I’ve built a small search utility to help people explore different search providers. RandSearch (“random search”) forwards your search queries to a randomly chosen search provider. You get different perspectives, ideas, and results with every search!
Google Search has a 92% global market share in search, according to StatCounter GlobalStats. This gives it enormous control over what webpages and information people consume and how we all experience the world.
There are a number of different search providers on the market. However, most of them source their search results from either Microsoft Bing, Google, or Yandex. It may look like there’s a lot of options but their search results are eerily similar.
RandSearch groups search providers based on the search engine index that provides their results. It then randomly picks one provider from each group. Finally, it randomly picks one of those providers to fulfill your search.
This design is meant to highlight providers that are building independent search indexes.
|Search provider||Search index||Language markets|
The list of search providers was chosen based on these selection criteria. (The list of criteria should answer any “why isn’t Provider-X included” questions.)
Most web browsers require search providers to be set to an HTTPS address. However, your search queries are not sent to RandSearch’s servers. Your search queries are only sent to the search provider that will fulfill the search.
Your browser will periodically fetch a tiny webapp from RandSearch that handles the query forwarding and search provider selection. Everything happens locally on your device.
I’ll consider it a success if you set your web browser to use RandSearch for a week or two and then decide to switch to one of the featured search providers. However, I don’t want to be locked-in to any one search provider, and prefer to keep using different ones for every search.
I’ve thought about developing this for a long time. There’s money to be had from controlling the default search provider setting for malicious third-parties and for the browser vendors themselves. Operating systems and web browsers have become increasingly protective of their default search provider setting.
Some of you may even remember an old browser extension I made for Opera called Search Roulette. It required you to prefix every search query with a dot and a space character (“
. ”) to function. I wanted to avoid that requirement for RandSearch. This is why you’re not bounced to your final destination via a webapp.
Ideally, I’d like RandSearch to read your browser’s search provider configuration and choose randomly from the installed providers. This would put you in complete control over what search providers were involved. At the same time, I also want to help promote and diversify different search providers.
If there’s interest around RandSearch, I’ll add an options-page so you can pick and choose which service providers are used.