There’s been some highly welcome buzz around the release of Yacy 1.0, a P2P search engine. At Seeks, we know Yacy well, as well as its founder. We recognized the enormous amount of work that has been done around the project, as well as the pugnacity of its lead developper Michael Christen.
However, Seeks would not exist if we could believe in Yacy. We are rational people, putting a fair amount of time in our research and experiments with websearch. But we do not believe that freedom in websearch lies in the freedom of re-indexing the whole Web. As a matter of fact we believe that it does not matter who crawls the content, or who serves the results. What matters we believe are the following:
- Privacy: be served anonymously;
- Freedom to control the results: edit, reject, share, rank;
- Freedom to trust who you search with, who influences your results, ….
This is the reason why Seeks implements a P2P collaborative filter, and not a P2P indexer, as Yacy does.
Our research and that of others has led us to believe that decentralized crawling and ranking is bound to fail, see J.li & al, On the feasibility of peer-to-peer indexing and search, LNCS 2735, 2003. A simple proof of this is that Yacy does not work as a search engine. It is almost impossible to get usable results out of it. Ranking appears to be almost random. There could be improvements, but these would hit the theoretical bounds expressed in the article above anyways.
Yacy implements privacy by opting out from existing search engines such as Google and Bing. While this is beautiful and exciting endeavour, we believe it is simply reinventing the wheel, with less stamina. To maintain privacy, Seeks allows to proxy you through to the search engine, so it does not see your IP address or browser header. But Seeks will let you build rings of collaborative searchers, share, recommend stuff, modify results, and more. Because we believe freedom lies in the social treatment of information, not in the automated treatment of data.
Google for instance could allow more control of its results by users. The ‘top result selection code’ that was modified part of recent algorithmic changes, could be made open source, or at least tweakable by those interested.
So, with all the respect we have for Yacy, we do not believe it will succeed. And that is why we are building something else. We are focusing on elevating the pertinence and the control of results through a mix of machine learning and active user feedback. We do not believe Seeks is the next evolution of web search by any mean. But we believe that some pieces of it may be just opening the door to something else. Otherwise we would not wake up for it in the morning