Today, I've decided to completely move to Mojeek. Here's why and what I would like to see moving forward!

Hey guys,

Been jumping between you.com, Neeva, startpage, few other privacy search engines and Mojeek. Let’s just say I have been left disappointed with many of these other alternatives.

Startpage - it’s been over a week after completely leaving startpage, and while it’s great for providing privacy, I wasn’t really comfortable with the hands the company is in, and i also really hated how it felt like a skin on top of Google search results (hillariously, that is actually true as they seem to be extremely dependent on Google itself).

You.com and Neeva - I was hanging around on their slack/discord communities and it was one of the contenders that I would have liked to end up switching over as default personally, but again, i was left disappointed with their lack of privacy consciousness. Their services were a lot less private than they claim it to be, while it’s still somewhat better than using Google, they still collected data by default and the practices they followed weren’t really that private. it’s unfortunate these startups from sillicon valley see privacy as a mere buzz/marketing word. To mention, I constantly participated and asked You.com’s team to make more privacy concious decisions, but they kept adapting to what their userbase wanted (3/4th of their users didn’t really knew what real privacy means in the internet, most of them just wanted a cooler google alternative that has unique features and different layout). A great example would be that till date, You.com still uses Google Maps as its main map provider and when you click at the map section beside web, video, images and etc, it literally throws users at Google Map’s website and Google’s services. You.com ceo’s simple response was that users liked and prefered Google Maps (Google maps is truly best when it comes to what it does, but if we are a privacy search engine, shouldn’t we be encouraging privacy focused alternatives and help improve them?)

Others like DuckDuckGo - DDG was my ex daily driver, it was the first privacy ship I jumped after deciding to ditch Google, its a great search engine, but day by day, I am starting to realize their search results quality isn’t really great, especially with their dependence on Bing and not even having their own primary index.

At the end, my point Is that many of these other startups (especially) or alternatives often focus on adapting to users demand but what I really appreciate about Mojeek is that we are the other way around - getting users to adapt and not give up on privacy, as well as build a truly private and independent search engine. While it may sound like I am somewhat repeating what you folks have advertised, it simply is true as we need to educate others the risk of giving away their data for the services they use, and why true privacy by default is important and a healthier practice on the internet.

A great example is how you folks handled my discord proposal, if it was any of these other new search engine startups from sillicon valley, they would have actually considered it, just because “a few users asked for it”, but you guys stood by your values and instead, made me understand why discord is not really great for privacy and how discourse makes more sense.

I am still learning a thing or two about privacy on the internet everyday. I don’t really see myself posting this if it was a couple of years ago, when I didn’t even know privacy even mattered, but services like DuckDuckGo and today, Mojeek has helped me learn a lot and understand the seriousness of giving away data.

While Mojeek’s development is not nearly as fast as these newly popping startups, it’s a good thing that we are not backed by Salesforce or run by ex-google employees. Because these people don’t know what true privacy means. As I plan to use Mojeek and commit myself for the coming years, completely ditching all the other search engines and finally choosing my main default, I would like to take this post as an opportunity to express some of my not so satisfied experience with Mojeek that could be improved with feedback.

  • Design aspect: I made a post about this couple of months ago, it’s been a while but I would like to bring it out again that the UI is extremely old school, feels outdated, and it makes using Mojeek not so amazing as a daily driver, in-terms of usability and is really in need of an overhaul especially compared to the competition these days. This is something some users that I shared Mojeek with complained about, as a few of my friends really couldn’t use Mojeek with how the UI felt, even though the liked the fact that Mojeek has less ads, felt less cluttered and is independent from Google.

  • Image search - We seem to use pixabay for our images “as default” but this is not a really good source for many common queries. For example, if I search for “formula 1”, pixabay shows me images of F1 cars that are years old and not a single present/recent photo is shown. To simply put, Pixabay seems outdated for a lot of image queries (even irrelevant to what the original query is sometimes) even though it is good at certain times. Solution? Make Bing default for images. Why when we can do manually already through settings? This is more of a feedback that will improve the experience of new users who are trying Mojeek for the very first time, as many (not just average users) may come to conclusions of results quality without noticing, for example, that you can change the source to Bing. Having set Bing as default would improve the quality of image search by a lot as default, so those who want to change it can later do so through settings.

