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Ditching DuckDuckGo for Mojeek

Daily driving an independent search engine


When was the last time you used a search engine? I use one basically every day, but not the one you might expect. Mojeek[0] is an alternative search engine that stands out among competitors. While DuckDuckGo dominates the privacy respecting search engine market, Mojeek is a strong contender that serves up some less well known -- but still high quality -- websites while remaining community oriented. Let's explore why I switched to Mojeek, what the daily driver experience is like, and why there doesn't need to be one search engine for every purpose.

Mojeek search home page

Why did I switch to Mojeek?

Don't get me wrong, DuckDuckGo exceeded my expectations moving from Google and I was shocked to learn that it is the 5th most popular desktop search engine in 2023.[1] However, Mojeek's promise of "unbiased search results" was too hard to resist. Every search engine needs a list of web pages to parse with your query, a web page index. Companies like Google and Microsoft have their own indexes that are continually growing as new websites are created, and can pour huge amounts of money into maintaining these indexes. Other companies like DuckDuckGo use indexes made available by companies like Microsoft's Bing, meaning that their list of available web pages carries with it the bias of Bing's web crawlers, which are proprietary.

Mojeek is different. An independent search engine, Mojeek has indexed more then 5 billion pages. While this is still a fraction of the number of pages large companies like Google have indexed, Mojeek conducts their business in a much more ethical manner. They take the search engine privacy that DuckDuckGo popularized to an extreme. With zero search personalization, Mojeek prevents "filter bubbles" from forming. The results are based completely off of the words typed in the search box, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

Mojeek displaying search results for the Pinephone

Daily driving Mojeek

Having used Mojeek daily for a few months now, here's a quick guide as to which features I use, which I don't, and which I might use in the future. The quality of searches day-to-day is often on par with or better then DuckDuckGo, and although the web pages displayed are often more obscure then what would be served on other search engines, there are many hidden gems to be found. The search interface is typical to that of any other search engine. The results load amazingly fast, with significantly faster loading times then DuckDuckGo pages using Firefox on my Pinephone. The "snippets" posted at the top of the page are of higher quality then Google's version. They often give relevant results from wikipedia articles, a welcome change from Google's snippets that use random websites that I wouldn't trust for quick information. Below each site on the results page, you can filter results to only that site. This site search feature is one that I use quite often as a fast alternative to search boxes on sites like Invidious.[2]

Mojeek showing image results for pencil clipart

Different engines for different purposes

Sometimes, especially for more complex or specific searches, Mojeek just isn't up to the job. Conveniently, at the end of each search page links to search your same query on Brave, Ecosia, Gigablast, and Startpage. This allows me to conduct research on topics where I don't necessarily need word-for-word search accuracy. I perceive this as an acknowledgement that Mojeek doesn't need to be the search engine for every search. Another example of this is that Mojeek uses the free stock photography resource Pixabay[4] as it's image search tool by default which, while more limited in it's image selection, has only content released under Free licenses. It allows for an option to use Bing's image search tool within the Mojeek results page, another way that Mojeek is versatile while still operating in tandem with other search tools.

Wrapping Up

Switching from DuckDuckGo to Mojeek, a less biased and more private search engine, has been the right choice for me. This is not to say that Mojeek is mature enough to be the right choice for everyone, but I still urge you to at least give it a try. While I still use other search tools occasionally, Mojeek has been my primary search engine for a few months now. I'm excited to see Mojeek grow their index and grow their users, as I've found their product useful and hope you do too.