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DuckDuckGo vs Google (fourweekmba.com)
1140 points by gcuofano on Sept 20, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 536 comments

Recently switched over to DuckDuckGo on all my devices. Tried to do the same thing several years ago and found it didn't really work out, but this time around it is so much better, both when it comes to speed and results.

If anyone has doubts because they tried it years ago, I'd say go for it again.

And don't forget to use the bangs that can allow you to check other engines results fast if you need.

For people afraid of getting off google, you can always search something like '!g my-search', it works the same for youtube(!yt), google image(!gi), or even hackernews(!hn)

And of course the best bang is the 'I am feeling lucky' one (!), i.e.: 'hackernews !'

    !ud → Urban Dictionary (what do you mean, she's 'office cute'?)
    !wen → Wikipedia English
    !w.. → Wikipedia (two letter language code, e.g., 'nl')
    !wikt Wiktionary
So many useful bangs.

So many bangs for you duck!

The best bang for your duck

Just a plain !w gives me English Wikipedia.

Usually if I need a certain engine I just guess the bang and it's usually supported and correct. !gm for google maps, !tineye for tineye, !wayback for the wayback machine...

They are pretty predictable. I just tried !osm madagascar on a whim, and it opens OpenStreetMap, as expected.

Setting DuckDuckGo as the search engine for your browser's address bar means all these bangs work right there whenever you open a new tab.

It depends on language settings. I have set DDG region to Canada and language to Canadian French. As a result, !w redirects mne to French Wikipedia.

I, too, switched to DDG, but sadly my most used bang is !g because in 1/3 cases DDG doesn't find what I am looking for.

Does DDG learn from what people !g for?

I would place my bet on that. That would be a query they need to work on.

I would sincerely hope not! i.e. Tracking.

If that information isn't personalised in any fashion and the data are retained for a minimum period, I'd be OK with sorting out what types of queries aren't satisfied on DDG itself.

    !hn does something or another

Some might be less useful tho, try:

!ddg google

Or if you are feeling lucky:

!!ddg google


edit: typo

It's worth noting that the !g bang redirects you to encrypted.google.com, it's more secure but results are often different from a regular www.google.com search. It bugged me for a while not knowing why some queries returned unusual results. ( more here https://duck.co/forum/thread/2880/remove-the-encrypted-subdo... )

www.google.com uses encryption too these days.

You are linking to a ~5 year old thread that is discussing the state of things well before google switched everything over to ssl.

For a while I believe the difference was specifically that encrypted.google.com exclusively used PFS SSL cipher suites

> linking to encrypted.google.com not only is not necessary but it prevents local search results from being displayed. e.g. no google.ro search results, only google.com

I can only see this as a good thing. If I want local search results, I'll add local qualifiers like "USA", "Texas", "Houston"

That was an odd one to read, being in Houston. I thought somehow you added wildcards that were auto filled with the users location, I then realized that I'm an idiot.

You could also do searches for yourself like "Stefan" and "Theard" and even type your password in like "* * * * * * * *".

A lot of JavaScript things have been buggy for me with encrypted.google.com as well. For example the Google timer cards and such often just won't start at all, while they'll work fine on the regular google.com.

It's a sad fact that regular google results are sometimes better than encrypted.google.com. It is like regular google knows what "I" want.

The difference isn't the encryption, but the fact that Google tracks your searches to give you "better" results.

I added bangs to google by defining custom search engines with a one or two letter prefix in chrome://settings/searchEngines

Now if I type "h my-search" into the omnibar, it goes to google.com/search?q=site%3Anews.ycombinator.com+my-search which gives me only Google search results from HN.

This is using google's algorithm (not the search bar built into whichever website like DDG) which is still the best, especially if you constrain it to one domain name. I also don't have to type the "!"

The prefix messes up google's text prediction. I guess no one from the chromium team is using this feature, since it would be trivial to fix.

That also works with bookmark keywords in Firefox. The setting is in each bookmark's properties; it takes variables (I leave it to the reader to look up the syntax).

It's better to use the '!s' bang. Is like using '!g' but with more privacy because uses startpage.com

Then what's the difference between using !g and startpage.com ?

I didn't realize google allowed this kind of thing.

I tried switching to DDG a few years ago, but I found myself using !ge more often than not, so I wasn't really sure what the point of using DDG was. For my needs, DDG's results are pretty mediocre. Which is a shame, becuase I'd rather support them over Google.

Your needs a few years ago, or your needs now? As benbenhu says, it has gotten a lot better. Lately I've found that when DDG doesn't have the thing I want and I stick the !g in, Google doesn't necessarily do any better, which implies that it's just a hard search.

I second that. I rarely use the !g bang (no need for that, DDG has the anwsers), but when I do I don't get anything more significant.

Would be interested to hear what search engines people here use. I feel the promise of DDG is the ability to match your search engine to your purpose. Maybe if you want to search for a particular code snippet you can use a search engine that is friendly to programming syntax. Or if you want more lateral results, you use a search engine with an unusual algorithm. But I haven't yet been able to find alternatives, if they exist.

The 'I'm feeling lucky' one is great.

'<Song name> !' or '<song name> youtube !' takes you right to it.

I'd love a feature that opens the first result on a search engine like wikipedia does by default. Biggest use case for me would be imdb but there would be others.

Well, lucky you!

DuckDuckGo has that by using a backslash, a space and a search term (\ bed intruder youtube) or an exclamation a space and the search term (although I believe the former is the official way now). I use it all the time, it's like a superpower.

I've been a happy ddg user for months now but never knew about this, thanks!

I'm tired of people mentioning !g. If you want to use google, just use google. Stop using duck duck go just to search google, and then say "but duck duck go is better" lo. no it isn't. clearly.

It's a way to wean yourself off of Google or quickly see results from a different perspective. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just an easy way out for people who don't trust ddg just yet.

That and its a Good way To help ddg (recording used search queries) and getting google results

If you want to use google, but don't want them to connect you to your search terms and connect you to their ecosystem and track you some more, then use DDG and !g.

