Qwant: Private and Neutral Searching

In the United States, DuckDuckGo is the de facto choice for privacy. I was recommended Qwant to try as an alternative and its promising.

Qwant is based in France and is subject to strict European data laws. It indexes its own website data but promises not to track users. The search engine goes out of its way to let users know that how it feels about privacy. Straight from the website:

Based and designed in Europe, Qwant is the first search engine which protects its users freedoms and ensures that the digital ecosystem remains healthy. Our keywords: privacy and neutrality.

While I appreciate any search engine that upholds my privacy, it doesn’t matter if the results are useless. DuckDuckGo’s results are occasionally irrelevant to the point of comical. I can search for Chinese food in Indiana and my top result is from California.

I’m only testing the website today. There are apps available for Android and iOS. I will post the Android app results in a separate post. I want to see how Qwant stands on its own. Will I be satisfied with the results?

Qwant has that modern clean homepage Google popularized: a logo, a search bar, and now news. Qwant Junior is designed as a kid friendly search engine. Generally, an idea I agree with.

To start with I searched for Chinese food near me. Google would have nabbed my location and spit out some nearby, relevant . DDG would have sent me across the country. Qwant told me to try another website.

To stoke my ego, I tried Hacking the Hike. I’m not sure about that description but Qwant knows about HTH.

I’m heading to Indiana Dunes in a few days. Maybe Qwant can tell me more about it. Oh, look at that. An excerpt from Wikipedia is on the right along with a pin on the map. The results were spot on: information from the DNR, a link to the National Park Service, a weather forecast, and things to do around Indiana Dunes. All very helpful. I tried clicking on the map and found Qwant Maps. I was impressed by Qwant Maps until I saw the bottom right corner: its OpenStreetMap. Lower the pitchforks. There’s nothing wrong with OSM. I only thought there could be another good option.

I punched in a FedEx tracking number. No results. That would have been an added bonus but not a requirement.

I searched for food and vacation but I thought something more serious should be tested. I searched for “Indiana corona virus numbers.” For reasons unexplained, I received the warning on the left testing me. Don’t worry, I’m a human. The results were actually ideal again. At least the kind of results I would expect. Relevant, unbiased, accurate. I’m impressed.

I was confused why a privacy focused search engine would offer any sort of account. Surely, Qwant is hiding user data tracking!

Instead of uncovering a conspiracy, I found Pinterest style experience. Users can create boards to save links or text. The boards are set to private but can be shared publicly. Users can leave comments or give a thumbs up.

Conclusion

Overall, I am impressed by Qwant. The search results beat my expectations. The map service, relying on OpenStreetMap, was high quality. The board also works well but its an odd feature to include with a search engine.

What’s your favorite search engine? Will you try Qwant after this?

Leave a Comment