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Brave Search beta (brave.com)
845 points by vmullin 6 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 659 comments



Previous related discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26328758

If things go as planned, this may become a paid, ad-free, zero-tracking search engine. I can't express how exciting this is to me.

Over the past few years, I have made several attempts to replace Google Search with DuckDuckGo. But they have all failed and I always ended up changing the default search engine back to Google. I mean, DDG worked fine for 95% of time, but the remaining 5% failure often led to some extreme frustration that I just couldn't stand. I would imagine Brave Search to have similar issues, at least in the beginning, but they did something smart to make it less painful:

> Brave Search beta is based on an independent index, the first of its kind. However, for some queries, Brave can anonymously check our search results against third-party results, and mix them on the results page.

So, if I am not satisfied with Brave's result, Google's result is on the same page, or just one click away.


> I mean, DDG worked fine for 95% of time, but the remaining 5% failure often led to some extreme frustration that I just couldn't stand.

Is 95% really not acceptable?My experience is quite different though. When I don’t get the results I hoped I just use !g. Easy. But the result are rarely any better


Honestly the main reason I ended up abandoning DDG is because you can't see the publish date on search results.

I know it's a fairly minor feature and one manipulated often by some websites, but I've still found it massively increases my chances of picking a relevant and up to date result. I didn't even realise how much I used it until I found myself getting extremely frustrated about its absence in DDG.


I used to do this, but at some point I just stopped. Google is not better than DDG. More SEO spam and much more hostile UX.

Brave has a culture of user-hostile UX too so I don’t have any big hopes for this. I like the idea of paying for a search engine, though. I would seriously consider that if DDG offered it.


> Brave has a culture of user-hostile UX

Yep. The missteps that they've made over the past few years do not give me any confidence in the future of the project.


What missteps? The only notable UX issue we've had was years ago, and was a matter of naïve design. When we were made aware of the issue, it was corrected within 48 hours. Hard to portray that as a "culture of hostile UX".


I'd say only allowing BAT withdrawal to a single hosted wallet provider that requires KYC is a pretty significant UX issue.


That’s not hostile, it’s literally a requirement in the US for crypto.


Maybe that's a sign that we should keep our browser and crypto wallets as separate entities, no?


Yea, but I mean who would want to cash out their pennies earned anyways. Only businesses/creators should be cashing out and they would need to KYC for any normal donations. Users should be just donating their pennies to creators and websites, which doesn’t take any KYC.


This was only a year ago and not a great look - https://brave.com/referral-codes-in-suggested-sites/


I haven't noticed any UX issues, great job on the browser, looking forward to the search engine. Thanks.


Maybe you could start by listening instead of accosting every comment that you find. Your incessant reply-bombing is childish and unprofessional, nobody wants to engage with someone who defends a browser like it's their sole lifeline.

Furthermore, you don't get to choose what your "UX issues" are. "UX" quite literally stands for "users experience", which is on the other side of the spectrum from "developer experience". As a dev myself, I know it's difficult not to conflate the two, but acting like issues straight up don't exist is blatantly hostile.

I have no personal qualms against Brave. I'm just another developer who wants a browser, and Brave's naive featureset doesn't appeal to me: that's fine. I'm just helping other, similar users make the right choice.


I'm responding to users. You happen to have numerous comments here which aren't entirely accurate or fair, so I have responded to you a few times. Don't take it personal; if you publish something I feel is inaccurate, I'll post a response.

Regarding user experience, I'm not just a developer of Brave, but I'm a user also ;-) Not only that, but I spend a lot of time speaking with users all across the Web, so as to understand how they're using Brave, what works, and what doesn't. I do feel uniquely qualified to talk about matter of UX when it comes to Brave.


> I'm responding to users. You happen to have numerous comments here which aren't entirely accurate or fair, so I have responded to you a few times. Don't take it personal; if you publish something I feel is inaccurate, I'll post a response.

I’m not posting this in fight mode, I sincerely hope it will help: this is user hostile.

You’re responding but you’re not listening. You’re certainly not asking. How could you be sure you know what the other people you interact with think if you feel uniquely qualified to talk about users’ experience and just brush by people who don’t feel supported in their own experience?


I don’t use Brave but I think these guys are being unfair. Your comments are generally fine because they’ve prompted responses with detail, which I as a third party prefer.

“Brave is full of UX issues” <<< “Brave allows withdrawing BAT to only a single wallet provider”.

Okay, the latter comment is way more useful to me, a lay follower than the former. And it only happens because you pushed.


> I'm responding to users.

I'm gonna have to agree with GP that you're responding too much. I don't even use Brave nor do I care but I still browse HN. Obviously different people will see things differently, but you seem very defensive and it makes you come across as difficult.

Like I said, I have no skin in this game. You are welcome to ignore what I say if you don't find it helpful.


Since you seem to know it all I'll just leave you be. My only actionable advice is that you should hire someone nicer to handle public relations, lest you bleed users from your own mouth.


I do believe I've been quite respectful with you. If at any time I was caustic, abrasive, or offensive, I apologize. It is certainly not my intention.


From my read through the thread, you're being very nice, but also very dismissive. That's not actually respectful, even if it's not the harsh things you describe. And it's not kind. If you disagree with someone's experience that you feel passionately about defending, you might have better luck defending it by taking a moment to think about what they experienced differently from your own experience, how much you care about that different experience, and how you might incorporate that into future action. Not everything needs public relations, and it can definitely feel uncaring if it's mostly public explainings.


People are too sensitive nowadays. Everything needs to be wrapped silk and the actual information gets shrouded by fluff.


It’s not clear who you’re saying is being too sensitive, or why you think so.


People who think it's disrespectful when a company representative do not preface every response with "I deeply apologize that you feel this way" or some equivalent nonsense. You even claim responding to something inaccurate is user hostile.


Huh? I wasn’t suggesting the person should apologize. I was suggesting they should ask about the user’s experience rather than telling it.


Or they can just tell them facts instead of pretending to care what a random hater thinks. Just like they did. They also asked what bad UX they referred to, so they did what you wanted but it was still disrespectful apparently. If genuine feedback was met with "go fuck yourself" we could maybe call it user hostility but this was not.


I feel like pretending to listen, which is what he is doing, is worse than saying "go fuck yourself" because then it would be honest. I find it bizarre you find his feedback genuine, as to me it's the same thing as "go fuck yourself" but neatly wrapped up in a "I pretend to care what you say" format.

If he came straight out and said "I don't care about your opinion and here's why" I would respect him. Instead he just talks over the people he's pretending to listen to.

His job should be to solicit feedback, not dictate it. And if he's going to dictate it I wish he would at least be upfront about it.


You put it better than I could have before I got back to this. It doesn’t really count as “asking” if you’re preemptively dismissing the answer in the same comment.


I respect the candid comments from the Brave Dev. I wish all "PR departments" acted like this to be honest.


I see you put the twit in twitter.


We've banned this account for repeatedly breaking the site guidelines.

If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future. They're here: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.


Why not try Neeva? They are going the route of a paid search engine.


Upvoted, but here is the reason why I don't use it, some people haven't yet fully realized that Internet doesn't have borders:

> We will be in touch when we are ready to release Neeva in your country. Thank you for being part of the Neeva team, we are so excited to build the future of search with you.


I’m using Neeva. I like the team and the idea, but at least for me there is a drastic drop off in search quality from google. It is pretty far from 95% as good.


Can you elaborate on how you feel "Brave has a culture of user-hostile UX"? You're not talking about the first version of the User Tipping feature from 2018 (where Brave gave BAT to its users and asked them to give mark which creator(s) they'd like to support) are you?


Generally the same type of problems as a lot of UX has today, especially on mobile: various messages and modals and controls that seem to be motivated by Brave’s needs, not mine. Sponsored images, trying to get me to set it as standard browser, “Brave rewards” whatever that is being a permanent part of the UI and turning itself on without me asking it to.

These might be small things compared to Google, but I’ve never experienced that DuckDuckGo did anything like it, so my trust in them is higher.


Let me expand a little on why I think this is so corrosive to my trust in Brave, because this is interesting stuff. When I use the Brave browser, I have to second-guess everything in the UI to consider why a control or message is there, if it’s in my interest or if you’re trying to get me to do something that’s in your interest. My eyes have to scan the UI in much the same way I do with ads in search results or spam in my inbox; having to actively filter out the potential harms from the things that are useful.

It’s like I can feel my eyes getting more tense as I do this.

That means that every single time I use the browser, the impression that Brave should not be trusted is reinforced in a very physical way. It’s not just a “brand impression” but a muscle memory.


Yep, agreed. I ended up switching to Firefox as a result of things like this, which was good in many ways but took a lot more configuration.


After using the duck for a couple of years, I have become better at two things:

- Reading man pages or official documentation sites before opening a search engine

- Thinking of more precise search keywords, as I got used to duck not helping me as much as google


Along these lines I use ddg’s bangs for the same benefit. So many searches for Python help are filled with very shallow intros on tutorial sites of varying quality with the official docs rarely the first result.

