Faroo – a distributed P2P search engine

Bernard Lunn asked the question in the beginning of April: “Could P2P Search Change the Game?” His article describes a German startup and their gamble to revolutionize internet search and perhaps, in time, rival Google.

It seems difficult to imagine that anyone could challenge the well oiled machinery that is Google with their successful, ad-based business model. But Faroo (http://www.faroo.com/) has some pretty powerful ideas that might just give it an advantage.

FAROO has 3 big potential advantages and 3 major hurdles. First, the 3 big advantages. These were articulated on a site called ReviewSaurus, which is one of the few blogs paying any attention to FAROO:

    “1. The search engine index is based on a real users’ browsing habits : That means that web index will not serve those websites on which you don’t spend time thus reducing spam results.

    2. The data is not stored anywhere but your own computer and you have the control of your own data. Searching is completely anonymous.

    3. As per Faroo’s plans, you’ll be able to earn money from their advertising based revenue model. This is yet not implemented, however, it’s one of their declared plans.”

While Lunn points out that for him the revenue sharing model is of great importance, I believe that anonymous search and the (eventually) better results of searches are major points of attraction.

Better search results than Google? Yes, and only possible because Google has polluted their search results by the need to give their advertisers and certain others a break. Valid content that people look at and like, but that is in some way critical of major advertisers slips WAY down the search-result ladder at Google. The top of the line results in Google are either bought outright, or they are pulled to the top by a policy favoring official websites and Wikipedia, or they are there because of an advertiser friendly slant worked into the search algorithms.

Faroo promises to change all that … a pretty powerful enticement that is going to become more effective as the slant in Google and other major centralized search engines becomes more easy to discern with time.

Anonymous search in Faroo? Equally powerful as more and more people become aware of the privacy implications of leaving a trail in Google’s servers from which a profile about them may be constructed that tells … too much personal detail we never bargained to have “out there”. So if our searches were anonymous – I believe some would like that.

Downside

On the downside, Lunn lists [uncertain] scalability, the limited size of the p2p user base in early development and the fact that using Faroo requires a client download. Those are important drawbacks, but they do not seem unsurmountable.

A serious issue connected to the need to download client software is that, at this time, there is no way to use Faroo on either a Mac or a Linux machine. The only client available so far runs on Windows. While that leaves me out in the cold (being a Mac user) I do encourage anyone of you who uses a Windows machine to try it out. Downloads and more information on the Faroo website http://www.faroo.com.

Do think about whether it is worth your while to contribute to the growth of this engine. If nothing else, it is a good test bed for the search aspect of future p2p distributed networks.

2 Comments Faroo – a distributed P2P search engine

  1. Wolf Garbe

    Thank you for the good analysis. Bernard Lunn’s article is from April 2008, and meanwhile most of the mentioned drawbacks do not exist anymore.
    With 2 million peers we have already today a sufficient user base for a web scale indexing. This also proved the scalability of the p2p approach and our technology.
    In a world where people are downloading a separate iphone/ipad/android… app for every webpage the download hurdle does not seem to exist anymore 😉

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