Now that I've learned that !a works for amazon.com and duckduckgo.com gets affiliate revenue that way, then that's how I'll search amazon from now on. Need to boost up the underdog that cares about privacy, because google surely doesn't.

With DDG as my default search engine (Safari, macOS & iOS), I can (in the rare cases that I need to) easily and quickly search on google or startpage or other sites (by appending !g or !s in the search box).

If you're on Google as your default search engine, it's not so convenient to see other engine's results (plus you're being tracked all the time).

Yeah, if someone is just going to search Google all the time. If one is going to use DDG most of the time, but then pivots, it's worth noting. I use DDG to get to Wikipedia, Amazon, Google Images, and sometimes Google (for technical searches).

It's not about using duckduckgo to search with google. I use it when duckduckgo results aren't good enough, instead of typing everything in google again. I have been using it less frequently recently.

When I tried it years ago, I would search DDG first, then use !g if I didn't get what I wanted. I ended up using that a lot, so I switched back to Google.

Sounds like they have changed a lot since then, so I'll probably give it another shot.

But then you can’t use bangs anymore. I think the idea is that Google is there if you need it while still retaining the benefit of using bangs. So, it’s the best of both worlds.

It's completely valid to use that when you are searching for something local. Something that ddg shouldn't really do.

Same here. Tried a while back and didn't really take. I found myself Googling most things after DDG'ing them. Tried again recently because I love the mission, and it's working much better. Usually what I want is in the top few results, although Google still does a bit better with search result quality. I see myself using it as my main search engine at this point.

I only miss google as a DDG user when DDG doesn't have a tool google has to give you an automatic result, i.e. when trying to look up some unit conversion ratio like lb to kg. But when you know that is what you want there is always !g.

Hey graphitezepp,

We do have some of those tools, at DuckDuckGo they are called "Instant Answers."

For example the query: "2 lb to kg" will bring you to this results page https://duckduckgo.com/?q=2+lb+to+kg&ia=answer

You can see all our Instant Answers here: https://duck.co/ia

If something isn't triggering for you - let us know with the feedback tool on the site!

Disclaimer: DDG staff.

If you could get a "within the past year" search filter it would make me the happiest developer in the world. :)

And a CC-filtered image search.

+1 (million) It's one of the few things that takes me back to Google (others being !gi & !gm).

Get that 'in last year' filter already, DDG. I think I've complained about this through feedback before.

Do you know about the `units` command?

  $ units
  Currency exchange rates from www.timegenie.com on 2017-08-24 
  2980 units, 109 prefixes, 96 nonlinear units
  You have: 5 lbs
  You want: kg
  	* 2.2679619
  	/ 0.44092452
  You have: 100 furlongs
  You want: meters
  	* 20116.8
  	/ 4.9709695e-05
  You have: 100 miles/hour
  You want: meters/second
  	* 44.704
  	/ 0.022369363
  You have: 2 kiloisraelnewshekels
  You want: picodollars
  	* 5.5271109e+14
  	/ 1.8092635e-15

I like `qalc` a lot:

    > 5 pounds to kg
    5 * pound = approx. 2.2679619 kg

    > x^2 + 8*x = 4
    ((x^2) + (8 * x)) = 4 = approx. x = 0.47213595 or x = -8.472136
And so on.

I didn't know about that! Strange interface, though -- why isn't the first response just "2.27kg"?

Because a kg goes into 5 lbs 2.2679619 times, and 5 lbs goes into 1 kg 0.44092452 times.

The first number is the one I want, pretty much 100% of the time, and I hardly ever need 8 digits of precision.

Units absolutely rocks. It can do quite complex calculations as well, and you can add to the units it knows.


I also tried it a few years ago but was disappointed by the speed - at a time when the google search responses came back "instantly", the latency of DDG was noticeable and not good-enough.

Fast forward to 2017 and that appears to have been solved and the results are as fast as google are from what my brain/eyes can tell anyway - I would not be surprised to find out that google was faster if you timed it. In the past 6+ months I've been using DDG, I've only ever found the need to switch back to google once (and that was image search)

I've had DDG as my primary search engine for I'd guess at least 5 years if not more. It's extremely rare that I ever need to use anything else. I do wish there was a way to tell Yummly to go to hell whenever I search for recipes, though.

I use this script to hide domains I hate from search results: https://greasyfork.org/en/scripts/1682-google-hit-hider-by-d...

(Title is google, but works for ddg amongst other things also)

You can exclude keywords by using the minus sign, e.g. “-yummly”. This excludes all search results that contain yummly.

I saw this feature request submitted the other day via the subreddit. Here's hoping! https://www.reddit.com/r/duckduckgo/comments/70rent/enhancem...

Same here. Two years ago DDG just wasn't cutting it. Today, I'm just fine with it.

I especially like how programming questions usually provide a top result from Stack Overflow, a lot of times I don't even need to click the link to see the answer I'm looking for.

Actually Google provides the top programming answers from SO, Quora etc places. DDG just uses this.

I've been using it for the last 6 months.

The problem is, whenever you can't find something in DDG, you assume it's because it's DDG, and search again with !g. Meaning I end up requerying 40% or so of my searches using !g (prefixing your query with !g redirects your query from DDG to encrypted google)

Here's some example queries I ended up !g yesterday that had much better results in google than DDG:

reduce kendo javascript file size - For me, the useful result was number 2 in google. In DDG it was number 11 ("Only What You Need | Kendo UI Getting Started").

ptr overwatch - PTR is the test patch of the game overwatch. It's regularly changed. The correct result "Overwatch PTR Now Available - August 29, 2017" is number 1 in google, in DDG the blog post August 12th is not available (well, correct from my perspective)

I tend to find anything speculative DDG is fairly terrible at. For example yesterday I was googling about trying to identify the source of some weird animation CPU cycles I was seeing in Chrome Performance Profiler, I didn't really get to the bottom of it, but I ended up ditching DDG and doing all the queries in google because I would otherwise have ended up searching everything twice.

