No Search Engine Challenge

“SEO? More like SE-No! Ha, Gottem.”

I’m trying to stop using search engines to see how that’ll effect my browsing, research, and web design habits. I kinda feel like the existance of search engines have done to the internet what roads have done to infrastructure: Everything is conveniently accessible, but only for those willing to put up with the costs, responsibilities, and consequences of owning a car. Some places people live, the only store is a Wal-Mart 20+ minutes away. Likewise, many websites and forums assume the all users can “just google it” and don’t link stuff.

Those 88x31 gif badges linking to other sites you may’ve noticed are common on neocities used to be somewhat of a standard across the internet, and that made it easy to just casually explore. Those seem to be making a comeback for more than just nostalgia’s sake these days, which is great, but I think search engines were responsible for making them go “out of fashion” for a vast expase of time, creating this void where fun colorful badge assisted explorability was a rare sight. Imagine how much now lost media might’ve been preserved if someone had just linked to it.


Helpful Tips


Windows, Mac, Linux, and probably most operating systems have this file called /etc/hosts where you can redirect connections to another. This kinda works as an in-built ad blocker. People also use it to avoid stuff they go to habitually like porn. In our use case, it can be used to break habitual search engine usage!

I recommend using The SomeoneWhoCares Hosts File as a base, as it just blocks a lot of malware and shock sites, with some optional suggestions you can uncomment (remove the hashtag at the beginning) to use. As well as some commented instructions on how to install the file.

And since it took me a bit to spot, here’s the plain text document you’re meant to save.

So now that you have that, add these lines to it.

# Some sites take blocking both the domain, and the domain with www

# Your ISP may have a built in search engine. Or maybe that's just a centurylink thing. I dunno.

# Yes even the Snowden Aproved^tm stuff isn't allowed. Those are still webcrawlers. And a lot of them aren't really as privacy respecting as they let on (citation needed) so there's not much point in using them anyway.

Keep in mind this may break some stuff like gmail. I’m not sure what to do about that yet. I’m personally just gonna look into using a non-gmail email, though I understand if that’s not an option for you.

I’ll add more to this later but you get the idea. If you know about any search engines, you’ll be tempted to use them so add them. If you want to be thorogh then you can use the Mycroft Project to find more to add.

Use your bookmarks

I’m not great at bookmark management myself so I’m not gonna be too detailed here, but yeah keep note of stuff that you know you’ll want to visit later. Browsing history is kinda cheating, since it’s like a semi-automatic webcrawler if you think about it, but that’s outside the scope of this article.

In-site search engines

I’ll explain more later but sites like github, youtube and twitter tend to have a search function. If you know what you’re looking for is gonna be at a particular site that has that functionality, just go to that site directly.