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Search engines are one subject where the web audience seems to have become complacent. We accept that there’s one dominant search leader, and use it every time for every purpose. It never occurs to us to switch, or if it does, we know about a couple of other general-purpose uncensored search engine that are like the market leader, but a little worse. So why switch?
The fact is, there are as many ways to search the web as there are web users. And even if we’re perfectly happy with the leading general-purpose search, that doesn’t mean we can’t also visit a special-interest search service on the side. To liven up your web experience and get out of your rut, try these unique discovery engines on for size:
There’s much more here than the Wayback Machine. The Internet Archive at https://archive.org/ has an index of content going back not just to the early Internet, but curations from museums, scans from published works, music and film clips, software suites, and much more. It’s a digital library of media collections, an excellent source for students, researchers, and historians. It’s even inspiration for artists or a free content well in the case of public domain works.
Fandom – Wikia
Are you looking for something in the media content space? No matter if it’s movies, TV, music, games, books, toys, or any pastime at all, there’s a fan Wiki for it somewhere and Fandom Wikia can find it. Wikipedia often snubs extreme niche topics, but fandom wikis are a user-created space where fans are free to document every detail of the most obscure media.
Related to the above, https://tvtropes.org has a reputation as a notorious rabbit-hole where you can get lost for hours. It’s not just for TV despite the namegeneral-purpose cover books, magazines, comics, games, film, web series, artists, and even a sizable chunk of nonfiction topics. It’s like Wikipedia with the fun put back in, being far less formal and stuffy.
Adult websites, dating profiles, video entertainment, erotica, and related diversions are one category of search you’d prefer not to be tracked. https://hot.com/ is a search engine just for the adult niche which keeps it discrete, without tracking your data. Why go incognito when you have a whole search engine that cloaks for you?
If you thought the above was a good idea, DuckDuckGo is a popular search engine for the general web which doesn’t track your data, respects your privacy, and delivers neutral, general-purpose content. Privacy is a growing concern among web users, even if they “have nothing to hide.” Privacy advocates everywhere swear by DuckDuckGo.
Do you want to screen out the corporate voices in search results and just hear the average web users’ opinion? This unique engine indexes only forums, bulletin boards, message boards, and comment threads. It has a few features for customized search ranges and targets every discussion forum on the web you can imagine. Excellent for tracking community buzz, finding debate topics, or researching public opinion on a topic.
HotBot is another general-purpose search engine which is also geared towards respecting the users’ privacy. In addition, https://www.hotbot.com/ also filters out potentially harmful sites and risky clicks from results pages, leaving a list of more trusted sites. HotBot is actually derived from one of the original search technologies on the web, from the mid-1990s.
Shodan is the most unique on this list. It’s not in the business of helping you locate information – instead it searches for things. As in physical hardware that’s connected to the Internet. What might one find? Security cameras, webcams, baby monitors, industrial control systems, servers, and various other devices. As one might suspect, this is both an excellent security tool for finding system vulnerabilities, an excellent “hacker” toy for finding exploitable security holes, and a place for the curious to wander around investigating web-connected technology. Have fun and stay out of trouble!