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Let's start using DuckDuckGo more often
241 points by rms_returns on Dec 30, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 186 comments
Granted that DuckDuckGo.com is quite a childish name, but then so was Google when we first heard about it in early 2000s, wasn't it? I just switched to DDG recently and feel that not only is the interface fast and minimal (like Google used to be in those early days), but even the results seem to be a lot better (at least specific to the programming topic that I search too often). I'm getting a feeling that some day in future, DDG is going to become as big as Google, if not supersede it. But a search engine's results are only as accurate as the number of users who search and contribute to it, so its my appeal to people to give a chance to DDG and start using it more and more instead of Google.

I use DuckDuck go as my default search on my machines, but I think the fact that Google is not anonymous does give them a big advantage.

An obvious example of this is when I search for "Django" (I am primarily a Django developer). DuckDuckGo will return results about the film as the top hits, whereas Google already knows that I mean Django Web Framework and will return those as the top hits.

I appreciate the fact that my searches are anonymous with DDG, but I doubt that it will be able to be "as good" as Google for that reason.

"As good" is subjective. I hate search bubbling. I'd rather click through semi-relevant results a few times then figure out why google hasn't heard of the movie Django, for example.

Also, I switched to ddg years ago, and can't remember one time when I thought that personalizing the results would improve matters.

Every few months, I'll search for something, not find it, and try google. Falling back to google has helped maybe two times out of dozens of searches. In one case google found an old email thread where someone asked my question and got no answer. In the other, I was looking for a specific document with a solution to a Linux issue. I had found it with ddg before. It turns out the solution no longer worked, and was superceded by documents ddg had already returned.

It is unclear that running that test with google as the primary search engine and ddg as the secondary would have different results.

And it not as if searching google from DuckDuckGo was hard.

DuckDukGo bangs syntax is simply fantastic even if i mostly always use theses 4 : !w , !m, !g, !gi

Privacy by default, google when you need, it's my default since 2 years.

I find myself often doing a two- or three-step search with DDG. First I search for a thing on DDG. Then if I get something back like Django the movie instead of Django the framework, I'll search the thing again on DDG with some sort of specializing term, e.g. "python." Lastly, I almost always end up searching with "!g thing + specializing term(s)."

I love the idea of DDG, and I'm delighted on the rare occasion that I get better results than google. But most of the time I get results that are inferior to El Goog. Still, I keep trying.

Really? I've been using DDG exclusively for a few months, and whenever I get unsatisfactory results, I retry with !g. Invariably, I get equally unsatisfactory results with Google. Maybe in some rare cases where I'm searching for something esoteric, Google will return an extra page or two, but that's not very frequent.

Maybe I'm searching in a way that biases in favor of Google? I'm willing to stick with DDG-first on principle alone, so perhaps DDG getting better + me figuring out subtlety of search will improve things.

They don't always do a good job of that, though. Yesterday I was searching for documentation for a JS validation library (Joi), and a specific search string ("Joi deny substring") returned some... pornier search results as the top five. It was somewhat redeemed with the sixth result being the one I was looking for.

And this was with safe search on.

I misread your comment. Google does indeed return porny stuff for this, and ddg does not. In both engines, your comment is the top of the search results. :-)

I cringe remembering when I Googled "developer dick image" instead of "disk image" with colleagues watching.

Out of curiosity I Googled that and, for me, Google now auto-corrects it to disk image.

It would have been excellent if that had happened. It was about 2-3 years ago.

i searched for freezing eggs (for cooking) and then saw ads for fertility clinics for the next few weeks.

And DuckDuckGo is not really comparable when you don't live in the US. Google is far more superior, even without your info.

True, but that could also be because they have other people's info. My primary search engine is still Google, but sometimes for fun i do use DDG and it serves way better pages than bing or yahoo.. It's just way too awesome. I'm not against data collection until it's for the benefits of the user, and duck duck go might be doing just that and anonymously. Google too, but they have way too much information about us than they should (which is kind of their business model, adsense). But i hope to see this project grow, for the healthy competition sake. :)

Isn't DDG a meta-search engine based mainly on search results from Yahoo/Bing and Yandex (from Russia). It is. And that's why it has this rather annoying latency or load time until the search results show up. And the results are only good for English and Russian. To cover up the deficits the return to quick guesses as first results like cached results or snips from Wikipedia, Yelp, etc and some other community curated so called "cook receipts". It's great that DDG exists, and it works great within its constraints, so don't get me wrong.

Ideally, the world needs more internet search engines - as of now only Google, Bing, Yandex, Baidu come to my mind. And various initiatives like Cuil, Wikia Search, etc failed or good ones like Exalead (EU sponsored Google competitor, bought by Dasault), Blecko (bought by IBM for Watson) got bought and vanished for general public but are still active for internal company purposes.

And why do we need more web search engines? Because of the filter bubble, censorship and privacy concerns, etc. - it's never good to have to deal with a mono- or duo-poly (which is already reality, as in most countries on 1-2 of them return really good search results, and the others are barely useable for local native language search phrases).

This, searching tech related topics, world news etc. works well enough but when I try to search for (not english) local content the top 10 results often aren't even specific to my country.

It seems to be just lumping results together by language without putting enough weight on location.

Funny thing is, I have just the opposite issue with google. While traveling, it constantly tries to force me to use the local version even if I don't want to (redirecting from google.com etc.) which puts more weight on local results.

Out of curiosity, do you tell ddg which country to search in? (there is an option somewhere inside the hamburger menu)

I don't think they use IPs to geolocate, so I find myself using yelp (or sometimes tripadvisor/citysearch) for local results.

Maybe a geolocating custom search / instant answer box (that can be opt-in/out) would help. It is one step down the slippery slope of search bubbling/tracking, but maybe that isn't the end of the world -- it could be done by town or something.

Yes, I had my location set all this time but now that you asked I took a second look and realised that is not enough.

While my countries flag was displayed next to the search bar it was set to "All results" in the menu, so I have to explicitly enable the region filter by flipping the switch next to it.

