Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Google Downranks 65,000 Pirate Sites in Search Results (torrentfreak.com)
306 points by Jerry2 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 253 comments

I remember I used to do filetype searches for mp3, mp4, flac, etc... and get all sorts of good stuff. I would find ftp servers with thousands of songs and just download anything interesting. I feel like the Google search algorithm peaked many years ago and has gradually been neutered by all sorts of special interest groups who have no doubt harassed Google with legal threats. Google probably doesn't want to censor results the way they have been forced to. Even pdf filetype searches got ruined too because Elsevier and JSTOR probably harassed Google as well. The recent change to Google images where they removed links to images made me switch to Bing.

Google probably doesn't want to censor results the way they have been forced to.

From what I've seen, there is a large contingent of Google who doesn't want to provide unfettered access to information. Rather, this contingent wants to socially engineer everyone for the better using their power.

It's unclear what "unfettered access" would mean for a search engine. Google has always been ranking results from the very beginning (PageRank). To get unbiased results you'd need a random sample of something, which is never going to be useful in a search engine.

So they are always going to make some people unhappy and the question is who. It used to be people nobody on Hacker News cared about like spammers and click farms (remember them)? But you could still call that censorship or social engineering even then. Isn't getting rid of spam also "using their power?"

Without heavy-duty ranking and spam prevention, would you even use it at all?

So yeah, they have a lot of power, they're getting leaned on by other powerful forces, and we don't need to agree with their choices. But just like a newspaper has to decide on something for its front page (and leave other stuff out), a search engine's gotta rank things.

“So they are always going to make some people unhappy and the question is who. It used to be people nobody on Hacker News cared about like spammers and click farms (remember them)?“

For me, I want pirate sites when searching for piracy and I never want click farm.

Google used to have a simple mission- organize the world information. This means helping you find what you’re looking for. Link farms didn’t do this, they made it harder to find the real thing. If I’m looking for a document and Google knows I want it, and knows the document’s location and doesn’t show it to me, that’s bad. I don’t really care if Google morally doesn’t like piracy, or makes more money by blocking piracy, or whatever. It’s their site, they can do what they like.

But this is why they are worse at their job than they used to be.

One of the reasons I never liked AOL is because their search was like an index through the yellow pages and didn’t use what made the internet so awesome (all the world can connect to each other) and rather was about what was most advantageous for AOL and their advertisers buying keywords.

So they are always going to make some people unhappy and the question is who.

What happens when these large companies start making people unhappy just because they have the wrong politics? What happens when groups of people within companies like Google start looking the other way when people start to manipulate/SEO page rankings to bury facts and promote their own interpretations of documented facts and science?

It's already happened.


Wouldn't these people need to be specifically from the search team, and not Google in general (which would have almost no control over search)

Google keeps on demoting sites in search for doing certain things. In the past, this has largely been good. This stance against piracy and the stance that YouTube has taken against the principles of free speech mark a trajectory I find disturbing.

Going from “their stance against piracy” to “socially engineer everyone for better using their power” is quite a leap and strikes me as overly dramatic / FUD.

It was very clear that one was about what a contingent in the company believes and another is about what the company does. It strikes me as quite the leap and overly dramatic to compare specific quotes about different things just because they're in the same thread.

I see it as a concerning second phase to citizens united. Give corporations virtually unlimited influence and watch as they also find ways of capping everyone else's influence. Google sticks you into your (their) filter bubble and Facebook performs the social equivalent to gerrymandering on their platform. WCGW?

Google would've fought back much more -- as it has in the past -- if it wouldn't have gotten into the "content business."

That's really the main leverage studios have over Google right now: "either remove the stuff we tell you or you'll no longer get access to the content you want from us."

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that MPAA's board seat on the W3C was sponsored by Google (and Netflix, maybe Microsoft, and a few others).

The mental gymnastics employed by HN's pro-Google users never cease to impress. Excuses, explanations, speculation abound all so you don't need to confront the simple and obvious truth that Google's a business, it exists to make money and for no other reason, and the primary method it employs is doing all manner of things that degrade the quality of it's services to impress and court the advertising industry.

And now let the down-votes rain in.

Yeah i thing a watershed was back when movies were added to the Android Marketplace (later renamed Google Play).

This coincided with Android getting a much more restrictive permission regarding removable media (under the label media storage permissions), that made it impossible for non-system apps to write to removable storage (sd cards, usb sticks, etc).

Google makes its money selling advertising - it has no incentive to provide unfettered access of information to everyone.

You can pick an arbitrary contentious political topic, or even a topic that borders a political topic, and get markedly different "leanings" from bing and google on the first page. One of them at least appears to be aiming at something with the results.

It would be funny to see bing finally reach google search quality not because it got better, but because google got worse.

I just used Google Image search and in frustration switched to DDG because I have no idea how to get direct links to the images that Google presents. I don't think it was always this hard? Or maybe I've grown dumber.

EDIT: Evidently you can right-click and view image. I thought that wouldn't get me to the original image since the image as presented in search is smaller in resolution than what Google says the image really is. Either way, in DDG the image actually links to the damn image and not to the site where the image supposedly maybe appears on.

There is a Chrome/Firefox/Userscript extension that brings back the View Image button:


You know what DDG is doing is illegal, right? Google Images used to link to direct images as well. But then there were lawsuit threats and a settlement with Getty, which forced them to stop linking directly.

If DDG / Bing become big enough, they too will be forced to stop their practice.

It's not illegal. They were sued then Getty dropped the suit when Google agreed to partner with them and remove the links.


Lawsuit threats don't make something illegal.

The case with linking is far from settled.

Legal or not, I don't care though. But I do look forward to highly anonymized p2p networks with useful services and software we can rely on by the time the lawmakers have made the internet useless.

Interesting! These makes me remember the documentary/movie “Bananas!” which was about the criminal behaviour of the fruit- and vegetable company Dole. During the making the Americans involved in the making got so scared of being sued their house from them that they left the project. The swedes never cared about the threats from Dole. This also made the news on Sweden that even parliament members backed the project and said that Doles threats where so unethical.

Having said that, I think Goggle is just hiding behind the lawsuit threats.

There's a chrome extension that restores the view image button.

It is already better for video search. I don't remember Google video search being that good.