Now I just prefix my query with !py and I’m immediately taken to the docs.


Brave Search supports !bangs ;)


That’s good to know!

For clarity, I wasn’t trying to say DDG is better than Brave, rather agreeing with the parent that there are smarter tools for gathering information rather than relying solely on a search engine.


Indeed, including nearly all of DDG's !bangs :) We also add in some others, such as !so for StackOverflow, !gh for GitHub, and !mdn for the Mozilla Developer Network.


Those are also in DDG.


Wouldn't surprise me; DDG has an impressive list of !bangs (more than 13K, IIRC). Thanks for the clarification!


And is there any list of all available bangs + also do we have an ability to add new ones?


Tip it lacks keyboard shortcuts to navigate search results (up/down, enter).


Arrow and PgUp/Dn keys scroll the page, as per standard Web UI. Tab key jumps from one link to the next, also as per standard Web UI. Maybe they changed that between our comments.


That works horribly on the results page, around 10 tabs to get to the first result.


also: considering how far out in the long tail of search terms my query is, before choosing to go with the !g bang out of the gate.

Google I find is still better for topics that are more idiosyncratic. But the bang syntax makes DDG a natural choice as default because many times I'll want to go directly to a specific domain search, e.g. !r or !nyt


> Is 95% really not acceptable?

No: When you use web search for professional work, such as searching for error messages or description of bugs of some software, any miss of somebod having encountered and solved them before can cost you days of work.

From my experience, Google is currently still the best at finding those.


I think before you spend days of work on something DDG can't find, taking a few seconds to add !g and check Google's results would be sensible. Usually when I try that, though, Google isn't any better.


I use DDG on personal devices and Google at work. I have a work-issued Google account, so privacy isn't really tractable for work stuff anyway


> When I don’t get the results I hoped I just use !g. Easy. But the result are rarely any better

This is exactly my experience. I have a "failed" search probably about a quarter of the time. Changing around the keywords can sometimes fix those failures... maybe about a quarter again are still stuck. So, yeah, ~5% failure rate. I inevitably try !g and am inevitably disappointed with effectively the same results (or lack thereof). Google successfully recovers a failed search maybe 10% of the time.


> Is 95% really not acceptable?

Moreover, is any search engine really at 95% success rate? I certainly have never gotten that high with Google, even back in the days when Google Search was good. Nowadays it's like 85% or so. About the same as DuckDuckGo for me. No matter which one I made my default, I'd have to check the other occasionally. (Incidentally, the same is true of satellite imagery. Sometimes Bing Maps is just much better for no obvious reason.)


It isn't acceptable, no. I tried Duck Search (aka Bing) for a couple weeks and in the beginning I wouldn't know that I wasn't getting the results I was looking for and eventually realized that the results just sucked compared to Google.

I found myself having to second guess the results and then did a Duck / Google hybrid for a while, going to Google when I didn't get what I was looking for and eventually it was too much friction. I equate it with when I used to use two different text editors, one for speed (Sublime) and another (IntelliJ)for step-debugging because Sublime didn't have that part well implemented and it was just maddening to have to switch back and forth all the time and learn/maintain two sets of keyboard shortcuts etc.


> When I don’t get the results I hoped I just use !g

I use !sp instead, same results and no Google tracking

(!sp searches on Startpage which in turn uses results from Google; according to both Privacy Badger and Brave Shields there are no trackers on SP)


I sometimes wonder if that 5% is something DDG and others can realistically solve. Perhaps the issue has less to do with engineering and more to do with Google being the dominant player over the previous 20-years (give or take). That's an awfully long time for one company to effectively own a product category and build expectations among users about how it should work.

FWIW I do get good results from DDG (sometimes better than Google) but that does require me to be a bit more thoughtful with my queries.


For me it's random technical dumb stuff, like library version compatibility. Or a specific syntax I know exist but I can't figure out.

Now when I don't find what I need, I double check with g! ... once every 2 or 3 times, google do find what I'm vaguely remember exist and is out there.

Is never actual content, it's when I look for a specific one liner to copy paste and DDG do not deliver.

I can live with that.


I am on the third or forth trial to change to DDG and this time it is working not because DDG is better but because Google's search is degrading so much.


I tried brave search today and the results were rather good. I have no idea what 95% working means but this is a nice start


In my experience, without use of g! DDG isn't serviceable.


DDG already includes Google (amongst others) in its results. It's not just a front end to Bing, like many assume (though I can't find DDG's article on the subject to directly cite).

The thing with people who switch to DDG is, they do so consciously for privacy reasons but then forget that the reason G's results are so good is because they add little bits of context in through their profiling. But that doesn't mean that DDG's results can't be as good as G's, it just means you need to add that context yourself. Like if you search for a coding problem, add your computer language name to the search query. Or if you're search for a restaurant, add in your home town too.

I've found DDG's results to be comparable to Google's and in fact in the last ~3 years of exclusively using DDG, I can count on one hand the number of times I've tried searching for something in Google after a failed search in DDG.

Image searching is a little more hit and miss though. G's image search is better -- generally speaking. However DDG doesn't include Pinterest spam. So if you're after something specific using image searching, Google is better. But if you're after a general list of usable images, then DDG is better.


> DDG already includes Google (amongst others) in its results. It's not just a front end to Bing, like many assume (though I can't find DDG's article on the subject to directly cite).

Per DDG's own help pages, they use mostly Bing and no Google. (The mixture of over 400 sources that they claim is used to provide the infobox-type results, which they call "Instant Answers", not the regular search results)

> We also of course have more traditional links in the search results, which we also source from multiple partners, though most commonly from Bing (and none from Google).

https://help.duckduckgo.com/results/sources/


> but then forget that the reason G's results are so good is because they add little bits of context in through their profiling

I disagree. I've tried to switch to DDG several times too, and always go back to StartPage, which is a proxy for Google, and the results were always better even without profiling. There is a case to be made for Google having better results globally from aggregate user behaviour though.


I think googles crawler excels at crawling forums and social media like stack overflow or Reddit or support forums. The main thing I use google for is when I have a bug whose solution is 9 pages into some thread on some obscure discussion board I’ve never heard of


G's results are terrible for over 5 years and now they are reaching uselessness levels of Altavista.

No G, I didn't want to search for what you suggested, really not.


> "This new-fangled technology is worse than what we had back in my day!"


DDG also makes it very to download images, unlike Google that now makes you go though to whatever site and have to scroll around in the page to find the image


Google was forced to do that because sites where screaming google is stealing their traffic by linking directly to images.

Once DDG is big enough, they will be forced to do the same.


Or as people like to say about Uber, DDG is doing "legal arbitrage" since they're still small and Google can't do that anymore.


The best thing about Google is that if you're on a website - say a travel website looking at hotels in Thailand - and then you Google "USD" it automatically completes "USD to Thai Baht" and then just gives you the answer very user friendly automatically. The same is true if you'd search "Best p" - you get "Best places to visit in Thailand" immediately, with a bunch of cards that are easy to read and use and get to more relevant things you're looking for.

Sure - this invades your privacy. But it leads to good results and a better experience.

You really don't want to give up your privacy in exchange for nothing. But this doesn't feel like the case here.

It's also just as good for location things. If I'm in different neighborhoods - I can type one letter in - and Google will pop up the right restaurant - and then in one or two clicks I can make an order.

This feels like a trade I can live with. I get it that a lot of people can't.


You're happy to give up your privacy just to save typing a few characters?


Considering that I use Google instead of DDG primarily because of how good the contextually aware results are for the things I most commonly search - sure.


> Or if you're search for a restaurant, add in your home town too.

This definitely doesn't help in India. If you live in the US, Brave/DDG can probably serve you better local results. It's abysmal in India. Google local results in India are orders of magnitude better here.


I live in Europe so I'm definitely not talking from a US perspective. But I acknowledge that web services are generally worse in India than most (other) developed countries.


This exhibits the halting problem, no?

I tried to use DDG, but now I don’t because I never knew whether it was just my DDG search that had been unsuccessful or whether there were truly no results.

In fact, I wouldn’t know with any search engine whether there are “truly no results”, so I use G because I prefer to get what’s widely accepted to be the closest results possible.


DDG almost fails in the same way as goog.

The only advantage I have seen in results is Google has removed nonsense and conspiracy garbage from their results.

It's the general rush towards infantilism. I want to see the kind of nonsense that has assuaged so many people into effective insanity and apparently Google has decided that I'm not enough of an adult to view it.

It's like their Android dictionary. It lacks lots of words that I have to go and check manually because they've decided that someone using a nuanced word is only done in error

Or with their search where they remove all the important stuff from the query and return the results that I was specifically trying to avoid with those important modifiers "there's not many results with x" - Yes! That's the point.

All over the place they're just on some endless campaign to patronize the userbase. From the address bar that simply just refuses to do http: to a painfully dumb search in Gmail, it's really a company wide systemic problem they need to address.