We have the chicken and egg problem there. Google have that results because it has terabytes of information on everything and that's because millions use it. If more and more people start using DDG, their results will also improve.

> If more and more people start using DDG, their results will also improve.

Let's say everybody stops using Google right now and starts using DDG with its anonymous, proxied queries to Bing. How does this in any way improve search results? You could maybe argue that heavy direct use of bing.com would give Microsoft some useful training data. But none of that changes the fact that Bing's crawlers aren't that good, and neither is its search engine.

See, I'm not willing to do that. I'm not willing to put up with inferior results on the promise that maybe, someday in the future, they might get better.

I remember how impossible searching was before Google. DDG at its worst is infinitely better than that.

It very well might be. But there's also something better. And I'd prefer to use the better option.

As someone in the UK, I agree with this. I try to use DDG as often as possible, but Google always provides better results.

...and if you don't use English it's pretty much useless.

It just requires a habit shift. You have to learn to be slightly more specific. "Django framework".

Lets hope that's not the name of the sequel.

Logged in just to upvote.

I just tried that with DDJ out of curiosity (I develop mostly in Flask, but also Django occasionally). It did display a few imdb movie results (though the top one still referred to the framework). However, when I searched for "django python", the intent became quite clear and I got the relevant results. So basically, what you say about personalized search applies only to normal users who don't have much "googlefu" skills, for power users like us who know exactly what to search for, its not much relevant.

>* the fact that Google is not anonymous does give them a big advantage.*

What if DDG allowed us to manually tell them information about our demographic in a way that wasn't stored on their servers and could be changed at will? If you want convenience, maybe there could be an optional client-side preference detector script that only offered possible configurations.

Good idea. I definitely don't want them "filtering" my results without my permission, but with permission is fine.

What a drag. So now I have to set up a profile of my ever changing interests on all of my devices just so I can get an approximation of what Google offers out of the box?

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of not using Google, but this seems like a very user hostile way to do it.

I actually think this gives one slightly better control. I've experienced a weird phenomenon on Facebook where a contact of mine kept posting borderline conspiracy theories and I kept correcting him, but now all I get are his posts and it's really quite infuriating.

I would prefer conscious filtering to this automated (and obscure) filtering that Google et al. utilise. I understand it's not for everyone, but it would suit me far better.

Sure it is more control. Just like pushing electrons with a magnetized needle is even more control. It doesn't mean it's convenient.

Now if you had an ML algorithm running in your browser that analyzed your preferences and transparently changed your DDG searches from "Django" to "Django web framework", you might get something closer to what you get with Google. Wonder if Firefox could make that happen.

Ddg lets you transfer settings cookies using "cloud save", or bookmarklets. Here is a bookmarklet:


With cloud save, you pick a password, and have to type that in once on each device.

They don't support bubbling, or user profiling, so you can't dump/restore those.

That is a nice UI, but it seems to be for ad targeting (based on the URL). The more fundamental difference is that google knows nearly everything about you already, so this is helping them complete a dossier on you.

I think the parent poster was asking for a feature more like "I use LaTeX to document Django. This is all you should know about me. Go."

Put another way, can I fill that form out, create a google search bookmarklet that encodes my responses client-side, and then use it with all google cookies and ad domains blocked?

Giving your browser a resume is both hilarious and creepy - I like this idea a lot more than what Google do though.

But you can also edit your search history, YouTube watching history, synced Chrome browsing history etc. You can make up new Google profiles with different interests.

May be use DDG as the primary search enigne, and switch to Google when you don't get what you want in the first go on DDG. Atleast more traffic to DDG, and hence better results in future.

Pretty much what I do, as I say its set as my default search engine on most of my machines. Add "g!" if I am not happy with the results.

Have you tried the bang searches?


It has it's pro's and con's. I do love how I can just to !a to search amazon, or !w to search wikipedia, or !g if I really want to use Google. Kind of wish Google had a feature like that.

If that's what's holding you back:


> I'm getting a feeling that some day in future, DDG is going to become as big as Google, if not supersede it.

Well, no, they don't even have their own search engine.

> a search engine's results are only as accurate as the number of users who search and contribute to it

That makes no sense. Anyway, we don't use DDG because its results are shitty.

Actually I recently switched to DDG and the results are quite ok, especially programming/tech stuff. When not finding your stuff there is "g!". Fine for me so far.

This is exactly what I do and recommend. You use the private engine by default to see if it gets results. If not, switch over to one like Google. You loose the time it takes to do one search at worst.

Like you, I find it often gets me good results on programming or tech topics. Among other things.

While I understand your point, please.

> Anyway, we don't use DDG because its results are shitty.

These kind of comments are a bit unnecessary, especially on Hacker News, I believe.

Why? The topic is whether or not to use a search engine. This one delivers bad results compared to major ones. Frustratingly bad if you use it enough. I expected such a reply.

There is always a way to show that a search engine is bad with constructive feedback rather than just replying it's "shitty".

At least, the OP could have elaborated on why does he thinks this way so that everyone could understand why DDG's results are "shitty".

Unfortunately, no one can know what the OP thinks. As a result, it is hurting the work of others without any feedback so that they can improve themselves (i.e. DDG team) and serves little purpose (no explanations on the why) except expressing a frustration.

At least, that's my opinion. Let's be elegant in how do we relate to others. Feel free to disagree with me, but I think this kind of behavior is what creates a more toxic environment in our fields.

Alright. I even agree for most comments albeit less for this one. Let's try it your way so the feedback is specific, constructive, inclusive to audiences unfamiliar with grading search, and not profane. Here's my similar experience using the DuckDuckGo, search service after being a long-time user of the Google, search service.

1. I type search terms in text form into Google in an attempt to get a list of results that meet my needs. It virtually always gives me high-quality results I need in top few hits. High-quality means the results help me find what I'm looking for or better understand what my search terms describe. I do this into DuckDuckGo, it often provides low-quality results. Low-quality means the results were not relevant to the text I typed in, they were barely relevant to the text I typed in, or they were relevant but had less utility than results from Google.