I've noticed a steep drop in the quality of results I receive from Google without the extensive use of search operators. Especially for politicized topics, I feel like I'm constantly fighting the search engine for access to a more diverse and useful spread of results. This has become such an issue that I've moved over to searx.me (meta-search engine) for the majority of my searches. While there are some edge cases where I have to move over to google (mostly image search), I feel like the results I receive from it are broadly superior to the ones I'm receiving from Google alone.

It’s even more funny since google got worse intentionally. It’s one thing to go IBM and just get slowly bad through attrition and attenuation. A whole different level of curiousity to cuck yourself.

I hope they wise up and improve as I actually would rather have 2-3 highly competitive search companies rather than just 1.

I use Bing whenever I want to find "pirate" sites.

This is already frequently true depending on what you're looking for.

They probably do this the way Google usually does, some sort of probability of similarity. They don't know for sure if a picture is pornographic, or a piece of audio is fair use. Once they reach acceptable accuracy, in their calculus....

A lot of stuff falls into grey areas both for AI classification and human opinion. Let's not forget that humans disagree widely over what's pornographic and what's fair use. Let's not pretend there's a canonical oracle of pornography or (apart from court rulings) what's fair use. It stinks when their AI is clearly wrong or when you disagree with their AI, but it's hard to fault them for setting some accuracy goal when they're trying to hit a fuzzy target anyway.

Maybe your complaint is really that their appeals process is too opaque or difficult. There I agree, but I don't fault them for stopping short of perfect on their AI classifiers.

I wonder if there's a secret, vanilla Google endpoint out there without all the special interest filtering.

I wonder if people working at Google get a different google search from the rest of us. Seems likely.

No, doesn't seem different to me. Of course, when logged in with the corp Google account / on the corp network you can see some debugging info and there will be likely some experiments running, but pretty much the same.

If you’re inside Google, do you have access to api definitions or source? There must be some raw result before they apply all the various removals and cosmetic (piracy ban) weights.

It seems like you would to test with this to assess quality.

Maybe, but it couldn't be widespread, or I would definitely think it would leak eventually.

Possibly. But aren't everyone's google searches already customized when you are logged in to Google. If people at google don't have special options, then how would they know they get a special (ie. better) type of search. I wonder how many people have access and understand the full search source code at google (less all the machine learning stuff)?

In older versions of google, one could quote a full error message of almost any type that came up on your computer and get a very good page describing that that error meant. Now that is not the case. Maybe the internet has degraded and this is no longer possible, but I would imagine it would really help out google coders if they had a system of searching the web for error messages that worked (and quite a competitive advantage if it only worked for them).

> I wonder how many people have access and understand the full search source code at google (less all the machine learning stuff)?

Not many, it's probably the highest guarded secret in the company as far as products go.

a little off topic, but [here's a link to a chrome extension to get the image links back](https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/view-image/jpcmhce...).

Is it that these results no longer show up or that we need to go to something like page 15 to see them?

I still do this and yeah, it's harder to find interesting stuff. I mostly do it now just for curiosity's sake.

you do know images links are still there ? you just need to click on them.

That takes you to the site, not the image.

RT click on the image, choose "open image in new tab"

That opens the thumbnail of the image, not the image itself.

You must be right-clicking the thumbnail in the image search list.

Instead, first left-click the thumbnail to open the larger image preview. Then right-click the large preview image and select "open image in new tab". You will get the full image.

If anyone has an example where this doesn't work, I'd be curious to see it. It works every time for me.

>Instead, first left-click the thumbnail to open the larger image preview. Then right-click the large preview image and select "open image in new tab". You will get the full image.

Works only for some sites. If the large preview is a stretched thumbnail of that picture, then "open image in new tab" will not get you the full image but the thumbnail.

> If the large preview is a stretched thumbnail of that picture

That happens when the large picture hasn't yet loaded. If you wait it usually will load.

That is, by definition, not a link.

Sure, by definition. But that's a distinction without much of a difference. They removed the image link, but they didn't disable a fairly obvious and trivial way to go directly to the source image, just like the link used to do.

As much as I despise multi-billion dollar 'copyright holding' corporations, I feel this is a strategic move by Google to thrust more legitimate channels of media consumption (Netflix, Prime Video, Et al) to the top of the search results page.

Having said that, people who actually use torrents regularly know their way around Google and other web-based search engines, and this move, therefore, should have little or no effect on that particular demographic.

Forget pirate sites, Google is doing this for everything. I'm shocked at how often a search for some generic word or animal name brings up some company I've never heard of, with the Wikipedia page for that generic word buried at the bottom of the first page (sometimes pushed to the second page).

Really glad i switched to DDG for my random searches (i can always do a !g if i feel that the results are meaningless).

I switched to DDG permanently because of their other bangs. I am a baseball fan and regularly use FanGraphs to look at stats. If I google a baseball player, FanGraphs isn't even on the front page. Instead, I have news articles about him, tweets from him, and a bunch of other sites. With DDG, I can simply go "!fg jose bautista" and get exactly what I want. It really has saved me a lot of time and effort. Same thing with !w for wikipedia.

Do other browsers not have site search in the address bar? In Safari, after visiting "fangraphs.com" once, I can just type "fang Some Name", press the down arrow to select the first suggestion, hit enter, and it searches that site.

Wow... I always hated how sometimes the results for really niche things would not be found by DDG so I swapped back to evil corp search. I can't believe I haven't used these !g commands before! Thanks

That is because Google is a marketing platform than a search site.

I find myself using Bing all the time precisely for this reason.

I would love to subscribe to netflix, hulu, hbo, etc but all my favorite TV shows are always on different networks. I wouldn't mind paying for the service (but not for 3 of them), but the online streaming mirrors are really good at what they do.

Bing just works. Its has significantly less bias than google which is why I always use 2 search engines.

As a subscriber of Netflix it's trash for my tastes now. Many of the shows I did enjoy are no longer on the service and once my subscription runs out I won't be renewing it.

We did this for similar reasons; the documentary and edutainment selection ran dry, and the children's section had a terrible signal/noise.

Now we've been without any TV or streaming services for about six months, and relying on a Kodi box and my collection of ripped DVDs.

We spend more time together as a family.

Documentaries just don't pay the bills and I think it's killed off a lot of potential for good content.