  • Business model (Ads) - Not asking to ditch ad based business model, I think that would end up not supporting many small business and advertisers, but what I am proposing is to actually encourage content creators by doing similar to or get inspired by what ahrefs has done with their new startup search engine yep.com, they have a 90/10 revenue model, giving advertisers 90 percent of the total revenue. Even though their product is in beta and very unfinished, many content creators welcomed this approach and even created content on YouTube mentiong yep.com just for that when it was launched intially without getting sponsered. While a major concern would be: Does it make sense if we already lack advertisers? Yes! This will be a huge reason for new advertisers to choose Mojeek over Google or any other competitor because a large share of the revenue goes where deserved. Feel free to visit yep.com and check it out

  • Share progress (roadmap) - It would be awesome if Mojeek can provide a roadmap on the website so users can get an idea and stay engaged. As we get bugs reported and new feature requests, they roadmap could be updated live.

  • Infobox - More useful facts could be implemented like other searches engines have so we don’t have to go inside for that information and search through a big Wikipedia article everytime.

That is it to sum up, after a long journey of trying out every search engine that i could find, I am pretty happy with Mojeek, mainly because of its values and what I have learned and continue to learn about how privacy is important in the online world. I am also eagerly excited about the future of mojeek and how we develop.

To mention, a lot of things I said about other search engines are purely based on my personal experience and opinion, which is subjective based on every individual.

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Firstly thanks @Archit for the vote of confidence. It’s encouraging that you, and others here, recognise our efforts to build whilst sticking to our principles.

It would be great to hear from others on the suggestions and topics you highlighted. Your feedback is much appreciated and these are all important points. I share some thoughts on each:

Design: We did a big update of the whole site design this year, but not the SERPs and home page. We had planned to move to this next but other major projects had to take priority. Are you using desktop, mobile or both?

Image Search: The current image search uses the Pixabay API and was put in as quick win
sometime ago. The lack of images meant that we put Bing as an alternative. We certainly don’t want to put Bing as the default for everybody. We get quite a lot of people pointing out that perhaps we should avoid using Bing;it’s a view which clearly resonates with us. So it’s something we would like to move away from but we need to do significant work to do that, and have an impact. This has been considered but it not yet a time planned project.

Ads: As you likely know we have a Beta contextual ads program. We have seen a big demand from small advertisers. We are well aware of the Yep approach; we are unconvinced but will let them test out that model. DuckDuckGo have proved that the contextual search ads model can work, so our next step would be to return to that; the difference is that we do not depend on the Microsoft ad network nor need to pass on data to othe parties.

Roadmap: This is a good shout and something we have not considered enough.

Infobox: We do understand the general, and often conditioned, desire for this and the need for convenience. However we are wary here as it can lead one to breaking the open web; others have, and are increasingly, moving from being a search engine to an answer engine. Mojeek Focus can do a lot of the work here for you, though it takes more effort. We are considering how to further tackle this challenge so we’d be interested to learn what specific information you, and others, would like to see.

Thanks for sharing your privacy journey. Two points to be commented upon here:

Sadly this is very true. I call it privacy-washing for shorthand.

There is further to travel for all of us as I’ll try to explain. Whilst the need for privacy search “engines” has long been recognised but this is not enough in my opinion. We all need and would benefit from search which not only provides privacy, but also more autonomy for users and diversity of information sources. We may move more slowly than VC funded companies, who have bigger resources, but also because we recognise that all three aspects are crucial for our information age. Without independence it relatively easy to provide privacy (washing) search. Serious autonomy for users and true diversity of search results requires independence.

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I’ll bite:

Design: I use Mojeek from laptop. I like the current SERP’s, but then I’m old school.

Image Search: I never use it on Mojeek. I’m not a big image search user as a rule, but when I do it’s usually Bing via DDG mainly because it is not Google and Bing’s image search has been pretty good.

Ads: I’m fairly blind to ads as long as they are not jumping out at me, sliding up from the bottom of the screen or sashaying in from the sides none of which Mojeek would ever use. Ads pay the bills so if there are ads it’s a relief to know they are not tracking me across the internet.

Aside: Thank you Mojeek for not using overlay ads for for your newsletter. You guys have been classy. Sites using popups, overlays, etc. for their newsletter must die. / Aside.

Roadmap: Up till now it’s been enough to just focus on increasing the size of the index. That needs to continue of course but yes a roadmap might be nice.

Infobox: I have not given this a lot of thought in terms of Mojeek but I have to agree with @Colin, I think infoboxes are breaking the web, especially as practiced by Google. The same caution applies to Wikipedia and I hate to say that because I personally use Wikipedia a lot. But even Wikipedia admits they are a silo even though well intentioned. To me, a search engine should help me find a page by an expert or at least somebody working on the same questions I have. It should not copy somebody else’s answer and present it as their own (and the only answer.) A general search engine is a tool for navigating the web. Infoboxes suppress the creation of authoritative independent web pages.