2. I do exploratory search with Google by typing in words I think are related to the topic I'm trying to understand. It often gives me high-quality results in the top. If I do it with DuckDuckGo, it gives me low-quality results about as often as high-quality results. I see few patterns in the input that would let me accurately gauge whether inserting specific terms into DuckDuckGo instead of Google would produce as many relevant results I could utilize. This makes me unable to know if use of DuckDuckGo will have as high utility for the time and effort invested vs using Google's service. So, as I default on privacy, I had to try inputting the search terms into DuckDuckGo first with expectation it would often not meet my goals, mentally track what it succeed or failed on, and slowly gain instincts on what search terms to skip DuckDuckGo on in favor of Google to be more time-effective. As a Google user, I didn't have this problem that forced me to profile the search engine to gauge when it was capable of performing a search with high-quality results.

That, in detail, is why I had a poor, user experience with the search service provided by DuckDuckGo. Of course, explained constructively & in detail, it just looks like I think readers on Hacker News are idiots. Even my grandmother knows what a "shitty," "terrible," or "bad" search engine is. Such terms are how laypeople universally describe search functionality that fails to turn their queries into actionable information. They also short-hand what's common knowledge to save time. Describing your search experience in detail to such people will even sound condescending. So, instead I just usually say it's a a hit and miss search engine with result being them nodding their head in understanding. The other commenter apparently thought so, too, condensing it to one word and I still knew what it meant.

Thank you for the long response. I have done similar comparisons dozens of times, but only using search terms that duck duck go performs poorly on, and have had the opposite experience (this is a much harder test for ddg to pass than what you describe, making your comment more surprising).

What search terms are you using? Ideally, could you provide some searches that perform poorly on ddg, but well if you prepend g! to the term (which runs an anonymized google search)?

If the difference always comes down to google search personalization (so you can't provide a search others can repeat), that would also be interesting to know.

Here is the only query I ran in 2016 (so far) where ddg's results convinced me to use google, and then I found my answer on google:

drmSetMaster permission denied

The correct answer is to install xorg-server-legacy, and edit Xwrapper. I was looking for the now incorrect answer about setting some X binary setuid root. Both search engines provide lots of very out-of-date results, so I filtered ddg on setuid about half way through my search there.

Calling this query a "win" for google is questionable, but it is their top performer for me in the last year. Also the page with the answer does contain the string setuid.

Here's one last comparison for you that I just did while looking for FOSS tools for software testing. Difference is stark:


Ah ha! This is down to taste, I think. Google seems to rewrite 'FOSS tools for software testing' to 'Open source tools for software testing'.

Ddg does not. I strongly prefer the ddg behavior. To each their own.

"What search terms are you using?"

Don't even remember. It was mostly technology, history, academic papers, games, movies, and so on. I'm someone whose good at working around search engines but has a bad memory. I'm unfortunately not a good test case for the input as I get good at unconsciously working around problems to make a better baseline. I did have to regularly switch over to Google, though.

"but well if you prepend g! to the term (which runs an anonymized google search)?"

I didn't know about that feature at all. Thanks for telling me. I was going to run search through DDG and Google next time I have trouble to document the difference. Now, I'm considering doing DDG, DDG w/ Google option, and Google itself to see what the per-user customizations bring vs anonymized Google.

"If the difference always comes down to google search personalization"

I didn't think about that angle with Google. Surprised I overlooked it. I don't think it was affecting my search as a lot of it should have a large number of searchers. The esoteric stuff definitely got better results in Google over DDG's default, esp CompSci papers. Before I had Search Link Fix, I would type them into DDGo to get an actual, non-Google link to the PDF. This usually worked but some papers didn't exist in DDG at all. Even though they probably should've indexed the site (eg a university). So, it was clearly a deficiency. Other times, it was an obscure site that's been around a while but maybe low traffic dropped it out of a cache or something. Google had it since they store pages & have been for long time. (shrug)

So, maybe I can collect these into a little pile of files to drop on the team for their debugging.

"so I filtered ddg on setuid about half way through my search there."

Worst-case scenario. It's happened to me on occasion when a common term, esp reported in any news outlet, flooded my results with garbage. Eliminate it hoping to filter the noise. Usually works but this time the signal went out with the noise. I'm not so harsh on search engines with things like that since people in support forums drop all kinds of jargon that may or may not be related during discussion of a specific problem. I think that causes the bad results.

Out of curiosity, though, I ran your example. Your example is weird. They get the same top result with next best on one being a StackOverflow answer while another looks at StackExchange. I don't know what you were trying to do where I can't gauge the effectiveness of the answer. Here's a pastebin with the top 5 results I'm getting as of today:


Did one or both have the answer?

There was lots of overlap of wrong answers. There were highly ranked correct solutions for older ubuntus from 1H 2016 and 2011-2013, I think. Definitely worst case for search engines.

The comment does not present any supporting evidence (even one query where ddg falls over would help, a deep technical analysis of why google is better, with large scale comparisons of result quality would be persuasive).

It is the equivalent to me replying to you with:

"You don't know why the comment sucks because you also suck."

Instead of pointing you to this wonderful Paul Graham article:


> The comment does not present any supporting evidence (even one query where ddg falls over would help, a deep technical analysis of why google is better, with large scale comparisons of result quality would be persuasive).

While these are all true, we're on a message board, not debating in Ancient Greece. I am very sympathetic to calls to improve comment quality, but on the other hand it's unrealistic to expect someone to perform a deep technical analysis of why Google is better... in a message board comment.

Exactly. The default of the major search engines is we type in what we're looking for and usually get results. The commenter had a different experience with DuckDuckGo enough times to avoid it. We immediately know it gets inferior results to the status quo search engines. Many will avoid it on that basis. Other commenters might show up with detailed information on what kinds of queries succeed or fail. People wanting to use a mix of search engines, esp surveillance-oriented & private, might find that information helpful.

