. We have to do better SEO to reach more Gigablast users. ;)

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                                  Oh yes we do ;)

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                                  Gigablast is faster than google.com at returning the number one result for the query “alphabet”, and it’s the same result. UPDATE: still faster, by less of a margin, when I use TLS 1.2. Who runs this gigablast thing?! :)

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                                    It is called Gigabit for a reason.

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                                  I distinctly remember including HotBot in a list of Internet search engines I had to compile for some kind of “internet literacy” school project I had to do in 4th grade or so. So that’s a hell of a nostalgic name for me. Interesting that they’re still around, and claim to be a “private” search engine along the lines of Duck Duck Go - anyone have any idea of how trustworthy that claim is?

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                                    It probably means they have no budget to do any fancy user tracking. IIRC that was also actually the reason behind DDG’s initial “we don’t track you” policy. Then they figured out it was actually a niche selling point, and made it a proper feature. [citation needed]

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                                    Not mentioned, but my favorite was Northern Light for it’s great boolean expressions. None of this fuzzy “maybe this is what you meant” searching.

                                    http://www.searchengineshowdown.com/features/nlight/review.html