I'm also getting quite frustrated with the "instant answer" functionality, it's generally terrible. One of the most annoying ones is the SO instant answer that just utterly sucks, you can't see the code, it usually cuts anything useful in half, and takes up a HUGE amount of space meaning on a laptop you've got to scroll to start seeing the results. I just want to be able to turn it off, but because they don't track you they don't offer that functionality.

Also the maps one is really bad. I almost always want directions, but clicking the map takes me to a really nonfunctional, bare-bones map that doesn't have directions and then I have to click another button to actually get the directions. There's a drop down where you can choose your map type, but it definitely doesn't work as expected, I just want it to always embed a google maps instead of whatever they're doing.

Basically UX ain't DDG's strong point.

Ironically, if you DDG: "turn off certain instant answers duckduckgo" it comes up with terrible search results and no answer. If you "!g turn off certain instant answers duckduckgo", the top result is at least relevant.

I also find the entire bang thing to be a gimmick. Who wants to use !r when !g with "reddit" at the end will always get you better search results, reddit's own search is abysmal (as is !so).

EDIT: I'm being overly negative, after all, I haven't actually switched back, like I did last time I tried to use DDG. So it's definitely worth a go, but I don't think it's ready for your Mum to use. Also, I have Bing on my phone's Chrome to avoid AMP, and it's actually quite good.

DDG is definitely behind Google still, although it's come really far in a few years. I agree with most of what you're writing, but personally I'm okay with it not replacing 100% of my searches yet, got to start somewhere and I feel this is an acceptable point to switch at.

Weird, I find myself reverting to Google (or rather Startpage, !s) maybe once or twice a month, when I don't find satisfying results on DDG. And I'd say that in many if not most cases, I don't find good answers on Google then, either.

And I quite like using bangs, e.g. !w for Wikipedia or !i for images, rather than having to go to the initial search results on the search engine and then clicking again.

Finally, I like that on DDG, you can just arrow up/down through the search results, and then open one with enter (or cmd-enter to open it in a background tab), without reverting to the mouse.

If you use chrome, check out the vimium extension. It maps most browser actions to vim keys and makes mouseless navigation super easy.

QuteBrowser "is a keyboard-focused browser with a minimal GUI." https://qutebrowser.org/

You know you're onto something when the #1 documentation link is a key binding cheatsheet!

Actually works well on Firefox 57 (soon to be released) as well :)

(And those on older versions can use VimFx until 57 is released.)

You always find what you are looking for, except twice a month? That means you aren't looking for very difficult things.

I don't ever find what I want a few times most days and need multiple sources/queries quite frequently.

Or rather I've given up the assumption that Google has significantly better results.

When I don't like the DDG results, I use the '!s' bang instead of '!g'.

That means more privacy because uses startpage.com

I have a rather better experience than you. Yes, DDG isn't as good as Google in programming queries, but it's good everywhere else, and I like knowing that most of my searches aren't tracked. That's worth having to retry a few searches once in a while.

Same problem here! For development searches Google typically blows ddg out of the water but I still love ddg for general search. I didnt know about the !g :D

> Also, I have Bing on my phone's Chrome to avoid AMP, and it's actually quite good

You can also use google on Firefox for Android. No AMP there.

Same story here.

And since I regularly browse via a Digital Ocean VM, the lack of CAPTCHAs on DuckDuckGo is refreshing as well.

"And since I regularly browse via a Digital Ocean VM"

Do you mean using a DO VM as a VPN, or via X11 forwarding to your desktop over SSH, or actually browsing on the DO VM's desktop using VNC? I've done all three in the past as experiments in private browsing, and the latter is too laggy to be comfortable.

The first one.

> And since I regularly browse via a Digital Ocean VM

If you don't mind my asking, why? And by which method do you usually accomplish this?

Edit: Thanks for explaining the CAPTCHA issue.

Why? Maybe he/she wants to bypass data collection in his/her country. Or desires more privacy, or something else.


ssh -D 8080 digital-ocean-vm-here.tld

Now port 8080 on your local machine is a socks proxy for your vm.

Google is really tor/proxy/anonymous user unfriendly. Requiring users to solve as many as four or five CAPTCHAs (seriously fuck you google).

> Google is really tor/proxy/anonymous user unfriendly. Requiring users to solve as many as four or five CAPTCHAs (seriously fuck you google).

They're like this for a reason. They didn't implement complex detection of proxies to annoy users. Just to keep everyone out who's not supposed to use their search.

Yeah, people like to try and crawl Google. So they're keeping robots out.

But it's actually really nice to be able to pull a result or two from ddg by crawling, or to be able to use a VPN without having to solve a zillion captcha.

I run into those captcha's occasionally and generally reconnecting to a different VPN makes them go away. I always assume they are tied to bot activity coming through the same IP or range. I've scraped google in the past (years and years ago) and from what I recall you end up hitting the captchas after a set number of results in too short a period. Back then it was a pretty standard SEO activity, but it's usefulness was minimized when google started localizing results.

Which is funny, because those people can easily circumvent these measures, and crawl Google anyway.

The only one hurt are the users.

> And what do the CAPTCHAs have to do with it?

Have you ever tried using Google's search over a VPN / Tor / public proxy? They're even worse than Cloudflare was with their CAPTCHAs).

> Why?

Probably to avoid fuckery by the local ISP and/or government.

> And how?

I'm assuming he meant OpenVPN or something, but I might be wrong.

It is quite for common things but searching uncommon ones always throws it off. Searching for research publications in a specific domain or just haskell or some thing like just returns 1good result with 10 bad ones. So I use !g for those.

Also the autocorrect really throws my search terms off while Google does is right most of the time.

Interesting: autocorrect on Google is almost always wrong for me. Every day, I need to add quotes to maybe 20 of my search queries.

