[UPDATE Jan 1, 2011: I settled on Yahoo's regular search. It took it a couple of weeks to get "smart" but I've been using it as my default search for about 5 months now and am happy. The results are "as expected", clean, accurate. ]
I promise I'm not turning into a nerd but it took me a while to find this info so I want to share it, in case someone else out there needs a new way to spot the internet "alligators" in advance! A few weeks ago, Google rolled out a bunch of Search Enhancements. Some changes affected the way it looks, and - my concern - part of the change seems to have affected content filtering settings.
Some changes were immediately visible and some were not. Here are a couple of lists of some changes:
05/02/2010 Changes in May
05/06/2010 Google Now Looks Like Bing?
06/17/2010 Changes in June
There doesn't seem to be a permanent cookie any longer. For those of us who previously had safe filtering turned on even if not signed in, Google has now added a 3rd option (no longer just on or off), and defaulted to what they call "moderate", which doesn't filter enough for me (in fact I thought they had turned it completely off!). Realistically, a more apt word would be "minimal" or even "nominal", as it doesn't filter anything but explicit images, resulting in bad stuff showing up in innocent searches - like searching for "antique mall in [a town in] Louisiana". Seriously.
Thus, it is possible that plain googling may need more help to be clean enough for your adolescents or children - or work . If you are finding that normal searches are showing inappropriate results or not displaying as you wish, below are some links you can use to help.
OR you can try one of the great new child-friendly search engines, including Google's own great one(more on this later): http://www.safesearchkids.com/google-for-kids.html
Google: How to Enable Safe Search
Google: How to LOCK SafeSearch
(Note: These only work continually if you set all of your browsers to never delete Google's cookie (which no longer is independent of the browser). It must be set independently for every browser and every user.
New URL for Google Encrypted Web Search; Students Used Old URL to Bypass School Filters
How to Get Classic Google Layout Back
About Google's Dedicated Youth-Safe Search URL: http://www.safesearchkids.com/index.html
This is a great idea, and the page offers some good advice about parental controls and internet safety in general.
I am using Google SafeSearch For Kids tonight and it seems pretty good so far. here's the actual Search URL: http://www.safesearchkids.com/ I can find the blogs I usually read (political but clean) but I haven't tried any real research yet. I'm going to use the Google for kids exclusively for a few days I think and see how it works for me.
List of Other Clean Search Engines You Can Use:
Ask for Kids
Altavista Family Filter
AOL Kids Only
If using dedicated clean search engines proves not to be the solution you need, you may want to find a good safety software to use - preferably not one that charges a subscription. Subscriptions for nothing more than "use" have no value, as other options are out there. Here's one new possibility: FamilyShield. Has anyone tried it or have suggestions for Parental Control Software?