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Brave is launching its own search engine with the help of ex-Cliqz devs and tech (techcrunch.com)
173 points by quick_brown_fox 72 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 59 comments



For those who missed it, Cliqz did a very in-depth series of blog posts on their tech [0]. Basically, it was "word2vec: The Search Engine".

It was actually very impressive in terms of semantic understanding, but the index was pretty awful. I either got exactly what I was looking for, or no hits at all. I can imagine that they'd get massive value by focusing on more information-rich natural language sources and de-prioritising images or structured/knowledge queries for the time being. Some good partnerships to provide instant answers a-la Duckduckgo's goodies would be excellent.

I also can't express how much better the Brave brand will be for them - even 'Tailcat' is a much better name. Cliqz sounds too much like an off-brand, gutter ad seller to ever have credibility, and I say that as someone who was fairly impressed with their tech.

I am worried that they're currently pitching this as a general purpose search engine at the moment when it will be a while before it can even pretend to compete with Google. I would advise for them to find a niche where they can whip Google into next week, and then expand on scope from there.

[0] https://www.0x65.dev/


"Cliqz sounds too much like an off-brand, gutter ad seller to ever have credibility, and I say that as someone who was fairly impressed with their tech."

That's because they were. The parent company was in adtech and they even had another subsidiary that was hawking browser toolbars.

Frankly though, the Brave brand has no better reputation with me however, so it still means seeing whatever promise the tech might've had consigned to the same headspace as the rest of the scamweb.


The Brave brand is nearly worthless. I'm not sure how to feel about that. They're releasing their new search engine as free software, which is nice, but their long history of messing even the simplest of things up still leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I wonder if they'll ever work themselves out of the "le shill lion" moniker. Probably not. Though with this new search engine attempt, they might finally give up on cryptocurrency, which would be nice.


Brave's cryptocurrency is the only reason millions of people use it.


Perhaps, but for many others a business model of "___, but with crypto!" is a huge turn off.


> Frankly though, the Brave brand has no better reputation with me however, so it still means seeing whatever promise the tech might've had consigned to the same headspace as the rest of the scamweb.

Can I ask why? I've been de-googling my life and recently switched from Chrome to Brave.


I think it is because they're also behind BAT which is a cryptocurrency.


> hawking browser toolbars.

Ahh yes, the lowest circle of adtech hell. I didn't know that kind of annoyware was even still a thing.


It’s evolved into an even worse beast: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2021/03/is-your-browser-extensio...


I think the most interesting idea here is that of Goggles, filters like

- trusted product reviews - left biased media/right biased media - my cooking sites.

This is something we've been doing for a while in Insight (YC W19) (https://insightbrowser.com/) and our users really like creating and sharing them. They work on top of Google, DDG or whatever your search engine is. We suggest useful filters as well.

It's cool to see that idea proliferate — it could be a part of every search/browsing experience soon. All modern search engines try and guess intent that that's an increasingly difficult guess to get right.


Can someome please make a search engine that doesn't use Natural Language Processing? I just want to enter keywords and get results. No fixating on certain terms in the query and no attempts to specialize or localize my results based on my data. I want an old-school search engine, not a digital assistant/answers machine.


I made this search engine: https://www.gigablast.com/ that seems to fit that bill. As I am really the only programmer on it, my budget is essentially non-existent, therefore not allowing for many of the fancy additions you mentioned. The two biggest problems are 1) small index (need more servers) and 2) synonyms. The synonyms get pretty wonky sometimes, and often I miss good synonyms that I should be getting. But I don't have query logs like Google to use for synonym generation.

Also, I probably should have quit developing this years ago, I know, but it is an obsession. :)


I have to say that I tried this out and really loved it. A simple search for monitor arms shows sites that aren’t click bait with links back to Amazon. I was able to see Herman Miller and Humanscale on the front page. Nice job with this. If you ever lose interest in doing this let me know, I have been considering building a search engine myself for awhile now.



Very cool Matt!

My only feedback is that it would be good if the source of the instant answer was displayed and linked to so that I could go to the underlying webpage source directly.


I'm really intruiged about the idea of topic/directory based searches. Usually when I'm searching for something I'm not looking to scan through the entirety of what the internet has to offer, I'm looking for something in a specific domain of knowledge.

I would much rather have a more detailed index for a specific topic than a generalized index covering everything. Looking forward to trying this out more.


> I made this search engine: https://www.gigablast.com/

Ye gods. It's actually a useful search engine. So useful I'm going to try it as a default for a while.

And it is a lone horse effort? My hat off to you sir.


I just tried it, too, and it works pretty well.

Interestingly, it works even better than DDG on a recent query of mine: "carving a violin bridge".

Your search engine found the exact article (from triangle strings) I was looking for. DDG seems to have not indexed the page at all.


https://www.runnaroo.com/blog/the-search-engine-hacker-news-...

Uses Google index for organic search, but respects quotes unlike Google, Bing, or DDG. I'm the creator.

