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TechnologyWe are findx, a private search engine, ask us anything!

May 16th 2017 by Brianschildt • 26 Questions • 6251 Points

Most people think we are crazy when we tell them we've spent the last two years building a private search engine. But we are dedicated, and want to create a truly independent search engine and to let people have a choice when they search the internet. It’s important to us that people can keep searching in private This means we don’t sell data about you, track you or save your search history in any way.

  • What do you think?Try out findx now, and ask us whatever question comes into you mind.

We are a small team, but we are at your service. Brian Rasmusson (CEO) /u/rasmussondk, Brian Schildt (CRO) /u/Brianschildt, Ivan S. Jørgensen (Developer) /u/isj4 are participating and answering any question you might have.

Unbiased quality rating and open-source

Everybody’s opinion matters, and quality rating can be done by all people, therefore we build in features to rate and improve the search results.

To ensure transparency, findx is created as an open source project, this means you can ask any qualified software developer to look at the code that provides the search results and how they are found.

You can read our privacy promise here.

In addition we run a public beta test

We are just getting started, and have recently launched the public beta, to be honest it's not flawless, and there are still plenty of changes and improvements to be made.

If you decide to try findx, we’ll be very happy to have some feedback, you can post it in our subreddit and earn some gold.

Proof:
Here we are on twitter

Q:

What sets you guys apart from duck duck go or the likes which already claim to achieve anonymity when searching online?

A:

A couple of things I believe, we are based In Europe for one thing, but the main difference is that we have created our own index, and not is a meta-search engine. This gives us independence and more control over ranking feed back options etc. a bit more about search engines here


Q:

That animation is cool maybe ONCE. Not all of us want to use movie-computers that beep every time you push a key.

A:

Uhh... not the first time we get that one... this is just more ammunition to go through the use of animations - thx.


Q:

why are all the pictures only shuttershock garbage watermarks

A:

We didn't focus on image search yet, but it is definitely something we will make happen in the future. How about the web search and map search, did you find that usable?


Q:

How will you monetise this? I presume you're not doing this for nothing?

A:

We see privacy as competitive advantage, here is the opportunities we have in scope for monetising.

Contextual ads from partners

We've started out with a well known model; Displaying ads related to the search queries. When you search for Tennis, we can show you an ad for a pair of tennis shoes - no need to know your previous searches for that.

Affiliate deals

We are affiliates of some of the larger online shops, and may attach our affiliate ID to the links you see in our search results (clearly marked with a green "Aff" icon). If you decide to buy something from our partner’s site, we get a small commission that helps us to continue providing our services to you. We do not receive any information about what you buy.

API access - Business to business

Since we have our own index we have the option to offer paid API access, and we are planning to start offering that end of 2017 or early 2018.

Future opportunities

Following the market closely and researching if people are willing to pay for a privacy focused service, especially on mobile devices, might be an option, but it is too early to say. Among the ideas we discuss is an ad-free mobile app.


Q:

How many web pages and websites does FindX currently have in its index? How do plan on keeping up with Google?

Besides the quality rating systems, do you use any algorithms to hide or downrank spam sites, keyword harvesters and clickbait content?

A:

We have around 2 billion pages in the index, and capacity for at least the double. Keeping up with Google has various aspects to it. On computerpower we can't, but we aim to deliver relevant results, and to do that we don't need to match the computer power.

We use our own quality rating as one parameter. We find linkfarms, malware and spam sites and has taken some rough decisions on the major one. We are definitely looking into more ways to algorithmic remove or give penalties to those kind of sites - but need to mature it more before we can share the details.


Q:

Yea I was gonna say, my first thing I tried was to search "fallout 4". First result is fallout boy, and then a bunch of results related to fallout but nothing like the actually fallout 4 page or wiki which is what I would probably be looking for.

Maybe this kind of search engine just isn't for me, because what I want in a search engine is one that knows what I'm searching for. Google does this so well because of it learning about you.

I actually like that about Google's services.

A:

That's for sure Google will be more personal than we ever will. We don't want to copy that, we want to create another kind of search engine. The reason you should use it, either as your standard search engine, or just occasionally is that we don't get to personal. The fallout 4 search isn't that relevant, and it doesn't lok lijke we have index the website - next time you can contribute and add it - I've done it this time http://imgur.com/a/M0kxY


Q:

I'll take the hit and get these out of the way:

How does your engine compare to Bing for porn?

How would you recommend using your engine to find specific porn results?

How much pornography have you indexed so far? A lot, or just a little?

A:

Bing is really good at porn... I think... - we have not put any effort into porn or any other subject. Safe search is available to remove violent and adult content from your results. If we have indexed a webpage you can find it. We havn't stats on porn as such - but make a search and try it out.

Do you think we should avoid or include porn results?


Q:

I guess that's a question of branding. I think that having a safe, anonymous engine for that sort of thing would drive more traffic.

But, if you wanted to brand yourselves as a more straight-forward information based engine, that could attract a certain dedicated audience as well. Every other engine indexes pornography, so being the one that focuses your efforts elsewhere may benefit you.

Of course, you could always try it without and see if you get the kind of traffic you're hoping for, then add that stuff later if things aren't going as well as planned.

A:

Thanks for the feedback, appreciated! Great thoughts on this topic, It's absolutely something to consider when we go forward.


Q:

What else would I need a private search for except for porn?

Don't you know that the Internet is for porn? There's a song about it called "the Internet is for porn"

A:

The birthday gift for your spouse, the next hardware you are going to buy - but it's up to you.


Q:

Can a user's ISP see what the user is searching on findx?

A:

No one can see your search on findx, not even us. This said, your ISP will be able to see that you are connected to findx, but not what you search for.


Q:

Please explain "not even us". How do you guarantee that?