At least back in the say AOL days, which were renown for this kind of mentality, they kept things at a stable sophistication for the lifetime of the product. It wasn't in some unending rush to become ever more stupid and childish with every subsequent release


Same excitement here. I'd love to see anyone(Brave or others) chip away at my Google dependencies, even if they charge me for them. I already love Brave as a browser, so here's hoping search pans out.

I don't mind a company profiling me. A lot of Google's cross interacting products work great(Gmail to Calendar and Maps, for example). I just don't want them advertising to me, or selling my data. A guy can dream...


> I don't mind a company profiling me

Not everyone has that luxury.

> I just don't want them advertising to me, or selling my data

Then your data is worthless to them. Nobody wants companies to abuse their personal data, that's why it's such a lucrative business. Companies like Apple and Brave get away with it by edging out competition and instating their own standards (see: Brave's Ad "replacement"). It's all so ridiculously asinine that it makes me want to uninstall every piece of software from my computer and use it exclusively as a space heater for the rest of my life.


> Then your data is worthless to them

This is precisely the point. It should be worse than worthless, it should cost them money. And they should charge that to me, plus some nominal fee. I guess that's what I'm asking for.


The issue is that you're not describing a sustainable business model. Sure, it would be a much better situation than we have now, but you can't cover hosting fees with data bills.


That's a strange argument. "If we pay you for the product you give us, we'll never be able to pay our service providers. Instead, we'll give sell it to someone else."


Uh oh, someone better tell Microsoft that charging businesses for Exchange isn’t a sustainable business model.


If there was a broadly enforced requirement to pay users for their data, businesses would adapt.


How much money does Google make again?


Brave isn't capturing user data, and the "replacement" topic requires more nuanced coverage. Internet users have been installing ad-and-content blockers long before Brave (when Netscape launched the Plugin API back in 1996 or so, ad-blockers began to appear almost immediately).

Brave is rescuing the Web from a block-alone response, which starves content creators of much-needed support. Brave also increases the potential for support by giving users without disposable income (and those with disposable income) the ability to support those who make the Web enjoyable. We do this in a manner which is low-friction, and anonymous too (thanks to the Basic Attention Token).

Brave has introduced a model that understands the security and privacy reasons for blocking third-party ads and trackers. But Brave doesn't stop there (as is the case with popular blockers); it also aims to address the issue of content sustainability online.


You should read The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=swMo1sK5ntk


> > I don't mind a company profiling me

> Not everyone has that luxury.

Defend that statement.


> I just don't want them advertising to me, or selling my data.

Google doesn't sell your data.

They sell the opportunity for companies to place their ads based on Google's placement algorithms, which use your data.

There is a big difference, and while I don't expect the general population makes the distinction I think on HN people should understand this.


> I just don't want them advertising to me, or selling my data.

You can get pretty close to that by buying YT Premium [if you watch YouTube] and using an adblocker everywhere else, and this gives Google the non-ad-based monetary incentive to profile your viewing habits to show you more videos it thinks you'll like without optimizing for Ads.


I've stuck with DDG for about the past year and a half and I have to agree. I want it to be good, but when debugging some obscure problem (like trying to learn SwiftUI lately) Google is able to dig up more result. Of course the "there were not results for <your error message> so displaying results for 'computer programming instead'" is frustrating so I preemtively add quotes around every term more frequently.

Lately I've noticed a weird problem with DDG where it will load a blank page of results. The page header with logo and search bar is there, but the white part of the page that has results never loads. Even after refreshing multiple times it's the same, but trying a different query fixes it.

If Brave can manage to produce higher quality results while weeding out SEO spam I will definitely subscribe.


> a weird problem with DDG where it will load a blank page of results

I've noticed the same problem too. My guess is that DDG pulls search results from 3rd-party engines such as Bing and for some technical issues it may fail from time to time.


I wish they would add a feature that would let you add your own tags to counterweight the lack of tracking.

Right now google knows a lot about you and uses it to refine the search results, if you remove tracking - quality drops. But if you at least let the user tell the engine that "I'm a programmer, gamer, geek, whatever" it might just do the trick to counterweight that.


Hey, we are planning on implementing something very similar to what you describe. You can read more about our proposal here: https://brave.com/goggles

In a nutshell, community-curated lists of rules to deeply change the way our core ranking algorithm surface content and influence the results you see for a given query.


DuckDuckGo allows you to do a Google search by prepending "!g" to any query. So usually I do that for the last 5% of queries that DDG fails on.


You can use !g on Brave Search too, or turn on Fallback Mixing in Brave Search Settings, which will anonymously call out to Google and pull in results as needed. This helps to train the nascent engine more rapidly. I hope this helps!


I am not able to locate this setting. I am using Brave Search on Firefox. Is that available only on Brave Search on Brave browser?


Yes, the Fallback Mixing requires the Brave browser, since it pipes the request through the participating user's machine (only if the user has first opted-in to the feature).


Is that legal?


Why wouldn't it be? Google scrapes the web to populate it's results, why wouldn't other search engines scrape the web as well? Google is a website.


It's not scraping static text in order to point you to those sites, it's using the features of the site to perform a service better than you can do yourself. It's completely different.

If I made a site that claimed to help you with your math homework and simply sent the queries to WolframAlpha, that would also not just be "scraping."


This is basically what Google does to Wikipedia and rebrands as "Knowledge Graph".


Google has donated many millions to the Wikimedia Foundation, basically in payment for this.

(But, again, there's a difference between scraping and echoing a request on another site and waiting for its response. The latter is basically unauthorized use of its API, not scraping.)


It'll be very telling if Google switches to using Wikipedia Enterprise: https://www.wired.com/story/wikipedia-finally-asking-big-tec...

My guess is Google's "donation" is pennies on the dollar from what they benefit from Wikipedia, and more of a token gesture than anything else.


This is naive. Web sites have various terms of service.


Violating a website's ToS is hardly illegal, though.


> Violating a website's ToS is hardly illegal, though.

Can you be more specific as to your claim? Not illegal in what sense(s)? And what is your basis for the claim?

I'm not a lawyer, but saying "violating a website's ToS is hardly illegal" is fraught advice.

While individuals may get some leeway when it comes to ToS violations (see [1] and [2]), I would expect companies scraping and/or extracting content would be treated differently.

[1]: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/07/court-violating-terms-...

[2]: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/03/court-violating-...

[3]: https://www.octoparse.com/blog/10-myths-about-web-scraping

[4]: https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/almID/1202610687621/?s...


The only way for it to be illegal is if they're breaking a law, but then it would be illegal regardless of what the ToS says.


Because Google's robots.txt disallows it, and those websites allow it.


robots.txt is not a legal contract. It's just a convention to express the wishes of the site author, but there's no legal obligation to follow these wishes.


It does indicate that those other sites want Google to scrape them, while Google does not want others to scrape their results, which is an important distinction ocdtrekkie ignored for whether the scrapee will want to take legal action.


You may wish to review https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/09/victory-ruling-hiq-v-l...

Google Search results are definitely "public data" so long as Google provides them to anyone who asks.


Then why does Startpage pay Google and DDG pay Microsoft?


While scraping search results isn't illegal, by any means, it's also not illegal for Google or Microsoft to block requests they believe are from competing search engines. Presumably the cost of paying them is less than the cost of hiring engineers to constantly try to find new ways to outwit Google and Microsoft engineers.

Again, if scraping data from websites without permission, Google simply wouldn't exist. Bear in mind, robots.txt is a feature that Google and Microsoft choose to respect, but the default assumption search engines have made from the beginning, is that they are free to grab whatever they want from the web, unless you ask them otherwise to please not.


> the default assumption search engines have made from the beginning, is that they are free to grab whatever they want from the web, unless you ask them otherwise to please not.

Which Google's robots.txt does.

> scraping search results isn't illegal, by any means

While scraping the results for yourself to look at might be OK, scraping results to display verbatim in another search engine without permission stretches fair use.


> While scraping the results for yourself to look at might be OK, scraping results to display verbatim in another search engine without permission stretches fair use.

No, it doesn't, because Google results aren't copyrightable, hence, there is no such thing as fair use. It's just information anyone is free to collect and use as they see fit.


Why would rankings not be copyrightable?


Why would they be? Again, if all things being copyrightable by default, Google could not even exist, they assume they have the right to consume any data they want.

If a monkey can't copyright a selfie because they're not a person, an algorithmically generated spew of stuff Google ripped from elsewhere certainly lacks merit for copyright.


All things are copyrighted by default. Once again, those websites grant a license to search engines to consume their content via robots.txt, and Google does not.


It's just a redirect to Google.


There seem to be two different features:

1. Redirection to Google.

2. Piping Google's results back to Brave Search's UI: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27594754

The original commenter was asking about the latter.


Ah, I see, Thanks for the heads up.


Is scraping Google for your own commercial search engine legal?