Gigablast also mentioned here is very cool as well.


That’s pretty cool. I like Brave, and Brendan and his team are doing great things over there. Brave is absolutely faster than Chrome, and I believe everyone here on HN considers Brendan a hero once they discover what he’s created.

The search space absolutely needs more participants which will only help the experience for all internet users worldwide. This is very exciting for the search space.

I’m also involved in this space so I wanted to let the Brave team know - if you’re interested in collaborating in any way with Private Search [1] I would love to chat.

[1] https://private.sh


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Don't forget about Ted Nelson ;)


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So was Obama until halfway through his presidency but we don’t put scarlet letters on him... as a gay dude I’m sick of us branding people all the time... the dude is a legend no if’s ands or buts


What? Yes we do, see drone strikes [0].

As a paranoid citizen I don't trust people with my privacy if they get off on punching down at other people's freedoms. Simultaneously I agree that Eich built some interesting technology. Just like Obama started to put a dent in mass incarceration [1].

[0] https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-01-17/oba...

[1] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/6/14189862/ob...


How are Obama sanctioned drone strikes at all comparable to a scarlet letter?


Point to the sanction that let him drone strike US citizens


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Inflammatory language like that isn’t suitable for HN - I hardly think donating to a org that supports a political proposition opposing gay marriage qualifies as ‘bigoted homophobe’ - but if your hatred keeps you going... carry on


Regardless, I’m not sure what that has to do with his contributions of code and product.


It has nothing to do with that, but could have something to do with whether a person would consider someone a hero.


It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with it.

I simply refuted the claim that everyone considers him “a hero”.


Source?




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I'm with you on it. I respect his work. I actually like Javascript. I think considering him a hero is a bit of a stretch. I don't think that's unreasonable.

HN is really not a fun place to express left-leaning views tbh (or any political views, for that matter), but I feel how I feel.


He created a terrible programming language and a browser that's slower than Safari and risks the privacy of its users with half-considered Tor implementations; he also made Mozilla, which has been doing more harm than good since long before he left it.

What exactly is legendary about Eich?


JavaScript is spectacular and has reshaped our world for the better. I'm sure there will be improvements, but he pioneered this movement. This deserves respect.

Brave is a new browser and will continue to improve. Take a step back and look at history - when has there ever been something awesome that simply was always awesome without bumps along the way?

Finally, while some of Mozilla's more recent decisions have been brought to light on HN, during Brendan Eich's tenure, I assure you we all loved it.

I salute the little guy taking on the big guy. Now, that's Brave.


> JavaScript is spectacular and has reshaped our world for the better.

It made popular language design even worse. It also can't be implemented efficiently or quickly, and on its own more than likely contributes to a sizeable portion of world carbon emissions.

> but he pioneered this movement.

What movement? The "worse languages than R6RS" movement? That's been going on for a long time; he didn't start it, he'll be long-gone before it's finished.

> This deserves respect.

There are plenty of people who have made programming languages. Few people have created as bad a language as Javascript. It deserves no respect.

> when has there ever been something awesome that simply was always awesome without bumps along the way?

CHIP-8. Plan 9. Inferno. Anything that Chuck Moore touched for the first forty years of his career. Gopher, up until the organization that owned Gopher decided to make it proprietary. Most of the things Alan Kay has released. VAX.

> during Brendan Eich's tenure, I assure you we all loved it.

You're speaking collectively but your perspective is flawed and easy to prove as wrong. I didn't, for example. Nor did anyone who actually cared about freedom: Mozilla allowing DRM into Web standards permanently was incredibly close if not during Eich's tenure, and Mozilla had already been doing most of everything wrong before that.

> I salute the little guy taking on the big guy.

The little guy is Ekioh. Not someone repackaging Chromium with a few half-working extensions and a new UI.


> It made popular language design even worse. It also can't be implemented efficiently or quickly, and on its own more than likely contributes to a sizeable portion of world carbon emissions.

V8 JIT is pretty efficient. It's not perfect, but Eich designed JS with JITs in mind.


"pretty efficient" = slower than CCL and SBCL, implementations of a language that by-design isn't fast to begin with.


You're entitled to your opinions, and I think they are beautiful. Sometimes, people will have different opinions based on their own experiences and based on what factors they are looking at.

Regardless of everything you're saying here, you still use Firefox, so I know you respect Brendan.

We're probably not going to get anywhere arguing about the importance of a programming language, etc., but thank you for this conversation and sharing your thoughts, as it did open up my eyes to differing opinions.

Cheers!


> so I know you respect Brendan.

I really don't. Eich didn't make Firefox. I have respect for the three people who did make Firefox, but none for Eich. Eich hasn't done anything to earn respect.


Here's the official blog post:

https://brave.com/brave-search/


There's a good overview of Brave's search engine focus from their team (the former Cliqz team) found in https://www.theregister.com/2021/03/03/brave_buys_a_search_e...