Interestingly ddg requires quotes for me atleast twice a day. Still I have to use Google for stuff like Google scholar. So !g is pretty common for me.

If you're searching for scholarly material:

    !scholar <terms>

I use it as my default, and I find that at least once a day I ad a g! to my query to go to the google results. I started maybe a month and a half ago and at this point I have a decent instinct as to when I'm going to need to go to google.

The privacy aspect was the driver for me, but it wasn't enough to make the switch all this time. The privacy aspect coupled with an easy way to get google results when I need them is. While I've known they had the bang queries for a long time, it was actually a youtube search result that finally made me shift. I forget what it was, but I was searching for something for my kids and it looked like my activity had polluted the results. That has been a problem for quite some time and this particular instance was enough for me to make the change. It was a harmless, but I really don't like the idea that my activity will potentially bleed into that of my family, and frankly I get irritated when their activity bleeds into mine. DuckDuckGo doesn't replace youtube search, but it was more of the general principal. I tried working with different accounts over the years, but it's not easy to switch on all platforms and if you've ever tried entering a 60 character password on a playstation, you know why that's a non-starter.

Ditto, for the past month or two. I'd love to get off of Gmail and Google drive, as well, but that's a longer term project.

Main reason: concerns about tracking and privacy.

Secondarily: politics.

DDG so far has been acceptable. As long as they keep their political opinions to themselves, the honeymoon will continue. My love affair with Google, on the other hand, is over. :(

Email is a tough one, but I've been using FastMail.

No advertising, strong privacy policy, based in Australia (a country with a decent privacy track record that we know of).

It's $3/month which is a decent price for liberating a lot of data from advertisers.

The spam filter is playing catch-up to Google so that's a bit of a shock at first, but you can train it up well or use second layer measures like Sanebox.

Disclaimer: DDG staff - but personal opinion.

> concerns about tracking and privacy

When DDG shows an ad, is there no tracking involved in that? For example, if I were to click on an ad (after turning my ad blocker off), does the destination site not get any information about me or specifically what I searched for?

If you don't send a lot of emails but receive a lot and need many aliases you might wanna check out https://migadu.com

Out of interest: what is the reason/are the reasons that made you switch?

I started feeling like I had all my eggs in the same basket. Google has my email, it knows where I want to go and when (Google Maps), it translates stuff for me, and it knows what I search for. While it doesn't really affect me that Google has all this information, I've become more and more uncomfortable with the fact that they do.

So I figured if I had a choice of two search engines, where I get satisfying results in both of them, and one of them doesn't track me, why go for the one that tracks me?

I'd gladly do the same switch when it comes to Gmail, but I really really like Gmail's web interface, haven't gotten over that hurdle yet.

EDIT: I also switched from Google Chrome for pretty much the same reasons.

I made the jump to Fastmail.com and couldn't be happier. The UI is very snappy (much faster than Gmail's), the actual notifications and delivery is faster, and it's a better experience overall, for me.

Plus, Google doesn't get to see my mail any more. Ditto for Firefox vs Chrome.

I'm a fan of moving away from Google where possible as well, but Fastmail would cost me $500/year with 10 accounts. My G Suite account is one of the original, so I can have up to 200 accounts for free. Granted, it's only 15GB of storage, but even after about 10 years, I only have about 1GB in my inbox, so I'm ok with the lower amount of space.

Wow, what do you do with 10 accounts? Isn't checking all of them a hassle?

I have multiple domains and aliases, and Fastmail is much better at those than Google Apps ever was (I also have the free plan but you can never change your initial domain), so I'm much happier.

Several accounts are for separating services - AWS has it's own account, for example, so does Dropbox. I use a different email address for forums and such.

A few for friends and family as well. --Friends I can tell to pay for themselves if I need to, but family, not so much.

Edit: As for checking them, most don't get many emails, and every good email app can handle multiple accounts easily, so I get notifications on my phone.

Fastmail allows you to do things like stavrosk@dropbox.yourdomain.com, and then you can filter emails by that domain name. Lets you easily block out spam without having completely different email addresses.

I have six. Some of my clients ask me to manage their AdWords for them. Plus, I occasionally need to log in to my wife's Gmail account. (To confirm logins when paying bills, for example. Anything personal, she's smart enough to keep on her own domain.)

So you don't really have six, you just have five of other people's logins?

Fastmail give you free aliases.

FastMail aliases are great. I've used some for sites I'm more likely to want to cut off access to me, for instance. Whereas address+site@gmail.com gives you sortability, a true alias gives you the easy ability to just shut a site out of access to you.

Another issue I had was that my main email address was already in Google and Microsoft's systems for a couple reasons, and it wouldn't let me set it properly when changing my email address everywhere. So I have google@ and microsoft@ aliases just to work around their account management quirks.

The problem with aliases is still that they route to one account, and if it's compromised, there's no separation.

Interesting that you bring up the UI, switching to Fastmail's UI made me start checking/managing my personal email like a responsible adult again.

I could never get over the way using GMail felt like fighting with a sluggish toy version of email compared to desktop outlook (and I'm not really a fan of outlook, either). I just assumed that GMail's interface was the best a webapp could offer: it was the best I'd seen so far and had a no-longer-deserved "who could beat gmail at webmail?" bug in my mind.

I'm kinda surprised fastmail hasn't made larger inroads among the kind of techies that will occasionally bemoan giving their lives over to google.

I am really surprised at how fast its UI loads and operates. It feels like a native app in a web where everything else feels like a slug. Major props to Fastmail for this. Hell, even Thunderbird feels slower.

Did you consider protonmail? If so, why fastmail?

This discussion last month includes many anecdotes regarding various email providers:


I can only speak for my own decision-making process, but I like to pay for my email so that I have greater confidence that the provider will still be in business 10 years from now, and more confidence that my data is my own.

Really like Fastmail.

How does paying ensure the data is your own?

Paying means that the provider doesn't have to mine your email for keywords in order to display targeted ads (yeah, I know Google theoretically stopped doing this recently). So perhaps "your own" in the sense that another entity isn't accessing it.

