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I don’t use generalist search engines anymore

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Replied to The Tragedy of AI and Google Bard (curtismchale.ca)

After reading Casey Newton’s post on Google playing catch up with AI via Bard I’ve been prompted to complete some thoughts I’ve had brewing about search. When I want to research a new product I no longer go to Google. The clickbait and ill-informed reviews of products are a waste of my time. They reveal […]

Search engines have been my bane recently, especially for product reviews.

Actually, I’m afraid that the internet has become an issue of itself these past days.

Books are written by AI. Looking for a tutorial on Google will give you badly translated pages that spend 90% of the page on boilerplate information about the product and then if you search real well, maybe a link to a forum that has a solution from 2014. Searching for an app recommendation yields long lists of possible apps – until you realize they’re based on a more-or-less relevant single keyword, and sorted by number of downloads or average rating, and are completely useless because nobody actually checked whether they do what you need them to do. I don’t like video content so I can’t even enjoy these product reviews like Curtis does. Oh sure, all of this has excellent search engine optimization; that’s what it’s made for, actually. But it’s written for crawlers, not for humans. And to us, it’s painfully useless.

(I choose to believe this is all AI-generated because I still believe in humanity enough to want to grasp to the idea that pages that bad are not handwritten.)

As for solutions…

For places to visit, I’ve given up. I just go to the town’s tourist office website and see what the mayor recommends, and too bad for hidden gems. Wikivoyage is great in principle, except for the fact that nobody knows it exists and therefore it’s painfully empty, and useless.

Reddit is my go-to when looking for technical support or for recommendations on anything. I couple it with the Reddit Enhancement Suite for a few extra features and Masstagger to avoid (most) assholes.

GitHub repositories for Awesome are, well, awesome, and I wish there were more of them. Of course, they’re very tech-centric.

What do you use?

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  1. I’ve been using DuckDuckGo’s bang for years ! With that, from my adress bar or Alfred’s search bar, I can just do some quick research on any website I want.

    If I want to look up something on reddit, I can just type « best ui framework !reddit » and it’s going to open on reddit. If I want to look up something on Amazon (i know Alex, sorry), I just type « toilet rolls !azf » and it’s going to open Amazon.fr with my research opened. It’s really practical and prevent me from having to use the actual DuckDuckGo engine which is… not really good.

    https://duckduckgo.com/bangs

    • Haha yes I also use DuckDuckGo for that reason (and while I don’t do !azf, I use !g and !gi quite a lot, so to each their own sin 😉 )