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Google owns duck.com and points it directly at Google search (twitter.com)
50 points by davidbarker on July 19, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments

As fun as this crazy conspiracy theory is, this is because Google acquired The Duck Corporation (which is what On2 used to be called), which owned duck.com. They basically predate DDG.

(they were acquired in 2009, ddg was started late 2008)

That explains why they own the domain name but doesn't explain why they are using it to redirect to their search engine instead of the on2 landing page: http://www.on2.com/

and they kept the same "it has been acquired blabla" page for a year on duck.com


And it should be noted that the On2 acquisition happened at almost the exact time as the creation of duckduckgo, so it's unlikely DDG was even on the radar of anyone in google at that time.

The difference seems to be that on2.com has an appropriate landing page: https://twitter.com/Richiesque/status/1019973138417938432

Whereas duck.com, a commonly interesting domain name for their competitor (which DDG claims confuses a lot of their users), gets redirected to Google's search engine with no other note whatsoever. Shouldn't duck.com have a similar page to on2.com?

No. Actually, for as long as i've been involved in helping M&A at Google, they have typically turned them down by keeping some regular company page working, and redirecting all the other domains to Google.com homepage.

IE what they did here.

There are a few cases i can think of where the domain no longer exists, it depended on a lot of things.

But basically all "plans" i read was to do the above.

At one point early in my google career, i believe pretty much all domains google owned but was not using redirected to google.com. I don't believe this is done any longer in general because people were using it to guess at what Google was doing :)

What about Pulse.io? It also redirects to google.com

I believe most of Google's acquisitions redirect to the search engine (unless there's a more appropriate destination).

I know meebo.com is another acquisition that leads to a landing page rather than a redirect to Google.com. My guess is who puts what on what server and whether or not it's a redirect depends heavily on who is involved in the post-acquisition work, since Google is a big company.

I'm not discounting the possibility that it's innocuous, but it's strange that even among the same acquisition, one domain goes to google.com and one goes to a landing page explaining the acquisition.

EDIT note: DannyBee's opinion here was posted around the same time as this comment, and suggests a specific corporate strategy: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17570412

Yes, yes it should. At least that's what I would expect if they were going for transparency. The only thing that would make sense is if On2 (previously known as Duck Corproration) was actually involved in internet search. It was not, ever. So this seems like a clear attempt to drive traffic to me. Both domains were part of the same acquisition. Why put that landing page on On2 but not Duck? The answer is obvious.

According to the internet archive, it started redirecting between November 2 and December 3 of 2010.

After mining a bit of HN history, DDG was already up and running and seeing some use by then (ex. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1334720).

The issue of the duck.com domain came up back in 2012:

> He also said his company had tried to buy the duck.com domain from its previous owner, On2 Technologies, but was rejected. Google eventually acquired the domain when it bought the entire company, and redirects duck.com traffic to Google.com.

> "It only started redirecting after we inquired about (buying the domain name)," said Weinberg. "It causes confusion."


(with some wonderfully vitriolic best-of-HN comments at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4817466 -- including a reply from ~yegg explaining his position about this.)

edit: Neat, I was able to find DDG's debut on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=315142

That was on September 25, 2008. Google's offer to On2 was in August of 2009 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On2_Technologies#Acquisition_b...) (the actual acquisition came later, after Google increased its offer). To be clear, I'm not convinced Google bought On2 just to screw with DDG. But the timeline is not as cut-and-dried as some people are making it out to be.

"> "It only started redirecting after we inquired about (buying the domain name)," said Weinberg. "It causes confusion.""

The sequence of events literally described here is:

1. DDG inquires to On2 about buying duck.com (Google was almost certainly in talks about the acquisition at this point, FWIW)

2. Google acquires On2

Then he says Google redirected it after "only after" they tried to buy it. Yes, they did, because you tried to buy it before google acquired the company. However he deliberately tries to imply it's somehow related, without any data.

Come on!! Google didn't lawyer up and force a 3-word, confusing brand down Weinberg's throat.

If you want to compete with a market leader, whose domain is 2.5 syllables long, and you pick a confusing, 3 word megadomain for a brand, you don't get to cry foul over Duck.com !


The main issue I have is with duck.com. A lot of people remember that we are a search engine "duck something" and so naturally try duck.com. As a result, there is a lot of confusion, e.g.:

"I was telling someone about DuckDuckGo and they thought it was Duck.com and they went to Google. Is Google using this to find people who make the mistake to Duck.com instead of DuckDuckGo?"

"Can't you do something about this? I keep going to Duck.com when meaning to visit DuckDuckGo.com They are using the DuckDuckGo name to get people to search Google."


The name is probably the most boring criticism of DDG that anybody can come up with.

And anyway, it's also irrelevant here. The question was over whether Google is using their position to deliberately redirect users to their own search engine. I don't know if they are or not, I was just correcting the timeline that some people were getting wrong and adding background info.


If you're picking an awfully long name to compete against what is already a 2.5 syllable verb (Google), who's to blame?

Then there's the whole, "But our users only remember Duck" straw-man. Whose fault is that? Google's? Did they lawyer up and force a 3 word, 5+ syllable megaword as a brand/domain on you, when it defies common sense to pick LONG names for a service/domain you expect users to use a hundred times a day.

I get a On2 page which mentions duckduckgo (the competitor search). This is from France at least.

They could not be evil and redirect it to duckduckgo.

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