> So perhaps "your own" in the sense that another entity isn't accessing it.

Do they have a spam filter? If yes, how do they filter emails without accessing it?

You're the customer, not their product.

But the data is still not in your control. Right?

Protonmail has paid plans.

It does every time you send an email to someone with a gmail address ;-)

I also agree that Fastmail is great.

Same here, trying to avoid it as much as possible Google now mainly has my email and calendar. I feel like there should be a better option for calendar but I haven't been able to find it yet (probably because I use DDG :P), but sadly, the only thing with a better interface than Gmail is Google Inbox, so...

The problem is that Google often provides the best service for the buck. But even if money is taken out of the equation some Google services are just the best. Like Google maps or even G suite (this might vary by person).

Hard to avoid them in that case.

Any centralized efforts for this kind of thing? I'd like the same..

You went from Chrome to Firefox?

Safari at the moment but thinking about going to Firefox

I switched from Chrome to Brave a few months ago. https://www.brave.com/

I attempted it but extension support is not especially user-friendly.

I would recommend Vivaldi as it supports Chrome extensions. Chrome apps can be installed, but not used (hopefully Vivaldi fixes that).

I really like the idea of Brave, but not having extension support is a major hurdle which I hope they get over.

I'm currently using Vivaldi, but have to say that it's not really an ideal analogue of Chrome as it doesn't carry over some of the everyday features and affordances of Chrome. That's partly understandable, because it's actually (apparently) intended to be a browser for Opera users to migrate to. It's also a bit buggy.

I'm surprised there isn't a straightforward and user-friendly Google-less Chromium browser available.

I 100% agree with your statement, but I feel that Vivaldi is currently the best browser that's close to Chrome in terms of feature parity. Hopefully though, with more support, they will become an efficient browser that's unique enough to be separate from Chrome but have the features we know and love.

Been using Brave on mobile and it's great, but the UI layout on desktop is awkward so I don't use it there.

Anecdotally I'm in the same boat. I use Firefox at work on Linux, but at home (on MacOS) Safari works/looks/feels better than Firefox.

Firefox on Android is vastly superior experience due to one simple thing - extensions. microBlock origin makes web actually usable again on mobile platforms.

Yes, yes and yes. Though some extensions do not work, uBlock works and it's a life savior.

Firefox 57/Nightly! Do it.

I moved from firefox to opera

In my case it was this annoying Google's insistence on telling me what I was actually looking for instead of searching exactly what I wanted, including ignoring "" etc. It became too much hassle, I felt like fighting with windmills, then tried DDG, it did what I told it, results weren't terrible, so now I use it by default and only a few times a week I need to try Google. Maybe for regular folks Google's way is a lifesaver, but for precise search I need it feels like Altavista back when I was a kid.

> In my case it was this annoying Google's insistence on telling me what I was actually looking for instead of searching exactly what I wanted, including ignoring "" etc.

GOD YES! This gets incredibly annoying when searching for version-specific information, considering the differences there can be between version foo and version bar of $DISTRO. Nothing like searching for something specific to CentOS 7 and getting zillions of CentOS 6 and 5 hits.

Google will also helpfully ignore the "Verbatim" option, and God help you if you're trying to search for multiple specific phrases.

Google is looking more and more like Alta Vista in its waning days.

I like the suggestion functionality for typo correction, but dont like it when Google assumes something other than I wrote. This is bad. It often happens when searching technical stuff. I am not regular Joe and I don't search regular stuff.

Recently switched to DDG on my devices and I’m impressed with how much better it is than when I tried a few years ago.

I did the same too 2 months. If I can't it, I'll give yahoo and bing a chance first before Google. There really hasn't been much that I can't find with the first 3.

I actually find myself going to DDG after searching on devices that default to Google. The results are much better for a lot of different things. They even have a cryptocurrency tab.

Have they since reduced their dependency on Bing for search results? I feel that, while that's the case, there is no point in switching.

I would be very interested in reading on how to best do the migration on various devices, for example Chrome on desktop, Chrome on Android etc.

Same here. Had always switched back but this time I'm almost 1 month into using DDG and have no desire to go back.

Same here. They used to be fringe back then, now they are quite reliant for everything that isnt really overly specific.

Those who use DDG, do you miss dates in results? Having a date present definitely helps me think about the results:



This isn't a case where I _know_ I only want 2017 results, and so I do the syntax to filter it down automatically. I want all results, but I want to be aware of the timeline of whatever I'm going to click.

But to take the thought further: I can understand when a date isn't important. Say some documentation for a specific programming related thing. You'll probably learn to use !clojuredocs or something.

What about outside that? Those searches I can't quite describe without thinking, but my example above sort of works nicely because that game in particular has changed a bunch (and will continue to) over time and you do care about the date of a forum post or whatever.

For all I know, the answer is "that's when you use !g".

The only thing I miss is the "Past Year" option. I find it really important for filtering out programming stuff that's too old. "Past Month" is too short. I can't understand why it's not there. I've sent the suggestion several times.

Custom dates is also extremely useful when you want an reverse date filter, removing recent results.

Pretty much my top reason for going Google any more.

It's because they get results from so many different sources. Many of those sources just don't keep time records or don't offer it through the API that DuckDuckGo interacts with.

Time records don't have to be scraped from the site or retrieved from APIs (what APIs btw? Isn't it all scraping?). When the search engine crawls a new page, or notices an update to a previously crawled page, as long as you're crawling thoroughly, those dates can be pretty accurate.

DuckDuckGo doesn't just run a web crawler, it aggregates from many sources including Bing and area specific APIs. Not all of these sources supply date information so you'd end up with some results having it and others not.

Information is here: https://duck.co/help/results/sources

Any idea why search engines would allow API access for a competing search engine? Usually APIs come with a caveat that you can't use them to rebuild the same service. Also for ddg's level of traffic, it seems like special deals would need to made, not just a general access key.