Yet, the original comment was sensible just because of two things:

1. Everyone on the Internet that uses a search engine knows what a good or bad one is. It has one purpose: turn your query into information you can use. If people say it doesn't or it's "shitty," then it's not doing it's job as a search engine effectively. All we really need to know.

2. The more specific information is better directed at the DuckDuckGo support or development teams to help them improve their alogrithms. Posting piles of data in Hacker News comments would only seem useful for the use-case I described above, people studying effectiveness of search engines via terms + results (better done elsewhere), or people reverse engineering DuckDuckGo's algorithm. I don't see why we'd expect people to produce or post that data as it's a lot of work and screen space.

1) Users do not know how to tell a good search engine from a bad one. There has been a lot of research on this, and it has been shown in many different ways. Here is one paper that is ranked highly by google scholar. It shows users cannot reliably tell a good result ordering from a bad one -- the result presentation is more important than the ordering. Other research has used more sophisticated techniques than "ask the user" to show that there are, indeed, "good" and "bad" orderings. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/asi.20941/full

2) There is at least one ddg developer here (not me), and HN is generally a good source of constructive feedback for startups. Maybe the original commenter's query string would help ddg or a competitor improve their product.

> Users do not know how to tell a good search engine from a bad one.

I am sure there is a presentation bias. I am sure that there are plenty of cases where a user cannot tell if a set of results are good or bad for a specific query. I am sure some users have trouble communicating why they think a specific result is good or bad.

However can people tell the general quality of a search engine? Absolutely. Google's simple aesthetics certainly helped them, but they didn't become the top search engine by luck and aesthetics alone. AltaVista, Yahoo, Lycos, Excite were all junk compared to Google, even the first version. It was very obvious.

I totally agree that google blew its competitors out of the water in the 90's. I switched to Google literally ten seconds after running my first query!

The research I'm citing is from the late 00's. At this point in the game, differences in search relevance are in the measurement noise.

1. Ill look at the scholarly results later out of curiosity. So far, the "found what Im looking for metric" is very strong anecdotally with widespread acceptance. Maybe Ill change my mind. We'll reject all opinions on the effectiveness of the engine in favor of whole, search histories on DDG and Google with terms and resulting HTML files as sole form of feedback in HN comments. Each user will do it for same terms for reproducibility or countering per-user generation biases. We'll discuss these specifics. This will lead, instead of claimed "good" or "bad" results, to claims of X terms or Y category having Z probability of accuracy or acceptance. Our discussion of DDG will be objective, scientifically accurate, possibly free QA for DDG, and likely be ignored by almost everyone everywhere (including most HN readers) outside CompSci or startups studying search engines. Im game, though, if there's a consensus here that we only discuss search constructively, objectively, and scholarly. ;)

2. DDG has contact info. I maintain that it's better to send data directly to them if one is troubleshooting it or helping them improve the product. Hoping a random employee is on same tech forum is a stretch despite it happening here more often than average. So, if we all did search data, we'd post it on a dedicated forum they host after we email them about the project.

Shitty based upon what? I would say they could improve, always room for improvement but DDG handles most of my searches with ease.

Why? It's a discussion about a search engine. The quality of the results are one of the most important aspects of it.

You're right that it's on-topic. But it's about as non-constructive as you can get while still being on-topic.

I disagree. Saying that the results are shitty is pretty on point.

>Well, no, they don't even have their own search engine.

This is false, as has already been pointed out.

If by 'shitty' you mean it has areas for improvement then yes I agree; as does your tact.

And after 10 years or so of trying, you'd expect the results to be far better, and more people to use it.

I think the search engine space is very ripe for a startup, but duckduckgo isn't it IMHO.

> after 10 years or so of trying, you'd expect the results to be far better

Would you? Most search engines' growth, including Google, was fueled by advertising revenue. Obviously that part of the equation isn't really an option for DDG.

I wonder if they would be better off as a non-profit, like Wikipedia. I would donate to them.

At its peak, Yahoo!'s results were quantifibly better than Google's for over a year, but no one noticed/cared.

Google search has been "good enough" for years, and so has the competition.

Multiple companies have burnt billions proving that search relevance will not convert users on its own.

If you want to crush Google, you need some compelling reason for people to switch (voice? privacy?), or you need to maintain good relevance until Google screws up badly enough. Maybe they will fire half the search team during an economic downturn in the 2020's, for example. At that point, you can use cash reserves to poach most of the top 10% of the remaining team.

The problem with long games like this is that you might screw up or lose focus before Google does. This happened at Yahoo.

Switching industry sectors, Microsoft had tons of negative press about 8, 8.1 and then 10's force upgrade/privacy debacle. With a mediocre or better hardware launch, Apple probably would have cleaned up. Instead, Apple's MacOS lines happened to falter in the same years as Windows did. Now, Windows devices are earning lukewarm to positive comparisons against Apple devices.

> Well, no, they don't even have their own search engine.

Really? I've never heard this, do you have anymore information about it?

It's sort of a meta search engine that utilizes other search indexes. Here's a post from the founder.


Edit, that's about 5 years old. The current page on Wikipedia provides a more recent explanation.

"DuckDuckGo's results are a compilation of "about 50" sources,[42] including Yahoo! Search BOSS; Wikipedia; Wolfram Alpha; Bing; its own Web crawler, the DuckDuckBot; and others."


They actually say hundreds of sources now on https://duck.co/help/results/sources and specifically call out Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex for search results.

It is a meta search engine. Note that they never mention the share breakdown of these "sources". What percentage of queries DDG itself answer? Probably very few.

Meta-search is a type of search engine that goes way back. They avoid the cost of maintaining a full, search service by sending the query to all kinds of other search engines, running some analysis on their results, and presenting a condensed form to the user optionally with value adds. DuckDuckGo's value add is privacy. Here's some others to give you an idea for what they do:


Basically DDG is at the mercy of their sources, they can proxy the results for now to the actual search engines, but what happens if lets say Bing and Yandex requires them to pass some extra stuff or cut the query hose otherwise? Will DDG use its own index? Please.. They have no resources to build an actual half decent search engine.