Paper on the search engine: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-B3ZvHpbnxsT2OdnUH8vS3-tvTv...


Brave has a long way to go to build real trust. Too many reckless stuff: hijacking links, suspicious url-rewriting, crypto-token stunts, forgetting to communicate with users about serious privacy leaks with their faulty TOR window... also it looks like they care about privacy only in their PR brochures.


Rebranded chrome with cryptocurrency / blockchain tech is all I see of it when someone mentions Brave.


I think the most interesting idea here is that of Goggles, filters like

- trusted product reviews - left biased media/right biased media - my cooking sites.

This is something we've been doing for a while in Insight (YC W19) (https://insightbrowser.com/) and our users really like creating and sharing them. They work on top of Google, DDG or whatever your search engine is. We suggest useful filters as well.

It's cool to see that idea proliferate — it could be a part of every search/browsing experience soon. All modern search engines try and guess intent that that's an increasingly difficult guess to get right.


Installing this browser for a look-see as we speak.

So, as a "privacy focused" browser, what's your revenue model?


Some how Google + Chrome is bad

But Brave + Cliqz is good?

I thought the whole argument was a browser shouldn't be owned by the same company that runs a search engine, or for-profit organization


I hope to see some more alternatives to Google as the search results provided by Google last six months contain in most of the case some phishing/scam sites.

Not sure why these pages aren't removed from the result lists?


Super interesting how this will play out. Does anyone have any experience with cliqz? I saw it at a friends place once but never tried it myself. Is it any different from using firefox and duckduckgo?


Can we trust Brave?


There are numerous accusations of dubious activity such as:

  - Inserting affiliate links[1]
  - They tried blocking ads, but then injecting their own[2]
  - Taking tips for people without consent[3]
  - Including Tor, but Leaking DNS[4] which is now fixed but a false sense of security is a dangerous thing

edit apparently [2] is not actually accurate, this seems to shed some more light: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18744481

Not to say I don't have some respect for what they are doing, and for Brendan Eich's work, but I wouldn't say 100% blindly trust Brave either. It's had a sort of complex relationship with many people.

- [1] https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/8/21283769/brave-browser-aff...

- [2] https://www.wired.com/2016/04/brave-software-publishers-resp...

- [3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18734999

- [4] https://www.coindesk.com/brave-browser-leak-exposed-user-dom...


You seem fairly biased, and have included those links and accusations without any counter or responses from Brave.

#2, for example, is just false. Brave doesn't block ads and then inject their own; they block 3rd-party ads, and have an opt-in ad network. Doesn't replace or inject anything.

#1 gets brought up a lot on HN it seems, but sounds like it was an oversight and was fixed quickly. Same with #4. Every product has its issues, and as long as they're fixed quickly, it's understandable in my opinion.


I apologise if only posting negative links seemed unreasonable, but not out of any deeply held bias, the question asked was "Can we trust Brave?", so praise about the good things they do didn't specifically seem relevant. It is true that they try and improve privacy (which is a USP as far as Tor and anti-tracking stuff go). If asked can I trust chrome, I'd not expect downvote for only sharing links about the various embedded tracking - and glossing over the good stuff they do (which is admittedly not even close to Brave as far as trust is concerned).

If #2 is patently false, then apologies for spreading it further.

> as long as they're fixed quickly, it's understandable in my opinion

That's generally true, and I did mention the Tor thing had been fixed, but at the same time - it is very relevant to the trust question because for example people might well have visited sites that are illegal to do so within their countries under the premise of anonymous browsing via Brave, only to have their trust broken. I guess that's the risk you take if you do things like that, but it has an impact on trust of Brave.


Doesn't #2 kind of qualify as "replace"?


Certainly many would see a certain double standard of blocking ads, and then showing them in any form (whether opt-in or not), even if it is indirect.

Personally I'm more interesting in Coil and to some extent Scroll in terms of replacing ads with micropayments, than Brave's BAT - but I'm glad they are at least trying to do something that could act as an alternative to ad funding.

- https://coil.com/

- https://scroll.com/


What about segmented digital subscription products?

Micropayments have failed, digital subscription conversion is a lowly 1-3% even at publishers like NYT and WSJ, ad markets are owned by Google and Facebook...

-https://nicklpass.com/

The Atlantic took off like a rocket with this approach. Why don't other publishers follow suit and reduce their reliance on digital advertising? Why even consider micropayments then?


Interesting. Well The Atlantic do accept Scroll to remove ads too (although there is still article limit).

I'm not sure yet whether we can say that micropayments have failed because there is still a lot of innovation in the space, and I think it is only beginning to see any seriously mature offerings. The interledger protocol, used by Coil, being one of the tools that might actually be workable and international.

Segmented subscription products might well be a better avenue, but I think we have not seen the end of innovation here and I think micropayments are preferable to things like the Australia Facebook(and others) solution.


>#2, for example, is just false.

Right now it is. It was not at some point.


When was it? I've never heard of a time when the system wasn't opt-in.




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