The frustration I am talking about is:

Check query result -> realize the result is bad -> scroll back to the search bar -> place cursor at the beginning of the query -> enter "!g" -> redirect to Google.com

It is not too bad on desktop, but doing it once on a smartphone is more than enough to push me to switch back to Google.


The !g can be almost anywhere in the query, it just can't be followed by non-whitespace or prefixed by special signs.


This is what I wanted to say. It's a life saver on mobile especially. Just append !g to the query (or !gi for google images, !gm for maps, etc)


Personally I find it pretty predictable which queries duck duck go will fail on. Basically very niche ones.

So I just prepend based on what I'm searching for to begin with instead of after a failure. But I've also been using duckduckgo as my default for over a decade so I've gotten used to it.


If you use Tridactyl, you can quickly jump to the search bar with “gi”. That's what I do.


you can easily create a command for it (and bind to key(s)):

  command ddgGoogleBang composite js (new URLSearchParams(window.location.search)).get('q') + ' !g' | urlmodify_js -q q | open


I'm amazed that DDG/Brave don't understand that typing something immediately after a "!" on a smartphone is annoying and difficult. DDG only supports "!" after the character for a small subset of bangs. Thankfully "g!" is one of them, but it's immensely easier to type on smartphone.


most browsers support <c-l> to hop the cursor to the url bar for searches or url entries


    / <c-e> !g <enter>


Or you could just use https://startpage.com/ and get Google quality results 100% of the time.


that's also 100% reliant on google though. what would happen if that became a lot more popular than it is now? would google try to sabotage it in any way?

i would rather support and spread the word about search engines that don't rely solely on google


> that's also 100% reliant on google though. what would happen if that became a lot more popular than it is now? would google try to sabotage it in any way?

Yes, same applies to DDG/Bing though.


It redirects to Google. So the effect (including tracking) is identical to just doing a Google search.


This is incorrect. Fallback-Mixing, if you have enabled it (which requires Brave), issues an anonymous query to Google, lacking any cookies or other persistent state for that domain. These results are then presented along with Brave Search's own results. There's no tracking involved. If you perform a direct Google search, you're passing along your cookies as well.


The user was replying to using DDG with !g

In an indirect way, it’s possible by doing !sp on DDG, which redirects the search to startpage, which shows untracked google results.


Ah, my apologies for any confusion. For what it's worth, the !sp bang is supported on Brave Search as well :)


As I said in my other comment[1], you might be interested in using !sp which gives you the same results without Google tracking

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27598042


Startpage is owned by an adtech company now.


that doesn't change the fact that there are no trackers and the fact that it uses Google results


No, but it does mean that you are likely to use it without knowing when they do start tracking you. Because of course an adtech company will (and of course they will deny until the day they change it).


> Because of course an adtech company will

then it seems they're being quite slow, since the acquisition happened almost 2 years ago.


This is silly. 95% of what one can track on the front end can be done on the back end. If you hit Google's servers, you're being tracked. Period.


They will definitely implement ads. They're an advertising company.


"options for ad-free paid search and ad-supported search"

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


Nice, I would pay for it. Would make it a lot easier if the backend was #opensource though. Not saying I won't but it would make it a no-brainer.


Future post: "We have listened to our users, and we are removing ad-free paid search due to a lack of demand and [some excuses about how it's technically difficult to maintain it]."

We'll see which comes first. That post, or "Our Great Journey."


Just curious, why are you opposed to search ads? They are already targeted by your search query, so don't fundamentally rely on tracking data.


Since they're nearly indistinguishable from real organic search results, people click on them assuming the search engine found them the best result. This leads to two major problems:

1. Search ads are the primary source of malware and fraud on the Internet today. (Phishing emails are second.) Sites pretend to be other sites all the time, and to allow tracking and landing page behaviors, every major search ad provider allows ads to "lie" about the destination domain. So you may see an Amazon ad, it says it goes to Amazon.com, but actually directs through to realamazonlinkipromise.biz instead. Fraud's really profitable, so fraudsters win ad slots easily, and are adtech companies' best customers, so there's really little incentive to crack down on this.

2. Search ads use this placement as a form of extortion. If you run, say, Best Buy, you shouldn't have to buy search ads for "best buy", because obviously you're the best result. However, they have to, because if they don't, the search engine will sell ads to their competitors using their keyword, so people searching "best buy" get "Circuit City" as the top result instead. (Yes, I chose that reference in part because I don't want to shame any real current companies in this example for sleezy practices.) And since users click the top result (the ad), not the first organic result, Best Buy ends up paying for every click for every user who goes through Google/Bing/etc. to get to Best Buy.

The second reason is why browsers are so obsessed with combining the search and address bars: They want you to search "best buy" or "bestbuy" or etc. because that's ad revenue, whereas actually typing bestbuy.com nets Google nothing.


> 2. Search ads use this placement as a form of extortion. If you run, say, Best Buy, you shouldn't have to buy search ads for "best buy", because obviously you're the best result. However, they have to, because if they don't, the search engine will sell ads to their competitors using their keyword, so people searching "best buy" get "Circuit City" as the top result instead. (Yes, I chose that reference in part because I don't want to shame any real current companies in this example for sleezy practices.) And since users click the top result (the ad), not the first organic result, Best Buy ends up paying for every click for every user who goes through Google/Bing/etc. to get to Best Buy.

One thing to note is that the cost of the ad is based on the landing page relevance (and even more so for branded terms), and so in your example Best Buy would be able to buy the ad for the "Best Buy" keyword for pennies (a rounding error on their SEM campaign, I'm sure), while Circuit City would have to pay a whole bunch for the "Best Buy" keyword.

Given that, I don't mind it so much. It's a good way for a competitor to get their name out there, but it's not really a sustainable practice long term for them. There's built-in pressure favoring the incumbent on their own terms.


Bear in mind, Best Buy should pay zero pennies for each of the millions of people trying to reach their website. It's absolutely inexcusable for a search company, which also owns an ad company, and also happens to run the web browser everyone's using, to create a system that basically taxes all attempts to visit a business's website specifically.

Honestly, what Google and Microsoft and such are doing in this case is trademark theft. They are selling the search result for a trademarked name they don't own, and when the actual trademark owner wants to be found by their own name... they have to pay for it.

I don't know who is going to file the case, but sooner or later, someone should, because it's a slam dunk.


> every major search ad provider allows ads to "lie" about the destination domain.

This seems like the real problem, not search ads as a concept

> So you may see an Amazon ad, it says it goes to Amazon.com, but actually directs through to realamazonlinkipromise.biz

Just disallow that? Problem solved.

If you want yet another filter, only allow public companies or companies that have raised >10M on Crunchbase to advertise, and have them verify that they are really who they are by asking them to put some string of your choosing in their DNS records.


> Just disallow that?

Sure, Google could disclose real advertisement destination URLs tomorrow if they wanted. But the marketers are their customers, and that would upset their customers quite a bit. Especially since a lot of their customers' entire purpose in paying for Google Ads is to exploit that particular feature.


Google only charges users once per user per click.


Honestly, ads clearly marked as ads and contained just to the results page would be fine.

But in the race for better ad performance, they introduced tracking & retargeting & profile building while at the same time both minimizing the visual difference between ads & organic as well as nearly pushing organic of the first page.


IMHO search ads are bad search results, and in 99% of time they are not something I would want to click. So they are doing nothing useful but only adding friction to my search experience. I am not against privacy friendly ads in free services, but if there's an option to pay to get rid of ads, I will pay.


I'm in eCommerce, run ads (on eBay, not Google) and would have to agree 100%.

The only products we put paid promotion on are common and overpriced, and the demographic of the customers is very different to what we'd find through our products sold through organic search.

Based solely on anecdata through the messages we receive and the addresses we ship to, the people who click on ads are somewhat more likely to be lower-socio, much more likely to have low literacy skills, and a couple of orders of magnitude more likely (not an exaggeration) to live in a remote Aboriginal community.

It feels somewhat dirty/exploitative, but it's what the customer wants. They have the choice of saving $50+ by scrolling past the first 3-4 results, but they choose not to. I just don't understand.


I can't answer him, but there is a peace of mind not having ads talk (is not the right word) to you, even absent everything else. As in I can actually set my attention to something and finish a coherent whole without having to give any attention to ads.

I didn't realize this until I installed Sponsorblock which got rid of the last ads I was seeing there. Suddenly I could focus on whatever they were creating and the video was talking about without having my attention diverted to something else.

Maybe that is just me, but that is why I now mind ads.


Since the brave search results are so thin, maybe put them on the right to be less confusing.


Search ads have become visually almost indistinguishable from legitimate search results on most search engines, including DuckDuckGo. That's why I try to avoid them whenever possible. DuckDuckGo allows you to turn them off completely.


> Brave Search beta is based on an independent index, the first of its kind.

That's... an interesting way to put it. I can't really twist and turn it into the truth though. Smells like it was put through a lot of PR.