I agree. Being effective and independent will cost money. There some potential for a company that charges monthly or annually to provide search services to other companies with privacy. There's lots of search, like marketing or competitive intelligence, where companies would prefer that the terms don't go through a surveillance company. Initial results might do as DuckDuckGo is doing now with them incrementally building their own database as funds came in.

Not sure how marketable it is, though. Google is pretty dominant. Most companies already running their stuff through it.

The results are extremely shitty indeed, especially for tech and programming related topics. I tried DDG for months and I found myself running every search twice, normally and once with !g appended. That's beyond shitty.

sure, the results are shitty, but you don't support big brother by using it... which is its primary appeal, afaik.

And I could just not use a computer, then I wouldn't be supporting big brother either....not supporting big brother is not an excuse to have shitty results, at least for most people.

Disclaimer: I work at DuckDuckGo so I'm a bit bias. I won't turn this into a sales pitch, but here are a few common misconceptions people have about privacy and search.

1) Many people don't realize that tracking isn't just about having something to hide. But, it can cost you money. From Airline tickets to staplers you pay based on a profile:



2) People don't realize what's being tracked. I usually send them to http://history.google.com/history to have a look. Or http://webkay.robinlinus.com/ to see what their browser can access. That makes a lot of people realize just what is out there.

3) People feel they can't search without personalized searches.

The example is often a matter of disambiguation. For example, if I type "Python" I want code, not snakes. But, really, when is the last time you only typed 'Python' and wanted something generic about Python? You probably wanted a package lookup or the latest news on a release. So if you become more specific there is no issue.

Plus when you get a bit more specific on Python you can trigger things like package lookup:


Or NumPy Cheatsheet:


At the end of the day some people may truly be ok with all the tracking that takes place, and that's ok that's up to them. But, at DuckDuckGo our goal is to educate people on online privacy, and provide a trusted way to access information as best we can. (Not to mention Instant Answers and Bangs which are super addicting)

I'm a ddg fan. You guys should have a big, conspicuous WHY? button on the homepage that links to all this. The 'Learn More' link takes me to what you guys don't do, which is good, but it's light on the why.

Thanks for the great suggestion. We're currently exploring ways to get the 'why' message out there more. I'll certainly bring it up with the team :)

DDG has been my default search for the last few years and I only very rarely use it for it's native search results. The bang (!) search syntax is by far the biggest reason I use it. It allows me to search sooooo many websites directly from the address bar. If you want normal Google search results, use !g. If you want Google Images, use !gi. Amazon? !a. Wikipedia? !w. The list goes on and on and on.

Edit: grammar.

Completely agree. I also have been using DDG for a few years and got used to the bangs.

The results for a general search usually are good enough, so don't I even bother to use Google directly.

yeah the various bangs are hugely useful to me on my phone particularly, it's a very light weight interface to the internet.

DDG is great; what it currently lacks (for me) is not search quality but reach; it has trouble indexing less visited corners of the internet.

Google did not become huge because of the search engine alone. AFAICT two things, based on related technologies, made Google oodles of money: AdWords and SERP ads. (AdWords used to be so unobtrusive I never tried to block them.)

I don't know how DDG currently pays its bills. They do feature unobtrusive and clearly marked ads on their SERP, too.

I'm not sure if ads can be reasonable without precise targeting, that is, tracking, tacit privacy invasion of various sorts, etc. Poorly targeted ads are disliked both by users ("dumb!") and advertisers ("poor conversion, money wasted").

The only other option I can see for a private company is to sell a subscription. Pay n USD / mo for no-tracking, no-strings-attached search.

The question is, of course, the value of n. It may turn out to be uncomfortably high for many users, just because advertisers value their eyeball rather highly.

You can already opt out of ads on some Google services, e.g. YouTube: try closing a few ads, or visit google.com/contributor when it (re-)opens. You can opt out of personalized ads, too. While many of us still won't trust all these measures, for many these would feel adequate.

I wish DDG all the luck. But being and staying an alternative, privacy-respecting search engine, even a low-profile one, isn't going to be easy.

How poorly targeted can an ad be when you've told them exactly what you're looking for? It doesn't get much more targeted than "car dealerships Florida".

This absolutely makes sense. It definitely is possible to generate a meaningful revenue from reasonably targeted ads at SERP, based purely on the search query.

OTOH what are you looking for may have a context. That same car dealership's ads may vary greatly in content (and click-through rate) if it is known that the person looking at the screen is a recent graduate, or has a family with three kids, or is a single at his 40s. It's hard to sell a family wagon to a recent graduate, but it costs the same to show an ad with a "wrong" car on it. This kind of precise targeting is what advertisers are ready to pay a premium for.

Well, if you're looking to buy a Honda, and the ad that gets shown is for the Mercedes Benz dealership, that's pretty crappy targeting.

It is, but there's no better potential for ad targeting than in a search engine, which is what the GP was lamenting. I read their comment as "how can they target ads well if they don't track me?", to which the answer is "they don't need to track you, you've literally told them what you want".

And all the times I'm shown ads for girls clothing or stoves because of some site I visited, and I am never interested in girls clothing or stoves, is good advertising?

I beg to differ. What it is, is advertising that makes me install an adblocker.

I use searx.me more often than any other search engine because along with giving the result it also display the search engine which it uses to fetch the result. I mean it is very important to know the areas where each of the search engine excel. Privacy is a concern for sure, but DuckDuckGo cannot win me over on the basis of privacy only. DuckDuckGo can be an answer to privacy concerned people, but it cannot beat Google Scholar, YouTube, PubMed, Amazon etc. We must know which search engine is perfect for which kind of keyword.

It would be great if they made ! more discoverable. For instance, it could tell you the ! code needed to limit searches to the engine that produced each "niche" blue link and gray box at the top of the screen (the one that inlines amazon product thumbnails/prices, wikipedia article synopses, stack overflow answers.", etc)

But the question is, why are we looking for a Swiss Army Knife?