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Thanks for the reply @Colin, regarding the UI, please have a look at my previous original post - Modern"ify" the UI

I know you folks have different tasks to be completed on your to-do list, but please do revisit and re think about giving more importance to improving the UI design on Mojeek (hopefully give it more priority in your to-do list), as for my thoughts on how we can improve it, check the attached link above.

I talked with @Tom at the time when the post was made, I assume he is the UI/UX designer, after our conversation in that post, he said this is in the timeline in the coming future.

My concern is, user experience can be immensely improved by making the UI more modern and attractive enough for users to search and use Mojeek, the old school look that Mojeek currently has may be fine with hard-core existing Mojeek users, but as a new user, i promise you that i would have switched to Mojeek a lot sooner if the UI was better. As I said, i have shared Mojeek in my known circle and one of the common feedback I got was that the UI wasnt nice to use, it felt outdated compared to all the other search engines like DDG, Neeva, Google and etc as they have kept their UI updated over the years. We can use it as an opportunity to do something better and different with the UI as well and rethink about how this or that could work, making Mojeek more usable and visually pleasing.

Next one is Ads, which I think Mojeek could think about taking a different direction. I feel like we are kind of conservative in the area, while DuckDuckGo has done a good job with their ads showing based on keywords you search for instead of doing it based on your personal data like Google, this has already been done with DuckDuckGo, if we want to be seen in the market, we should definitely think about doing something different, giving advertisers a reason to advertise their content on Mojeek over DuckDuckGo. So if we adapt to what Yep.com has done (which btw, doesn’t have to be 90/10, you could even take 20% of the ad revenue giving the rest 80 percent back to content creators/advertisers, instead of 90%). At the end of the day, my point is we should try to think differently or maybe take a different approach towards things, so we can stand out of the crowd. We have already done that by having our own index, being independent, why not look into how we can achieve that with ads?

EDIT: Just finished a new post on design mockup for Mojeek, check this out!

While I have been using Mojeek as my default search engine for about half a year, I often find myself needing to use Brave Search (and sometimes even moving to Kagi) when it comes to technical topics. This usually means searching for pulseaudio errors. I’ve been able to get around a good portion of these searches by using a search engine for a particular site, like stackoverflow or archwiki, because I know I’ll end up there anyway.

When it comes to searches in Japanese, I already know that I can’t use Mojeek for that at all so default to Brave Search. These are usually searches for idioms not found in my offline dictionaries.

It’s a shame, because I very much prefer Mojeek’s design (particularly noteworthy is that the entire interface functions the same without javascript, something that no other search engine can boast).

I like that Pixabay is the default image search. It’s different, and support for Creative Commons is something I appreciate. Sometimes, I do want to use copyrighted images as wallpapers, however.

My opinion has changed somewhat on ads. I wouldn’t mind seeing advertising for smaller businesses. The kind that annoys me is Brave’s crypto.com and etoro ads. I might prefer paying a monthly fee, however.

I don’t really care about infoboxes. Personally, if I wanted an answer from Wikipedia, I would search Wikipedia. I do REALLY want a currency converter, though. Some functional answer widgets like this and maybe a “Days Until MM/DD” answer would be much appreciated. I know there are some already.

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Infoboxes: Some, functional routines are good. Example: Easy/fast metric conversion. Also conversion between US measure/metric/UK Imperial measure. Also, also conversion of the UK weight measure “Stone” to US and metric measure.

Also It might be possible to to design infoboxes that take you to a Search Choice in a specialized dictionary. I’m thinking of British slang words and Urban slang words, American slang, Canadian slang and technical jargon words.

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Given this is a REALLY, I will make sure it’s discussed.

Like these?

https://www.mojeek.com/search?q=km+to+miles
and
https://www.mojeek.com/search?q=12+stone+in+pounds

/any improvements/anything obvious missing?

No spoilers, but we might just have something for you in the notsodistant.

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Well heck, if I did know you had metric conversion I’d forgotten! Cool beans. Thanks for letting me know.

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Never a worry, if you find any ways it could be better, different, whatever, just shout!

hi @Archit - just a couple of comments, though this is mostly geared towards others landing here…

Startpage, as you correctly assumed, is largely a Google proxy and i would agree that it is a sketchy company

DuckDuckGo is largely a Bing proxy and a great search engine… to avoid! DDG openly admits to censorship and has been working with daddy Bing to get them to censor content as well - also DDG has been caught red-handed violating user trust

i keep a page on privacy-centric search engines if interested, but the tl;dr version is that Mojeek is the most promising at the moment

that said, for me personally, there is no one search engine that covers all the bases and though i have dropped all meta engines (DDG, Startpage, etc.) from my listing, i still use a meta engine as my daily driver (currently eTools.ch which pulls from Mojeek among others)