>However, for some queries, Brave can anonymously check our search results against third-party results, and mix them on the results page.

This is something almost all of the search engines outside Google and Bing does. DDG does this with Bing for example.

As far as I can tell the only "new" in this will be that the same thing is done again by another company.


"If things go as planned, this may become a paid, ad-free, zero-tracking search engine."

In 1998 when Google's founders announced their search engine they claimed it would be less commercial, more academic, more transparent and they would avoid the influence of advertising. Did things "go as planned." Not even close. What is the lesson here.

Meanwhile, every search submitted during the "beta" period is subject to none of those limitations.

"So, if I am not satisfied with Brave's result, Google's result is on the same page, or just one click away."

Brave is not the first to do that. Check out Gigablast, for example. If I am not mistaken, they also claim to use an "independent index". At least, they provide the source to a crawler and server.^1 That is what people should be excited about. Not Gigablast per se but the idea of an open source search engine that anyone can run. searx is another project worth looking at.^2

How many ways are results promoted and demoted; what are the factors used. Are these search engines that comenters are recommending in this thread transparent. (Making promises on a blog is not "transparency" IMO.) Where is the source code. What are the various server settings that alternatives like Google, DDG, Brave, Startpage, etc. never provide to users. This stuff should matter, yet the discussion of search engines always seems to devolve into personal usage anecdotes and "search shortcuts". Every user has different needs and preferences.

There are many knobs in web search that advertising-supporting tech companies providing "search engine" websites will never let users twiddle. The source code for those servers is not public.

1. To get an idea of type of settings users of popular search engines are not being allowed to control:

(Scroll down to "SEARCH CONTROLS") https://raw.githubusercontent.com/gigablast/open-source-sear...

2. https://github.com/searx/searx

For a current list of searx public instances

   curl https://searx.space/data/instances.json|grep -Eo '(A\+", .[^"]*.{4}[^"]*)'|cut -d/ -f5|uniq|sed 's>.*>https://&>'


hi, gigablast creator, matt, here. thanks for mentioning gigablast. i've been coding web search engines for almost 25 years so it's always nice to see ppl recognize. i wish more ppl would care about these things. with enough people caring i think i (or we) could make gigablast into a super transparent, private search engine that doesn't rely on big tech like the other guys. really i just need more hardware at this point as that is the main technical hurdle for improving results quality and performance. if somebody would give me like $1M in amd-based minicomputers (i like minicomputers better than big servers - preferably asus) i think we could have something much better and faster, although what is there is pretty good -- this might be enough to really get things going.


in the distribution available on github.com, included are some static binaries for various open source programs. any reason that a static gb binary could not be distributed as well. with linux, i use musl so prefer static to ones linked against gblic.


anyway, thx for sharing some of your work. very much appreciated.


> searx

I just gave the docker image a try. It works out of the box but the search time feels slightly more than that of Google - which is one of the reasons I gave up on DDG.

Also, I am curious - if I am hosting it on my own server and using Google as one of the engines - does that not mean my search ultimately goes to Google and they can still profile me?


I just tested the 47 servers listed in https://searx.space/data/instances.json. I did not use a browser. No Javascript, cookies, etc.. A good number of them worked fine.

Who knows what the people running those instances do with the search data they acquire.

What I like about searx though is the list of search engines it potentially targets. Comprehensive lists of search engines on the internet are always valuable. I see searx as a supply of "parts" with which one can make something of their own. I have made a metasearch utility for myself.


What does your metasearch approach look like?


A. Text-only

B. Search from command line

C. Can open an index.html of saved search results in any browser; each query gets its own SERP; search results are saved in a directory that can be tarballed and compressed allowing simple transfer to any computer with a UNIX userland

D. Easy to add new sites; follows a failry standard template; currently at only eight sites, but adding more (like the ones in searx)

E. Requires only standard UNIX utilities; consists of small shell scripts of less than 2000 chars

F. Fast; no cruft

Unique features:

1. Streamlined SERP; URLs only, minimal HTML, i.e., <a>, <pre>, <ol>, <li>, <!-- -->; no images, Javascript or CSS; SERP contains timestamps in HTML comments to indicate when each query was submitted

2. Each SERP contains deduped batches of results from different search engines; source search engine indicated by short prefix; if desired, can resort to intersperse results from different sources, e.g., sort by URL

3. Continuation of search; allows retrieval 100s of results by spreading searches across periods of time too long for websites to track, thus allowing retrieval of large numbers of search results while avoiding ridiculously small result limits or temporary bans for "searching too fast" <--- I could not find anyone else using this approach

4. By default only minimum headers sent; custom headers can be sent when appropriate for particular site, e.g., DNT to findx.com; allows for complete customisation of presence/absence/content/order/case of HTTP headers, thus can potentially emulate any browser or other HTTP client (also supports HTTP/1.1 pipelining which curl cannot do)

5. Can be used with any TCP client; not limited to one library, e.g., libcurl; works great with proxies like stunnel and haproxy

6. URL params or hidden form fields that can potentially be used to link one SERP with another SERP are removed or rendered ineffective


This Brave search beta is quite slow and there is no way to access "page 2". One page of results. Hard to believe this is "good enough" in 2021.


Hey, Brave Search is currently hosted in the US (I am assuming you are on another country) and latencies will be bigger in other places. We will scale in the future, which should improve speed.

Regarding number of pages of results, please see my answer on another thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27597911

TL;DR: we currently show the equivalent of 2 pages of results and will consider more in the future.


> I mean, DDG worked fine for 95% of time, but the remaining 5% failure often led to some extreme frustration that I just couldn't stand.

So, just use https://startpage.com/ and get proxied Google results. Searx is another alternative.


You can't have something be zero tracking and paid since they need to know if you have paid and so need to be able to track you.

I use DDG for my main search, but there is the !g (i think) that you can prefix a search with to get it sent to google through DDG.


Tracking isn't a necessary component of a subscription service. You can have a model with premium features and/or offerings which doesn't harvest user data, such as searches and more.


I guess you could, but then I would have to depend on the service to hold up their promise not to track me. I don't want that.


> I have made several attempts to replace Google Search with DuckDuckGo. But they have all failed and I always ended up changing the default search engine back to Google.

Hmm...

> Brave Search beta is based on an independent index, the first of its kind. However, for some queries, Brave can anonymously check our search results against third-party results, and mix them on the results page.

That's also what DDG does. If you don't like DDG, odds you'll like some even smaller effort are quite to zero.


Do they anonymously check Google though? Maybe they'll just use bing like all the others


I switched to using StartPage after DDG failed me. I ended up adding !g to almost all of the searches.

StartPage shows Google results through a proxy for improved privacy. I am quite happy with it.


Just a note that StartPage was bought by a not-too-privacy friendly company.


Startpage person here. In 2019, Startpage announced an investment by System1 through Privacy One Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of System1. It's 2021 and our privacy policy hasn't changed.

What has happened with this investment, we've hired additional engineers and added new features.

And, System1 doesn't receive any user personal data because we don't collect it and never will. Why did System1 invest? "System1 is interested in Startpage's ad revenue, not its data" Source: https://www.computing.co.uk/news/4017337/privacy-focused-sea...


Startpage was turned into shit over the last few months. Requiring JS for search and absolutely freakish amount of ads dominating the first scroll of results.

Been with them for about a decade but this is too much


Hi - I'm a person from Startpage. I'll share your feedback with the team, but here I can respond to some of these things.

JS: Startpage does use Javascript, but only to enhance user interaction with our site and improve the search results we provide.

ADs: Startpage displays at most 3 ads. Like other private search engines, Startpage's revenue model is based on contextual ads.

Let me know if you have questions or suggestions.


For the other 5% of the time, use the !s bang for Startpage. Anonymized Google search results, with an option to visit the websites on the results page anonymously.


If DDG works in 95% cases, just use it and use !google command on it when it misses the mark.


or even better you can use !sp

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27598042


Startpage got sold


I'm aware, that was almost 2 years ago and startpage still has no trackers (as of today, according to EFF Privacy Badger), so I consider it safe.


Fyi. In Firefox you prefix your search with the engine you want to use. That is, DDG can be your start and you can conveniently use Google as needed.


so you're saying it would be better then DDG just because u r paying money for it?


> Over the past few years, I have made several attempts to replace Google Search with DuckDuckGo

I have been using Startpage for a while. It's results are same as Google, but with zero tracking. But it puts (non-personalized) ads in results.


DuckDuckGo does the exact same thing with shebangs. Brave's implementation is just less granular.


Brave Search supports the Fallback Mixing option, as well as shebangs (e.g. !g, !a, !b, !d, !e, !yt).


They are called bangs, not shebangs. A shebang is #!