I make all kinds of search queries but I only use privacy centric search engines when required for my particular concerns. In my opinion, the best way to stay anonymous is by disguising yourself as normal. Today's browser are capable of switching search engines with the use of a single letter before the search query to make use of a particular search engine. And one can easily visit Firefox search engine database to include it in their list.


I haven't use DuckDuckGo's bang features, so I really don't understand what are they trying to achieve other than proxying the search result which I already satisfactorily achieve by having multiple Firefox profile with different proxies.

I think this is never ending quest of integrating new search engines in DuckDuckGo. But it will never match the native use. For example, take Wolfram Alpha or TinEye(Reverse Image Search).

Bottom line is that there are million ways to stay anonymous while using native search engines instead of routing it through third party services.

I've used duckduckgo for a few years now, highly recommend it.

For 'easy' searches it's equivalent to Google.

For 'hard' searches it's nearly stricter better than Google, because if DuckDuckGo doesn't find something I also look at the Google results (append !g to the search), and they often come up with very different subsets of the internet.

To me it no longer has anything to do with privacy or not liking Google, it's just that DuckDuckGo has the better product for putting into your search bar.

I'd suggest to "Start contributing data to DDG in 2017". Most of their best results are crowdsourced. I've been using it as default for perhaps 2 years now. There's some consistent annoyances, but overall I actually prefer the experience to Google.

It's much nicer about disambiguation than google, and can be incredibly helpful. e.g. Search for Zen - you get a wide selection of possibles in probable order. Sadly there's far too many missing. Crowdsourcing needed.

It's horrible at localisation. eg set Filter by region to UK and search any global multinational. Chances are the UK site is WAY down the list and the .com and US options hard at top. on google UK the local branch is always first.

There's too many instant answers that presume a US only view of the world.

The instant answers when they have adequate data and ! searches are brilliant.

Lyric and video searches are orders of magnitude better than Google.

Maybe 5% of searches go to Google as I'm not quickly finding what I need.

We always welcome more contributions. We crossed 1000 Instant Answers this year and they make for some wonderful experiences!

For anyone using !g when they don't get the results they need - use !s. It will use Startpage, which fetches results from the Google search engine but without giving any personal information to Google's servers.

DDG is really great for easily doing specific types of search, eg. adding "!w" to your query will search for something on Wikipedia. For that feature, it's extremely useful and I don't like to be without it. But its own search results (which I think are actually anonymized Bing search results?) are nowhere as near what google manages by personalizing your search. So I'll often add "!g" to my query to get google results rather than ddg ones.

this is why DDG is my default search engine. I use !g a lot because the native search is only okay at best, but there are so many handy !bang shortcuts that I can't walk away. !emoji !dict !w !gi

You can add these shortcuts into your browser. On firefox, you can right click on a search box and specify some character(s). I'm sure there's a similar process on chrome too.

too much work. changing my default search engine to ddg is faster and easier. i don't even know all of the bang commands! if i followed your advice i would have a significantly inferior experience.

Every time I try to use DDG I ended using !g which kills its purpose, I just use Startpage[0]

[0]: https://www.startpage.com/

This site appears to be a front of google and in the end its relying on google to search and get the result, some how I don't see this to be too different from directly using google in a incognito window

A incognito window doesn't hide your identity from Google. They still get your IP address and your browsers's fingerprint, which is more than enough to identify you.

Then use !s :-) It's what I do, don't want to use a search engine without the bangs any more.

At this point, I've set up search keywords in firefox to do this. Now, for example, I type "gi rabbit" for pictures of rabbits. It's nice because they also can be used as shortened parts of links. Eg. "@ john" to go to twitter.com/john

I took the opportunity of starting at a new job to make the switch of default. I've found it to be generally giving me better tech search results than Google. For the most part, however, I haven't really noticed I'm using it, which I'd consider a good thing. It means it does its job without fuss or bother and gets out of the way.

It's my default engine everywhere. Very happy with it generally, and the fact that I can trivially redirect a search to Google makes it a no-brainer.

You can redirect to StartPage and still get Google results with !sp.

I used DDG for a while as my default engine, but realized that I was using the Google redirects more and more until I finally switched back again. Google's search result were just better for me.

I'd estimate I redirect no more than 10% of my searches, and given how much I distrust Google, it's worth it to keep searching elsewhere.

I use DDG full time and it has been awesome , I am a devops guy use DDG to trouble shoot my way out of problems I get stuck in and I have personally found this to be way better than google. The Bang search is very cool too , for example I use it to search github for docker orchestration related content directly ! , I also use DDG command line quite a bit and its really awesome , these are things which I feel are much superior compared to google and I hope DDG will become the geeks most preferred search tool in 2017

I switched to DDG a few months ago and have found it just as good as Google at least for my usage, at the very least I haven't felt the need to use Google as the results I have been getting have been just fine, and that's without the bangs functionality.

I have duckduckgo set on my phone. Recently, I started discovering that when I clicked a google search result link on my phone, google would mask that link and wouldn't actually take me to the webpage. Annoying. DDGo doesn't do this.

The "bangs" make all the difference. Just this morning I used !ups <tracking number> to track a package. I use !w (wikipedia), !gm (google maps), !gi (google images), !yt (youtube) and !a (amazon) all the time. Less often I use !so (stack overflow), !gsc (google scholar), and others. Sometimes I even use !g (google) or !b (bing) if the search results are inadequate. But that's very rare for me.

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, they all have something in common: EaaS. Ecosystem as a Service. DDG should start offering email first, then news, stocks, maps, social, and finally ads. You don't survive with search alone, you need to monetize it on one hand and keep your users coming back on the other.

Oh, I wish it was called something simpler like "Ducker" or "Duckit", but whatever, bikeshedding territory.

That strategy doesn't seem to have worked out for Yahoo.

Not sure DDG users really need/want another er... EaaS.

I switched to DuckDuckGo as my primary SE and will be using Bing as a fallback. I'm slowly moving as far away from Google as I can.