Chris Bell is someone who I heard talk recently on a podcast about this. He makes documentaries and discussed how hard it is just to break even making a documentary because of how Netflix/HBO/etc structure deals and vendor lock in.

Can you please link to the podcast or summarize how the deals are structured?

Sometimes I use popcorntime.sh (the open github repo mirror), run a VPN, and grab the .torrent file.

It only works if there are enough seeders, otherwise I have a seedbox that I FTP into for watching some movies I haven't seen yet.

I agree. Shows have become more political and less entertaining. And it's only getting worse.

I like bing because as a customer to many of the services I can find out who holds my show. And if I have to buy, who do I buy it from.

I think this helps people who legitimately want to get some piece of content and are confused/misled when they stumble upon a pirate/torrent site. They don't know what bittorrent is and are confused when they think they can download a movie and end up with a .torrent or a magnet link.

The way Google returns results is totally different than 15 ways ago. When it was once algorithmically, impartially sorted, it favorised spreading of information without political or judgemental intents. Now Google, while still not evil, has been forced to censor itself over the years, and is not an impartial research engine anymore. If Google keeps reinforcing the system, who will propose alternatives? Where will we find new ideas?

Edit : To me "piracy" of music was a new idea : free access and distribution of digital contents, because we technologically can, and it doesn't kill anyone

I seriously think we need torrent trackers solely residing on ipfs.

The popular trackers (such as ptb) remove content very easily. It is getting really hard to find tv shows on the net.

What we need is a completely anonymous distributed solution.

We won't need google then.

https://www.tribler.org/, which is developed by a not-for-profit research group supported by EU and Dutch research funding, does distributed torrent search without any central server. It's been around for almost a decade now.

Thanks a lot for the heads up. This seems to be exactly the thing I was dreaming of.

If anyone is interested https://github.com/Tribler/tribler/wiki link contains more information.

I'm surprised I didn't hear of this project before.

It's not like the "Big Media" wants you to know about it.

Careful, all Tribler users are effectively exit nodes in Tor terminology. Other users' downloads will appear to come from your IP as your machine participates in the proxy network. This is spelled out exactly nowhere on their site, which I think is brazenly irresponsible.

Incorrect. You need to check the box in settings called 'become exit node'.

Thnx for mentioning us btw! With 13 years running and our bandwidth token for Bittorrent (no ICO) it seems we're the only team left doing innovations. All other p2p teams seem to have died in the p2p winter.

I would prefer that Google would add labels like "pirate site" or "legitimate copy". How can a normal user understand what kind of site they are visiting and whether the site has a legal copy of a movie? The copyright agreements are not public.

For example, there is a website that allows to watch Japanese TV from abroad (quite expensive by the way). How one can be sure that they are not paying to scammers?

How can Google be sure? They can't, so they can't do it

If they cannot determine which site is legal then they should not be playing with sites' ranks.

They are the owners of the ranking algorithm, they should do whatever they want that's not in itself illegal.

Libel laws.

At least they can put a label like "This site has an agreement with XYZ Music" or "This site received 1000 takedown notices in last year".

So you'd be able to find the best UX sites by looking for the ones with the highest number of takedowns.

Sure they could. Copyright owners could list the content they own in some centralized system, and provide canonical URLs or domains for accessing that content. Google could then show that a particular search result is the canonical page for a given movie, without having to try to guess whether some other page has an illegal copy.

This sounds like it would practically work like "enhanced DMCA takedown for search results". Please no.

Basically, you're wishing away a number of huge problems, including (1.) that copyright attaches at the time of creation, while the owner of that copyright is often multiple steps removed from the act of creation and determined by complex legal arrangements; (2.) copyright ownership for a particular work may differ depending on political jurisdiction; (3.) copyright ownership is not the same as distribution rights, which also may vary based on political jurisdiction; (4.) it's not clear how fair use could be accommodated in such a system. It would also have the effect of favoring larger entities with more copyrighted works; i.e. Disney would have a better chance of navigating this system than an independent creator would.

They do with malware, and what appears to be malware.

They already do. If I search for a movie or tv show on Google from my iPhone, the top results are direct links to YouTube, iTunes, Starz, Prime Video, Hulu, Vudu, Netflix and Google Play Video.

If they labeled them then they would also ha e an obligation to remove them.

Is that true? Just having links and they'd have to remove it? If they're down ranking them that obviously indicates they know what they are already, but they're not removing them.

Well USA have had at least one foreign national extradited for having a webpage with links to what was later deemed to be unlicensed content.

So, such things are clearly on a par with terrorism or murder -- I'm sure they'll be arresting Google execs forthwith. /s

Copyright law doesn't apply equally in all jurisdictions. So I would prefer they default to the lowest common denominator

Yeah, I experienced this problem hardcore when trying to find an ebook I wanted to buy DRM-free. You search for that and you get a ton of PDF sharing sites. As it turned out, it was hard to find a legit link there because the publisher didn't offer any DRM free options, mind you.

But yeah, when I was looking for a proper way to purchase, all I found was pirate versions.

exactly, i had to download illegal pdf of drm book I already bought, which unfortunately only works in that awful adobe digital desktop app...

If content owners want to fight piracy, make content easier to get at a price people are willing to pay. There will always be a certain contingent of people that will never pay for content and will always choose piracy.

I personally stopped pirating music when iTunes Music came online. It was much easier to pay $0.99 for a song than to scour Napster,Kazaa, Limewire, and the rest of the p2p software. Now with Apple Music, Spotify, etc. why bother pirating music?

I subscribe to Netflix,Hulu with no commercials, DirectvNow and Amazon Prime. I could find most of the content on pirate sites, but why would I bother? I would much rather just pay $65 a month (well actually I get Netflix free via T-mobile so $55/month).

Movie Pass was too restrictive and too much of a hassle to bother with, but I have no reason to pirate new releases anymore now that AMC has AMC Stubs A+. I signed myself and my wife up for the subscription the day it became available. A movie is now a cheap date night when we just want to get out of the house and do something.

55$ is still quite a lot of money in majority of the world. Plus some content is not available in some regions. I pay for Spotify but for movies (anime in particular) I still need to resort to torrents sometimes. I'd much more prefer to simply pay and avoid the hassle if only I had such opportunity.