> In computing, a shebang is the character sequence consisting of the characters number sign and exclamation mark (#!) at the beginning of a script. It is also called sha-bang,[1][2] hashbang,[3][4] pound-bang,[5][6] or hash-pling.[7] - Wikipedia

> Bangs are shortcuts that quickly take you to search results on other sites. For example, when you know you want to search on another site like Wikipedia or Amazon, our bangs get you there fastest. A search for !w filter bubble will take you directly to Wikipedia. -DDG


Thank you for the correction. I used to call them hash-bangs (not sure where I picked up that habit in my ~25 years of industry experience), until I started seeing more people refer to them as shebangs. Oddly enough, while reading them out I would always say "bang, <identifier>". I'll try to refer to them simply as bangs (or perhaps something like search/filter bangs) from now on


Because '#!' is a hash followed by a bang.


Quite obvious, but naming things is funny in the web-development world. We still call any asynchronous retrieval of data "AJAX," even though it rarely, if ever, involves XML :-)


> Brave can anonymously check our search results against third-party results

Why are we OK with these free services literally stealing Google results? Could you imagine the backlash if it was discovered that Google was doing the same for its results by stealing from DDG or another, smaller player?


Google is a Search Engine. Further, it displays content from sites directly in its results. This includes recipes, show times, sporting event details, and more. It has been argued that Google is stealing this data from smaller sites. Brave is (optionally, if you enable the feature) merely using Google (a more mature apparatus) as a means of learning to deliver better results to the user. The only way somebody is going to "build a better Google" is by training their data on what makes Google so popular to begin with. Brave is able to do this is a secure and private manner.


So Google taking data from sites and putting it on theirs is "stealing" but Brave doing that is different and Brave taking results from Google is considered "learning" or "training"? Hmm... I'm beginning to think people just hate Google because it's "cool" to have a negative opinion about it here.


There is a difference:

Google is taking page content from sites and putting it on their own search result page; Brave is taking search-result links from Google and putting them on their own search result page.


> On 6 June 2020, a Twitter user pointed out that Brave inserts affiliate referral codes when users type a URL of Binance into the address bar, which earns Brave money. Further research revealed that Brave redirects the URLs of other cryptocurrency exchange websites, too. In response to the backlash from the users, Brave's CEO apologized and called it a "mistake" and said "we're correcting".

Brave is just a "pop-privacy" company. I will skip this one...


That's not accurate. Brave offered affiliate link options to users who were searching for particular terms (screenshot: https://brave.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/image3.png). These were presented to users as a way of optionally supporting Brave development. Our mistake was matching fully-qualified URLs too (screenshot: https://brave.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/image2-1.png). When we were made aware of this, we corrected the issue promptly. No revenue was made from this feature either. No user data was involved. No privacy or security was compromised. This was nothing more than traffic attribution as a means of optionally supporting an open-source, free-to-use browser. Read more about this feature at https://brave.com/referral-codes-in-suggested-sites/.

Compare this with traffic attribution in other browsers: open Firefox and begin typing a search query. If you monitor your network activity, you'll find that your keystrokes are not only sent to Google behind the scenes, but those requests also contain an identifier so that Firefox gets paid for sending you and your queries to Google. Brave users were shown the affiliate options before any network activity. Read more at https://brave.com/popular-browsers-first-run/.

As for the question of privacy, Brave was compared to Chrome, Firefox, and more in a review by Trinity College in Dublin, and they found that Brave exists uniquely in its own category as the "most private" browser tested. Read their technical paper here: https://www.scss.tcd.ie/Doug.Leith/pubs/browser_privacy.pdf.


Disclosure: the author of this comment appears to be a Senior Developer Relations Specialist at Brave.


Correct. Note the use of "we" in my comments, pointing out that I am part of the Brave team. Thank you for stating it more explicitly.


"No revenue was made from this feature either." Isn't that just stating that you were caught before you had the chance to make money from it?


> No revenue was made from this feature either.

You definitely would have made some sales instantly with your userbase. The only way this can be true is if you refused any payouts because you saw it would be bad PR. I judge based on intentions. The choices Brave makes over and over show you guys are a shady affiliate type company with a mask of developer and privacy friendliness.

> Compare this with traffic attribution

This is really not the same thing. It's barely relevant. What Brave did is much closer to cookie stuffing. ie: zero value provided to the businesses. I have to now ask you to please not reply with a myopic technical or legal definition of cookie stuffing as you will otherwise do so. You are missing everyone's points on purpose. It's a strange coincidence and is only easy to understand when one realizes you are paid to do so.

Lastly, the first screenshot you linked is egregious. Thanks for providing an honest one. That is absolutely insane. You have an aggressive legal team, for sure. Anyone else would put "AD" float:right on that menu item. (If this was there and you cropped it out then actually I take back this criticism.)

You have a tough job mate. You have a shady employer and your job is to trick everyone into thinking they aren't shady even as they relentlessly do shady things.

I actually don't care about any of this stuff, I just don't like this community being lied to or manipulated. Hackernews is smart but can be manipulated just like reddit as you are seeing. You're only having luck because everyone here hates Google and tracking so much and so desperately wants to believe. But even if you guys do shady stuff I'm all for more competition in the browser and search space.

Anyway, what are the CPMs on your pops and the min daily buy/commitment and is anyone else actually making money with them? Is it pops or more like PPV (url based targeting?) I buy Opera and recently looked into your program.


What about Safari?


Safari was covered in the aforementioned browser-privacy study as well: https://www.scss.tcd.ie/Doug.Leith/pubs/browser_privacy.pdf. It finished with Chrome and Firefox in 2nd place (behind Brave).


you work for Brave. I can't take what you say on face value


Please don't take my words for granted. Verify everything. If you wish to prod a little, I'm always happy to chat :-)


Appreciate you taking part in the conversation. So often people complain about companies not communicating like humans, but when they do people almost seem to get more pissed off. You can't win really.


Will this search engine have better filters, and an option to sort results?

It’s always bothered me about Google that there’s no sort feature, especially by date


Can you tell me more about the "better filters" request? Regarding sorting, that's great feedback. I'm curious how you would see this implemented. Would the sort by date arrange results in order of their modified date, created date (such as when they were published), or perhaps their first indexed date? There are a few other dates that could be considered too.


Ideally have all three of those date types as sort options. Definitely one of the first two as default though.

I appreciate the reply


a slider that adds weight to time stamps


It shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Their attitude towards advertisement and cryptocurrency is the reddest flag imaginable.


Elaborate, please? The blockchain enables everybody to participate, earn, and support content creators in an low-friction, anonymous manner. Advertisements serve as a great way to introduce revenue into the system (by way of advertisers who wish to reach an audience). Brave pulls it all together into a single, OPTIONAL component, which guards the user's privacy and security by conducting its operation locally, on the user's device with client-side machine-learning. No red flags here.


Brave blocks webpage's existing ads then replace the ads with their own ad network that earns the website owner Brave-money that the website owner then has to redeem.

That tactic is definitely a red flag.


That's not how it works. Brave blocks third-party ads and trackers (which are known to be dangerous) on behalf of its users (the same users who were installing uBlock Origin in Chrome and Firefox before coming to Brave). This is a security and privacy necessity on the Web today.

Users are then able to opt-in, if they like, to a novel advertising platform within the Brave ecosystem. These users can earn rewards for their attention (70% of the associated ad-revenue). Ads are displayed within Brave and on the user's desktop; ads are not displayed in any publisher-owned space (e.g. a website or YouTube channel).

With these rewards, users are able to contribute to [verified] sites, channels, etc. The publisher/content-creator must already be verified to receive any rewards from users. If a user attempts to contribute to a non-verified site, the tokens remain on the user's device for up to 90 days.

This isn't much different from how PayPal allows you to send money to an arbitrary email address, regardless if it is associated with a verified PayPal account or not. This model simply addresses the problem of blocking harmful ads and trackers, while offering no alternative means of supporting those same content creators.


Hi Jonathan, here is my hot take on the issue.

When a user installs uBlock Origin, they are attempting to protect themselves from ads, not just privacy, but because the ads themselves attempt to manipulate them into buying things.

When Brave blocks ads in one place, but shows others ads instead, the users are not actually protected from the ads, any potential money that may have been generated by the ads is effectively stolen by Brave.

It's smells to us like you are just stealing peoples content.


> When a user installs uBlock Origin, they are attempting to protect themselves from ads, not just privacy, but because the ads themselves attempt to manipulate them into buying things

I'm not sure where you're getting this statistic. Most people that I know, myself included, aren't trying to protect themselves from buying things, rather from annoying ads that clutter everything up and slow everything down. Perhaps brave isn't the best choice for you, but it certainly will be a good choice for a lot of people who are currently using adblockers.


I'm part of the group GP refers to. I have no interest in ads. I might even be aggressively against them in most contexts. At best, they are a nagging distraction, and worst they are manipulation. I understand the value they bring to creators but where possible I opt for subscriptions or donations rather than ads, and have very few qualms about it.


I'm part of this group too. Fuck the current state of online advertising in its entirety. It's manipulative and is driving the web into the ground.


I didn't quote any statistics. Perhaps I should have said, "some users" or I could have said "users are also protected from manipulation".