Weakening Google's monopoly.

DuckDuckGo does not do all scraping itself, I think. This is why there's the issue of "other sources" not providing dates.

But they have Past Day/Week/Month options.

I didn't even realize until now that Google has this and DuckDuckGo doesn't. So, that's a No for me, I guess.

Others here are saying that they need this for researching programming-related things. I just add the version number of the programming language (or whatever technology) I'm working with to the search query, when I find that the search results are outdated.

Let me guess, you do not work with JavaScript .

Maybe just not react-router.

A date is crucial, even for a programming related task. There are probably people who, at this very moment, are looking up Django 1.0 documentation right now and can't get the example to work because their system installs the second to last version.

Yes, this is my top requested feature for DDG. As a web developer, results are very time sensitive. It's more than a nice-to-have feature when you need to discern the validity of the subject matter based on which month it was published.

I've tried the DDG switch twice and not being able to select results from the past year has always been what sent me back to Google. But it looks like they let you scope it to the past month, now, so maybe soon!

Dates definitely matter. I am a lazy searcher, so I may search for "How do I do X in KDE". I don't care about results from 2013 because I'm running a recent version. Having the dates there helps ensure I can remain a lazy searcher.

Maybe I switched before they had the dates show up or I never noticed it. The only times I cared about the dates I tried to use the daterange operator in google searches but it uses some weird format, Julian dates I believe, that just made it too hard to be useful.

I still use !g on ddg but its about 1-2 times a month. As another poster said, I tried it a few years ago and had to quit but I tried it again a year ago and haven't switched back since

I care primarily when what I am searching for is news/political. It is helpful to know the date an article was published prior to clicking.

If that isn't available in DuckDuckGo they should definitely reconsider. I use the date pretty often...though sometimes it seems spoofed.

Yeah DDG is sometimes missing to show the dates.. but as far I Know... We have a filter there to get the most recent results... This is what we need right.... It actually show's you there latest year or months results...

I think the best for me would be relative time, i.e.: 3 days ago, 2 weeks ago, last year etc. or visual representation of the relative age. This form makes it more scannable and easier for brain.

You are correct but I love the DuckDuckGo feature that let me to restrict my results à-la youtube (anytime, last month, week or day) which google lacks in it'S front-end options :)

You can click "Search Tools" and then change the date to whatever you want it to be.

I too would use DDG as my default search engine if they added date range queries. I use that feature too often to not stick to Google right now.

It took me a long time to understand what you were talking about, the first few results on that Google search did not have any dates at all.

People are conditioned to think Search has to work online.

This was true when Google was created.

No one had the processing or memory available on their desktop to search an entire index of the "useful" web.

Not anymore.

How large is a "useful" index of the web today? And can it fit on your laptop? The answer is yes.

Can the entire thing be queried fast? The answer is yes.

As an example take the entire stackexchange and wikipedia dumps in their entirety(including images). Compressed it comes to 50-60 GB range. Think about that number. That's an rough approximation of all known human knowledge. It's not growing too fast. It has stabilized. To query the content you need an index.

So how large is an index to a 100 GB file? Generally around 1 GB. Let's say you use covering indexes with lot of meta data and up that to 5GB to support sophisticated queries.

With today's average hardware you can search the entire thing in milliseconds.

So why aren't we building better local search?

Because everyone is conditioned to believe, thanks to Google's success, we need to do it online. Which means baking in the problem of handling millions of queries a second into the Search problem. Guess what? This is not a problem that local search has.

Every time a chimp or a duck needs to build a protein in it's cell it doesn't query the DNA index stored in the cloud. Instead every cell has the index. Every cell has the processing power to query that index in the nanosecond time scale.

The cloud based search story is temporary.

If you want to index every reference to Taylor Swifts ass that every teenager in Norway, Ecuador and Cambodia are making, then yes you need a Google size index. But for useful human knowledge we are getting to the point where we don't need Google scale.

If you don't believe me look at what is possible TODAY in Dash/Zeal docset search for offline developer documentation search or Kiwix or with Mathematica.

I don't think search is as simple as grepping a ton of files. Search Google for "movie where people can't have babies" and the #1 result is Children of Men. I think that's one area where Google pulls ahead of its competition is accurate results to vague queries like that and I think you need a lot of collected data from searches to provide that.

FYI: For that exact query, DDG shows Children of Men as the top two results.

For me it's #6. Another movie called Baby Mama is #1.

Why would it be different for two different people if there isn't any tracking going on?

Not saying it is here but it could be dependent on your country.

CoM is #3 for me with region set to UK.

I get Baby Mama as #1 as well, but at least, from the movie synopsis, it doesn't appeat to be an irrelevant result.

My region is set to Denmark.

Third here. Baby Mama is first for me too.

For the record anyone who hasn't seen Children of Men, do yourself favour and find it. One of the greatest and most underrated films of the last decade.

Edit: Oops turns out its 11 years old. Better make that the last two decades then. I'm gettin old

That result is pretty spectacular! I wonder if this is something general or related to their seemingly bespoke categorisation of movies.

The reason sites like Google and YouTube are good is not because you can search the larger sites well, but because they can search the long tail of the web well. Any search engine can index the top 5-10k sites and build something workable for that. The money maker is returning lesser known sites because, despite not being popular, they contain the best answer for the search query. YouTube got popular not because it has the most popular videos on the web (all video sharing websites have the popular videos) but because it contained and stored an insane amount of videos with like 100 views and would return them if you searched for something oddly specific.

I don't think search has much to do with YouTube's success. Just having all those long-tail videos is the main thing, and it has those videos because it's popular.

I've heard that a key early advantage of YouTube was that uploaded videos appeared immediately, not after a long processing delay. That helped it become popular, and once it was popular, it stayed popular and crushed the competition due to the network effect.

You vastly underestimate the amount of knowledge in random blogs and small websites. If you are only after the "mainstream" sites, sure, but that's quite the bubble. I want and need access to all the blogs, forums, wikis.