Of course you have to cater to the local market realities. Doesn’t Chrunchyroll cater to anime fans? If you have to resort to piracy because their is no legal alternative but you would pay for one if it existed, it kind of proves my point.

Yes I agree with you. I've actually had Crunchyroll in mind when writing my post - many titles are not licensed for my country.

In the end, though, piracy can solve "easier" a lot faster than legitimate services, especially as you get more into niche content.

There's no way to build a legal "everything in one platform" service, just because of the logistics of trying to find rightsholders, and deal with ones who may be outright hostile (think of all the TV/movie firms who are desperate to bootstrap their own streaming services, rather than just being another section inside Netflix's catalog).

For a lot of services, we've seen "it doesn't have everything, but it has 90% of the most popular things" and that's been good enough. But is it really? I suspect a significant number of customers will gradually return to piracy-- at least as a supplement-- as the legit catalogs get exhausted and their tastes reach for more and more obscure stuff that's not available anywhere else.

I suspect the only real solution would be some sort of mandatory licensing-- let the platform owners scoop up everything and just submit a royalty to some escrow system based on how often it's consumed.

I don’t disagree. But the more obscure tastes are usually on the margins. You will never get rid of piracy but you could take a big bite out of it by making it easier and more affordable to get the 80% of content and just ignore the long tail.

Google has been trash for pirate content for awhile now. 9/10 sites it does show are fake and straight up malicious with like 50 different things trying to hijack your browser and make you install shit. Not that real pirate sites are exactly safe, but at least they actually provide what people are looking for.

I wish that if they’re gonna downrank “good” pirate content then they should do the same (or worse) for the bad/malicious ones.

Whether you’re pro or anti piracy, replacing that content with malware & scams does not make the world a better place.

> I wish that if they’re gonna downrank “good” pirate content then they should do the same (or worse) for the bad/malicious ones.

I'm pretty confident they'd like to but it's a tricky problem. Based on this article, they're downranking based on number of legit DMCA requests - the good sites will generate a lot of signal on that front. The bad/malicious sites won't.

The malicious/scam sites usually come and go quickly, so it's hard to learn which ones they are - if you figure out one site is a scam, and a new one pops up.

A real solution would require being able to make an automatic judgement about whether a site is bad/malicious based on the content of the site, but that's really hard, and it's really bad when you get false positives, so you have to be super conservative about it.

A real solution would be to employ competent humans rather than build and rely on incompetent algorithms.

Congratulations! You just invented the original Yahoo!.

In all seriousness, curation is one of the most valuable skills a human can provide; I do sometimes wish it was easier to find curated content on the internet, but that isn't really what a search engine does. It is something that eg HN and Reddit provide.

I remember in the 90s a site with curated links was a common feature on "home pages". Remember home pages? They were cool geocities, Myspace and more. I wish they would make a comeback.

The closest we have to curated content is the relatively recent "awesome" lists.

As much as I’m against algorithms on closed platforms and walled gardens, I believe algorithms are the way to go on the open web, especially since the amount of content there can be infinite.

It's infinite because it's produced by algorithms - handling it is clearly a job for algorithms. On the other hand, some things tend not to be automatically generated, like domain names, visual templates, monetization tricks and business deals.

So if one side is powered by human ingenuity assisted by algorithms, you need both on the other side, not one or the other. It was the folly of Google to think they could get by using algorithms alone, and the immensely complex, human tweaked, secret soup that Search has become is the result.

If we ever manage to kill off advertising as the dominant business on the web, the problem will become orders of magnitude easier. The web today is one large spamfest.

I'm pretty sure the scale of the problem is large enough to make a manual approach completely and utterly impractical.

I run all such queries in a dedicated Linux VM so that I visit any "strange" websites only in that VM. I use a browser not connected to my (sync) account and don't login to any of my usual websites. uBlock Origin with all kinds of lists enabled is on, uMatrix is installed but it was too much of a hassle so it remains disabled.

I hope my feeling of relative safety is justified, but I'm not a security expert(?).

PS: Before anyone gets upset that I use such services, I'm not a heavy "pirate" by any measure. When I needed it I purchased software like Adobe Creative Suite or Jetbrain IDE licenses without hesitation. I only use it for things I don't really need and only use once, such as checking out a TV series (I very, very rarely watch anything, relying on specific Youtube and Twitch content instead, leaving two - one came with the apartment rent, one with the Internet - cable TV subscriptions unused).

I wonder if I am doing too little in comparison?

I just use incognito and adblock. My impression is that whenever there's a remote code execution bug in chrome it becomes big news (ex: Meltdown/Spectre) so usually I can just trust the browser sandbox. Surely anyone with an exploit that can break the sandbox would use it on high value target rather than wasting it on the mass and having it get patched quickly?

I think I've become complacent since it's been more than a decade since I've gotten a virus/malware just from clicking a link.

> it's been more than a decade since I've gotten a virus/malware just from clicking a link

I'm worried that I probably would not even know when/if I have any malware unless the malware detection actually manages to detect it. I think lots of malware tries to remain inconspicuous and not draw attention to itself, only using your machine as a gateway or data source. Even though I know TCP/IP inside out and could inspect my network traffic, there is soooo much stuff going on in today's PCs that I have no intention of even trying.

I would not even know where to start if I had to inspect my operating system. I remember many years ago when a friend's laptop was always buys and created lots of network activity, it was obvious and easily confirmed that it had become a source of spam emails. I think a lot of malicious code is quite a bit more sophisticated and careful now, plus, the much increased bandwidth and raw PC power most people have available lets the same activity go unnoticed that 10 years ago might have had noticeable effects.

That means I think that not noticing any malware nowadays is not proof of absence of malware when the base rate is included, i.e. if we assume a low number of infections assuming no malware gets it mostly right only because of the that, not because we have a reliable way to detect it. If the base rate changes and our assumptions about infections don't change that would be a sign that our own ability to detect infection does not play a role in how we get to our assumption. It would be an interesting study to compare measured infection rates with how safe users felt (if it is the same user population for both). AV vendors and Microsoft might be able to do that.

>I think I've become complacent since it's been more than a decade since I've gotten a virus/malware just from clicking a link.

The dangerous ones are precisely the ones you don't know about.

> I hope my feeling of relative safety is justified, but I'm not a security expert(?).

