(Update for July 1, 2023: I learned that the administrator of Peekier shut down the search service and created the redirect to Kagi Search without any input from Kagi. HT to Misskey user revumber for this information which came from the official Kagi Search Discord [see link]. I have made small updates to this article to remove sections where I discussed not being sure about whether there was a relationship between Kagi Search and Peekier. Other than removing a few sections, the article is unchanged from its original May 2 publication. You can see the previous version here.)

I reviewed an interesting search tool called Peekier on February 26, 2022. Like most alternative search tools, Peekier drew its results from Bing’s index. It also touted a strong emphasis on user privacy. Peekier distinguished itself from more popular privacy-centric Bing front-ends such as DuckDuckGo, Qwant, and Ecosia in several ways. Firstly, Peekier’s privacy policy was much more compact and straightforward than most alternatives. Secondly, Peekier did not display ads (although it did have a Cloudflare dependency that some alternatives lacked). Thirdly, and most notably, Peekier displayed results as image thumbnail previews instead of in a more traditional list-of-links format. Astute readers may note that I am talking about Peekier in past-tense. The reason is that Peekier’s domain, peekier.com, no longer works as expected. It now redirects to the homepage of Kagi Search. Allow me to demonstrate.

Hovering over a hyper-link to the former Peekier search engine in a Peekier review on The New Leaf Journal.
See the link text in the bottom left corner of the picture.

I opened my Peekier review. You can see my Pokémon-themed cursor hovering over a hyperlink to https://peekier.com, which is, or was, Peekier’s domain. Now let us try clicking the link…

Capture of the Kagi Search homepage in the Badwolf web browser. This redirected from a link to the homepage of the now-defunct Peekier search engine.
Clicking the link to Peekier’s homepage caused Kagi Search’s homepage to open in a new tab.

Peekier did not open as expected. Instead, a https://kagi.com/ opened in a new tab.

Kagi should be familiar to people who have spent some time reading Hacker News comments (it appears often, even when the topic would not suggest that it is relevant). Kagi is a commercial search engine which relies on a combination of Google’s and Bing’s search indexes. It also incorporates results from its own projects, including its small-web search engine (Teclis) and a social bookmarking service called Tiny Gem (see my profile). Kagi does not serve ads and it offers advance filtering functionality and other features. The trade off for all of these features is that Kagi is a paid service. It is not a particularly cheap service. But I have seen that it has many positive customer reviews.

(I have never used Kagi, and while I am interested in alternative search engines and interfaces, Kagi does not interest me at this time. Were I to pay for a search engine, I would be more interested in one that relies first on its own index. I do like Tiny Gem and Teclis.)

I stumbled upon the Peekier-to-Kagi redirect by chance on May 2, 2023 . Prior to my review of Peekier in 2022, I had tested it as a primary search engine and found that, while it had some unique uses, it was not well-suited to that task. I still used it on occasion for certain searches wherein being able to see result previews would be useful (it had some use for searching for administrative decisions in immigration law). Microsoft Bing blacklisted The New Leaf Journal from appearing in search results in January 2023 and, as a result, our site no longer appears in Bing-dependent search tools such as DuckDuckGo, Qwant, Ecosia, Swisccows, and Peekier. As a result of the blacklisting, I lost my appetite for using anything that relies on Bing, and I had not used Peekier in a few months (I rely on Mojeek, Brave, and Startpage for general searches).

The only time I turn to a Bing-dependent search these days is when I am conducting research for my day job as an immigration law writer and researcher and have a professional interest in casting as wide a net as possible. I generally use MetaGer, which mixes results from Bing-dependent Yahoo with results from the independent InfoTiger and Scopia indexes. However, on a whim on May 2, 2023, I decided to run a search through Peekier when I thought that being able to see previews without opening links would save some time and clicks. I used my Peekier address bar search shortcut and unexpectedly found myself on Kagi’s homepage.

Perhaps I should have been aware of the death of Peekier, if only because our Peekier review has been doing quite well in 2023. It is our third most-read article of the year as of May 2, 2023 (see its March and April ranks). I had even thought that it was a bit depressing that one of our most-read articles was about a search engine that, through no fault of its own, does not show results from thenewleafjournal.com. It is probably more depressing that the popular article is about a now-dead search engine.

Having noted that I was not aware of the death of Peekier until May 2, 2023, I was curious when it had died. I decided to turn to the Internet Archive to see if we could find the answer (this promised to be a less taxing project than my last very long New Leaf Journal adventure into the Wayback Machine). We can even use my custom Wayback Machine shortcut! (This actually did not work since using my shortcut archived Kagi’s homepage on the redirect.) I put https://peekier.com/ into the Wayback Machine and tried to identify the last capture of the homepage that did not re-direct to Kagi’s homepage.

There are not many captures of Peekier’s homepage before my May 2 failure. The next closest redirect was April 3, 2023, but that redirected to Kagi. March 19 was also a redirect. So too were March 15, 11, and 6.

(Was my review popular in March and April because Peekier had died?)

February 26 was a bust. But then I found a successful redirect to Peekier’s homepage from February 19, 2023. Behold, the last Internet Archive-confirmed existence of Peekier’s homepage’s existence.

A February 19, 2023 Wayback Machine capture of the Peekier search engine homepage. This is the last working Peekier link from the Internet Archive.
So long, Peekier.

(I will miss that neat owl mascot. It still switches sides in the archived version of Peekier’s homepage.)

All we can say for sure is that Peekier still existed as late as February 19, 2023, but it did not exist by February 26. Thus, the Peekier-Kagi redirect was created some time between February 19 and February 26.

I searched in vain for some information about the Kagi-Peekier redirect, but I found nothing. There appears to be no reference to it on Kagi’s blog. Did the former owner/maintainer of Peekier decide to create the redirect after wrapping up his search project? Did Kagi purchase the domain and create the redirect? If Kagi purchased Peekier’s domain, is it planning in introduce some features from Peekier into Kagi?

(My Peekier review received enough traffic (on a small site I must add) to suggest that it had some loyal searchers out there..)

The demise of Peekier is unfortunate. While there are no shortage of Bing front-ends, including ones that tout privacy as a feature, I liked that Peekier did something different with its presentation of search results and its unusually clear and concise privacy policy. While its unique features were not amenable to use as a primary search engine, they were useful for certain types of search queries.

(Peekier also had the best mascot. So long, little owl.)

I wish that I had noticed the issue sooner since my Peekier review, which received decent traffic (by our modest standards, of course) has been out of date since late February. You can blame Microsoft for causing me to boycott all Bing-dependent search engines since January 2023.

I am not one for taking outdated articles down since they discuss matters that were of interest when I wrote them. For example, my Mastodon Twitter Crossposter posts are still up with notes (see my full review) even though the underlying service is dead and the open source software may no longer be viable. I will undertake the following steps for Peekier:

  • Publish this article about the end of the Peekier service
  • Include a new updated paragraph on top of Peekier review explaining the situation and linking to this piece
  • Remove all links to Peekier from my main Peekier review since they were not intended to go to Kagi’s homepage

I thank the maintainer of Peekier for sticking with his interesting (and free of cost) hobby project for as long as he did, both because I found it useful at times and also because it provided me with the basis of what turned into one of our more popular posts.