I think if you thought about it for a while you would object to a constant bombardment of messages that you are not cool enough, or popular enough, or attractive enough, or fit enough.

Or that when you searched for things you were shown the "best results" rather than whoever paid google the most for your attention.

Or if you were thinking of buying a thing one day, but decided not to because you decided you didn't need it, you might prefer not to be constantly convinced to change your mind and buy the thing. Buy the THING!

My iPad is too old for an ad blocker so I have to suffer constant abuse when surfing the web on it. Don't get me started on Apple.


You're absolutely right that some people are not interested in ads, at all. And this is why they install content-blockers and more. This doesn't change the fact that many others install things like uBlock Origin for their security and privacy benefits. This is precisely why Brave ships with Brave Ads and Rewards disabled by default. We believe that the out of box experience should be blocking. This works for both parties: those who want the reduced noise, and those who want the added security/privacy. I hope this helps :)


I notice you didn't address one important part of my comment, that Brave is attempting to monetize other peoples intellectual property by stripping it of ads.

There is a big moral difference between a community of people blocking ads for their own protection, and a company blocking ads for profit.

--

When somebody reads a web page, but blocked the ads, I like to think the reader is saying, I'm interested in what you have to say, but I'm not spending money today.

When somebody uses the Brave browser and has opted in to other ads, I can only think the reader is saying, I'm interested in what you are saying, but fuck you, I'm not buying what you are selling, I'm going to check out these other ads, make some money for myself and for Brave, and If I see anything I like I'll buy there instead.


> Brave is attempting to monetize other peoples intellectual property by stripping it of ads.

Brave doesn't make money by blocking third-party ads; that's a privacy and security decision. Brave could default to no-blocking (which would be unwise, given the threat to users), and still have its own ad model of displaying ad notifications.

> …people blocking ads for their own protection…

This is why people install Brave; for the privacy and security benefits. This is the baseline experience in Brave.

> When somebody uses the Brave browser and has opted in to other ads…

Why do you assume people aren't using Brave for their own protection? For many people, including myself, advertising isn't the motivator of installing an ad/content blocker. The primary reason is the security/privacy risk of running a small app (which is what modern third-party digital ads are) on my machine.

So if the problem is security and privacy, and not advertising, it makes sense why somebody would opt to participate in an alternative advertising model which does not have the same security/privacy risks, and even rewards the user (with 70% of the ad revenue) for their attention.

> I'm going to check out these other ads, make some money for myself and for Brave…

And for the publisher, since the default configuration of Brave is to queue up auto-contributions for the verified sites you visit.


>Why do you assume people aren't using Brave for their own protection?

OK, sure, lets rewrite it as "Brave is attempting to monetize other people intellectual property by striping it of ads for the protection of readers."

And sure, you could argue that you are providing a service to readers. Unfortunately, in order to provide tha service you must harm the content providers by denying them ad revenue, whether or not they are actually doing any harmful tracking.

This is why I believe content providers will come after you once you get big enough.

And you might be able to scare users, but I doubt you will be able to convince a court that just collecting the data is harmful in any meaningful way.

But come on, we're all tech folks here, Brave is only blocking 3rd party tracking, the 1st parties are still tracking what pages on their site you are reading. Facebook knows what you see on Facebook. Newscorp and Tencent and Apple all know what you are reading across their own IPs. Netflix knows what you are watching and Spotify knows what you are listening to. You have to be logged in after all.

And anyway, I'm sure 3rd parties have started serving up scripts that run 1st party now, just proxxied through the first party server.

Update: And to be clear, if you were doing this all for the good of society alone I would cheer you on, but because you are doing it for profit it becomes unethical in my mind.

Now I know nobody asked, but if I were Mr Eich and I wanted to do this is a way that _was_ ethical, I would attempt to create a parallel internet that was attractive to both users and content providers. I think both parties need to opt-in to this new trackingless internet.

I have a lot of crazy ideas for making this crazy parallel internet good for everybody, but I would be here all night.


Would you then say it's disengenous to listen to the tv or radio while browsing the internet with an ad blocker?


Considering their ads are opt-in this argument makes no sense. Which class of person both wants to “protect themselves from ads” and opts in?

Brave isn’t a browser I use but you guys are not even reading the comments you’re responding to.


People who are tricked into thinking they are helping content creators by watching the ads that Brave serves. People who feel like they might be stealing a contents creators work unless the watch the ads.

Why would anybody opt in to watch the ads otherwise?

Update: Sorry, I just ready below that _users_ are paid up to 70% to watch ads which I did not realize even though that is what is said above. Explains why you would opt in.


And what's wrong with that? Brave blocks adds then allows you to opt in to see their ads. If that some how is theft then so is blocking ads in there first place.


You've hit the nail on the head calling it the basic attention token. While you haven't literally replaced ads in the page you are still removing their ads then adding your own. You didn't replace the ad directly, but you've redirected the user's attention.


Brave blocks harmful third-party ads and trackers. This is a security and privacy matter, as these types of ads are actually small scripts/apps which run in the context of your local machine.

As malignant as third-party ads have become, they do generate revenue for content creators. As such, Brave didn't stop at "block, and let the creators figure it out." We did the work to propose a new approach to supporting content creators; one which doesn't cost the user their data/privacy in the process.

In Brave, user's have to opt-in to Ad Notifications. When they do, they set the limits (up to 10/hr) on how many ad notifications can be displayed. Matching happens locally, so the user's data never leaves their device. And 70% of each ad's revenue is allocated to the user's anonymous wallet, which can flow out to the sites they visit (and proportional to the amount of time they spend on those sites) each month.

This is indeed a replacement model; we cannot continue down the path we've been taking for 25 years. One which treats users like products, harvesting their data at every turn, and auctioning them off to a sea of third parties. There's a better way, and we're just seeing the start of it with the Brave model.


Keep digging.


Where can I buy these (banners?) and what's the min daily budget? I'm skeptical this will work long term as you're overlapping two of the worst sources of traffic: technically-inclined users and incentived attention. Would love to test it out for fun.


I would be interested to know what the conversion rate is like. Given users are literately paid to watch the ads, I'm sure it would be terrible. Worse even than a game were users have to watch an ad to get some in game currency.


CTR is at about 9% right now (industry is about 2%). The difference here is that the user gets to decide whether or not they participate, and to what degree (up to 10 ad notifications per hour presently). Ads are selected via a machine-learning component on the user's device, so with greater diversity of advertisers and inventory, relevancy increases. And, users are rewarded NOT for their clicks, but rather for their attention. If an ad notification appears, and is ignored, you're still rewarded 70% of the associated revenue.


We don't care what it does with the previous ad data, what's disturbing is that there is even a setting to opt-in to more ads in the first place. Many people (myself included) will be completely turned away because of that option. That's just the cost of doing business.


Person 1: Brave replaces existing ads, that’s bad

Someone from Brave: actually we don’t replace existing ads at all, here’s why

Person 2: no one cares what you do or don’t do with existing ads!

I don’t have any connection to Brave but I find it odd they’ve become some kind of hate figure here on HN. Their iOS client IMO is quite good. Their privacy is miles ahead of the other options. But merely by trying to be privacy first they get crap for not always being perfect. See also: Signal, OpenPGP, Firefox.


I didn’t realize Brave had become a “hate figure” here but it seems like the discussion in this thread took a hard turn to the kind of conspiratorial, reactionary, nasty “gotcha” reply behavior I come to Hackernews specifically to avoid. In this thread are multiple examples of the Brave employee saying Thing A and just getting mean-spirited responses reframing A as negatively as possible as if it’s an argument retort.

Example: “Oh this person works for Brave, don’t trust them.” Or in reply to the post explaining what sounds like a bug in the application being misread as a way to grift money from traffic, “No revenue made? So you got caught before you got paid?” Or the clarification that Brave browser ads are confined to the browser and OS UI followed by repetition of the same insisted point that they “block then replace browser ads,” while the rep seems to have explained quite clearly opt-in browser ads are not presented inline to the webpage content. It is, sorry to use a tired comparison, “Reddit behavior.”

I recently saw a note by dang in a Bitcoin thread about how crypto tends to generate repetitive arguments on HN and it seems like that blind spot for the community may have eclipsed Brave by association (maybe in addition to HN’s negativity towards anything ad related). I keep scrolling further expecting to learn something salient about why I shouldn’t trust Brave but instead I see a bunch of people beating on a community rep.


I wrote up a too-long message trying to rationalize some of the repeated animosity directed at Brave Inc in almost every single Brave-related post (for as long as I can remember seeing them on HN), but I'm beginning to think even discussing it at a meta-level would prompt some of the same old repetitive arguments on HN and not be worthwhile.

Instead, I'd like to just respond to this small bit of your comment, if you don't mind:

>I keep scrolling further expecting to learn something salient about why I shouldn’t trust Brave but instead I see a bunch of people beating on a community rep.