If you want to be properly paranoid, you should consider getting a VPN. If you're not hiding your IP address, hiding all the rest is of limited utility. A VM doesn't really provide much meaningful anonymity - if someone wants to prosecute you for piracy they'll start by finding the IP address that was downloading/sharing the stuff (that's publicly visible).

On the other hand, it's pretty likely that this sort of paranoia is totally unnecessary - piracy prosecution against individual downloaders has been historically a PR nightmare for the groups doing it, and more or less everyone seems to have given up on that particular approach.

Still, if you want to be paranoid, a VPN will do a lot more for you than a VM and some add blocking.

If you are properly paranoid, a VPN won't offer much anonymity. VPNs may still keep logs (even if they say they don't, or when they receive NSLs they may be forced to do so).

For real anonymity, Tor is a much better option. Especially if used from a distribution like Tails.

I don't want to hide my IP address. I'm not paranoid about being found - nothing I do is illegal (I don't download, I watch streams, and that isn't illegal here, only if I downloaded the videos). For me it's only about system security, not legality. The latter would not be helped at all by using a VM.

As you said in another comment you are German and this is a very common false myth in Germany:

Streaming pirated content is exactly as illegal as downloading in Germany and also the whole EU.

Here is a source: https://www.focus.de/digital/praxistipps/anwalt-zu-eugh-urte...

As I said, I don't care about the legal question and my post was about system security only. Otherwise it would have been completely futile to mention the VM since that does nothing at all for the legal issues.

The illegality-of-streams question is not really relevant unless you are a premium account customer of a portal the authorities might get access to, or any streaming website they might get access to. They have no (legal) way to find streamers if they have no access to the server and/or whoever is hosting it or owns it. They get (non-VPNed) torrent downloaders because it's legally possible to find out which IP addresses download and/or offer a given file.


In the past I did download torrent file videos - only to watch them exactly once or never. I got caught and paid the "Abmahnung" - so what. I stopped because I don't really need it. My need for such video content is very low. Usually I watch 10-30 minutes of movies, even "block busters", and then I'm too bored to ever watch the rest. For example, I still did not watch Game of Thrones past the end of the very first season.

So all streamed content is illegal in EU? YouTube, Netflix, ...?

How is a user supposed to know, for all anyone visiting a website knows it's licensed.

Anything on Netflix might be unlicensed, I have no way to tell, same with any random site. If I can find it, that means a large media corp can, so surely one must assume if they didn't get it taken down (sites are blocked and taken down all the time, blocked at ISP level) then it must be OK with the large rights holders.

And of course we know that even stuff from MPAA can be copyright infringing. There's no way for users to establish if something is properly licensed because license are secret.

Being disgusted by the viciousness of the anti-piracy movement mostly gave up US made movies and TV shows. I used to watch many shows and movies every year, now it's just one show and a couple of movies a year - in other words, almost nothing. And that makes me very proud and happy, they deserve it. Don't even go to cinema much.

Instead I watch Youtube: lectures, documentaries, courses and music. Reading Arxiv papers is stimulating and interesting. Streaming anime can replace US shows quite well. Don't need US entertainment after all.

When I search for TV shows I watch it inside a VPN sandboxie on a isolated incognito browser I don't use everyday. Any data that writes to a local DB is done through an isolated folder instead. I've learned the hard way having to reinstall my computer too many times. I don't run things like umatrix though.

Torrents and pirate sites are actually fairly safe. You can always double check the SHA hash signature of the file you download as well with the official source.

I don't endorse pirating at all and usually pay for all my software though. Its just all my favorite TV shows are across multiple networks. I would pay money for a netflix that encompasses every TV show based on my usage. Such a service doesn't exist though.

I find it entertaining Google will fight "piracy" which could include downloading content you legally have the ability to watch while promoting malware instead.

do you have a recommended list of good piracy sites?


It's Romanian IIRC.

Meta indexer like torrentz2.eu (that replaced the old torrentz.eu), if you look in their help page you'll find the list of sites they index.

So I was looking for an older movie a while back, not even necessarily to pirate but just if it was available anywhere. Tons of results on YouTube that were just hiurbking clips with a frame that said check description for url. Amazing google can’t stop those but they can do things like demobilize lgbt content.

Wow, note to self, double check autocorrect when commenting after just waking up.

What does this verb mean in this context, "demobilize"?

It's a phone induced misspelling of "demonetize"

If only they would downrank sites that exist purely to defame: ripoffreport, stdreport, blacklistreport, etc.

I would add sites that exist to extort in that same category. (i.e mugshot sites, and those “claim your business support site” sites.)

If only they would downrank sites that exist purely to duplicate content from others: blogs, questions and answers, wikis, etc.

The onion network is fast becoming the only network.

Remember that DuckDuckGo exists and its search results are pretty good.

I've been using DDG since around January this year and am continually blown away by how infrequently I need to turn to "The Big Guys" (Google, Bing) to find something I didn't find on DDG. It's been maybe half-a-dozen times relating to forums on some obscure software package?

That combined with DDG showing the top StackOverflow result inline on my search has kept me a very happy DDG user.

I searched for "nba finals game 1 replay" and the like during the finals and was only presented with pirate options. There was no legal/legit way to view or purchase these games - and Google was ranking pirate sites all over the first page. I wonder if this has changed.

I have noticed a decrease in my Pirate related searches. Hopefully they fix this before Halloween.

Google also seems to have done this with little regard for its effects on the balance of power in the eternal struggle between pirates and ninjas.

Good start, now if they would just downrank sites that were trying to sell me things or were using identical copy, maybe if I search for subject X, I might be able to find websites with people discussing or explaining subject X.

Generally, when I search for a movie or a book on a search engine, I'm not trying to buy, pirate, or read the wikipedia article about it (or I would have just searched wikipedia.)

On any new device I normally do the same thing each time:

1) Install Firefox Nightly

2) Install uBlock Origin add-on

3) Enable Duck Duck Go as default search engine

4) Enjoy

I am still looking for a good replacement for Gmail.

Ah ha, an expert. So I've recently been using Firefox, uBlock and DDG. A few sites, including DDG take a super long time to load. It gives me the TLS handshake message for a while before eventually loading. How can this be fixed?

