Trying Brave Search
I've been using DuckDuckGo for a good few years now. At first it seemed great, a privacy-focused search engine which provides pretty good results. It did what I needed and its interface was clean and simple. If I needed Google's take on a search, it was a
However, over the last year or so, DuckDuckGo's search quality has tanked. It's gotten to a point where it doesn't even show relevant Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia should easily be prioritised and break through all the spam. I think it's down to it being reliant on Bing's index. Microsoft was never all in on being a good search engine, it just wants to be a part of every possible market. It doesn't need to create a good product when it can just force its billions of Windows users to use it.
So, I started looking for alternatives. The only notable alternatives to Google and Bing are some paid options (like Kagi) which need accounts and Brave Search.
Better than Bing
Brave Search has its own index and the results are pretty good given it's only been around for a year or so. I'd argue it's better than Bing. Wikipedia links appear as they should. It provides Reddit results in a dedicated "Discussions" section, without needing to add a
site:reddit.com filter. It even supports
! operators like DuckDuckGo.
Given all of these positivies, I made it my default. It's been a few months since then and overall, I'd say it's been okay, but not acceptable. There's just too many issues and limitations which make it unreliable as a default choice. To name a few:
No image search
Oddly enough, image search is one of the best ways to find more niche websites as spam tends to avoid using relevant images.
Brave requires you to pick Google or Bing for image search. This choice needs to be made every time on new sessions, which gets a bit annoying when using multi-account containers and private windows. I'm not sure if Brave is planning to provide its own image search, but it's a massive hole for a default provider, even if 50% of the time I end up having to use Google anyway.
Making queries too fast triggers a captcha page sometimes. This has never happened to me on other search engines.
There are times when Brave seems to get stuck loading. Sometimes it resolves, sometimes it doesn't. Some days are worse than others.
AI and other nonsense
With Brave being all in on cryptocurrency, it's not a surprise that they're into AI too. They have an annoying "AI summarizer" which takes up a good chunk of the results page. Since it doesn't always appear, it makes search unpredictable. Almost like an ad. There's no way to disable it other than by using an ad blocker to pick out and remove the DOM element.
This isn't much different from how DuckDuckGo annoyingly inserts shopping, news and map embeds at the top, causing layout shifts and missed clicks; I had to use ad block for those too. Brave embeds those sections in between results, which is still annoying but not at bad as having them right at the top.
It's always great to see new search indexes being brought in to challenge the current state of web search. However, it takes a lot of resources, and with Google being the default, it's difficult to see how they can be sustainable in the long run.
I'm back to using DuckDuckGo as my default now. I'll be keeping an eye on Brave Search but I'm not too optimistic given Brave's focus and the current state of the public web.
Thanks for reading.