Show HN: Search engine for finding the best of anything

31 points by switchstance a month ago

Bestlist is a search engine that is focused solely on helping users discover the best of anything.

All of our results are non-biased, non-paid, and are dynamically generated via our search algorithm. It’s not perfect, but we’re working extremely hard and are determined to make it ubiquitous in the lives of the everyday internet user.

Other Features

Voting If you’re feeling strongly about a search results, you can up or downvote the listing to voice your opinion. When you vote, you’ll be asked to state why you voted. This gives other users better insights into the listing.

Collections With collections you can easily save and keep track of all of your favorite listings. Collections can be public or made private, and they’re easily edited, reordered, and shared.

Submissions If you find that we’re missing a result for a particular query, you can easily submit it as a suggestion. We’ll review it, and publish it if it makes the cut.

Current Limitations •It’s currently English only. •We don’t handle searches that start with “Best way..” or “Best settings ..” or “Best route..” very well. •Also, searches for professionals (doctors, etc,) and recipes have issues.

I’m sure there are a lot more we’re missing.

I'd love for you to try and it and let us know what you think.

Thank you, Tyler

solardev a month ago

I dunno, sorry, but it honestly seems kinda spammy and it doesn't tell me why I should trust any of the results... it looks and works like any other SEO-optimized "best of" spam site :(

"best national park" = Teton, Bryce, Zion... why does Yellowstone get 3/5 stars? No idea

"air fryer" = random products with generic descriptions, several of which are 3/5 stars (out of the dozens of air fryers available, why are the top 5 the mediocre ones? who's saying they're mediocre? No idea)

"airline to fly to thailand" = two of the five results aren't even airlines

"tech forum" = nearly all useless spam sites

"place to get programming help" = takes forever to load, but actually returned useful results (kudos!)

"restaurants near me" (autosuggested, pushed enter like it said) = nothing happened. UI bug that doesn't select the entry if you push enter instead of clicking on it

"awd suv" = many aren't even cars, and the ones that are just have manufacturer's descriptions instead of any useful comparison

I was excited to try your service, but to be honest, I probably would never use this again after this experience. I would not consider this even early alpha quality, much less beta, because its result sets are largely not trustworthy. The signal to noise ratio is way too low, and your algorithm is totally opaque, and there are no visible signals for me to use to evaluate the quality of your results. If I didn't have foreknowledge of a topic, I would have no way to determine whether to trust your results. Of the topics I AM familiar with, your results were not very convincing... at all. Sorry to be harsh, I hope you guys keep working on this and making it better... but maybe don't make it public yet until it gets much, much better? The first impression was negative for me.

  • switchstance a month ago

    Hey, I appreciate your tough criticism very much. This is the exact reason I wanted to post here on HN.

    If you would, I'd like to get your contact info so I can reach back out when we've improved things.

    If you're up for it, please email me: tyler at

    Thanks again!

alex1212 a month ago

The trickiest thing with this is what qualifies as "best". Most people might have an idea in their heads but that idea might not translate into the search itself so unfortunately have no way of knowing. Personally, I would be interested in a search engine that surfaces meaningful comparisons

louiselista a month ago

I see a case where I can use this app like each minute, and I think is a niche that can be useful for you too: places.

A kindof trip advisor, but I guess that's also tricky because you will face the wall of the fake ratings.

The upvote feature although I see also why its behind login and the steps, maybe it will be worth to shorten also the process to upvote. Because as it is right now you will need a really committed community to upvote or downvote.

I will use this as a main search for a while when I try to find stuff and see how it behaves and let you know!

jessfyi a month ago

Love that more of these little search alternatives are cropping up. Try suggesting search queries that do perform well on the page or as a watermark in the search box if you're currently that limited. One thing that definitely turned me off were the silly graphics over the picture under the privacy pledge; it makes it look like a joke when it should be serious because people who care about it really care.

  • switchstance a month ago

    Thank you so much for your feedback!

    Some people like the playful graphics, others not so much.

    Oh, and we just hardcoded some popular recommended searches in the search field.

    • marginalia_nu a month ago

      Search is a really hard design problem, because it's not obvious how to use a search field, and even presenting the results is hard.

      I don't think anyone is quite doing it well. I love to see experimentation of any kind.

    • zestyping a month ago

      Playful is good! Just not next to an actual commitment you want people to trust.

      • switchstance a month ago

        Agreed. We'll be stripping those out asap.

  • switchstance a month ago

    Playful privacy guy... is now not so playful. Thanks again.

huhtenberg a month ago

Results seem pretty spammy to be honest.

Tried searching for a certain type of software and the results just aren't relevant. Most aggressively marketed and SEO'd stuff is on top and the actually good stuff is not even on the list :-/

  • switchstance a month ago

    Can you share your search query? Thank you!

radiojasper a month ago

I've searched for the best hotel in Barcelona and the W hotel came out on top. At least you got that right!

Then I searched for the best shirt for men and it gave me Uniqlo and Everlane - okay. Then it followed that up with Brooklinen (luxury bed sheets), J Crew (A woman's clothing store), a search results page for for search query "Men's Flannel Shirts". Not very great.

Another thing is the star rating. "Based on public opinion" means nothing to me without some context and sources.

  • switchstance a month ago

    Thank you for giving us a shot, and for your feedback. We still have a ton of work to do, and this is just our initial test to see if the product resonates with people.

    Also, XD

    • radiojasper a month ago

      Hey I gotta give that one to you: I misread that!

      I do like what you got going here though, it's a fresh take on search as a whole.

      Good luck!

      • switchstance a month ago

        Thank you! This is exactly what I needed to keep pushing.

  • colechristensen a month ago

    > J Crew (A woman's clothing store)

    J Crew isn’t a women’s only clothing store, and they do have some pretty high quality shirts for men.

zestyping a month ago

What ratings are you using to determine which things are "best"?

  • switchstance a month ago

    There are a lot of factors that go into our search algorithm, but in brief, we crawl the web, check various sources for ratings, and we also do sentiment analysis when possible.

    We're just getting started, and will refine it over time, but we had to start somewhere, and get this thing out in the world to see if it resonates with people. The jury is still out.

    • solardev a month ago

      IMO your algorithms can be a starting point, but your results would be a lot more useful if actual humans then did a second pass and added various pros and cons to the most popular queries to enhance their trustworthiness and level of detail.

      The algorithm on its own is not working well... at all. It's no better, and often worse, than generic "best of" queries in any other search engine. More details in my other post here:

      • switchstance a month ago

        We were hoping that the voting system would allow for user based manual refinement. We'll see. I'm not sure the users will be that invested.

marginalia_nu a month ago

Answers for "Best Programming Language":

Javascript is #1 and Java is #2. C is #4, Rust doesn't even make top 10.

Discuss in groups.

  • switchstance a month ago

    "Discuss in groups?" I'm not following. Can you elaborate?

    You can also upvote Rust if don't agree.

    Thank you for your feedback.

switchstance a month ago

I should also mention that very niche subjects that are not discussed often don't yield the best results.

IndigoIncognito a month ago

"Best Programming language" = Javascript, wow, bias much

  • switchstance a month ago

    Hi there. I'm curious, what would you have as the #1 result in such a subjective topic, and why?

Mo3 a month ago

Nice work!

.. but porn doesn't work.

  • switchstance a month ago

    Yeah, I figured we'd lose a lot of people there, but what can you do? Maybe we'll add it in the future when we have some kind of "safe search" option.

    • Mo3 a month ago

      You're not losing me, but you just know everybody will try it.

      • switchstance a month ago

        It looks like some terms have slipped through, which we learned about only because of user searches. XD

        "best boobs" "best hentai"

        • Mo3 a month ago

          Lmao. That sounds like a very hard problem to solve in any case..

          Alright, enough porn talk. I really like the UI. Please allow me to ask whether you plan on monetizing this, and if so, how?

          • switchstance a month ago

            Hah. We're not too concerned about monetizing it right now, but our initial thought is to show tasteful ads based on the user's query.

            • Mo3 a month ago

              Sounds like a plan, but I'd appreciate if you could consider optional subscription plans in return for no tracking and no advertisement scumbag companies collecting my data. I'd gladly pay a few bucks for this and I know other people would too, Kagi is a good example.

          • switchstance a month ago

            We don't plan on sharing any info. Our ads would be more inline with DDG's, and based only on the user query.

            • Mo3 a month ago

              I fully believe you have only the best intentions, but unfortunately advertisement companies don't. Simply allowing them to put ads there directly leads to your users being tracked, even across websites. DDG does not have a clean slate either, Microsoft is actively tracking through ads.