FastMail is pretty excellent, particularly if you like running mail off your own domains with Gmail-style wildcard address support and really fancy DNS. You get what you pay for.

So far, I really like ProtonMail as a gmail replacement. Their web interface is great. It costs quite a bit more money though (compared to free gmail).

I've been using it for half a year now, and the only gmail features I miss (their spam filtering and automatically prioritizing mails) are those that require them to read your mail. Which I like that they cannot.

How do you get around not being able to search email in protonmail? At least in the web client which is all I use in gmail.

You can actually search quite well in ProtonMail. Though it only searches some email headers (title, sender, receiver etc) and tags. Those are not stored encrypted. But it doesn't search the body of your emails.

>But it doesn't search the body of your emails.

Which is a massive limitation.

It is a limitation indeed. I'm not missing it a lot actually.

But if you really need it, you can use the ProtonMail Bridge together with your favorite email client. For me the tradeoff of having my emails stored encrypted by default without much hassle is worth it.

yea- that is what I meant - you couldnt search email bodies.

gmail has been easy for me. Do you absolutely need the (nice I admit) web ui? I thought I did until I completely switch to using mails clients (mail on macOS and iPhone). I don't miss gmail at all! I realise how long it took to check my email before. I'm using Mailbox.org btw. Cheap, lots of aliases, exchange server etc ... I switched 10 months ago and I don't regret.

I use GMail for the stability, longevity and ubiquitous access.

Until they lock your account even if you know the password...

Some people are OK with giving their PII like phone numbers to them, then Google is a good choice for them.

For me, it is not. Their schizophrenic registration system that SOMETIMES demands your phone number was the last straw.

Free Gmail or paid? I use both, the paid for important things.

currently moving away from google to protonmail.

And they were at least working on a VPN service too, last time I checked.

1) Safari, preferences - check 'open with new private window' 3) Enable Bing as default search engine

iCloud email


Office 365?

Duck, duck, SearX

How often are pirates just starting with google anyway?

I suspect most folks searching really do want a legit copy.

I'm not a regular pirate so I have no idea where to look. Search engines have been useful in the past.


If I want to find content that falls off the back of truck, I know where to look. But the people using Google to find content, are likely looking for legitimate content. I actually appreciate searching for a movie on my phone using Google and seeing at the top all of the legal places I can easily get content. Especially if one of those links are a service I already subscribe to.

Nzbget + Kodi is actually better then browsing multiple services legal or not.

Also sonarr

This downrank is an ineffective farce. Search google for any show/movie with free and online attached to it and I still reliably get a result on the first page to stream pirated content from.

That is why if I need to download anything, I search with duckduckgo now.

Is the 65k number an implementation detail? Like because of 16 bits or something?


I do all of my searching with + Reddit appended. Get way better curated results.

torrentz2.eu is a good way to search for torrents. DMCA compliant, at least on paper so mileage may vary. But it has helped me out many times.

Google isn't the internet. Eerily close but not 100%.

I thought it was taken down by "the feds", I assume it's being run by some government agency under direction of media rights holders now? These sites seem to survive for some time playing whackamole, but AFAICT law enforcement got all the long running big sites.

It's curious that, again from what I can tell, such sites often get taken over (not the actual sites but copycat domains that Google serve) as copycats in order to serve malware. But somehow that's preferable (for the government agencies) to hosting inert torrent links.

I often find that Google sends me to scam sites like Elsevier instead of Library Genesis or TPB when what I am searching for can be found there. Is there a better search engine out there that solves this problem?

Make DuckDuckGo your default search engine now. Just do it. You won't miss Google.

As much as I'd like that to be true, I end up having to use !g in half my searches. It does okay at keyword matching, but can't infer what I'm actually looking for, falls short at finding obscure/niche topics and its pageload speeds are frustrating compared to Google.

Weird things that DDG does:

- No geo prioritization. If I'm searching for things in (city I'm current in) I don't care for sites from companies located in (city in the US/Canada with the same name).

- You write "X in Y" (generic example) and autocomplete tries to "fix it with "Z in Y" thanks but I really mean "X in Y". Or sometimes it tries to fix it with even more unrelated things (though sometimes it makes sense).

Google does the same. Search for Warsaw while in Poland, yet use english search words. Most results will come up for things in Warsaw, Indiana. Including pages which google has tagged with "Warsaw, Indiana" so they clearly know that's where the results are coming from.

I'm from Poland and I just searched for 'Warsaw', 'Warsaw car rental' and 'Warsaw law office' using incognito mode and google.com and all of the results were for Warsaw, Poland.

It also detected that I'm in Poland and asked me if I want to switch to polish Google and filter results in polish language.

Same in Sweden. If you want to know what channels football matches are airing on here the following searches yield entirely different results:

Fotbolls vm

Football World Cup

The former gives you the correct site with the channels listed as the first answer but the second one doesn’t even have the channels on the first page.

I live in the Netherlands but grew up in the U.S. and I often go back and forth between Dutch and English when searching(depending mostly on context). I have also used my google account while living in the U.S. and later in the Netherlands (this used to really mess up google calendar). I’ve been searching for “World Cup” (English) on google.com. I get results in English, but they are parsed from the national Dutch news channel and they link directly to highlight clips on their YouTube channel. Seems like there is a probably a lot of complex integration between Google and local broadcasters to pull that off, and it might work just for me because I spent a lot of time setting language and locale settings to try and accommodate my unique use case.

They specifically advertise that they don't lock you into a filter bubble.

A geo-bubble is a filter bubble.

Not necessarily

A filter bubble is building a story of previous searches to get more relevant results.

So the first time you search 'Python' on Google with no history it might prioritize snakes or the computer language, but after some clicks it will know better how to prioritize

Now, DDG correctly detects the country I'm in, but even with that set the results are weird and not always relevant.

Filters come in various forms, search history, language, location, OS, account-based history, etc.

Filtering my results based on my location is still a filter bubble. Filtering it based on anything, and not just showing me exactly the same results as everyone else who searched the same query is the definition of a filter bubble.

People who don't want to be bubbled use DDG. It's a big part of the reason it exists, and you want that changed. What you actually want is another search engine, which is probably Google since they have the most functional (in the sense of utility derived by the end user) filter bubbles.

You can set your filter bubble to your country! It's right under the search bar when you start a search.

You can enable region specific search in the settings.