On that note, any good alternatives to G-Suite that aren't necessarily Microsoft O365 (though I'm not against migrating to that either). A straightforward email migration is a big plus, documents not such a big deal.

Can't comment on its quality, but you could look into https://www.collaboraoffice.com/.

suggest fastmail.com

I have a question about fastmail: I tried migrating from gmail but the original date of the emails didn't transfer. Anyone knows how to solve it? I had to go back to gmail since it's a deal breaker and I couldn't find a solution, but I really want to leave gmail (so I can have a direct relationship with the service provider without advertisers involve)

This has been broken in gmail for a while. It's IMAP handling is non-standard. In a pinch, I once used an old copy of thunderbird to migrate gmail->gmail via IMAP. I had to disable some account security settings on google's side to even get thunderbird to connect. (Other IMAP clients had the symptom you describe). This was 3 or 4 years ago, YMMV.

How were you trying to migrate? I've been doing a Gmail->FastMail migration and I definitely had no issues with original email dates.

It was a few months ago, so I don't remember exactly, but I believe I followed the instructions that fastmail provided. If you say you didn't have this problem then I will try again.

Thanks for the answer

In my case, FWIW, I used an IMAP-compatible mail client (Outlook), and dragged my crud from one mailbox to the other. I did have some issues where mail conversations where different messages were under different labels ended up in not copying fully over, but that's partly because I migrated section by section.

Also, of course, note that if you have a mail message under two Gmail labels, and use IMAP to copy your folders, you'll probably end up with two copies of that message.

Migrating out of Gmail, FWIW, is still a pain because they are so nonstandard now.

But I never had an issue with the dates on the emails.

They do a nice job of extracting and presenting the top StackOverflow answer:


By far my biggest gripe with Google and DDG is that they have started quite simply ignoring search terms. I search for 'foo bar' (without the quotes), they return results which clearly do not include "bar", neither in the blurb nor on the page itself. At least Google will mostly obey if I quote the search terms, but DDG doesn't even do that.

At DuckDuckGo, no cookies are used by default.

>Yet they do store a cookie by default - this cookie is called "user_segment" and is valid for 1 month after it is first set.[1]

They have removed it but this kind of behaviour doesn't exactly raise trust. Also they are based in US so 'privacy' is just PR.

I would recommend to use startpage.

[1]https://archive.is/qntuk [2]https://8ch.net/tech/ddg.html

Well, as Google continues dumbing down their search engine, there's certainly room in the market for a search engine with the same kind of power that Google used to have...

...but that being said, DuckDuckGo ain't it. It's in fact, quite far from it. It's roughly as good as old Yahoo Search (pre-Bing), which also nobody used because Google's is vastly superior.

Give me a search engine like Google circa 2010-11 (back before the menagerie of Bird algorithms began trading "fuzzier" results for raw search power) and I'm good.

I've been using duckduckgo as my main search engine for about 2 years but I never recommend it to anybody. It just feels like a homeopathic remedy to me. What's the business model? I don't allow them to show me ads and they don't allow me to pay for the service. I just can't imagine how that can scale.

Search engines are such an important tool that I would be more than willing to pay $10 a month for a good quality one with strong commitment to privacy and maybe additional premium features.

I find duckduckgos results quite bad though, i've given it many shots over the past year but often have to keep switching back to Google.

I find that the results feel quite bad, but, whenever I actually compared results to Google's, the latter wasn't better at all.

Don't worry. This is completely normal. :-)

You can put intentionally crappy results under a google logo, and google results under any other logo, and most people will say the crappy "google" results are better.

You need the crappy results to be reasonable -- for example, strip out half of Google's top ten.

I meant I used to find bad results and used google and found the results were more relevant, I tried to feel duckduckgo's results were better.

Hmm, odd, that doesn't match my experience at all. I realized how bad Google was when I started using DDG and realized that all the bad results in DDG were bad in Google too.

Maybe it improved since you used it?

I don't really get DDG. I guess it's nice that they pattern-match some queries and give you a a query specific UI on top of the results or maybe some results UI that makes a lot of sense for the query -- though Google and Bing do that too, and I don't believe they are hardcoding those rules/patterns like DDG seems to be doing.

I 've given it a few honest tries this year but the results are really not that great, certainly far inferior to Google's or even Bing's, and it 'feels' slow -- but then again, a few dozen ms slower than Google is 'slow' to me (and I am sure the difference is higher than that ).

I suppose the major selling point is that it doesn't track your queries and that's nice and all, but it definitely is not important enough for me to trade that for better results and responsiveness.

I wish them the best though.

I think twice a year I get my antigoogle moment and try to use it, it rarelly last more than two weeks when I don't find something or get frustrated because Google always loads faster. It's a shame. As much as I want to love DDG I find pretty hard to use it for a long time.

>I'm getting a feeling that some day in future, DDG is going to become as big as Google, if not supersede it

If they become bigger than Google what's to stop them from becoming another Google?

Why punish myself by using an inferior service just to give it the seat at the big 5?

If you want a search engine which respect your privacy but with a fancy gui (unkike duck duck go), you should try qwant : https://www.qwant.com/

French technology which work really well !

Already have been!!!

Started using Beaker Browser as my main browser, DDG as my search, and am working on moving the rest of my life off google (read: gmail).

Also have been messing with doing more work on a raspi tablet rigged with a bluetooth keyboard/trackpad combo.

I really like that google isn't anonymous and that it pulls everything that I've done in the past to give me better results. I usually have to jump through a lot of hoops to get the same level of results from DDG.

> Let's start using DuckDuckGo more often

I am at a loss to understand really why 'us' should start doing this 'more often'. Is there something inherently good about using ddg vs. google? Why should anyone use it more vs. what they have already decided works best for them? This smacks of 'make the world a better place by using ddg' unfortunately as many others have noted it's simply not a better mouse trap. And what does the name have to do with it at all?

I use DDG but only because of the bang system. In other words I can supply a !g anywhere in the query and it will use the encrypted google search. This is also useful when you also use other ones like !yt !fl !gh !r and so forth. But to be honest, I hardly ever actually use the ddg search engine.

