There are dozens of torrent site engines online today but to attract our attention new entrants have to stand out from the crowd by doing things somewhat differently.
Strike has only been online for a few days but it certainly fits that billing in a number of ways, despite its plain appearance.
Firstly, and in common with many other sites, Strike indexes public torrents. Creator Andrew Sampson informs TorrentFreak that his engine indexes all available public trackers, which is clearly a good start for a site of this type. However, Strike boosts its indexes by also scraping BitTorrent’s Distributed Hash Table. DHT search engines have appeared in the past but as far as we know, Strike is the first site to utilize both sets of resources.
We have covered DHT in detail in the past, but Sampson offers a quick refresher.
“DHT basically is a second P2P protocol aiming to replace trackers. It stores pairs of info hashes and updates the swarm if it receives announce messages. When it comes to DHT every [torrent] client is announcing themselves as being present. Because of this I’m able to scrape millions of torrents in a decentralized manner; not having to rely on trackers themselves,” the dev told TF.
“My scraper can query DHT with the respect to an info hash and doesn’t have to use a tracker or know a peer that is part of the swarm before. If one of the peers it contacts supports the sharing of metadata it only needs the info to retrieve the .torrent file from the swarm. This is what effectively puts this search engine ahead of everything else.”
In order to get information on torrents, Strike’s DHT “scraper” behaves like a regular torrent client, connecting to swarms and exchanging a few bytes with other peers. This enables it to gain access to all the peers in the swarm and the data they have.
“It bounces around from infohash to infohash scraping up meta data, writing it to disk where it’s queued up to be stored in the database. It’s highly bandwidth and hardware intensive, (I have 5 servers constantly working on it) But the end results are millions of torrents for end users to search through quickly,” Sampson says.
The project also has an interesting approach to search and related results which grew out of QTBot, an AI tool originally written for Skype.
“Her job was to not only learn to be your personal assistant or friends, but to do sentiment analysis to determine the best course for keeping a group conversation lively,” Sampson explains.
“I saw this technology as going to waste, for a while I thought about a better way to apply it and the obvious thing was always to build a search engine of some sort. Well, after one too many fake download button clicks with malware were forced down my pipe it was obvious what kind it was going to be.”
Within Strike, QTBot caches common terms and phrases to see which results it should present first. ‘She’ recognizes that high seeder counts are important but also considers other factors, including whether to present the latest version of a release if users search for them enough.
No doubt about it, Strike is one of the cleanest, most tidy torrent sites around. There is no clutter in the interface and strictly no ads.
“From the start I knew this would be a completely non-profit project, so sorry to all users, but there won’t be any hot singles in your area or fake download buttons filled with malware. I wanted to offer the cleanest experience I could for users while also keeping them safe,” Sampson notes.
Clicking on search results brings up a details page which reveals all content inside each torrent, useful in the unlikely event a user is presented with a suspect file. Files can then be accessed via a torrent or magnet link, with RSS and Twitter announcing options for those that way inclined.
In a sea of advertising, pop ups and irrelevant results, Strike certainly stands out as one of the cleanest torrent sites around. Those looking for the most comprehensive sets of results on the rarest of content might be a little disappointed, but most things even moderately mainstream are well catered for.
Having both DHT and public tracker indexing makes this site unique while its no logging policy and dev-friendly API add icing to the cake.