Findx and Qwant: Two more good private search engines

In March 2017, Kim Elmose wrote a review of Findx and Qwant in Danish, “Findx og Qwant: Yderligere to gode private søgemaskiner.” We received permission to translate and republish his article in English here – thank you Kim!

I haven’t used Google to search for information for more than a year and a half now. I have instead used the European StartPage, or more rarely, the American DuckDuckGo – and I’ve written about both (Kim’s blog – Privatliv.nu).

However, there are two others that are also worth using – and one, as time goes on, will become my alternative to Startpage, which otherwise have been excited about.

The one to keep an eye on is the open-source Danish search engine Findx, developed by Privacore.

It is a company that integrates privacy-by-design in its services – and has the impressive ambition to deliver a completely private search engine. It is already in operation – in beta – where you can write to CRO Brian Schildt and ask to join the beta test team. I have done that, and Findx is definitely doing a good job.(UPDATE: After this post Findx has been opened for Public beta)

It is based on open source code, and they have their own crawler that gathers webpage information online and indexes it. As Brian explained at DataEthic’s first event at the beginning of 2016:

“We are open source so everyone can look over our shoulders – and we index everything that Findx searches so there are no third parties involved – we are in control of the algorithms,” he said, referring to StartPage which runs all searches via Google’s search engine, just anonymously. “It’s just not anonymous-enough for Privacore and Findx.”

Simple no-nonsense design

The design on Findx is no different to what you’d find at other search engines – StartPage, Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. Findx is straightforward, simple and without any fancy elements, so it loads quickly. Search is tightly in focus.

Findx has a traditional no-nonsense design
Findx has a traditional no-nonsense design

Note the markings next to each result: three dots mean a user can give feedback and suggest alterations to that search result.

User involvement – wisdom of the crowd – I like it!

If you click on the “Thumbs Up” icon, you can quickly provide your feedback about the result – without having to fill in any text:

It’s a good feature, which signals openness and confidence in the “wisdom of the crowd”.

Search results are continuously improving – and are more varied than what you see if you’re signed in to a Google account when you search using Google. It knows you and your preferences – and gives you what it thinks you want to see.

Here it’s more obvious, because Findx does not know you – and does not want to get to know you. This also applies to StartPage and DuckDuckGo. But test it yourself – if you get beta access – you can be sure that you won’t be data-mined and those shoes that you searched for will not be exposed on other pages that you subsequently browse

Qwant – attractive presentation and more polished result lists

Qwant is a French search engine that has been around for some years, focusing on the German and French market. It has just received 18.5 million euros in 2017 to expand in the European market.

The design is more media-rich – a bit like results on Google when you are logged into your Google account. It also differs from other private search engines by allowing you to create a user account and save boards with favourite search results.

Qwant provides multiple columns with access to different types of results: web, social, news – or as seen by default: images, video, shopping and music.

Your and others’ boards are a universe for you to discover – much like Pinterest boards full of linked images.

The search results are good quality and they are clearly displayed. A nice candidate to push Google and Bing a little off-track.

That’s why these two search engines – Findx and Qwant – appeal to different audiences, and are user-friendly. Those who want search results – short and sweet – and those who would like the results presented more attractively, inviting for exploration.

But first: try them for yourself!