There is literally an option for geo prioritization right next to the search bar.

Learn to use a search engine. Why did this become a lost skill? You can tell it exactly what you want it to find using quotes or explicitly stating a locality.

I've been using search engines since Yahoo and Altavista were relevant players in the search space, I think I know a trick or two.

I use it by default and wind up using !g half the time as well. Though often DDG comes up with results I couldn't even dreamed of. As for today I was looking for the elevation of the nurburgring (in light of the track record and the insane performance of the 919 on the uphill section) and I ended up on this brilliant website with the entire height maps: https://veloviewer.com/segment/5539685

On the phone I switched back to google as default as inserting the !g was a horrible experience to go through every time I wanted to look something up quickly.

I had the same problem with an almost automatic !g.

A while back i decided to put more effort and try to survive with !so, !gh, !hn, !r, !w, and a couple more depending on the context.

DDG may not give exact results in less than a second, but i believe that blindly giving priority to the fastest result is a critical issue, in many areas.

For the very niche topics, i basically maintain myself lists of sites.

I still use !g as fallback or when i'm too lazy. And also for pentest reconnaissance, i have a hard time seeing how to do it without Google honestly (which is scary).

Page load of DDG is not quite good indeed, but i don't mind let it a few seconds.

"For the very niche topics, i basically maintain myself lists of sites."

I have a Google CSE for the sites I have subscribed in RSS reader. It provides results that I could never get with straight Google search. Curious to know what your sources are like if you don't mind?

Well that's more of a manual work than anything else, not optimal in term of speed. Trying to keep following mailing lists diagonally, keep contact with other people in the niche. It eventually leads me to some other new site, mailing lists, blogs, videos. Then i use a bunch of scripts to maintain a todo list, and i'm processing (keep & index/drop) them when the time comes, and it loops.

TBH, i mostly do all of that just because i don't want to be stuck deeper in the Google web, but that's more of a philisophical issue. I could easily live without all the DDG stuff, but not (yet) without all the Google stuff.

I love ddg exactly because of the bangs! I make queries like !wiki (wikipedia), !gm (maps), !gi (images), !imdb, !yt, !gsc (scholar) directly from the address bar all day.

I believe you can replicate the bang functionality in Google Chrome, should you use it.

> I end up having to use !g in half my searches.

I googled this, but couldn't find the "!" operator as a google operator. What does "!g" do in search? Or are you trying to say "I end up leaving Google for half my searches" which is not only shorter, but more clear than what you said.

Edit: Ah, that makes more sense, thanks guys. I completely misinterpreted that comment in two different ways.

On DuckDuckGo you can use bangs (!) to do special functions the !g redirects you to a google search. For a full list you can look here https://duckduckgo.com/bang

DDG !bang search.

Non-javascript: https://duckduckgo.com/bang_lite.html

!g is a bang or whatever they call it. If you put "potato !g" in DDG, it redirects you to google search

Did you try it recently?

This was my usual experience as well. But a few months ago, I started using tor-browser for laptop and orfox browser for mobile (equivalent of tor-browser, but for android) as my main browsers and couldn't use google search with them (search blocks tor).

I started using using ddg for almost everything and was surprised how good it was. I could launch firefox to use google, but almost never did it (except to use apps from G suite). I wonder also if in my latest previous attempts, I wasn't most of the time using "!g" because I wasn't trusting ddg results.

Try !s instead of !g. About same results as Google, with way more privacy.

That's depending on what you search. In my searches as developer, I do less than 5% of my searches with the !g

I hardly ever find I need to use !g. I wonder what we are doing/searching for differently.

Same here. And I miss the bangs (!w, !i, !a, !yt, !wv etc.) when I'm on a non-DDG search engine.

FWIW, you can use !s to redirect to Startpage to get Google results with just a bit more privacy.


DDG is super super bad. I don't know why people recommend it at all. Now that you mentioned !g I remembered all my DDG experiments... 1) change my default search engine to DDG, 2) use it for some time, 3) use !g in half of my searches, 4) use !g in all of my searches, 5) say "fuck it" and switch back to google

Well I must be using it wrong. Very wrong.

I find it better than Google for code / technical searches, and all things work related

I find it better than Google for historic or old content as Google barely acknowledges such content is possible any more. Admittedly DDG is "least worst" in this respect but it hasn't entirely thrown the results out with the obsession with recency and update frequency (I consider this to have essentially ruined Google). Google were better at this and dated searches in their first 2 years than now.

Google then ruined themselves further by feeling it can overrule my keywording attempts and gives a page of results featuring no result with the must have term. Adding insult to injury they proceed to heavily promote brands over small companies and blogs, or anything really.

Once a week I'll try !sp and not find what I need on Google either. The rare times I want video search Bing is orders of magnitude better than Google.

Interesting.. since most of my searches are code or tech related, how exactly does DDG compare positively to Google? What difference do you notice that makes you prefer it?

Right now I end up on SO or a handful of other forums depending on the subject.

Might be worth a shot if you say you get better results faster!

When I know I'm asking an SO sort of question I can !so directly. The whole ! system transforms ease of use - I miss them elsewhere!

TL;DR I mostly find what I need quicker with least faffing around changing terms to try and fight them "knowing best".

Google shot themselves in the foot when they removed code search, and "improved" results by constantly knowing better with synonyms and other semantically linked results. It rather broke code searches and led to more of the wrong language turning up instead. Language reference and standard library type searches they do just fine at.

Google spoiled it for the obscure and code when even + and - modifiers and advanced searches became optional. They felt able to give a page of results with only one result having my must-have term. Makes searching for a specific release hellish - not everyone integrates latest and greatest v9 the week of its release. No, I really do want v7. I never fathomed the rationale of that change for anyone.

DDG do the least additional messing with my search terms with helpful expansion, pluralisation and so on. DDG got a little worse at obscure error searches when they started on some "oh you also meant" games fairly recently. They still do the least of this. There's still occasional cases where the content simply isn't there - but they're far better than say a year or two ago.

When I first tried DDG a few years ago I was !g or !sp all the time and it was barely worth the effort. Now I very rarely go near Google and don't feel I'm losing out.

I've had DDG set as default for maybe a year now, across desktop and mobile. As time passes, I find myself using !g less and less, probably less than 10% of the time now. Most of my queries are technical or for common-ish topics, and it's been great.

