Yesterday, Michael VandeMar tried to go eighteen hours without visiting the big five search engines. Taking up a challenge from search engine guru Charles Knight, he’d resolved to avoid Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask.com, and AOL from 6am to midnight. By 9:53, he’d given up. “Bah!” he wrote to Knight’s Alt Search Engines blog. “I blew it.”
“I immediately thought of the Seinfeld master-of-your-domain thing,” Knight told The Register.
From his two-week-old blog, Knight dubbed Tuesday, June 12 “A Day Without Google,” urging users across the web to boycott Google search and its four largest competitors. He provided a list of 100 alternatives – yes, 100 - but for some users, the task proved difficult. Reader David Berkowitz didn’t even try it.
"I might as well take it as a vacation day," he said. "The top 5 are the top 5 for a reason."
Most web users are pre-programmed to use nothing but the big five. Or at least the big four. Mr. Knight was kind to include AOL. According to the latest figures from Hitwise.com, Google accounts for 65 percent of Web searches, Yahoo! 21 percent, MSN 8.4, Ask.com 3.92, and AOL 0.35. That leaves less than 2 percent for Knight’s list of 100 others.
But in the end, several users proved that a day without the familiar names is entirely possible. Reader "Catherine" made it through the day using nothing but Quintura, a new "visual” search engine.
"It gave me useful results up front. [The first result] was often exactly what I was after," she wrote. "Beforehand, I would have sworn that Google was ‘the only one,’ but I’m glad to report I have to eat my words."
Judging from comments posted to Knight’s site, more than 50 people participated in his search engine boycott, and of those who successfully avoided the big names, most used either Quintura or KartOO.
Of course, accuracy of search results isn’t the only issue here. "What will happen with my AdSense ads?" Mickey Maze wrote on Tuesday. "I will not get a dime this day."®