Few days ago a German company introduced YaCy, a new search engine. Well not exactly new, development started five years ago, but it has just been released under version 1.0 and introduced to broader public. And by releasing it under version 1.0 they state that the product is finally achieved completeness fit for general public use.
YaCy (pronounced “ya see”) is a peer-to-peer (P2P) search engine that uses networked systems to index the web and deliver search results. Rather than using large databases to power searches and build indexes, every individual who downloads and runs the YaCy software is helping out. This is both good and bad for various reasons.
Good thing about YaCy is that results are not owned by a company so you can be sure that results are not favorizing company pages, which in theory means you get better results. But on the other hand, you can expect the search algorithm to be lower quality if you don’t have loads of money like big guys, and also there is no one to stop spammers.
Something you find on YaCy today, has large chance of not being available tomorrow, and when I say tomorrow I mean the next time you do a search (even if you repeat your search after just a few minutes). The thing is YaCy is using P2P network with thousands of users, each time you do a search you will get results from different user in YaCy P2P network. All users are crawling and storing results on their own computers so I hope you understand why results will be different each time you do a search.
While this might not seem like a big issue to some users, it is for me. These days I tend to use search instead of bookmarks for all those things I don’t use on a daily basis, so when I type same keywords I expect approximately same results which I don’t get from YaCy.
First time I heard of YaCy I naturally first tried to search my websites, it was rather disappointing because none of them were indexed. :( But, then I read at the bottom of the search page “This search results are provided by peer xxx. Please download your own YaCy peer to contribute to this search.” and that got me intrigued so I installed it and crawled my website.
Now when I search for my website I do get some results, but they are not very relevant. Searching for top level page by it’s exact title will return some pages that are three or four levels deep but not the actual top level page, or even some nonsense like website favicon as first result.
For me YaCy search engine is an interesting idea that is not very useful at the moment, relevance needs to be improved greatly for it to be usable.
You can try it for yourself on YaCy demo page.