Sometimes, it feels Google is increasingly useless at finding those niche websites because all the noise has time to do search engine """optimization""".

I use https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/personal-blocklist... but it should come with pre-compiled lists, like uBlock Origin.

I’m glad I’m not the only one to think that. I wonder what a good way to measure that signal to noise ratio is?

This feels like an application of the 80/20 rule. I might not always find what I need in just that offline index, but the times I do would seriously disrupt google.

Great extension, thanks!

Oh, I wish there were a way to rate the results in a opposite way. Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I want even mark some site as 'a hidden gem'. Usually it's something rather niche though, like a bunch of great little articles about anti-aliasing filters design and sampling, full of engineering wisdom from the decades of experience. So I think it would be perfect to have a way to tag it by some topic.

Google is pretty terrible at finding that stuff (as well as DuckDuckGo.) Instead, the first two or three pages of results are the SEO kings, often with identical copy. https://millionshort.com is a search engine that is entirely a reaction to that.

Why not download an index of the 100,000 or 1,000,000 sites which appear most often weighted by position? If they don't reach a certain threshold of quality (maybe the query is too obscure) then resend the query online?

I don't have a CS background so I'm not sure, is this a reasonable solution?

The obscure sites are what make the core of the internet, at least in my circles.

But having a way of making sure that a certain topic or genre of sites is well indexed locally would work. I.e. "my" top 100k. Oh, how awesome would that be.

Google is deciding what is best for you to see.

According to https://www.noppanit.com/how-to-index-all-wikipedia-english-... a search index for wikipedia's english site comes in at around 40GB.

Laptops generally come in 128GB or 256GB capacities. So we're talking roughly 20-50% of an average laptop's storage just to hold the search index for wikipedia alone.

Meaning it is not feasible to store a useful index of the web today on a laptop unless you want to dedicate that laptop to pretty much exclusively searching wikipedia's english content.

You're not searching that database in milliseconds on average laptop hardware, either, but you probably could get it to be "fast enough" for practical usages if you could somehow solve the harder parts like storage size, freshness, and indexing more than just wikipedia's english content.

That’s also assuming Wikipedia is worth having an offline index for. Wikipedia, for Bonn controversial, general knowledge has its value, but something gets lost with 1000 chefs in the kitchen. The beauty of the internet is that it isn’t Encarta.

Those are laptops with SSD. Laptops with HDD come in with 1TB+

Sure, but laptops with HDD are a niche case. That's not what your average user wants nor has and for good reason.

Your indexing performance would also sharply decline when subjected to the random access seek times of those 2.5" spinning metal.

I can promise you the average user of a laptop doesn't have the first clue about the difference between an SSD and HDD.

>As an example take the entire stackexchange and wikipedia dumps in their entirety(including images).

>That's an rough approximation of all known human knowledge.

Are you taking the piss?

Your idea doesn't go far enough. What good are a couple of stale indexes of Wikipedia and Stackoverflow going to be?

Instead, I am wondering why there isnt a federated open source search engine. It would be a cloud of nodes, each node spidering and indexing a small hash bucket of urls. With a million such nodes we could have a live updated, distributed search engine to replace Google. We could run millions of queries without paying someone - we'd pay back by serving as a node, just like in BitTorrent. With all the interest in privacy, I wanted to see more discussion of replacing Google with an open, non-censured and private protocol for search.

> Instead, I am wondering why there isnt a federated open source search engine.

Not sure if federated by they call themselves decentralised: https://yacy.net/en/index.html

Who would host the index? You can't contact one million peers to run a search, so fanout-on-read doesn't work. If the index is also distributed (by search term?), then the search+indexing nodes will need to fanout-on-write, which is less latency-sensitive but still pretty onerous.

This is a brilliant idea. Let's work on that. Seriously. Do you want to work on this together?

In the same vein, what good is an index of the web going to be? Googles value isn't their index, its how they translate your search terms into good results from that index. Anyone can index the web, not everyone can make sense of it from human questions.

There has been a lot of research in search engines since AltaVista collapsed and Google won. Much of it is in public domain.

> So how large is an index to a 100 GB file? Generally around 1 GB. Let's say you use covering indexes with lot of meta data and up that to 5GB to support sophisticated queries.

You vastly underestimate index sizes. I'm not saying it wouldn't be realistic to download and index locally but they'll be much larger than 1-5%.

So when there’s a new blog post on a topic of interest, how does that work? The internet isn’t an encyclopedia of a finite size.

Offline search is the equivalent of the Internet Yellow Pages from back in the day. New, relevant information is being added continuously. The search index 10 minutes ago is different than it is right now.

One aspect of this is trying to find content that has already been viewed. There are tools to archive web browsing locally for future re-use. Any improvements to local search would benefit this use case tremendously.

Relevant discussion: "Wallabag: a self-hostable application for saving web pages" | https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14686882 (July 2017)

Refreshing viewpoint.

Is there a way to easily sync search repositories, like Stackoverflow, Wikipedia etc., to your local computer with an automatically built search index?

That works for Wikipedia type knowledge, yes. But not for finding random blog posts from yesterday, or reddit or HN discussions.

Stabilised != final though, so you'll still need a layer in order to find all of the new knowledge and compare it against what everyone has locally (not going to download 50GB every time someone posts a new useful SO answer), and update the local store. Why not keep that index centrally for everyone instead of replicating it for 2bn people?

How would you keep the index up to date? How quickly would news stories appear in it and stale links disappear? Are you going to read the entire internet every day to keep it current?

maybe you could pull down changes on a daily basis? not a complete reindex but just updates that prune dead links and add new ones.

the problem is this would be completely useless for current events. but querying sites you use regularly, this could be an option. I often end a google search with modifiers like "wikipedia" or "reddit" or "stackoverflow". If I could store indexes to those sites offline that might be useful.

The creator of this offline search could potentially make money by indexing shopping sites like Amazon, eBay, etc with affiliate links.