I use DuckDuckGo exclusively on my phone. Half of the time I seem to fallback to Google but since you can use !g to get google results I still use it.

I am already using it. and when you want a custom Google search that goes through DDG you do: !g 1 byte to MB or any other search you want

I tried to use DuckDuckGo and it was terrible. Couldn't even last a week. The results were dramatically worse.

And putting aside the quality of results, the actual design of the site is not very good. This is probably a preference, but I find it much easier to quickly scan a Google results page (or even Bing), but DuckDuckGo, with the font face and spacing they use, is not as clear.

Try startpage.com. They fetch the search results from Google without revealing your identity to Google. My primary search engine since more than a year.

Questions for you to ponder:

1) Why do you think their results would get better if more people use their engine?

2) If their results really are better than Google, as you claim, why is their user base so small after all these years?

3) Why should we trust them any more than Google? How do you know they're not actually collecting your data or passing it on to the third party engines they use?

1) More revenue -> more developers -> more deep web onebox results.

2) Result quality is trumped by inertia and ecosystem stickyness (I commented above)

3) They have a smaller team and are focused on one product, which means they can survive without doing this. Also, the risk of detection is high, since it relies on hiding revenue, third parties that keep secrets, and the US never issuing a subpoena for their logs. In contrast, Google would go out of business tomorrow if they stopped collecting and monetizing data.

Anyone use DDG's grouping search syntax much?[0] I've always wondered if this is something just for bots or if humans actually write out complex searches like that.

If you use it how are the results?


I often submit equivalent queries when searching using Google. I tend to use OR a lot to specify alternatives to specific keywords (e.g. osx OR "os x" OR macos), though it's a years-old habit often not that important with today's search engines; I sometimes also use it to search sets of domains (e.g. site:w3.org OR site:whatwg.org). In general I feel that when the first few pages of results using a simple query don't get me to what I am looking for, using a more complex expression can unearth hits which I would have otherwise skipped or not reached.

Regarding Duck Duck Go's advanced search syntax, I've use it in a similar fashion, though not as much. Keep in mind that the provided link doesn't seem to reflect the current implementation. For instance, the syntax for grouping using parentheses doesn't seem to be as strict (which is a relief), excluded words are seemingly not limited to being at the end of the search string, and AND has a higher precedence than OR (which is currently a pet peeve of mine because I am used to Google doing it otherwise and I like not having to use parentheses in my usual queries).

But DDG still goes to Google (as well as the other providers). And I see it returns less relevant results compared to Google itself. Where it might be shining is in avoiding the search per unit of time throttling done by Google, and less content tailored by user IP which I see an intrusion into ones privacy.

DDG is my default search engine because I'm addicted to the !bangs. For example, I use !pf to quickly convert an article into a PDF.

I maintain a blog where I "showcase" the best bangs for the Duck: http://duckgobang.com/

Nice. I like the passion you clearly have for this topic

I try to use DDG and set it as my default search. But more often than not I end up doing !g. And if I don't, I feel like I'm missing the answer that will really help me work through my coding issues. After awhile, it just gets to be more annoying than anything, and I go back to Google.

I can never remember the (short) url, so I end up Googling it so I don't have to spell it out..

ddg.gg or duckduckgo.com

You can also set it as default in any major browser either manually or using one of the extensions.

>>> Granted that DuckDuckGo.com is quite a childish name

Call me crazy, but I suspect that's part of the reason DuckDuckGo has had a hard time catching on. A name matters.

If I was DuckDuckGo I would rebrand to something simpler that could be used as a verb. But what do I know?

Agreed, it can't be verbified easily.

DDG admins: this is a real problem, you need to get creative on how to fix this.

Sure, just make me a chrome add-on that splits the tab in two vertical ones with DDG in the left and Google on the right whenever I search from the location bar which is nearly always so I don't have to search twice when DDG misunderstands what I want.

One of many things that disgust me about the latest big revision to Opera (version 41) is that Opera Mobile doesn't include DDG as one of the (7) default search options (though it does include Amazon, eBay, and IMDB). Ugh.

Opera got bought by an Asian ads company.

Vivaldi browser seems to be the spiritual successor of Opera by its previous developers.

@rms_returns, my only question is why are you asking us to use DDG rather than Google? You seem to be drawing some sort of direct comparison to Google, but you're not stating why we shouldn't use Google or what DDG does better.

This is the sort of low-effort post I expect on reddit. And I come here to avoid that.

I've tried multiple times to switch completely. Currently I use DDG on my iPod touch (which is what I use for web things on the go) but when I'm on the laptop or desktop I stick with Google as default.

I personally found searx to be better than DDG, plus it's self-hosted. (It's a metasearch engine, you don't need an index)

> But a search engine's results are only as accurate as the number of users who search and contribute to it

Are there not privacy concerns about this for DDG?

Also use bing more. I know my privacy has gone already - I just want to encourage competition for Google. The results are great 98% of the time.

i think they do need to ditch that name though, whilst as you say google wasnt really any less odd in the early days however it did sort of roll off the tongue, where as duckduckgo is somewhat clumsy and unpleasant no matter how many times you say it. i know it shouldnt be important and its not really, its just annoying

I've always had problems with their search results and I end up switching back to Google every time.

Switched to DDG for most things 3 years ago.

I actually tend to use Bing. hides

Bing image search is a lot better than Google's.

>I actually tend to use Bing. hides

I would find more appropriate in the context ducks ...

Haha absolutely!

Boom boom

i got bored from using Google. i like trying new products so i'll go with DDG until i get bored from it.

Well ... No.


Adverts on hackernews now eh?

Precisely. This is not what I expect to see on Hacker News. This isn't a discussion of DDG's abilities. It's simply an advertisement.

If this was a link to DDG's contribution page or some kind of information document or review, it would be different. However this just screams "USE THIS SERVICE FOR X REASON!"

The jobs link contains ads too

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