Welcome to the first article in my new series "In the Snorf-light." With these articles I will be putting a spotlight (better known as the "Snorf-light") on a wider range of projects, dapps, and individuals in the blockchain space. I hope you enjoy this article and stay tuned for more articles like this in the near future!
Introducing Presearch: The First Decentralized Search Engine*
In the modern data-driven era, billions of search queries are being conducted daily in order to access information on the internet. When a query is made on a search engine, a highly valuable byproduct is created: user data. Traditionally, the information generated through using a search engine has been put into the hands of the search provider itself, with little to no oversight on what data is utilized, how it is used, and where or with whom it is shared. With this context in mind, I took a deeper look at Presearch, a rapidly growing blockchain project (founded in 2017) which defines itself as a "community-powered, decentralized search engine that provides better results while protecting your privacy and rewarding you when you search." You may be asking yourself what does it mean to be a "decentralized" search engine, and you may also be wondering whether or not this search engine is inherently any different than the numerous alternative search engines which have appeared up in recent years to challenge the big search engines. These are all valid questions, and will be explored in this spotlight, so let's give in!
*Transparency Note: The information described in this project spotlight are solely based on observations and research conducted by the author. The author has not received any sponsorship or payment from Presearch for writing this article, and the formulated descriptions and opinions are independent of any external influence.
What Makes Presearch Unique?
Before putting Presearch in the Snorf-light, it is important to look at what the organization says about its own project. According to the Presearch vision paper, there are a few key elements which make the product unique, as well as a few key problems with existing search engines which the project is designed to tackle. There are three core aspects which the team describes as inherently unique to the Presearch project:
- It gives users control of their data (and the privacy thereof)
- It rewards users for contribution to the Presearch ecosystem
- It decentralizes the search ecosystem
Alongside these core elements, the project also has another unique characteristics which could benefit the blockchain space as a whole. For example, the team notes that the platform is an easy gateway for non tech-savvy individuals to gain exposure to blockchain technology and its capabilities, which could make it one of the first major projects to gain rapid and widespread adoption outside of the niche of the blockchain and crypto community. Furthermore, the project also introduces an innovative model for advertising through the introduction of "keyword staking." Lastly, the project makes use of its own ERC20 token, PRE, which is used to stimulate the ecosystem and create value for users and advertisers whilst simultaneously maintaining quality of search results and privacy for users.
I've taken a deep dive researching this project (so that you don't have to!), testing the engine, and evaluating the claims of the project in order to put Presearch in the Snorf-light and give you all an objective perspective on this blockchain project and its potential. Without further ado, let's take a look!
Putting Presearch in the Snorf-light
As a first step, it was essential to dig deeper on how Presearch actually delivers the three core aspects which make the project unique. As many blockchain projects sound great on paper but don't pan out in reality, I also looked at how these aspects work when actually making practical use of the search engine.
Control of your Data (and data privacy)
If, like me, you were wondering exactly how the project protects your right to data privacy, then the following section is for you. Firstly, Presearch does not log of user search histories so as to ensure that your data remains private. Secondly, the search engine and the organization do not store your personal information anywhere in the ecosystem. Thirdly, all search queries are handled by a decentralized network of nodes which make use of an open source software. In the future, users will have greater control of their data within the Presearch ecosystem through having the option to share additional search data and by doing so, they will receive higher rewards. However, the default will remain set on not sharing any personal data. As an additional note on privacy and integrity, the Presearch project intends to become established as a non-profit foundation once it has fully implemented a sustainable business model. By ensuring that the project is not driven by a for-profit organization, the team aims to safeguard users' privacy and control of data, regardless of how large the search engine becomes. All in all, this focused approach to privacy is a very welcome addition when looking at the general landscape of dialogue over the future of data privacy and individuals' rights to own their own data.
The Presearch engine's reward model is easily comparable to that of the Brave web browser, which rewards users for their activity. For those who are not familiar with Brave, the way that Presearch works is through rewarding users with a set amount of Presearch token (PRE) for each search they make (As of the March 27th, PRE trades at an approximate value of $0.09 USD). Users can earn up to 8 PRE per 24 hours when searching with the engine, and the PRE token can be bought directly from Presearch, and can also be traded on a few exchanges. Alongside search rewards, Node operators also receive compensation in the form of PRE when adding value to the ecosystem through their contributions. If you aren't already registered to use presearch, it is also possible to earn an initial 25 PRE tokens upon signup using a referral link (see the tip at the bottom of this article to learn how to get 25 PRE upon signup!). Alongside gaining 25 PRE with a signup link, users can refer their network to signup on the platform and will earn 25 PRE for each user who makes a valuable contribution to the ecosystem after signup.
There are a few important things which users should note about the rewards system and the PRE tokens. While users can earn, node operators can gain rewards, and marketers can stake to keywords, Presearch has implemented a "PRE Level" system, on a scale of 1-10 which is designed to mitigate fraudulent behavior such as farming via search bots. Any user from level 5-10 is able to withdraw their PRE from their account, but there is some additional complexity to this. The minimum withdraw amount currently stands at 1000 PRE (approximately $90-100 USD), and the amount which is allowed to be withdrawn is proportional to your PRE level (level 5 can withdraw 50%, 10 can withdraw 100%, each level increases the increment by 10%). So while new users would be able to withdraw PRE to an exchange, they they are unlikely to rack up substantial PRE in a short amount of time at the current maximum rate of 8 PRE per day (it would take 125 days minimum at the current rate to get to 1000 PRE. Assuming that you max your search rewards daily, this is approximately 4 months).
Decentralizing the Search Ecosystem
The term "decentralized" is thrown around very frequently in the blockchain space, but what does this actually mean in the context of a search engine? As previously mentioned, the Presearch ecosystem makes use of nodes, which are run by node operators. These nodes are run by members of the Presearch community itself. When making a search, your request is sent to a node gateway and all identifying information is eliminated or anonymized. After this, the request is sent to one of the nodes in the decentralized network of node operators. After returning your search result from various search indices, the node operator is rewarded for running the query, and you receive a search result gathered through this decentralized network (as well as your PRE payout!). In order to highlight this decentralization process further, I've included two resources below which do a great job at visualizing how this decentralized Presearch network operates.
Search Nodes and Decentralizing Queries
The Presearch Node Query Process Map
So, rather than using a centralized engine or database which stores your information and your query history, the use of this community-driven node model is the core of what the Presearch team actually means when they say that the project is a "decentralized" search engine designed to empower you as a user.
Presearch in Practice
So, with a better understanding of what's under the hood of this project, it becomes time to analyze the Presearch experience from the perspective of a practical user. Although theory and tech are always great to evaluate, the user experience is arguably the most important factor to take into account when deciding whether or not you'd like to make the switch to the Presearch search engine. I tested the engine out, and here is my perspective on the project as a whole:
Pros and Cons
When compared with other search engines, Presearch still clearly needs some fine tuning with regards to the optimization of its search engine. This would also likely be improved through the addition of more community package add-ons in order to strengthen the engine's functionalities. Overall, however, the only clear drawback of using Presearch is the 1000 PRE limit for certain activities and withdrawal. On the other hand, there are numerous benefits to making use of Presearch. Firstly, it goes one step further than the privacy oriented DuckDuckGo through its recently established node network, which decentralizes search query processing and anonymizes your data as a user. Moreover, the platform is just as user-friendly as any other search engine, and even contains a plugin which can be used to search directly from the search bar on numerous web browsers. Alongside these, another core pro of this engine is the ability to be rewarded for the data you generate as a user, which trumps the user experience of any comparable search engine and provides a new way forward in pushing for greater user control of their own data. On top of these benefits for users, the project also has introduced an innovative, potentially groundbreaking new approach to marketing and affiliate strategies, by allowing advertisers to make use of keyword staking to drive traffic to specific websites.
- Users are limited to withdrawing PRE with a balance of 1000+ PRE, which could take more than 4 months to accumulate
- Node operation requires at least 1000 PRE to receive rewards
- Keyword staking requires at least 1000 PRE
- The organization is not yet registered as a non-profit foundation
- Limited selection of "community package" add-ons
- User-friendly and customizable search options
- Anonymity as a user (your data, your privacy)
- The ability to earn rewards for searching, or operating a node
- The node model as a means to decentralize the search engine
- An innovative model for advertising with the keyword staking concept
In summary, Presearch is an innovative blockchain project which offers a unique business model which could easily accelerate mainstream adoption of blockchain projects and increase awareness of the potential use cases of blockchain technology. The Presearch search engine still has room to grow and become optimized, but considering its young age and widespread adoption, it seems as though it is here to stay, and this is good news for everyone. Whether you are a tech-savvy person who wants to run a node, an individual who just values data privacy, or and advertiser looking for innovative new approaches to marketing, Presearch offers something for you! The team most certainly delivers on the three core elements which it proclaims the project unique value, and this is even clearer when learning about how the engine operates. The pros of this project most certainly outweigh the cons, and the sooner you begin making use of the Presearch engine, the more rapidly you can begin accumulating rewards and engaging in this decentralized search ecosystem.
Therefore, after shining the Snorf-light on Presearch, Sir Snorfkin highly recommends that you make the switch and integrate this as your default search engine.
Conclusion: Highly Recommended
Thanks for Reading!
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Bonus PRE Signup Tip: Want to earn 25 PRE just for signing up to Presearch? Tell them Sir Snorfkin sent you by signing up through this link