A:

At this point it boils down to trust and accountability - we are a bunch of honest guys. We have investigated the possibilities for an external audit from a service like Europrise, it is very expensive for a small start-up and, we havn't financially prioritised an official external audit. We'll gladly invite tech savvy devs to come by and do an audit ;-) - Technically we can't guarantee that we don't, to some extend the nature of the web.
PS: I did the "not even us" comment, and we can't but we could if we wanted to but we don't.


Q:

Given your comment I'm assuming you are part of findx.

The problem people have with the comment by /u/Brianschildt is he stated that there is no way that findx could see people's search queries:

No one can see your search on findx, not even us. This said, your ISP will be able to see that you are connected to findx, but not what you search for.

It is complete BS that the entity findx could not log peoples search queries if they wanted to. A user would also have no ability to know or verify that they are infact being truthful to the claim of not logging the data. You can't just tell somebody to trust you. Trust has to be earned.

A:

Yes, I'll take a hit for that one, I got carried away - isj4 is a findx team member and backend developer, he already hit me... Just to make it clear - if we want to log personal data like the IP-address, we can do it.


Q:

Why should I use findx instead of duckduckgo? What makes you the better choice?

A:

I guess we are a few search engines with similar focus on privacy and DDG is one of them. A bit to the technical side, but the major difference is that we have created our own index, it makes us independent, and means we don't rely on third parties for ranking, crawling etc. Right now we are also building a browser, and will try to combine private search and browsing. And for what it means we are based in Europe ;-)


Q:

Since you brought it up, are you based in a fourteen eyes country? Which country are you based in?

A:

We are based in Denmark. (Nine eyes)


Q:

How come you guys didn't choose to be based in Switzerland?

A:

Mainly we live in Denmark, and have to pet the servers from time to time.


Q:

Reading over your sub, you all seem genuinely passionate about privacy and clean searches. And it also seems like this is counter to how most big sites want to interact with search engines (like your interesting find regarding Yelp, etc.).

Will this hesitancy on the part of these sites negatively impact your engine, or will it create opportunities for other, more agreeable services to rise to the top?

A:

Thanks for the kind words, and yes we are dedicated to the course. Right now we see the Yelp example as an opportunity - it opens a space for other services, but it has a flipside off course, if we can't provide the results people find relevant there is a risk it will have a negative impact - but let's see how it evolves. Right now we are happy to get feedback on the work we've done so far.


Q:

Do you think down the line you might be tempted to use cookies / search history to have targeted ads? Just for ads like

A:

We made a fundamental decision; we will not track people. There is all kind of temptations, but this is so fundamental for us and a core business principle - Here is the set of principles we follow. In everything we do we avoid to collect personal information. When we don't have data we can't (ab)use it. Let me know if you think this is good enough, and I'll like your comments on how to build trust around it.


Q:

How many person hours goes into writing an internet search engine ?

What was your inspiration point when you said ? " lets do this "

Thank you

A:

Thanks for asking that one, we are small team of 4 people in our "HQ", and besides that we have some contractors for different projects.

/u/rasmussondk fostered the idea, and it rapidly grew on us. He actually started talking about building a private browser, but suddenly he said we need to build a Search engine - When we are online we browse and we search. And then we started.

All of us had personal experiences helping family and friends installing ad-blockers and choosing a private search engine as default in the browser etc. We also had a general assumption that people will demand more privacy and be able to choose alternatives to Google. Besides that the challenge of doing it seemed so crazy that we couldn't resist it.


Q:

Will your website work in China and Turkey or will it be blocked?

A:

We don’t know. If the authorities in eg. Turkey will block findx is hard to say – it is not our primary market, but we’ll see how it evolves. For a start, and to limit our scope, we decided not to index sites in Chinese and other none European/English languages, this probably also limits the interest.


Q:

Why is it called FindX? Who what is the inspiration behind the name choice?

A:

We had a bunch of names on the short list. Findx was short and actually said what you can do on search engine, and we could register many of the TLD's. What do you think about it?


Q:

How do you plan to spread the word about your website?

A:

Sharing information on social media is obviously one of them, and we run a blog on privacore.com/blog. We also participate in networking and conference events about online privacy and Data ethics. At this point we don't aim for a big splash, but to spread knowledge steadily. There is a number of opportunities around marketing, and we evaluate how we can get the best bang for the buck.


Q:

Is the feedback feature just while you're starting out or are you planning on keeping it?

A:

You found it! We see as a staying feature, and like the idea that search results relevance and quality can be "crowd sourced". We kept it simple for now, but potentially it can evolve and create value to both searchers and web-masters.

We are a curios if people will like it and most of all use it, what do you think about it?


Q:

What do you think of the NSA and ISPs collecting info on people?

A:

If governments monitor their citizens, and for what purpose ultimately falls back to the democracy you live in I guess, that’s worth a discussion with the fellow countrymen of yours. We are based in Denmark and believe we have a solid democracy here.

The ISP question is different, because they can benefit financially from it, also called surveillance capitalism. That is what we fight.


Q:

Is the search engine targeted to one particular subject ? I did two random searches and nothing useful come out.

A:

Hi - there is plenty of pages we havn't indexed yet, and therefore we still haven't relevant results for all searches. What was the searches if I might ask? privacy ;-)


Q:

BIG COCK TRANSVESTITE FUCK UNKNOWING POMELO.

LEMON TEA BISCUIT SHORT BREAD RECIPE

A:

:-D LOL - I asked it myself - thanks for sharing - The Lemon tea biscuit results looks fine to me ;-)


Q:

Meshuggah tour and filler vs primer.

A:

It's not the most relevant result's I'll give you that. We know there is a way to go to catch all relevant webpages - if you want to you can use on of our exits, a neat little feature in some situations