Or I could let someone do it for me; say Google or DDG. I don’t have time for such nonsense. I’m not going to waste time hosting my own version of Apple Music, when I could just use Apple Music.

If you struggle to get any of your indexing working, let me know and I can Google it, whilst you grep through your stale Stack Overflow archive.

Your reply seems pointless, yes I could download an entire copy of Wikipedia, compress it and index it - why would I want to? Are you going to do this on every machine you own? What about the updates Wikipedia receives every minute?

You should start a company though to focus on this, maybe you could call it Encarta or something?

Problem is that knowledge gets outdated quickly as things change, I usually have to specify 'only show results from the last month', else the information is not relevant. Having to constantly download an index would be demanding, and to be honest why bother? It's not like google is slow.

Yes, we can build a local encyclopedia. But from a 'Green' viewpoint, which is more environmental-friendly: more Terabyte hard-drives sold? or a few MB of data transferring over the internet?

So, practically speaking, how would one go about setting this up for local use? I would this would also work very well for locally stored books and docs.

That would mean blogs are either excluded or suddenly get thousands of bot visits per hour.

I'm sure DDG works great if you're an American. As someone who has tried a region specific version of DDG though, I can say the results are downright terrible.

Some say the DDG bangs are a solution. What do I win by doing that? It only made me resort to !g all the time, because the results were so bad.

Now I use https://www.startpage.com/ with region set to Swedish. It's practically a proxy for Google search, so it gives me the right results but sans the filter bubble experience (yes, I want the regional bubble). If you're a non US user, I can recommend it.

I must say I'm having the reverse experience. I very seldom use its Danish regional setting, but even for Danish searches DDG is fine. It's only 4-5 times a month I need the !g bang. But knowing about Startpage, I now use the !sp bang instead of !g.

Indeed, due to the bangs, I know use DDG as my proxy to a lot of other search engines, like Wikipedia (!w/!wda/!w..) and Wiktionary (!wikt), and even obscure ones like Memory Alpha (!memoryalpha). Very handy indeed.

The wikipedia-in-certain-language bangs are very useful, indeed.

I've never found the bang functionality very useful. Perhaps because Chrome offers that out of the box in the URL bar.

Note you can access startpage results from DDG with the "!s" bang.

I rarely use region specific DDG, but when I do, I find it ok. With DDG I can manually enable/disable and switch the region, while Google guesses based on my IP - very annoying, given that I frequently use VPNs. (Of course, if you're logged in to Google, you can specify region/language/etc., but if you don't want to be tracked and delete their cookies or use the browser in private/porn/incognito mode, then it'll just assume that you are looking for Dutch things in the Netherlands, because that's where the VPN exit is...)

As Finn I rarely search for Finnish specific stuff. Sometimes I check prices or if something ships here or not, but that is exceedingly rare and for that DDG works fine.

As for bangs, I love skipping clicks. Most of the time I know what I want and can use bangs accordingly. I'm guessing my most common tags are !a, !yt, !gh, !wiki, !wolf and then some game(s) specific bangs.

Also big fan of skipping clicks.

BTW, for wikipedia, !w is enough. Wolfram Alpha is !wa.

I do agree with that. As I am from India I find myself hitting g! or actually opening google.co.in more often than I should but I am still trying DDG and will give it few weeks more.

StartPage doesn't seem to be helpful at all. It doesn't let me select language and region separately. I need to select English UK and then it sets my region as UK. Also, it's very slow (at least for me)

I never touch the DDG settings, but I often search in about a dozen different languages, and I get great results. The rare times I try to find something in another search engine, including Google, I get worse (or not better at best) results there, even for quite obscure topics, so I guess everything is user-specific.

As a German user, results have been good whenever I use regional search.

Using DDG with Swedish settings, I think results are ok. Of course, I'm usually seeking english results except when searching for swedish words.

If I set search to "Germany" in DDG the results are almost always what I want (to be fair, that's usually only shopping related).

Works great in Ireland. Although tbh 95% of my search is not for local stuff.

As an Australian, I don't get bad results with DDG.

DDG Seems pretty good for me in the UK.

What's with this person's writing style? I've never seen so many literary tics in one place. "In short", 14 usages. Almost every sentence starts with a prepositional phrase like "In fact...", "Yet...", "However..." Confusing sentence structure like "How would have the net looked like?" It's so irritating to read.

E-book writer... should explain his style. Here's a TLDR summary:

- Google huge, DDG tiny.

- Gabriel Weinberg serial startups all failed until he sold one for $10MM, which allowed him to do and focus on DDG.

- Privacy a big deal these days and DDG markets towards that.

- DDG makes money from keyword advertising and affiliate revenue.

- You too can profit from something!

How much is $10MM? Like, a million million? Or is a millimeter thickness of dollars?

No, it's a thousand thousand (roman numeral). In finance, using MM and MMM is quite common (although bn is often preferred over MMM).

yeah, I am in finance. At the bank I used to work at we'd use $1M for $1,000 and not allowed to use $1K.

That seems like a misunderstanding waiting to happen. $10M is 10,000,000 to me but only 10,000 if you work in finance??

I am glad I'm not the only one. It reads just like terrible undergrad papers I have to read because it is just simple sentence after simple sentence. I got as far as "That is why I decided to cover it in its utmost details" in the forth paragraph before I gave up.

I think such style has legitimate uses; yet, it can also be used to give text an appearance of coherence where there is little or none. (Otherwise, it's just noise, like in the preceding sentence.)

He also used the word "Solopreneur"

Am I missing something regarding not using this word?

It's the first time I've heard that word. I can guess that it's supposed to mean "solo entrepreneur", but it's a silly-sounding word to me. Basically, it's slang, which is unusual in a long article such as this.

It's being used since 1990s as per Oxford dictionary[1]. I asked because I thought it's one of the words which has become uncool to use.

[1] https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/solopreneur

I would say it is due to him not being a native speaker; just guessing tho.

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