Search Engines & Databases
Choosing a Search Engine
Helping You to Find it on the Web
Search engines evolved to help you locate information found within the millions and millions of websites, blogs, social media and other Internet resources.
Startpage is the world's most private search engine, offering you best-in-class search results without fear of having to surrender your search information or other personal data.
Make StartPage Default
I recommend making Startpage.com your default search engine. The methods vary by browser. There is a Firefox addon.
Learn more about Startpage on these YouTube videos:
- Startpage — the world's most private search engine (introduction).
- The dark secret of non-private search engines.
- Stop paying with your privacy.
DuckDuckGo: Alternative Recommendation
It's actually a big myth that search engines need to track your personal search history to make money or deliver quality search results.
Almost all of the money search engines make (including Google) is based on the keywords you type in, without knowing anything about you, including your search history or the seemingly endless amounts of additional data points they have collected about registered and non-registered users alike.
In fact, search advertisers buy search ads by bidding on keywords, not people…. This keyword-based advertising is our primary business model. — DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg
- DuckDuckGo Firefox Addon.
- What is the business model for DuckDuckGo?
- How DuckDuckGo makes money selling search, not privacy.
Other Search Engines
- Google Canada.
- Yahoo! Canada.
- Microsoft Bing.
- Search Wikipedia.
- TinEye reverse image search.
Databases & Indexes
- Area Code Look Up.
- Metric conversion.
- Repair manuals for everything.
- Supreme Court of Canada.
- This Day in History.
When looking for information you can use one of the following listings:
You might find it easier to simply search for the phone number in your favourite search engine.
Tracing Unwanted Calls
Unwanted calls have become a common nuisance.
- 800notes.com is a free reverse phone number lookup database.
- Telemarketing and unwanted calls — CRTC.
- Canada's National Do Not Call List | DNC exemptions.
- Canadian registered charities.
Phone calls from a “technical support” person saying that you have a problem with your computer are all SCAMS. There are many varieties of scams, all designed to steal from you. Just hang up. More…
It is better to hang up than risk having your identity stolen.
Watch for fees when using these services.
- Black Book Online the free (US) public records search site.
- WhoWhere people search and yellow pages search engine.
- Zaba Search free people search. Find People in the USA.
The rise in concerns about privacy are having an effect on what is available for free.
Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people's health, and hurts democracy. — FullFact.org
You want to ensure that the information you've searched for is accurate and current.
Critical thinking shouldn't just be a synonym for doubting or debunking something, and the point of research isn't simply to poke holes in a story. It's to understand the story better, or — if somebody is telling that story maliciously or incompetently — to get deep enough to find the truth. — Adi Robertson
History has always been subject to the perspective of those writing it.
There's a tendency when you read about history to see it as the capital-T Truth. History books we read in school tend to portray themselves as an objective account of past events. They are anything but. — Taylor Pearson
These sites can help you determine if what you're reading is true or not.
- FactsCan.ca is Canada's political fact-checker.
- Fact Check Explorer from Google.
- Full Fact independent fact checkers in the UK.
- NY Times Fact Checks.
- Washington Post Fact Checker — the truth behind the rhetoric.
Learn to recognize misleading information before you share it and put your own reputation on the line.
The best defense is to ask critical questions, so you can learn to recognize the difference between a harmless parody and a hoax, between content that's intentionally misleading or just poorly researched, and to spot red flags and unreliable sources.
— Data Detox
It is particularly important that you verify information before spreading it when it comes to health information. See CheckThenShare.ca for details.
Fake News, Urban Legends & Hoaxes
Social media (and email) too often promotes false information that disrupts our perception of what is truth.
A false story reaches 1,500 people six times quicker, on average, than a true story does. False stories outperform the truth on every subject — including business, terrorism and war, science and technology, and entertainment — fake news about politics regularly does best. — Soroush Vosoughi
Features like the following should make you suspicious:
- Hoaxes use emotional rather than factual approaches to lure you in.
- Hoaxes depend on our concern for our computers (such as "virus" warnings) or greed (chain letters that pay big dividends) or compassion for others (such as saving a sick child).
- Many cite "authority" sources that have nothing to do with the post.
Check reliable authority sites to see if the content of the post or email is accurate.
Fake news is publication of news that is false or misleading. Posts play on our emotions or build upon distrust. People forward it out of ignorance or with malicious intent.
Some countries are using fake news to attack the credibility of our leaders and to destabilize democracies.
- Break the Fake.ca .
- ThatsFake.com debunks fake news.
- How to identify a fake.
- How to fight lies, tricks, and chaos online.
Scams and Identity Theft
- The Identity Theft Resource Center has many useful resources.
This site contains several resources related to scams and identity theft.
Hoaxes, Myths and Urban Legends
- Hoax-Slayer debunks email and Internet hoaxes, bogus warnings and misleading articles.
- Snopes.com has an extensive categorized listing of urban legends and rumours.
- TruthOrFiction.com lists rumours, inspirational stories, virus warnings, humorous tales, pleas for help, urban legends, prayer requests and calls to action with details about their truth or fiction.
Misleading Links or Landing Pages
Some search engines provide “sponsored” results where the site own has paid for top billing. I recommend that you never click on these links.
Too often these links have nothing to do with your search criteria and are designed to take you away from legitimate vendors. Many are scams or phishing attempts.
Many search engines now alter search results based upon past search patterns (called personalized searches) and you may not get the results you're looking for.
One might think these searches would turn up a variety of perspectives, including at least a few compelling counterarguments. One would be wrong. — quoted in the Washington Post
Social media sites use algorithms that make it harder to determine facts from fiction and have been flagged as causing inequality based upon racial or other bias.
As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there's a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a "filter bubble" and don't get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. [T]his will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy. — Eli Pariser
Finding Authoritative Sources
At one time information was published only by authoritative organizations such as the Encyclopedia Britannica.
While you might question the bias of such organizations, it did make decisions about trusting the information less complicated.
The Internet has made it easy for anyone to publish. Self-managed websites, blogs and social media are everywhere.
Wikipedia has thousands of people vetting information. Questionable material is clearly flagged for review.
Authority Sites Usurped
Many former “authority” sites have become nothing more than online infomercials or have generated fake news to promote their interests.
This puts the onus on the reader to verify and qualify both the content and the “publisher” of such information.
Consumer reports and product comparisons are biased unless carried out by truly independent researchers. Site advertising can bias outcomes.
One way to verify bias is to seek out the ownership of the site.
- I've discovered that many of the once-decent medical information portals have been purchased or sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and the available information has changed.
- Many consumer alert sites, especially related to medical devices, are merely fronts for U.S. law firms looking for clients.
- Some sites promote the interests of cults like Scientology yet don't mention their ownership.
This is sometimes difficult, because the site owner wants to attract links from other sites. It is often only when you spend time investigating the site that the real sponsor and purpose is revealed.
Another method is to compare various sources to see how they agree or disagree on the main points.
- Widespread agreement doesn't necessarily prove validity.
- Conspiracy theories aside, common educational backgrounds and sources of information can lead different researchers to come to the same conclusions, even incorrect ones.
- Examine the information you find with some skepticism. Do your conclusions match what you've read?
Google's Market Dominance
Google accounts for 95% of mobile searches:
StatCounter data for mobile search engine market share.
If we trust only one company to tell us what is true and what isn't, they may give us what they think we want, creating the current trends for fake news.
Google is not only the biggest search engine in the world, but along with Youtube (the second biggest search engine in the world) it also has the largest video platform, with Chrome the biggest browser, with Gmail the most widely used e-mail provider, and with Android the biggest operating system for mobile devices.
It collects data about users' every click, tap, query, and movement from all of those sources and more. — Von Mathias Döpfner
When a company dominates a market, what they tell you tends to become “the truth” even if their opinion isn't shared by everyone.
[I]f one company is 90% of the searches in our country, they kind of represent truth to our country. — IRL
Google Never Forgets
Google makes their money by exploiting information you provide.
[W]hen you search on Google, they keep your search history forever. That means they know every search you've ever done on Google. That alone is pretty scary, but it's just the shallow end of the very deep pool of data that they try to collect on people. — DuckDuckGo
Google NEVER forgets.
Google is a Marketing Company
Many think of Google as a search engine. They are the world's largest marketing company.
Google controls about 62% of mobile browsers, 69% of desktop browsers, and the operating systems on 71% of mobile devices in the world.
92% of internet searches go through Google and 73% of American adults use YouTube.
Google runs code on approximately 85% of sites on the Web and inside as many as 94% of apps in the Play store.
It collects data about users' every click, tap, query, and movement from all of those sources and more. — EFF
Google has become so powerful that it now threatens the digital economy.
I recommend using StartPage because the search is passed onto Google without your IP address and other private information. You still need to take care in how you word your search terms.