A lot of anti-Brave comments are flat out wrong, factually incorrect, or just pure conspiracy/hate. A lot of other anti-Brave comments used to be true but aren't anymore. A few anti-Brave comments still are researched and reasoned.

But it feels to me like any and all comments critiquing Brave instantly get either heated responses from Brave fans and/or dismissed entirely by Brave employees, regardless of their validity, which doesn't breed good discussion and typically devolves into argument and/or personal attacks (even from the Brave reps, which probably doesn't help their brand image).

Brave has made a lot of mistakes over the years (both in bugs and business decisions they've since reverted). From the company/rep's point of view, they've made mistakes, learned, and improved. From the haters' point of view, the company's laundry list of shady scandals has decimated any trust left of what their reps say, especially when defending what looks like The Next Big Scandal. When those same reps dismiss what is or used to be a legitimate concern (for example, injecting affiliate links into URLs) as just "Brave doesn't do that", it only reinforces whichever perceptions people already have about Brave (those for-Brave see haters with invalid critique, and those attacking Brave see a rep gaslighting or dismissing what they believe to be true).

I don't know what the solution to repair Brave's brand is for haters, but it's probably somewhere between acknowledging the mistakes of their past (instead of framing every response in the ultra-present-tense "Brave doesn't do that") and/or providing better educational materials for people to actually learn how Brave works instead of just vaguely knowing "they hide ads, but also show ads, but also something about cryptocurrency, but only if you watch their ads?"


The problem is that trust takes so long to build and so little to destroy. I still won't install or use Brave because I have a nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that I'll wake up to a forced update tomorrow that goes against my interest. They have an insane tightrope to walk in a world where they need to support their work yet not corrupt their product in the name of profit. Thus far, they've made several decisions which have knocked them off that tightrope. Each time, the long road to regaining trust is lengthened and reset. If they go a couple years with a clean track record, I'll consider trying it again, but at this point the brand is entirely tainted for me. Importantly, it doesn't matter if my feeling is currently true, it's been informed by history.


Haters gonna hate.

This problem is all too common though in all parts of life. Someone does something with a good intention for the betterment of people/society and then some others who are not on the other side of the status quo have have to come bring negativity because all they have in them is destructive and constructive (hate vs compromise/support)


This bullshit has nothing to do with Brave. Brendan Eich (Brave CEO) was cancelled years ago, and the mob is still after him. That's what going on really, it's cancel culture at its finest.


Won't anyone think of the poor homophobe?


Thank you for making my point


You're welcome. Someone should justify the imaginary boogeyman people cry about, it's no fun otherwise.


>Person 1: Brave replaces existing ads, that’s bad >Someone from Brave: actually we don’t replace existing ads at all, here’s why

Me: Brave guy used a lot of words but what they said was they remove ads from one place and move them to another place, that's still replacing ads.


not if it's opt-in... if i install a firefox plugin that puts all pages full of ads, it's not firefox doing that.. it's me.


Did Firefox implement a nice button for you to turn it on? Did they sell the ads to the advertisers? Did they take a cut of the money? Did they trick you into thinking it was a good idea?

That's not you.


> Their privacy is miles ahead of the other options.

If by "other options" you're purely referring to "the 5 most popular browsers", you're mostly right. Brave still uses much more telemetry than UnGoogled Chromium and Vivaldi, so make of that what you will.


I reviewed Vivaldi back in 2019 on Twitter (see https://twitter.com/jonathansampson/status/11653581559220592...), and later again for an official blog post (see https://brave.com/brave-tops-browser-first-run-network-traff...). It was indeed much better than many of the other top browsers. Brave does, however, still come out on top when you consider Vivaldi proxies few, if any, requests to Google.

On the topic of telemetry, I just updated it and launched a new window to find an immediate call to vialdi.com/rep/rep passing along 25 distinct pieces of information, including what appears to be a distinct 16-character ID (key: _id). Another 6-character ID (key: pv_id) was also passed along for the ride. I'd have to take a closer look into the traffic to determine how sticky these are to the user, device, or browser instance.

Anybody interested can download Telerik Fiddler (or the HTTP Toolkit) and conduct a cursory review of the network activity as well. Vivaldi does still come out near the top of the list of browsers though. For example, they don't send keystrokes to Google or Bing behind the scenes as you type. That's a unique restraint not commonly observed in browsers today.


Vivaldi user here. If anyone is interested in Vivaldi's network requests, feel free to check their blog post that addresses the same: https://vivaldi.com/blog/decoding-network-activity-in-vivald...


At this point, I think I'm more comfortable with Google getting my data than Brave. Thanks for the help!


Ah yes, brand good


We're discussing 2 distinctly different ad models:

1) Forced upon the user, rewards them in no way for their attention, harvests their data, auctions them off to a sea of third-parties, and may in fact be dropping malicious scripts onto their machine for client-site execution.

and

2) An opt-in model which harvests no user data, rewards users with 70% of the revenue for the ads they choose to view (the user controls frequency caps), and gives everybody (not just the wealthy or well-off) a way to support content creators.

And you feel the second one is the "disturbing" model?


I actually don't mind seeing ads for stuff I like, and the idea to redirect revenu to support content creators is appealing. Right now I see 0 ads, maybe will get fancy and try Brave for fun


As much as I know you want to chime in here, I'm not going to play any games where you draw the goalposts. My current options are the following:

1. I can continue to use Vivaldi and uBlock origin as a completely open-source and so far flawless combo

or

2. Go out of my way to switch to a browser with dubious privacy claims, a goddamn personal cryptocurrency and (the cherry on top) a developer who spent the better half of his afternoon tracking me down and asking me why I don't like their browser.

I think I'm good.


Happy to hear that you're staying safe online. Nobody is tracking you down though. You and I happen to be on the same page, engaging in conversation. Check my comment history and you'll see that you make up only a small fraction of the individuals to whom I have responded. All the best to you though; sincerely wish you well.


You have more patience than I would have had in this thread. I guess it's your job to be patient though, or at least to deal with occasionally nasty elements of the community.


Is Vivaldi open source? The only reason I don't use it is because it's closed, so this would be great news!


No. They publish their changes to Chromium's code, and kind of dodge answering that question: https://help.vivaldi.com/desktop/privacy/is-vivaldi-open-sou...


They do not publish any code relating to the UI, but the Chromium part is absolutely open: https://vivaldi.com/source/

Also, Vivaldi is entirely moddable.


Why Vivaldi over Firefox?


No they didn't. This is misinformation. They didn't replace ads in a webpage. They displayed ads via desktop notifications or push-notifications. The end user opts in for this.


They are just moving the ads from one place to another. Its the same thing.


It isn't


This is such a blatant lie. No wonder why fake news is widespread


> in an low-friction, anonymous manner

Ah yes completely anonymous, unless you want to withdraw https://support.brave.com/hc/en-us/articles/360032158891-Wha...


It's crypto, cashing out requires identification according to government laws unless you're a money launderer.


Honey, a browser extension that harvests user data and injects its own affiliate links was acquired by Paypal for $4 Billion.

Publishers are shilling amazon's prime day because they're all amazon affiliates wanting to earn their commission. Similarly, all those "price comparison" and coupon sites are injecting affiliate codes and just redirecting you to the merchant.

I don't see how Brave did something egregious injecting affiliate codes to earn commission from certain vendors, if one of their users signed up for a service. Keep in mind the dominant, alternative browser (Chrome), built by an advertising company, is privacy hostile and trying to use new tracking technology (FLOC) as they phase out cookies. Firefox is kept alive largely by $ paid by Google and seems to be getting worse with each release also. I'd rather see a competitive browser that doesn't have to take $$ from Google to stay alive.


Patching a few things in chrome is radically easier than maintaining and improving a completely different browser engine. And just because Google pays some money to firefox for their own selfish reason to not be caught in monopoly busting doesn’t create any twisted incentives for Firefox. It is the privacy-oriented browser fighting for a worthy case. Also, it is improving all the time - it’s just that for some reason the few missteps are way overpronounced.


> Also, it is improving all the time - it’s just that for some reason the few missteps are way overpronounced.

I don't understand why Firefox gets this benefit of doubt and other browsers (e.g. Brave) do not.


Well for one, because Mozilla has contributed significantly to the world and have a long history of doing so. (Thunderbird, mdn)


Brave's co-founder (and CEO) is also the co-founder of Mozilla. Our other co-founder (now CTO) was also an engineer at Mozilla for many years, and behind many of those contributions (several other Brave staff is directly connected to Mozilla as well). They started Brave in the same spirit, to improve that which is broken, and create a better, more equitable Web for all.


Thanks, that's a good point. BAT and the associated concept of rewarding content creators or Brave Search could be seen as contributions to the world as well, I think.


Almost all of Mozilla's revenue is from Google. I don't see how bad incentives could possibly be avoided, assuming Mitchell Baker wishes to keep herself in the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed. I do believe they engage in copious moral bargaining to maintain their image as plucky underdogs sticking it to the man.


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