I switched very early on and had the same issue however it has improved a lot for me lately. I use Google for maybe 1 out of 100 searches I do now, a lot of those 1 in 100 are maps related.

I'd recommend giving it another try if you haven't recently.

!osm for OpenStreetMaps is amazing if you're just looking for a dumb map without the "reviewed businesses" and streetview hoo-ha.

This rings so true. I’m currently at #4. :( I really tried for six months... but at this point can’t remember the time I didn’t add !g.

What I miss with DDG is better date ranges. Filtering by date can help a lot in narrowing down what you want to get.

I dislike the "last month", "last six months" way of doing ranges oh so much.

Where are the 2 years or older, 4 years or older options at the other end of the scale or let me specify two actual dates.

Sadly I often need to search for older content - DDG are least worst, but they're all poor to hopeless at it.

Has DDG become any better for programming-related searches?

Asking, because last time I tried using it for more than a handful of queries, I ended up jumping back to using Google because searching for obscure programming error messages seldom led anywhere useful.

It used to be better ~6 months ago. Now it's as bad as Google or even worse :(

There is also qwant.com which is in Europe.

Somewhat strangely, when I use Qwant, I often get better results than Google. This is of course anecdotical evidence and I do not use Qwant all the time (creature of habit, and so on).

No thanks. I might just as well use Bing then since that's where DDG get its search results.

Do you have a source for that?

DDG has their own cralwer[1], so it would appear it also gets its own search results, even if may get some search results from other search engines.

[1]: https://duckduckgo.com/duckduckbot


> In fact, DuckDuckGo gets its results from over four hundred sources. These include hundreds of vertical sources delivering niche Instant Answers, DuckDuckBot (our crawler) and crowd-sourced sites (like Wikipedia, stored in our answer indexes). We also of course have more traditional links in the search results, which we source from Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex.

So DuckDuckBot is not used for any normal indexing. All actual search results are from Bing, Yahoo and Yandex.

Thanks for taking the time to look that up.

So their bot is only for instant answers, and DDG is really just a metasearch engine? I'm a bit disappointed by that.

Might as well change to Searx then. It's also "just" a metasearch engine, but at least it's fully free/libre.

I wonder if there are any well-established free search engines that do their own crawling?

I understand it though. Quoted from the old Sources page on DuckDuckGo where they elaborated a bit on more:

> Bing and Google each spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year crawling and indexing the deep Web. It costs so much that even big companies like Yahoo and Ask are giving up general crawling and indexing. Therefore, it seems silly to compete on crawling and, besides, we do not have the money to do so. Instead, we've focused on building a better search engine by concentrating on what we think are long-term value-adds -- having way more instant answers, way less spam, real privacy and a better overall search experience.

You might try StartPage (https://www.startpage.com/). I use them happily for about a year now. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with StartPage in any way.

IIRC StartPage has the same results as Google, but just proxies, right? Don’t see how it would help the parent commenter.

It’s good in combination with DuckDuckGo though, instead of the `!g` bang, you can do `!sp`

I just checked and you're 100% right! They're totally same. I wasn't aware of this until a minute ago. I'm sorry for the confusion I caused by the original comment. The advice about combination of DDG and SP is quite sound, thank you for that.

I get this a lot when I’m searching with the “last 24 hours” tag. I’ve done it a bit to see flutter/dart growth over the past few month and I’ll see a headline like “dart this and flutter that” and it’ll send me to a commercial for online gambling...

So it’s not just for pirate sites.

I like to use Yandex when I can't find something using Google. Their search results feel more raw and untouched.

Look for DOI, then enter that straight in SciHub.

For books, I generally use Worldcat for search (DDG !worldcat), then hit http://b-ok.org (!b-ok).

For copyright-unconstrained works, Beatrice's old shop, The Internet Archive, is pretty awesome.

Archive.is often bypasses paywalls.

beside the ddg suggestion, there's https://unpaywall.org

an extention that tries to find free legal hosted version of publications when you're reading, say a springer page (you'll see a green icon on your screen right's side).

In what parallel reality are the proper owners of the copyright "scam sites"?

If you view the business model of Elsevier as a scam perpetrated on the taxpayers who funded the research, there is no logical contradiction between the term "scam site" and the fact that under current legislation in most countries, they are recognized as the copyright owners of the content in question.

How can you call them proper owners when all the research is funded by public money?

So change the law or whatever, but as it is, they own the copyright, whether you like it or not. Saying otherwise is at the same level of discourse as using the word "Micro$oft" and similar puerile rubbish.

You can't scam anyone unless you're breaking the law? Or you can't scam someone while funded by public money?

Sorry, some people don't want to support scams, even legal ones.

In one where a bitter sarcasm is recognized as such.

"Proper Owners"

I’m searching for information, not the “owners” of that information. The point of a search engine is to actually find what you are looking for.

All medium traffic sites depend on google. We had a good running shop. We changed some things.

Nearly one week site down due to server crash (don't ask!). No problem.

New server, new IP. No problem.

Force always SSL. No problem.

But then we switched the shopping cart. This killed us. Traffic down 70%

Switched the shopping cart? It shouldn’t affect SEO.


After 4 months we have not recovered from this.

301s were not an option?

we did this 1 month later. No effect.

We did a general 301. Not a product specific 301. Mistake?

301 redirects by page for sure 1:1.

Plus, How is this linked to shopping carts?

well, website.com/product=11 became website.com/myfavoritejeans

This is called product pages, cart will be website.com/my-cart or something in the like.

so, should we have done a 301 for every product?

Seems to late now.

Yes 301s for each products to new page is ideal.

I don’t do SEO for other companies, but I can take a look at your analytics data, and make a couple of suggestions if that can help. PM me.

I switched to Bing two years ago and I'm pretty pleased with how well it works.

Insane how people are coming to grips NOW that Google is an advertising company instead of ten years ago.

Are there any apps that perform searches on multiple search engines and combine the results?

You are looking for SearX. Its a meta search engine and really hackable. Also, its open source.

You mean a meta-engine? Like Duckduckgo? Or you actually mean an app you can install?

Does ddg use google results? I have read that they do not.

They use Google's index I believe, but that is not the same as using Google's results.


Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact