Personalized privacy-protecting web search


What is Poodle?

Poodle is a personalizing privacy-protecting search add-on.

The most popular search engines store information about your search queries and your preferences in order to personalize query results and ads. As personalization may be convenient and useful, the data needed for performing such a assistance may also reveal a lot of personal information about you. In addition to less harmful aspects like involuntarily supporting the marketing business, revealing sensitive information may become a security risk if such data falls into wrong hands.

Search engines like startpage.com protect your privacy by not storing any queries, IP number or otherwise tracking you. In fact, Poodle itself uses startpage.com in order to get a basic list of reliable and high quality search results. However, the downside of using a discreet search engine is that personalization becomes technically impossible.

Here is when Poodle comes into play! Poodle adds many ways to personalize your search results. You can re-rank your results by liking or disliking certain search results, categorize and filter search results, narrow your search and more. Poodle uses different machine learning algorithms to classify the search results according to your preferences in order to personalize your search experience. Your personal information is only stored locally in your browser and never leaves your computer. In order to protect your privacy, your local information will never be uploaded to other computers. The only data that leaves your browser are the query terms which are sent to startpage.com.

How to get it?

Poodle runs completely in your browser. The supported browsers are Firefox and Chromium/Chrome. You can get Poodle beta for free from

How to use it?

You can use Poodle just as your favorite search engine. You can just type in your query, and you will see the results from the web.


In order to learn how to use the special functionality like personalization, the easiest way is to just install it and take the quick tour, read the help site with useful screen animations (2, 3), or just click around and try.

Security and Privacy Information

In the basic install version, the only external server which is contacted by Poodle is startpage.com, and the only information which leaves your browser is your query (without query, no search results!). For example, if you search for "Poodle privacy", we will basically call up https://www.startpage.com/do/search?&query=Poodle%20Privacy for you and retrieve the search results from there. Though we cannot guarantee that startpage.com doesn't try to track you, we very much believe that they actually don't. See also their warranties and privacy policy.

If you have the Firefox version installed and want to use Poodle as you standard search engine, it was technically necessary to trick Firefox since by default it does not allow add-ons as search engines, so it wants obligatorily to send the query to some server. The solution we found was to register https://www.ke.tu-darmstadt.de/resources/Poodle/do as search engine, which is just a place-holder page and does nothing. Poodle detects queries to this page directly in the browser, and inmediatelly redirects the query to the add-on.

Technical Details

The core of Poodle is the library JSLearn implementing machine learning algorithms in Javascript. It was developed in a practical course by students of the Technical University of Darmstadt. In a nutshell, the following algorithms, techniques and concepts are used by Poodle:

  • Naive Bayes, Perceptrons, Rocchio as basic learning algorithms
  • classification and ranking
  • multi-label classification
  • explicit and implicit relevance feedback
  • contextual ranking


Poodle is an add-on developed by students of the Technical University of Darmstadt. It was developed as a practical course for the Knowledge Engineering Group and uses concepts taught there.

For any kind of feedback, suggestions and error reports please contact us at poodle@ke.tu-darmstadt.de.


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Knowledge Engineering Group

Fachbereich Informatik
TU Darmstadt

S2|02 D203
Hochschulstrasse 10

D-64289 Darmstadt

Telefon-Symbol+49 6151 16-21811
Fax-Symbol +49 6151 16-21812
E-Mail-Symbol info@ke.tu-darmstadt.de

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