Ninfex — Experimental people-powered search engine


I’m the creator of Ninfex.

I’ve been unhappy with the inconsistent quality of web search results for quite some time now. Wanting to do something about this for myself, I started experimenting with the way I save my notes/bookmarks.

In all of my trials, two things seemed to work more than all others and proved to be useful in the long term. One: saving my good search result URLs. Two: saving links to discussions on those URLs from Reddit, HN, Lobsters, etc. because in my opinion, community feedback is a (relatively) better proxy for URL quality.

This combined with the Apple notes search feature became a very simple but effective personal index. For the main topics that interest me, I often found myself searching my index before searching the web. Once this setup started working well for me, I thought it was probably time to add a feature which lets users vote on URLs and host a version of this online, so others can both contribute to and benefit from it.

With that in mind, I started speaking to more people who were unhappy with the current state of search. Turns out the most common workaround people use is restricting results to communities (mostly reddit) either by just appending the name or using site: operator (example – bone conduction headphones reddit).

This was further confirmation that the so-called “power users” had already moved on to relying on using communities as a proxy for their search results.

And so I built a basic version of Ninfex with all those features: community-curated index, votable urls, forum links and search. It’s an early stage prototype and I’m slowly populating the index with URLs from my personal wiki.

I look forward to your feedback and I’m open to all kinds of suggestions.


– Zee

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